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The book of Ezekiel (17:3) offers a parable that begins "Thus saith the Lord God: A great eagle with great wings and long pinions, full of feathers, which had diverse colors, came unto Lebanon, and took the top (tzameret) of the cedar."

Though modern-day Hebrew speakers can still refer to the tzameret of a tree (tzameret ha'etz), the word has also come to refer to the...