The name of this tree occurs twice in the Hebrew Scriptures, at Isaiah 41:19 and 60:13. In the first text it is included among trees such as the juniper and cypress, which are to flourish in the desert plain under foretold paradisaic conditions, and in the latter text it is included among the same trees as part of the “glory of Lebanon.” The identification of this tree is conjectural, but there is some evidence through comparison with the Arabic and Aramaic that favors the ash tree.—See Koehler-Baumgartner, Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros, p. 1019; Brown-Driver-Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, p. 187; Hastings, A Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. I, p. 163.
Two varieties of ash, Fraxinus ornus and Fraxinus oxycarpa, are found in the mountains of Lebanon and the upper extremity of Palestine, though not throughout Palestine generally. If, as some authorities hold, the root meaning of the tree’s name means to “spring” or “bound (as a horse),” then the springy elasticity of the tough wood of the ash would make the name a fitting one. (See Parkhurst’s Hebrew Lexicon, 9th ed., p. 128.) It could also qualify as part of the “glory of Lebanon,” for it is a large tree growing up to fifty feet (15.2 meters) high, thriving in elevated areas in Syria and Lebanon where other trees find survival difficult, and of such beauty as to have been called, by some, the “Venus” of the forest. It has light-green foliage and ash-colored branchlets. It is of the same family botanically as the olive, but is unlike the olive, the leaves of which are ever green, because the ash sheds its leaves each fall.