and, “Watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” The disciples at first did not understand that Jesus was using a symbolism, but finally discerned that he was warning them to be on guard against false doctrine and hypocritical practices, “the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” which teaching had a corrupting effect. (Matt. 16:6, 11, 12; Luke 12:1) He also mentioned Herod (evidently including his party followers) in one of his warnings, saying: “Keep your eyes open, look out for the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” (Mark 8:15) Jesus boldly denounced the Pharisees as hypocrites concerned with outward show. (Matt. 23:25-28) He pointed out the wrong doctrinal viewpoint of the Sadducees. He exposed the hypocrisy and political treachery of the party followers of Herod.—Matt. 22:15-21; Mark 3:6.
The apostle Paul employed the same symbolism when he commanded the Christian congregation in Corinth to expel an immoral man from the congregation, stating: “Do you not know that a little leaven ferments the whole lump? Clear away the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, according as you are free from ferment. For, indeed, Christ our passover has been sacrificed.” He then clearly showed what he meant by “leaven”: “Consequently let us keep the festival, not with old leaven, neither with leaven of injuriousness and wickedness, but with unfermented cakes of sincerity and truth.” (1 Cor. 5:6-8) Paul here was drawing on the pictorial meaning of the Jewish festival of unfermented cakes, which immediately followed the Passover celebration. Just as a bit of sour dough soon causes the whole lump or batch of bread to be leavened, so the congregation as a body, if it did not clear out this corrupting influence of the immoral man, would become unclean in Jehovah’s eyes. They must act to get the “leaven” out of their midst, just as the Israelites could have no leaven in their houses during the festival.
Leaven was associated with corruption even in the minds of peoples of antiquity other than the Hebrews. For instance, Plutarch, a Greek biographer, spoke of it as “itself the offspring of corruption, and corrupting the mass of dough with which it is mixed.”
The permeating property of leaven can also be used to illustrate the action of that which is good. Thus, as leaven permeates the dough to which it is added, so the kingdom of the heavens has far-reaching, pervasive effects, extending its influence among people of all nations and, eventually, extending its governmental power and authority over the entire earth. Jesus employed this figure of speech when he said: “The kingdom of the heavens is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three large measures of flour, until the whole mass was fermented.”—Matt. 13:33; Luke 13:20, 21; compare Matthew 13:31, 32; Luke 13:18, 19; Daniel 2:35, 44, 45.
It was with irony that Jehovah told transgressing Israel in Amos’ day: “From what is leavened make a thanksgiving sacrifice to smoke, and proclaim voluntary offerings.” (Amos 4:5) God was telling them that all their worship at Bethel and at Gilgal was transgression against him, so they might as well go ahead and offer leavened as well as unleavened bread on the altar—hold nothing back. It would all still be in vain because they were committing idolatry.
Generally, the westernmost of the two ranges forming the mountain system of Lebanon. Perhaps its name is derived from the light color of its limestone cliffs and summits or from the fact that the range’s upper slopes are covered with snow during a major part of the year. (Jer. 18:14) Extending from N-NE to S-SW for some ninety-five miles (153 kilometers) along the Mediterranean Sea, the Lebanon chain parallels the Anti-Lebanon range for about sixty-five miles (105 kilometers). The two ranges are separated by a long, fertile valley (Coele-Syria or the Biqaʽ) measuring between six and ten miles (10 and 16 kilometers) in width. (Josh. 11:17; 12:7) Through this valley the Orontes River courses northward, whereas the Litany (its lower course being called Nahr el-Kasimiye) flows southward and curves around the southern end of the Lebanon range. The Nahr el-Kebir (Eleutherus) flows past the northern end of the Lebanon chain.
With few exceptions, the foothills of the Lebanon range rise almost directly from the Mediterranean Sea, leaving only a narrow coastal plain. The summits of this range average between 6,000 and 7,000 feet (c. 1,800 meters and c. 2,100 meters) in elevation, with two peaks towering over 3,000 feet (c. 900 meters) higher. Both the eastern and the western slopes of Lebanon are steep.
The range itself consists of a bottom layer of hard limestone, next a layer of yellow and red sandstone overlaid and interspersed with limestone, and finally another layer of limestone. Its eastern slopes are quite barren and have practically no important streams. But the well-watered western slopes are cleft by streams and gorges. (Compare Song of Solomon 4:15.) The terraced lower slopes on the W side support grain, vineyards, fruit orchards, and mulberry, walnut and olive trees. (Compare Hosea 14:5-7.) Pines thrive in the rich soil of the sandstone layer, and at the higher elevations are to be found a few small groves of the majestic cedars that anciently covered the range and the wood of which was used for various purposes.(1 Ki. 6:9; Song of Sol. 3:9; Ezek. 27:5; see CEDAR.) Ash, cypress and juniper trees are also native to the Lebanon range. (1 Ki. 5:6-8; 2 Ki. 19:23; Isa. 60:13) Among the animals inhabiting this region are jackals, gazelles, hyenas, wolves and bears. In ancient times both the forests and wildlife were more abundant, it being a haunt for lions and leopards. (Song of Sol. 4:8; Isa. 40:16) Possibly it was the fragrance of its great forests that was known as the “fragrance of Lebanon.”—Song of Sol. 4:11.
The Lebanon region was not conquered by the Israelites under Joshua’s leadership, but came to be the NW border of the land. (Deut. 1:7; 3:25; 11:24; Josh. 1:4; 9:1) The pagan inhabitants of this area, however, served to test Israel’s faithfulness to Jehovah. (Judg. 3:3, 4) Centuries later, King Solomon exercised jurisdiction over a part of Lebanon and there did building work. (1 Ki. 9:17-19; 2 Chron. 8:5, 6) Possibly one of his construction projects included “the tower of Lebanon, which is looking out toward Damascus.” (Song of Sol. 7:4; some, however, understand this to refer to one of the peaks of Lebanon.) At this time Hiram the king of Tyre controlled another portion of Lebanon, from which he supplied Solomon with cedar and juniper timbers.—1 Ki. 5:7-14.
Many of the Scriptural references to Lebanon are associated with its fruitfulness (Ps. 72:16; Isa. 35:2) and luxuriant forests, particularly its majestic cedars. (Ps. 29:5) Often Lebanon is used in a figurative way. It is depicted as if in a state of abashment, sympathizing with the land of Judah that had been despoiled by the Assyrian forces. (Isa. 33:1, 9) The Assyrian army itself, however, was to experience calamity, being felled like trees of Lebanon. (Isa. 10:24-26, 33, 34) Disastrous effects resulting from Jehovah’s judgment are compared to the withering of the blossom of Lebanon. (Nah. 1:4) However, the turning of Lebanon’s forest into a fruitful orchard is alluded to in a restoration prophecy and illustrates a complete reversal of matters.—Isa. 29:17, 18.
Jehovah, through Jeremiah, “said concerning the house of the king of Judah, ‘You are as Gilead to me, the head of Lebanon.’” (Jer. 22:6) The “house” appears to designate the palace complex. (Jer. 22:1, 5)