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Bible Dictionaries

Smith's Bible Dictionary


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Wine. The manufacture of wine is carried back in the Bible to the age of Noah, Genesis 9:20-21, to whom the discovery of the process is apparently, though not explicitly, attributed. The natural history and culture of the vine are described under a separate heading. See Vine. The only other plant whose fruit is noticed as having been converted into wine was the pomegranate. Song of Solomon 8:2.

In Palestine, the vintage takes place in September, and is celebrated with great rejoicing. The ripe fruit was gathered in baskets, Jeremiah 6:9, as represented in Egyptian paintings, and was carried to the wine-press. It was then placed in the upper one of the two vats or receptacles of which the winepress was formed, and was subjected to the process of "treading," which has prevailed in all ages in Oriental and south European countries. Nehemiah 13:15; Job 24:11; Isaiah 18:10; Jeremiah 25:30; Jeremiah 48:33; Amos 9:13; Revelation 19:15.

A certain amount of juice exuded from the ripe fruit from its own pressure before treading commenced. This appears to have been kept separate from the rest of the juice, and to have formed the "sweet wine" noticed in Acts 2:13. [See below.] The "treading" was effected by one or more men, according to the size of the vat. They encouraged one another by shouts. Isaiah 16:9-10; Jeremiah 25:30; Jeremiah 248:33.

Their legs and garments were dyed red with the juice. Genesis 40:11; Isaiah 63:2-3. The expressed juice escaped by an aperture into the lower vat, or was at once collected in vessels. A hand-press was occasionally used in Egypt, but we have no notice of such an instrument in the Bible.

As to the subsequent treatment of the wine, we have but little information. Sometimes it was preserved in its unfermented state and drunk as must, but more generally, it was bottled off after fermentation and if it were designed to be kept for some time, a certain amount of lees was added to give it body. Isaiah 25:6 The wine consequently required to be "refined" or strained previous to being brought to table. Isaiah 25:6.

To wine, is attributed the "darkly-flashing eye," Genesis 40:12, Authorized Version, "red," the unbridled tongue, Proverbs 20:1; Isaiah 28:7, the excitement of the spirit, Proverbs 31:6; Isaiah 5:11; Zechariah 9:15; Zechariah 10:7, the enchained affections of its votaries, Hosea 4:11, the perverted judgment, Proverbs 31:5; Isaiah 28:7, the indecent exposure, Habakkuk 2:15-16, and the sickness resulting from the heat (chemah, Authorized Version, "bottles") of wine. Hosea 7:5.

The allusions to the effects of new wine, tirosh, are confined to a single passage, but this a most decisive one, namely, Hosea 4:11. "Whoredom and wine (yayin) and new wine (tirosh) take away the heart," where tirosh appears as the climax of engrossing influences, in immediate connection with yayin.

It has been disputed whether the Hebrew wine was fermented; but the impression produced on the mind by a general review of the above notices is that the Hebrew words indicating wine refer to fermented, intoxicating wine. The notices of fermentation are not very decisive.

A certain amount of fermentation is implied in the distension of the leather bottles when new wine was placed in them, and which was liable to burst old bottles. It is very likely that new wine was preserved in the state of must by placing it in jars or bottles and then burying it in the earth.

The mingling that we read of, in conjunction with wine, may have been designed either to increase or to diminish the strength of the wine, according as spices or water formed the ingredient that was added. The notices chiefly favor the former view; for mingled liquor was prepared for high festivals, Proverbs 9:2; Proverbs 9:5, and occasions of excess. Proverbs 23:30; Isaiah 5:22.

At the same time, strength was not the sole object sought; the wine "mingled with myrrh," given to Jesus, was designed to deaden pain, Mark 15:23, and the spiced pomegranate wine prepared by the bride, Song of Solomon 8:2, may well have been of a mild character.

In the New Testament, the character of the "sweet wine," noticed in Acts 2:13, calls for some little remark. It could not be new wine, in the proper sense of the term, inasmuch as about eight months must have elapsed between the vintage and the Feast of Pentecost. The explanations of the ancient lexicographers rather lead us to infer that its luscious qualities were due, not to its being recently made, but to its being produced from the very purest juice of the grape.

There can be little doubt that the wines of Palestine varied in quality, and were named after the localities in which they were made. The only wines of which we have special notice, belonged to Syria, these were the wine of Helbon Ezekiel 27:18, and the wine of Lebanon, famed for its aroma. Hosea 14:7.

With regard to the uses of wine in private life, there is little to remark. It was produced on occasions of ordinary hospitality, Genesis 14:18, and at festivals, such as marriages. John 2:3.

Under the Mosaic law, wine formed the usual drink offering that accompanied the daily sacrifice, Exodus 29:40, the presentation of the first-fruits, Leviticus 23:13, and other offerings. Numbers 15:5.

Tithe was to be paid of wine, as of other products. The priest was also to receive first-fruits of wine, as of other articles. Deuteronomy 18:4. Compare Exodus 22:29. The use of wine at the Paschal Feast was not enjoined by the law, but had become an established custom, at all events in the post-Babylonian period. The wine was mixed with warm water on these occasions.

Hence, in the early Christian Church, it was usual to mix the sacramental wine with water. (The simple wines of antiquity were incomparably less deadly than the stupefying and ardent beverages of our western nations. The wines of antiquity were more like sirups; many of them were not intoxicant; many more intoxicant in a small degree; and all of them, as a rule, taken only when largely diluted with water. They contained, even undiluted, but 4 or 5 percent of alcohol. - Cannon Farrar).

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Bibliography Information
Smith, William, Dr. Entry for 'Wine'. Smith's Bible Dictionary. 1901.

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