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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words


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Yayin (יַיִן, Strong's #3196), “wine.” Cognates of this word appear in Akkadian, Ugaritic, Aramaic, Arabic, and Ethiopic. It appears about 141 times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.

This is the usual Hebrew word for fermented grape. It is usually rendered “wine.” Such “wine” was commonly drunk for refreshment: “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine …” (Gen. 14:18; cf. 27:25). Passages such as Ezek. 27:18 inform us that “wine” was an article of commerce: “Damascus was thy merchant in the multitude of the wares of thy making, for the multitude of all riches; in the wine of Helbon, and white wool.” Strongholds were supplied with “wine” in case of siege (2 Chron. 11:11). Proverbs recommends that kings avoid “wine” and strong drink but that it be given to those troubled with problems that they might drink and forget their problems (Prov. 31:4-7). “Wine” was used to make merry, to make one feel good without being intoxicated (2 Sam. 13:28).

Second, “wine” was used in rejoicing before the Lord. Once a year all Israel is to gather in Jerusalem. The money realized from the sale of a tithe of all their harvest was to be spent “for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice …” (Deut. 14:26). “Wine” was offered to God at His command as part of the prescribed ritual (Exod. 29:40). Thus it was part of the temple supplies available for purchase by pilgrims so that they could offer it to God (1 Chron. 9:29). Pagans used “wine” in their worship, but “their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps” (Deut. 32:33)

Yayin clearly represents an intoxicating beverage. This is evident in its first biblical appearance: “And Noah began to be a husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: and he drank of the wine, and was drunken …” (Gen. 9:20-21). The word is used as a synonym of tirosh , “new wine,” in Hos. 4:11, where it is evident that both can be intoxicating. Tirosh is distinguished from yayin by referring only to new wine not fully fermented; yayin includes “wine” at any stage. In Gen. 27:28 (the first biblical occurrence of the word) Jacob’s blessing includes the divine bestowal of an abundance of new wine. In 1 Sam. 1:15 yayin parallels shekar, “strong drink.” Shekar in early times included wine (Num. 28:7) but meant strong drink made from any fruit or grain (Num. 6:3). People in special states of holiness were forbidden to drink “wine,” such as the Nazarites (Num. 6:3), Samson’s mother (Judg. 13:4), and priests approaching God (Lev. 10:9).

In Gen. 9:24 yayin means drunkenness: “And Noah awoke from his wine.…”

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Wine'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. 1940.

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