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LEES (Heb. shemārîm, pl. from shemer, something preserved). A word in the KJV that describes that undisturbed and thick portion of wine that naturally falls to the bottom of the vat. The word is used figuratively throughout to express (1) the blessings of messianic times (Isa.25.6; cf. Isa.55.1), (2) the spiritual lethargy and decadence of Moab (Jer.48.11), (3) the indifference of Israelites to spiritual realities (Zeph.1.12), and (4) the bitterness and inevitability of God’s wrath on the wicked (Ps.75.8, “dregs”). Usually translated “dregs” in NIV.

LEES (שְׁמָרִ֑ים). The dregs that settled at the bottom of wine jars and wine skins (Isa 25:6). Wine gained strength and flavor by being allowed to remain on the lees, and such wine was regarded as superior to the newly fermented product. The word is used in the OT only in a fig. sense. In Isaiah 25:6 the prophet says that in the Messianic age Jehovah will prepare a feast of “wine on the lees well refined.” Zephaniah 1:12 records that they are “thickening upon their lees” who say that Jehovah will do nothing. Jeremiah 48:11 says that Moab has “settled on his lees”; that is, they have settled down in contentment with their circumstances.

See also

  • Wine