ChristianAnswers.Net WebBible Encyclopedia

fir in the Bible

Hebrew: בְּרוֹשׁ —transliteration: berosh —meaning: fir and/or cypress

The Hebrew word berosh may also refer to cypress, juniper or pines in general.

The Cicilian fir (Cicilia fir) or Taurus fir (Abies cilicica) is a species of conifer in the family Pinaceae (pine tree family). It is found in Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey. In ancient times, the number of these trees was very great. They were reduced by thousands of years of logging, burning and grazing. It is now a “Near Threatened” species (International Union for Conservation of Nature, 3.1).

The true fir (abies) is not found in Israel, but the pine tree, of which there are at least 4 species, is common in Israel (Brutia, Pinea, Canary, Aleppo).

The wood of fir trees had many uses…

  • Solomon’s Temple and palace (1 Kings 5:8 KJV; 1 Kings 5:10 KJV; 1 Kings 6:15 KJV; 1 Kings 6:34 KJV; 1 Kings 9:11 KJV)

    The New King James Version, ESV and NASB say “cypress.”

  • musical instruments

    And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood… —2 Samuel 6:5 KJV

  • doors of houses
  • wood panels for interior walls and ceilings (2 Chronicles 3:5 KJV) / 2 Chr. 3:5 NKJV, NASB and ESV say “cypress” / 2 Chr. 3:5 NIV says “juniper”
  • the decks of ships (Ezekiel 27:5 KJV, NKJV, NASB) / Ezekiel 27:5 NIV says “juniper”
  • floorings
  • spear-shafts made of fir (“fir trees” in Nahum 2:3 KJV, “spears” in Nahum 2:3 NKJV) / Nahum 2:3 NASB says “cypress” / Nahum 2:3 NIV says “juniper”

Resin and oil

In ancient times, the fir tree resin (Abies cilicica) and its “oil derivative were used in mummification, as an antiseptic, a diuretic, to treat wrinkles, extract worms and promote hair growth.”

Green Fir Tree

The precise kind of tree meant by the “green fir tree” in Hosea 14:8 KJV is uncertain. Some regard it as the sherbin tree, a cypress resembling the cedar; others, the Aleppo or maritime pine (Pinus halepensis), which resembles the Scotch fir; while others think that the “stone-pine” (Pinus pinea) is probably meant.

Compare translations:

  • “green fir” —Hosea 14:8 KJV
  • “green cypress” —Hosea 14:8 NKJV
  • “evergreen cypress” —Hosea 14:8 ESV
  • “luxuriant cypress” —Hosea 14:8 NASB
  • “flourishing juniper” —Hosea 14:8 NIV
  • “healthy juniper” —Hosea 14:8 NIRV
  • “green pine” —Hosea 14:8 ICB
  • “growing pine” —Hosea 14:8 GW
  • “flourishing pine” —Hosea 14:8 CSB

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Article Version: August 25, 2019