[b-hebrew] Offend/dealt corruptly - chet bet lamed (nehemiah 1:7)

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Tue Jun 22 20:36:47 EDT 2004

Dear Karl,

>If I were a vitner, I would like to have foxes 
>around. Foxes don’t ruin vineyards, but they do 
>hunt and catch things like mice, rats, moles and 
>other things that do ruin vineyards. If I 
>remember correctly, they even like to eat 
>caterpillars. Foxes are also small, so the only 
>human crops they threaten are newborn lambs and 
>I see this verse calling for holding onto the 
>little foxes connected to (tied to) the vineyard 
>as a way to protect the vineyard and help it 

HH: But do you really know that foxes don't ruin 
vineyards? Here is a statement about foxes from a 
government web site, the government of Tasmania, 
which considers foxes a threat to the nation's 

Impacts to Agriculture and Horticulture

The fox has an enormous impact on Australian agriculture. . . .

Horticultural enterprises such as vineyards 
experience losses of fruit to foxes, either as 
fruit eaten directly, or damaged bunches which 
are then unsaleable. Foxes also have an unusual 
habit of chewing on irrigation emitters such as 
plastic drippers, destroying thousands of dollars 
of irrigation infrastructure in this manner.

Here is some valuable information about the 
danger of foxes to vineyards in Asia provided by 
ancient Romans who wrote in Latin:

The vine branches are either allowed to lay upon 
the ground, or are raised up on forked sticks 
when the grape clusters begin to develop. Varro 
notes that this is the most economical form of 
vine culture, but that the harvest may be damaged 
by foxes and mice:-

"In vineyards where clusters rest on the ground, as in many areas of Asia,
foxes and men compete for the harvest. If the area is populated by mice,
the harvest is smaller unless the whole vineyard is filled with traps, as in
the island of Pandateria."

Columella, De Re Rustica 4.12, 16-17 & 19, provides similar information . . . .

Someone writes about the menace that foxes 
present to vineyards in Israel today:

Foxes are common in the Middle East where at 
least three different species occur. One species 
is so secretive that its presence in Israel was 
discovered only a few years ago! These sly 
creatures are usually nocturnal in their 
behavior. In parts of Galilee it is possible to 
hear them at night--their haunting howls coming 
from the forests and vineyards. Foxes are slight 
animals about the size of a small dog. Their 
agility is mentioned in Nehemiah 3 where Tobiah 
with sarcasm suggests that the lightest animal 
would break down the wall. They can climb up even 
the smallest vines and are still considered a 
menace in vineyards by modern farmers. . . .

I visited the large vineyards of a friend at 
Mamre near Hebron. It was in August, just as the 
grapes were beginning to ripen. The rains had 
stopped in April so the surrounding hills were 
dry and brown. The dry hills set the deep green 
of vines in relief. Some of the vines we examined 
were more than a century old with large gnarled 
stems contrasting with the delicate, well tended 
branches. If left unprotected, they are subject 
to being ravaged by animals (eg, Psalm 80: 13, 
Song of Solomon 2:15).

HH: Someone writes about Song 2:15:

At the time this was written, vineyards had 
protective walls around them. The purpose of the 
walls was to keep out the animals that would harm 
the grapes. Foxes is a generic term, and includes 
jackals. These animals would not eat the flowers 
nor the vines, but only the fruit, the grapes. If 
the vineyard was not closely watched as the fruit 
came on, these animals would destroy the fruit of 
the vine.

HH: Another web site about foxes writes:

-Colpeo foxes penetrate plantations, vineyards, 
an orchard to find a diverse vegetarian diet.

HH: Another site adds:
www.blackwell-synergy.com/links/ doi/10.1111/j.1523-1739.2004.00225.x/full/ -

Gray foxes were only detected and striped skunks 
were primarily found in vineyards adjacent to 
continuous natural habitat

HH: Someone else writes:

As little foxes can ruin the vineyards by gnawing 
at the tender shoots, so the little problems that 
inevitably show up in a growing love relationship 
can ruin that relationship.

HH: Is it possible that foxes could burrow in vineyards, uprooting vines?

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for fox is 
(pronounced) shoo-awl; it means burrower, from 
the fox trait of living in dug-out burrows. In 
the New Testament, the Greek word for fox is 
(pronounced) al-oh-pakes and means cunning. The 
so-called Syrian fox is the only fox native to 
the land of Israel.

HH: Palestine seems to have had a lot of foxes in Bible times:

"And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, 
and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and 
put a firebrand in the midst between two tails. 
And when he had set the brands on fire, he let 
them go into the standing corn of the 
Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and 
also the standing corn, with the vineyards and 

HH: Anyway, foxes can ruin vineyards.

				Harold Holmyard

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