You shall sow, but you shall not reap; you shall tread the olives, but you shall not anoint you with oil; and sweet wine, but shall not drink wine.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Thou shalt tread the olives—i.e., as wheat upon the threshing-floor. Oil was regarded as indispensable for personal comfort. In Jotham’s parable of the trees in council about the choice of a king, the olive-tree was regarded first in estimation, before even the vine and fig-tree.Leviticus 26:16; Deuteronomy 28:30, Deuteronomy 28:38-41, which they had been habitually breaking. Those prophecies had been fulfilled before, throughout their history; they have been fulfilled lately in Israel for the like oppression of the poor Amos 5:11. Their frequent fulfillment spoke as much of a law of God's righteousness, punishing sin, as the yearly supply in the ordinary course of nature spoke of His loving Providence. It is the bitterest punishment to the covetous to have the things which they coveted, taken away before their eyes; it was a token of God's Hand, that He took them away, when just within their grasp. The prophet brings it before their eyes, that they might feel beforehand the bitterness of forgetting them. Montanus: "They should lose, not only what they gained unjustly, but the produce of their labor, care, industry, as, in agriculture, it is said that there is mostly much labor, little fraud, much benefit."
Harvest is a proverb for joy; "they joy before Thee according to the joy in, harvest" Isaiah 9:3; "wine maketh glad the heart of man, and oil is to make him a cheerful countenance" Psalm 104:15. But the harvest shall be turned into sorrow, the oil and wine shall be taken away, when all the labor had been employed (Compare Isaiah 16:9-10; Jeremiah 5:17; Jeremiah 48:37). Yet, since all these operations in nature are adapted to be, and are used as, symbols of things spiritual, then the words which describe them are adapted to be spiritual proverbs. Spiritually, , "he soweth and reapeth not, who soweth to the flesh, and of the flesh reapeth corruption" Galatians 6:8, things corruptible, and inward decay and condemnation. He treadeth the olive, who, by shameful deeds contrary to the law, "grieveth the Holy Spirit of God" Ephesians 4:30, and therefore obtaineth not gladness of spirit; "he maketh wine, yet drinketh not wine, who teacheth others, not himself." They too take hold but do not deliver, who for awhile believe and in time of temptation fall away, who repent for a while and then fall back into old sins, or in other ways bring no fruit to perfection; taking up the Cross for awhile and then wearying; using religious practices, as, more frequent prayer or fasting, and then tiring; cultivating some graces and then despairing because they see not the fruits. These tread the olive, but are not anointed with the oil of the Holy Spirit of grace, who (Rib.), "end by doing for the sake of man, what they had thought to do out of the love for God, and abandon, for some fear of man, the good which they had begun."Thou shalt sow, be at great pains and cost in tilling and sowing,
but thou shalt not reap; it shall either not thrive to a harvest, or, if it does, an enemy shall reap it.
Thou shalt tread the olives, lay out thy labour and weary thyself in it, plant the tree, gather the fruit and tread it,
but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil; when thus prepared to use it, an enemy shall rob thee of it. Oil in those countries was much in use, because of the great refreshment it gave to the whole body.
And sweet wine: here is an ellipsis, and must be thus supplied, thou shalt tread the grapes which afford sweet wine.
But shalt not drink wine; in this, as in the other two, thou shalt be disappointed, thou shalt not enjoy thy labour, nor shall thy heart be cheered with new wine, nay, thou shalt be sick with vexing, to see thine enemies’ hearts glad with the wine thou hadst prepared for other guests.
thou shall tread the olives; in the olive press, to get out the oil:
but thou shalt not anoint with oil; as at feasts for refreshment, and at baths for health, this becoming another's property; or, it being a time of distress and mourning, would not be used, it being chiefly at festivals, and occasions of joy, that oil was used:
and sweet wine; that is, shalt tread the grapes in the winepress, to get out the sweet or new wine:
but shalt not drink wine; for, before it is fit to drink, the enemy would have it in his possession; see Leviticus 26:16; these are the punishments or corrections of the rod they are threatened with for their sins.Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap; thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil; and sweet wine, but shalt not drink wine.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)15. tread the olives] It is now the custom only to press the olives; in olden times, they must have been trodden as well (like grapes). Ancient oil-presses are still found in Palestine. The olives were ground to a pulp sometimes by treading, sometimes by a stone-wheel. (Thomson, The Land and the Book, p. 207.)Verse 15. - Here is another judgment in accordance with the threatenings of the Law (Deuteronomy 28:33, 38, etc.; comp. Amos 5:11; Zephaniah 1:13; Haggai 1:6). Shalt not reap. The effect may be owing to the judicial sterility of the soil, but more likely to the incursions of the enemy. Trochon quotes Virgil, ' Eel.,' 1:70 -
"Impius haec tam culta novalia miles habebit?
Barbarus has segetes? en, quo discordia cives
Produxit miseros! his nos consevimus agros!" Tread the olives. Olives were usually pressed or crushed in a mill, in order to extract the oil; the process of treading; was probably adopted by the poor. Gethsemane took its name from the oil presses there. The oil was applied to the person for comfort, luxury, and ceremony, and was almost indispensable in a hot country. Sweet wine. Thou shalt tread the new wine of the vintage, but shalt have to leave it for the enemy (comp. Amos 5:11). The Septuagint has here an interpolation, Καὶ ἀφανισθήσεται νόμιμα λαοῦ μου, "And the ordinances of my people shall vanish away," which has arisen partly from a confusion between Omri, the proper name in the next verse, and ammi, "my people." Obadiah 1:4 shows the worthlessness of this reliance of the Edomites. The object to תּגבּיהּ, viz., קנּך, does not follow till the second clause: If thou makest thy nest high like the eagle, which builds its nest upon the loftiest jagged rocks (Job 39:27-28). This thought is hyperbolically intensified in the second clause: if thy nest had been placed among stars. שׁים is not an infinitive, but a passive participle, as in the primary passage, Numbers 24:21, which Obadiah had before his mind, and in 1 Samuel 9:24; 2 Samuel 13:32; but קנּך is nevertheless to be taken as an accusative of the object, after the analogy of the construction of passives c. accus. obj. (see Ges. 143, l, a.).
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