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wine

Grapes growing on the vine. Copyrighted © image.

The common Hebrew word for wine is yayin, from a root meaning “to boil up,” “to be in a ferment.” Others derive it from a root meaning “to tread out,” and hence the juice of the grape trodden out.

The Greek word for wine is oinos_, and the Latin _vinun.

But besides this common Hebrew word, there are several others which are also translated as “wine”:

  1. Ashishah (2 Sam. 6:19; 1 Chr. 16:3; Song of Songs 2:5; Hos. 3:1), which, however, rather denotes a solid cake of pressed grapes, or, as in the Revised Version, a cake of raisins.

  2. 'Asis, “sweet wine,” or “new wine,” the product of the same year (Song of Songs 8:2; Isa. 49:26; Joel 1:5; 3:18; Amos 9:13), from a root meaning “to tread,” hence juice trodden out or pressed out, thus referring to the method by which the juice is obtained. The power of intoxication is ascribed to it.

  3. Hometz. See VINEGAR.

  4. Hemer, Deut. 32:14 (translated “blood of the grape”) Isa. 27:2 (“red wine”), Ezra 6:9; 7:22; Dan. 5:1,2,4. This word conveys the idea of “foaming,” as in the process of fermentation, or when poured out. It is derived from the root hamar, meaning “to boil up,” and also “to be red,” from the idea of boiling or becoming inflamed.

  5. 'Enabh, a grape (Deut. 32:14). The last clause of this verse should be translated as in the Revised Version, “and of the blood of the grape ['enabh] thou drankest wine [hemer].” In Hos. 3:1 the phrase in the King James Version, “flagons of wine,” is in the Revised Version correctly “cakes of raisins.” [also in the NKJV and NIV] (Compare Gen. 49:11; Num. 6:3; Deut. 23:24, etc., where this Hebrew word is translated in the plural “grapes.”)

  6. Mesekh, properly a mixture of wine and water with spices that increase its stimulating properties (Isa. 5:22). Ps. 75:8, “The wine [yayin] is red; it is full of mixture [mesekh];” Prov. 23:30, “mixed wine;” Isa. 65:11, “drink offering” (Revised Version, “mingled wine”).

  7. Tirosh, properly “must,” translated “wine” (Deut. 28:51); “new wine” (Prov. 3:10); “sweet wine” (Micah 6:15; Revised Version, “vintage”).

    This Hebrew word has been traced to a root meaning “to take possession of” and hence it is supposed that tirosh is so designated because in intoxicating it takes possession of the brain. Among the blessings promised to Esau (Gen. 27:28) mention is made of “plenty of corn and tirosh.” Israel is called “a land of corn and tirosh” ( Deut. 33:28; compare Isa. 36:17). See also Deut. 28:51; 2 Chr. 32:28; Joel 2:19; Hos. 4:11, (“wine [yayin] and new wine [tirosh] take away the heart”).

  8. Sobhe (root meaning “to drink to excess,” “to suck up,” “absorb”), found only in Isa. 1:22, Hos. 4:18 (“their drink;” Gesen. and margin note of Revised Version, “their carouse”), and Nahum 1:10 (“drunken as drunkards;” literally, “soaked according to their drink;” Revised Version, “drenched, as it were, in their drink”, i.e., according to their sobhe).

  9. Shekar, “strong drink,” any intoxicating liquor; from a root meaning “to drink deeply,” “to be drunken”, a generic term applied to all fermented liquors, however obtained. Num. 28:7, “strong wine” (Revised Version, “strong drink”).

    It is sometimes distinguished from wine, c.g., Lev. 10:9, “Do not drink wine [yayin] nor strong drink [shekar];” Num. 6:3; Judg. 13:4, 7; Isa. 28:7 (in all these places rendered “strong drink”). Translated “strong drink” also in Isa. 5:11; 24:9; 29:9; 56:12; Prov. 20:1; 31:6; Micah 2:11.

  10. Yekebh ( Deut. 16:13, but in Revised Version correctly “wine-press”) [also in NKJV and NIV], a vat into which the new wine flowed from the press. Joel 2:24, “their vats;” 3:13, “the fats;” Prov. 3:10, “Thy presses shall burst out with new wine [tirosh];” Hag. 2:16; Jer. 48:33, “wine-presses;” 2 Kings 6:27; Job. 24:11.

  11. Shemarim (only in plural), “lees” or “dregs” of wine. In Isa. 25:6 it is rendered “wines on the lees”, i.e., wine that has been kept on the lees, and therefore old wine.

  12. Mesek, “a mixture,” mixed or spiced wine, not diluted with water, but mixed with drugs and spices to increase its strength, or, as some think, mingled with the lees by being shaken (Ps. 75:8; Prov. 23:30).

  13. In Acts 2:13 the word gleukos, rendered “new wine,” denotes properly “sweet wine.” It must have been intoxicating.

Alternate use of grapes

In addition to wine, the Hebrews also made use of what they called debash, which was obtained by boiling down must to one-half or one-third of its original bulk. In Gen. 43:11 this word is rendered “honey.” It was a kind of syrup, and is called by the Arabs at the present day dibs. This word occurs in the phrase “a land flowing with milk and honey” (debash), Ex. 3:8, 17; 13:5; 33:3; Lev. 20:24; Num. 13:27. (See HONEY.)

Miracle of water turned to wine

Our Lord miraculously supplied wine at the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11).

NOTE: “In view of the long trip from Bethabara to Cana, it is probable that Jesus and the disciples arrived late to the wedding only to find that the guests had exhausted the wine supply and had ‘well drunk’ (literally had ‘become drunken’—John 2:10). ‘Have well drunk’ is one word in the Greek (methuo) meaning simply “are drunk” and is translated with this meaning in every other instance where it is used (Matthew 24:49).

…These six waterpots (normally used for washing feet) when full would contain about 150 gallons. [Jesus ordered them filled with water, and turned the water into wine.] This much additional intoxicating wine would certainly be too much for guests who were already drunk, and it is inconceivable that Jesus would provide such. This ‘good wine’ had been miraculously created by the Creator and was brand new, with no time to ferment and become old, intoxicating wine. The Greek word oinos was used for the juice of grapes in general, the same word for both unfermented and fermented wine, with the context determining which. The decay process, utilizing leaven (always in Scripture representing corruption) to convert good fresh wine into old, intoxicating wine, could not have acted in this case because Christ Himself had created the wine in its originally intended form before sin and decay entered the world. In this form, it was certainly the best wine, having all the health-giving, joy-inspiring character it was created to exhibit in the beginning. It was probably the same wine which Christ will provide in ‘that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom’ (Matthew 26:29), and it will certainly not induce drunkenness.” (Dr. Henry M. Morris, The Defenders Bible—notes)

People who were forbidden to drink wine

The Rechabites were forbidden the use of wine (Jer. 35). The Nazarites also were to abstain from its use during the period of their vow (Num. 6:1-4); and those who were dedicated as Nazarites from their birth were perpetually to abstain from it (Judg. 13:4,5; Luke 1:15; 7:33).

The priests, too, were forbidden the use of wine and strong drink when engaged in their sacred functions (Lev. 10:1, 9-11).

Wine offering

A drink-offering of wine was presented with the daily sacrifice (Ex. 29:40,41), and also with the offering of the first-fruits (Lev. 23:13), and with various other sacrifices (Num. 15:5,7, 10).

Passover and Lord’s Supper

Wine was used at the celebration of the Passover.

And when the Lord's Supper was instituted, the wine and the unleavened bread then on the paschal table were by our Lord set apart as memorials of his body and blood.

Drunkeness

The sin of drunkenness, however, must have been not uncommon in the olden times, for it is mentioned either metaphorically or literally more than seventy times in the Bible.

Several emphatic warnings are given in the New Testament against excess in the use of wine (Luke 21:34; Rom. 13:13; Eph. 5:18; 1 Tim. 3:8; Titus 1:7).

Author: Matthew G. Easton with minor editing by Paul S. Taylor.

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