Wednesday, August 29, 2012

James takes on Harbinger Seven, The Erez Tree Part 2: Does "erez" only denote the cedar?

To answer the question whether Jonathan Cahn simply made up the equation between the Hebrew word erez and the whole family of trees called the Pinacea family, he sent me his notes on the subject that he took for the writing of his book. They are rough and when he has time maybe he could make them a bit easier to follow, but even in their present sketchy condition I think they demonstrate that there are many sources that affirm that erez does refer to the whole family. Its exclusive translation as "cedar" in the English Bibles may have to do at least partly with the many contexts which clearly point to that tree.

However, there do remain the verses in Leviticus and Numbers where erez was translated "cedar" and yet some commentators are quite definite that it couldn't have referred to the cedar of Lebanon because it doesn't grow in the desert where the Israelites were wandering at the time, thus making one clear reference to its use to refer to trees other than the cedar.

Strong's on the other hand insists that the word always refers to the cedar, as having firm roots not shared by the other members of the pine family, specifically arguing against Celsius who applied it to any conifer. So there is some disagreement.

Nevertheless the preponderance of reference material does support Cahn's contention that the word is generally applied to the broad category and not always the specific cedar.

He also told me that he has a cousin whose name in Polish was the name of a tree (which tree he didn't identify but apparently not a cedar) and when he moved to Israel they changed his name to Eres. Anecdotal of course but along with the following references a nice confirmation of the claim that in Hebrew the term is often used to refer to many trees and not just the cedar.

Here are the notes as he sent them to me, minus his various emphases which don't translate well into the Blogger software:
Here are a few of my notes from over 2000 pages of research

From Jamiesson Fausset and Brown - Classic Commentary on the Bible
ON Levitcus 14:4 Where speaks of CEDAR – EREZ in wilderness

“Cedrus Libani cannot be meant here, for that famous tree was not a native of the Sinaitic desert.

As the word eres is used in a wide sense to denote any CONIFER it has been supposed by many that the juniper (juniper oxycedrus) (((other is juniperus Phoenicia – same?))))) is referred to , as several varieties of that shrub are found growing abundantly in the clefts and crevices of the SInaitic mountains.

Quote from JF&B at BLB: cedar-wood, and scarlet, and hyssop--The cedar here meant was certainly not the famous tree of Lebanon, and it is generally supposed to have been the juniper, as several varieties of that shrub are found growing abundantly in the clefts and crevices of the Sinaitic mountains. [I added this from Blue Letter Bible: Faith]
Another Source:
‘erez’ -applied in a loose way to allied trees, such as junipers and PINES

The entire entry on “cedar” on pages 197-198 reads as follows:

Large evergreen tree of Lebanon, prized for its use in the construction of public buildings;

generally, any EVERGREEN including the juniper bush. …..

The Hebrew ‘erez, rendered “cedar” in all English versions, is most likely a generic word for THE PINE FAMILY


Cedar (Hebrew: erez; Arabic [arz, “the latch) There are eleven groves of cedars on the Lebanon mountains, which have been visited by travelers recently……..

The reference to cedar-wood int eh Scripture do not always mean the cedar of Lebanon – as, for instance, when at Sinai (Leviticus 12:6).

The word means also the PINE, Cyprus, fir and juniper

Some plant names were used for more than one species, such as erez (cedar) for the true cedar, THE PINE, the tamarisk and probably the juniper, while other plants were given several names

HISTORY OF PHOENICIA – BY George Rawlingson, M.A. (1889)

[27] Ibid xxvii.5. The Hebrew /erez/probably covered other trees beside the actual cedar.... THE PINE would have been more suited for __than the cedar

THEOLOGICAL WORDBOOK FO THE OLD TESTAMENT – R.Laird Harris – Gleason L. Archer, JR. Bruce K. Waltke

160 EREZ. CEDAR - A TREE OF THE PINE FAMILY, one which grows best in a high and dry region. The Talmud (Rosh Hashana 23a), says that the inhabitants of Palestine called ten different trees cedar.

Rab Judah said: There are four kinds of cedar – ((ARZEEM/EREZ plural))) cedar ((EREZ)), kedros.((KETROS))) Pinewood and cypress. [What is ] kedros? – R. Idra stated that in the school of R. Shila it was defined as mabliga, though others held that it is gulmish. He [Rab Judah] differs herein from Rabbah son of R. Huna; for Rabbah son of R. Huna reported that in the school of Rab it was stated that there are ten kinds of cedar ((,ARZEEM/EREZ))) (Included is PINE

CEDAR – Hebrew erez – the Cedrus Libani
Almost all the biblical mention of erez refer to the cedar of Lebanon, even when this is not explicitly stated. In Psalm 148:9 the reference to cedars (“fruitful trees and all cedars”) is apparently intended as a generic term for the various non-fruit bearing trees, THE EVERGREEN VARIETY of which, post-biblical literature, was denoted by the term erez. Four CONIFEROUS TREES (VARIETIES OF PINUS and C) were included under this term by some,

And 10 and even 24 types of EVERGREEN by others (RH 23a).


CEDAR – common name for the genus Cedrus three or four species of large trees native to mountainous areas of North Africa and Asia. Cedar trees belong to the pine family, the members of which have needle-like leaves and, like all confiers, bear their seeds on scales clustered into cones. … Although no true cedars are native to other regions…

The best known cedar is the cedar of Lebanon, mentioned often in the Odl Testament .. the Temple .. etc - it is native to Asia Minor,a nd today only a few original groves remain… Trees

The name “cedar” is also applied to other conifer trees E � e ' hE 8 ft:.25in;text-align:justify;mso-line-height-alt: 12.0pt;mso-hyphenate:none;tab-stops:-.5in'>Various Spruces

Various Pines




About 50 or so plants – in Pinaceae Family

About 40 different Families

Pinaceae Family includes:

Various Firs

Various Cedars

Various Spruces

Various Pines

PINE (Pinaceae)
Pine is the common name for thePInaceae family, which are resinous woody trees, normally found in northern temperate zones, and characterized by their needlelike, usually evergreen, leaves. The Pinaceae reproduce by means of cones rather thanflowers, and have winged seeds suitable for wind distribution. The PINACEA family is the largest of the CONIFERS

In 1745 and 1747, the 2 volumes Of CELSIUS’ “Hierobotanicon”. The latter are usually regarded as being among the foundation-stones of this study.

Celsius ‘Hierobotanicon,’ i. 106) it The word erez is used in a wide sense to denote any CONIFER

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