67. Sycamores And Cedars

 “Those who do not know history
  are forever condemned to repeat it.”
— Will Durant


“The sycamores have been cut down, but we will plant cedars in their place.”…

Chuck and I stared at the sorry-looking palm tree that had previously been standing, proud and lofty, with a full head of fronds blowing gracefully with the breeze. Now it looked like it had received a very bad Marine haircut.

A tree trimming service had come along on behalf of the County.  We weren’t home at the time, so they took the liberty of whacking it off about midway down the trunk. Chuck had been actively protecting the palm  from just such an event for a couple of years, so seeing it in such a sorry state was painful.

The tree had been planted too close to the power lines, which was considered a fire hazard. But while the County wanted to cut it down because the fronds “would eventually touch the wires,” the power company was telling us that they would be taking the lines out … “eventually.” (As of April 20017, that has not happened.)

I can imagine what it may have been like for the Israelites who remained in the northern kingdom — Judah remained in the south — as they surveyed the damage to their capitol city after the brutal Assyrians had ravaged their land! The clay bricks had fallen … the beautiful sycamores had been cut down. I envision women weeping, children picking through the rubble, and men shaking their fists in frustration and anger, vowing: “We won’t allow our enemies to get the best of us! We’ll rebuild with Gazit Stone and plant strong cedars where the sycamores once stood. We will return, even stronger than before!”

The sycamore tree was common in the Middle East. It was feeble in comparison to the cedar, or erez tree. So the nation vowed that rather than replanting sycamores, they would plant an evergreen conifer as a symbol of renewed strength and defiance.

On the morning of 9/11, as the Twin Towers were in the process of crumbling, St. Peter’s Chapel stood at the very edge of the chaos. As I mentioned earlier, the little stone church was the only building unharmed on the rectangular plot of real estate that’s now known as Ground Zero. A miracle? Of course, but there’s much more to the story.

The sycamore specifically named in Isaiah 9:10 is foreign to the American Northeast. But a version of the tree does exist in New York City, called the English sycamore. And one of those English sycamores was planted, around 65 years ago, next to the little stone church where President George Washington and the first American Congress gathered to pray for God’s protection over our nation.

When the dust cleared after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, it was discovered that the sycamore tree next to St. Peter’s Chapel had been felled by debris and wreckage that had been hurled through the air as the towers fell. It had protected the little church during the entire horrific event! The tree was called “the Sycamore of Ground Zero” and its stump and roots were placed on display as a tourist attraction, along with the small object found entwined in its roots – a brick.

No one had any idea of its connection to the Isaiah 9:10 prophecy. Nor did they have any clue about the unfathomable “coincidence” that would occur two years after the sycamore fell.

In November 2003, a tree transported by a crane appeared in the sky at the corner of Ground Zero. It was carefully lowered into the exact spot where the ancient sycamore tree had stood, next to St. Peter’s Chapel. The tree was a pinacea,  sister tree to the Cedar of Lebanon, and just like the Gazit Stone, a public ceremony of dedication followed. It was labeled “The Tree of Hope.”

I’m thinking that maybe we should gather family and friends for a dedication of our decapitated palm tree and label it “The Tree of Hopelessness.”

Note: In August 2014, the Tree of Hope died. Rabbi Jonathan Cahn speculated that its death could be yet another sign that America was still in deep trouble with the Lord God for turning back to its old ways in the years following America’s 9/11 tragedy.


“’Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the teacher.
‘Everything is meaningless!'”

— Solomon (Ecclesiastes 12:8)


Judging from the personal observations recorded in the book of Ecclesiastes, I’m wondering if King Solomon suffered from undiagnosed clinical depression? It’s a good idea to beware of “bumper sticker Christianity” where verses are often taken out of context and applied to random situations … and coffee mugs.