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Jan 31 - Youseff Karam, St Maron & Lebanon

Updated: May 18

Today in 1867 the Maronite nationalist leader Youssef Karam left Lebanon on board of a French ship for Algeria, to begin his second period of exile, under the orders of Napoleon III. In todays pod we look at the ancient Maronite Church, and Lebanon's struggle for independence from Colonial Rule. Below is a small reflection on the Cedars of Lebanon, their significance in the Bible and their place on the national flag

Reflection (not in pod) - On the Cedars of Lebanon

I have been fascinated by the cedars of Lebanon, ever since a trip to Beirut a few years ago, I was struck by a large group of South Korean pilgrims visiting the remnants of the Cedars.

Cedar wood is highly sought after for its strength and size. King Solomon was to use it widely in his construction of the first temple of Jerusalem. This was a key moment in monotheism, replacing the tabernacle which had been constructed by Moses to allow a nomadic people to honour the arc of the covenant. The temple became the sole place of Israelite sacrifice. Isaiah uses Lebanese cedar as a metaphor for pride in the world, whereas the psalmist talks about the tree as a symbol for righteousness.

In the ancient world, the cedars on the slopes of Mount Lebanon, were famous and much sought after as a natural resource, appearing in the Epic of Gilgamesh. The Cedars on Mount Lebanon were much sought after for high quality construction, in particular for shipbuilding in the area of the Mediterranean. Not surprisingly there has been extensive deforestation which has left only small remnants of the original forests . There are records that many attempts to conserve them have been made, starting with the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who created an imperial forest marked by inscribed boundary stones. Reforestation attempts are ongoing, In Turkey, over 50 million young cedars are planted annually, covering an area around 300 square kilometres.

Its place of pride in the centre of the national flag, underneath two red strips, where the Cedar is said to be a symbol of holiness, eternity and peace. As an emblem of longevity, in a text of the proclamation of the State of Greater Lebanon, it was said in 1920 : an evergreen cedar is like a young nation despite a cruel past. Although oppressed, never conquered, the cedar is its rallying. By the union, it will break all attacks.

Lets pray for peace in the area.