CYPRESS >> A Knowledge of Immortal Life with God in Heaven
Associated with the cedars in the building of Solomon’s temple was the wood called, in our translation, “fir.” Probably this, like the “cedar,” is a general term, including several kinds of trees. The cypress, the juniper, and pines of several species are selected respectively by various authors as probably the tree that is meant. Mr. Grindon, who, following Dr. Royle, accepts the cypress as the “fir” of the English Bible, thus pleasantly describes it:
In general figure, this beautiful tree corresponds with the Lombardy poplar, for which, in pictures of Oriental landscape, it appears to be not uncommonly mistaken. The branches are erect, close to the main stem, and almost in a line with it, so that, from a somewhat rounded base, it tapers gracefully to a point, the stature, in fullgrown individuals, being fifty or sixty feet. The leaves, which endure for six or seven years, are extremely minute, and pressed so close to the surface of the twigs that they are scarcely distinguishable; the innumerable but trifling flowers appear in spring; the fruit is a curious modification of the cone, nearly globular, and technically called a “galbulus.” Everywhere in the Greek Archipelago, also in Asia Minor and in Syria, the lofty and evergreen spires are conspicuous at all seasons. . . . The wood of the cypress is of remarkably fine and close grain, fragrant, very durable, and of a pleasing reddish hue, which Pliny says is never lost. The same author states that the doors of the famous temple of the Ephesian Diana were constructed of cypress, and that, after the lapse of four hundred years, they still seemed new (xvi. 79). He further states that the cypress statue of Jupiter in the capital, which had existed six hundred years, showed not a symptom of decay. Horace says that writings worthy of being handed down to remote posterity are, or ought to be, preserved in cabinets made of the same (Ars Poetica, 332).
“The gates of Constantinople,” also, according to Lindley (Vegetable Kingdom, p. 228), “famous for having stood from the time of Constantine to that of Pope Eugene IV, a period of eleven hundred years, were of cypress.” From ancient days cypresses have been planted by graves and in cemeteries, representing, in the upward pointing of every shoot and leaf, and the fragrant, enduring wood, a knowledge of immortal life with God in heaven. It is only since the knowledge of the spiritual world was lost that it came to be associated with sadness. “By the ancients,” Mr. Emerson says, “the cypress was considered an emblem of immortality; with the moderns, it is emblematical of sadness and mourning.”
It recovers its cheerfulness of aspect the moment we dissociate it from the grave, and think of its graceful plumes as typifying our knowledge of immortal life in heaven. But whether this knowledge be the proper door and floor of the temple of the Lord, perhaps we can judge better after comparison with kindred knowledge.
Author: JOHN WORCESTER 1875