Frankincense and the Cedars of Lebanon

Frankincense is the main ingredient of the Holy incense. God – יהוה (God’s Hebrew Name) told the priests exactly how to make it. He told them to burn it on the golden altar of incense in front of the curtain directly in front of the Ark of the Covenant. They were to burn the Holy incense there every morning and every evening (Lev. 30:7-8).

Since it is יהוה Himself who gave the instructions for the ingredients of the Holy incense and Frankincense is the main one, and since He wanted it offered to Him twice a day, we can therefore deduce that יהוה LOVES Frankincense!

He also commanded that Frankincense be sprinkled on the loaves of bread—the Bread of Presence—on the table in the Holy Place, and for Frankincense to be sprinkled on all the meal offerings (flour mixed with oil).

The English word, frankincense, comes from French: franc which means pure and incense—so it means pure  incense. My research told me that the resin comes from a common fir. The resin comes out when the bark is cut. It smells like cedar or pine. When I read “cedar” I began to hope that it comes from the cedars of Lebanon! But further research in another source told me Frankincense comes from “a small tree or shrub from Arabia or North Africa.”

But then I looked up the Hebrew word for Frankincense which is H3828  לבונה pronounced levanah or lebanah. It means a white resin burned as fragrant incense. The root word is לבן which means white. It sounds almost like Lebanon which has its name because of its white-capped mountains!  I looked up cedar resin on the internet and found that cedar resin is very white! When it is burned, it gives off a white smoke.

I looked further and found an article from the 1800’s about the cedars of Lebanon. It says that resin oozes out of these trees from everywhere—from the bark, the twigs, the cones, and the needle-leaves. The article said the wood was red inside but white on the outside. (So, apparently, the resin would be white.) The article went on to say that these cedars are not near as tall as the Bible mentions, but that those tall trees could’ve been over-forested and thus disappeared.

But then I discovered that not all the tall ones are gone. There are some still in existence and they are majestic and beautiful and huge! You can barely see the human standing under this one! Here is a 1500 year old one and a  2000 year old one!! Now I completely understand why the Lord loves them so much and wants us to be like them. He wants us to stand out—to look and be different from other “trees” and to rise much higher as these trees do!! Their scientific name is cedrus libani libani. Again it sounds like the Hebrew for Frankincense: lebanah and like the country, Lebanon!!

 Here are some very interesting things I found out about these marvelous trees.

The cones grow upright. The Lord takes pleasure in our uprightness (IChron. 29:17).

They exudes resin from everywhere, even from their pine needles and their cones. The fragrance of the resin or gum is of utmost delight. In the Lord, we are His fragrance unto life!! But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him … the fragrance of life  (2 Corinthians 2:14,16 NIV).

The wood is astonishingly decay resistant to insects, humidity and temperature. It is never eaten by insect larvae. Isn’t that amazing?!!!  The Lord wants us to be strong and resistant to all spiritually harmful things!!

The trees were “valued by the ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, Arabs, Babylonians, Phoenicians, Greeks, etc., for their resistant wood, aromatic resin … and were used as ornamental trees for stately gardens.”

The resin was used to coat ships, to coat the inside of wine skins, and to soak other types of wood in it for protection against insects and decay.  No wonder the Lord wanted it to be sprinkled on the Bread of Presence that was replaced with new loaves only once a week on Shabbat.

Unlike the red tone of the American cedar, it is of a beautiful light tone, is solid and free of knots! The Lord purifies us day by day so that we can become free of all kinds of spiritual knots: pride, worry, anger, bitterness, impatience, selfishness, greed, etc.,—all the things that are normal for us humans.

The branches move upright in winter so as not to break under the weight of the snow! We, too, must reach upright to the Lord in times of trouble so the weight of our trials and sorrow do not break us!

The cones take 3-4 years to mature. We humans also take a long time to mature spiritually.

Cedar wood burns better than other woods, like oak, due to its high oil content. We are to be filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit, so our light can burn brightly for Yeshua (Jesus).

It blossoms in September or October. This is the time of the Biblical holidays Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot the prophetic End Time holidays!!! May we blossom for the Lord in these End Times!

The seeds are minute considering the size of the tree, and the trees are easy to grow from the seeds. So, it grows from a tiny seed and becomes so huge that even large birds can nest in it. And they are often planted in stately (royal) gardens. Kind of makes me think of the parable of having faith the size of a mustard seed!! [I researched the mustard seed plants—couldn’t find any that grow large enough for any birds to nest in, except maybe the very tiniest birds. So, I researched the actual Greek word used, but couldn’t find any other meaning than mustard seed. Still we can trust and hope and pray that our faith will grow even larger than a mustard plant. And may the seed of the Kingdom grow as big as a cedar of Lebanon.

Cedar oil is spiritually grounding and has a “calming, purifying” affect. May we have this affect spiritually on those around us.

Since we learned that יהוה loves the cedars of Lebanon with the scientific mane of cedrus libani libani, and since יהוה has chosen Frankincense as the main ingredient in the daily Holy incense offering, and since Frankincense is lebanah and is white incense that burns white and smells like cedar, maybe, just maybe we can assume that Frankincense comes from the cedars of Lebanon.

Another support of this is that the Holy incense in Hebrew is called  keturet  קטרת H7004. One of the meanings of the root word is to fumigate. So since the resin of the cedars of Lebanon was used to make things insect resistant, one could easily believe that its smoke could also fumigate! When I saw this meaning of keturet, I got really excited. Here’s the reason why. The incense burning on the altar of incense represents our prayers.

…each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints (Rev. 5:8 NRSV).

…and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God…(Rev. 8:3).

Let my prayer be like incense set before you…(Psalm 141:2 Complete Jewish Bible).

So, in addition to our prayers blessing the Lord and blessing His people and being our petitions and our crying out to Him, it looks like our prayers are also supposed to help fumigate out the enemy from this earth!!! So, let’s keep praying, Folks! The more we pray and spend time in the Word and in the presence of the Most High, the more we will become resistant to the enemy in our own lives and the more we will fumigate him away. The more we allow יהוה to work in us, the more we will become that sweet fragrance that is a delight to Him, life to those being saved and death to the enemy! (See 2 Cor. 2:14-16.)

Lord Yeshua our Messiah, please help us to find that kind of time to spend with You, to saturate ourselves in Your Word and let Your Ruakh HaKodesh, Your Holy Spirit soak deep into us, so that what oozes out of us will be pure white and sweet smelling to You—so that the prayers that flow from our lips will be the exact incense You long to experience and that is useful to You to use against the enemy. Help us to be like the cedars of Lebanon to grow tall and strong and beautiful for Your Royal Kingdom garden!