An evergreen tree of the cone-bearing family. Cypress is included along with other trees as forming part of the “glory of Lebanon,” and this is indicative of the place where it grew and also suggests a tree of desirable qualities or impressive appearance. The “box tree” referred to in the King James Version is not a likely translation since, according to some scholars, the box tree does not grow in Palestine, and in Syria it is only a small shrub. (Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 1965, p. 1134; The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, edited by G. Buttrick, 1962, Vol. 2, p. 292) The cypress is considered by many to be the tree probably referred to by this Hebrew word at Isaiah 41:19; 60:13.—See Moffatt’s translation; A Dictionary of Life in Bible Times, by W. Corswant, Suffolk, 1960, p. 55; The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. 1, p. 459; Vol. 2, p. 292; Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros, by L. Koehler and W. Baumgartner, Leiden, 1958, p. 1017.
The cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) has dark-green foliage and branches that extend upward somewhat like those of the Lombardy poplar. It has an average height of 9 to 15 m (30 to 50 ft) but at times may grow as high as 24 m (80 ft). It is commonly cultivated throughout Palestine; some specimens have been found growing wild in Gilead, Edom, and on the slopes of Mount Lebanon. The wood has a rich reddish hue, is fragrant, and is of great durability. It was possibly employed by the Phoenicians, Cretans, and Greeks in shipbuilding (Eze 27:6), and it is suggested by some that the “resinous tree” from which Noah obtained wood for the ark was the cypress tree.—Ge 6:14; see RESINOUS TREE.
At Isaiah 41:19 Jehovah promises to cause trees growing normally in fertile lands to thrive in desert areas as well, and in a prophecy concerning Zion’s future exaltation and prosperity, it is foretold that the cypress, along with the ash and the juniper, will be used to beautify the place of God’s sanctuary.—Isa 60:13.
At Ezekiel 27:6, the expression “in cypress wood” is in agreement with the Targums. However, the Hebrew is bath-ʼashu·rimʹ and means “the daughter of the Ashurites.” A number of scholars have concluded that these two Hebrew words should read as one word, bith·ʼash·shu·rimʹ, meaning “in cypress wood.”