I took this photograph of a beautiful cedar tree in Busy Park, London, November, 2013 – unfortunately, I am not sure if it is a Lebanese Cedar or not!
Cedar wood is a very sacred and uplifting oil.
It was known as the “Oil of Gladness” in ancient times, and is one of 12 of Young Living’s Twelve Oils of Ancient Scripture.
In the Biblical world, Lebanese cedar (Cedrus libani) trees were highly sought after as an excellent source of timber for ancient woodworking. The wood’s high quality, pleasant scent and resistance to both rot and insects made it a popular building material for temples, palaces and seagoing vessels, from Solomon’s famed Temple to the so-called “Jesus Boat” of the first century. Today, Lebanese cedar trees grow mostly in Lebanon and southern Turkey, with a few found in Cyprus and Syria. As the Bible makes clear, the valuable wood had to be imported into ancient Israel.
The Phoenician king Hiram of Tyre sent Lebanese cedar, carpenters and masons to Jerusalem to build a palace for King David (2 Samuel 5:11). Likewise, Hiram provided cedars and artisans to King Solomon for the construction of his own palace as well as the Temple in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 2:3,7; 1 Kings 5:20). The Bible also informs us that Lebanese cedar timbers were commonly transported by sea. The Book of Ezra reports that timbers were hauled to the Phoenician coast and then sailed to Jaffa for transport to Jerusalem (Ezra 3:7).
Lebanese cedar wood was also popular for ancient woodworking and ship construction because it is easily worked and shaped, it seasons with minimal shrinkage or distortion and it resists decay in salt water better than most types of wood. In the ancient shipwreck off the Uluburun promontory of Turkey, nearly all of the boards of the hull were made of Lebanese cedar. This famous late-14th-century B.C.E. wreck contained a cargo of precious metals, jewelry, ivory, ebony and other valuable materials, suggesting that it was probably a royal shipment.
One of Israel’s best-known shipwrecks also bears evidence of ancient woodworking with cedar timbers. The so-called “Jesus Boat,” dated to the first century and recovered from the Sea of Galilee, was built mostly of reused timbers, some of which were made from Lebanese cedar. While the “Jesus Boat” cannot be linked to the life of Jesus, scholars believe it was the type of boat that was used by Jesus and his disciples in their many travels upon the Sea of Galilee.
The Cedars of Lebanon – The temple and palace of King David and King Solomon were built of cedar and described in the books fo Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. ‘And Hiram, King of Tyre, sent messengers to David and cedar trees and carpenters and masons: and they build David a house’ (II Samuel 5:11). When David died Solomon became King and set about to build a temple to God. He made a proposal to Hiram, the King of Tyre (Phoenicia), to ‘hew cedar trees out of Lebanon’. (I Kings 5:6). King Kiram’s end of the bargain was to supply all the building materials that Solomon would request. This included not only cedar, but fir, cypress and hewn stones. Hiram agreed to Solomon’s proposal with these words:
‘I will do all thy desire concerning timer of cedar ….. My servants shall bring them down from Lebanon unto the sea: and I will convey them by sea in floats unto the place that thou shalt appoint me, and will cause them to be discharged there, and thou shalt receive them: and thous shalt accomplish my desire, in giving food for my household. So King Hiram gave Solomon cedar trees……….. according to all his desire’ (I Kings 5:8.10)
There are many more mentions of cedar wood in the Bible – here are just a few of them:
- 1 Kings 6: 9-10 – So he built the house, and finished it; and covered the house with beams and boards of cedar. and then he built chambers against all the house, five cubits high: and they rested on the house with timber of cedar.
- 1 Kings 6: 15-16 – And he built the walls of the house within with boards of cedar, both the floor of the house, and the walls of the ceiling: and he covered them on the inside with wood, and covered the floor of the house with planks of fir. And he built twenty cubits on the sides of the house, both the floor and the walls with boards of cedar: he even built them for it within, even for the oracle, even for the most holy place.
- 1 Kings 6: 18 – and the cedar of the house within was carved with knots and open flowers: all was cedar; there was no stone seen.
- 1 Kings 6: 20 – And the oracle in the forepart was twenty cubits in length, and twenty cubits in breadth, and twenty cubits in the height thereof: and he overlaid it with pure gold; and so covered the altar which was of cedar.
- 1 Kings 6: 36 – And he built the inner court with three rows of hewed stone, and a row of cedar beams.
The 21st Century – how to use cedarwood in today’s busy world!
The Young Living Cedar wood (Cedrus atlantica) has a warm, balsamic, woody aroma. It is relaxing and soothing when used for massage, and can be used as a dietary supplement to maintain healthy lung function.
It’s also a “sleepy” oil – it stimulates the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone. If you are feeling restless, and need to relax to sleep, apply cedar wood to your temples and the back of your neck. It’s also great for restless leg syndrome.
Cedarwood has long been used as a beneficial ingredient in cosmetic preparations for oily skin.
Cedarwood: Cure for Senility and Alzheimers? – It turns out that inhaling the oil of cedarwood increases the ability to think clearly and enhances the awareness needed for effective prayer and meditation. This is because of all the essential oils of the world, cedarwood contains the highest concentration of sesquiterpenes (98%). The sesquiterpenes in cedarwood have the ability to pass through the blood-brain barrier and oxygenate the brain directly upon inhalation by way of the nasal passages and the olfactory nerves. It has even been suggested that cedarwood oil might prevent senility and Alzheimer’s disease.
While the biochemistry of the process just described was not known in ancient times, the fact that cedarwood created an environment that enhanced clear thinking was appreciated by the Egyptians. They were, perhaps, the first civilization to distill cedarwood oil, something they had been doing as far back as 3500 BC They used the oil for a variety of purposes, including temple worship, emotional clearing, embalming, enhancing mental clarity, and as an insect repellent. No doubt some of these facts were also appreciated by the Israelites as well, who learned the art of creating and applying essential oils during their Egyptian captivity.
It is probably no coincidence that both David and Solomon chose cedar as the wood for their home and temple. For a king who has to make decisions every day that affect thousands of subjects, living in an environment where they would inhale cedarwood oil everyday would contribute toward wise judgement and help keep their consciousness elevated on a spiritual level. Perhaps the wisdom of Solomon was even greater than we thought and included a sophisticated knowledge of essential oils and how they could assist him in ruling his kingdom in an effective way pleasing to God.
Biblical Archaeology Society
Healing Oils of the Bible – David Stewart PhD
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