Lees (only in the plural שׁמָרַים, shemarim', from שָׁמִר, to keep [Jer 48:11; Zep 1:12; rendered "wines on the lees" in Isa 25:6; "dregs" in Ps 75:8]; Sept. τρυγίαι; Vulgate faeces). The Hebrew term שֶׁמֶר, shemer (the presumed singular form of the above), bears the radical sense of preservation, and was applied to '"lees" from the custom of allowing the wine to stand on the lees in order that its color and body might be better preserved; hence the expression "wine on the lees," as meaning a generous, full-bodied liquor (Isa 25:6; see Henderson, ad loc.). The wine in this state remained, of course, undisturbed in its cask, and became thick and syrupy; hence the proverb "to settle upon one's lees," to express the sloth, indifference, and gross stupidity of the ungodly (Jer 48:11; Zep 1:12). Before the wine was consumed it was necessary to strain off the lees; such wine was then termed "well refined" (Isa 25:6). To drink the lees or "dregs" was an expression for the endurance of extreme punishment (Ps 75:8). An ingenious writer in Kitto's Cyclopaedia (s.v. Shemarim) thinks that some kind of preserves from grapes are meant in Isa 25:6, as the etymology of the word suggests; but this supposition, although it clears the passage from some difficulties, is opposed to the usage of the term in the other places. SEE WINE.

Bible concordance for LEES.

Definition of lees

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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