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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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חמצ , Numbers 6:3; Ruth 2:14; Psalms 69:21; Proverbs 10:26; Proverbs 25:20; οξος , Matthew 27:48; Mark 15:36; John 19:29-30; an acid produced by a second fermentation of vinous liquors. The law of the Nazarite was that he should "separate himself from wine and strong drink, and should drink no vinegar of wine, nor vinegar of strong drink, nor any liquor of grapes." This is exactly the same prohibition that was given in the case of John the Baptist, Luke 1:15 , οινιν και σικερα ου μη πιη , wine and sikera he shall not drink. Any inebriating liquor, says Jerom, is called sicera, whether made of corn, apples, honey, dates, or other fruits. One of the four prohibited drinks among the Mohammedans in India is called sakar, which signifies inebriating drink in general, but especially date wine. From the original word, probably, we have our term cider or sider, which among us, exclusively means the fermented juice of apples. Vinegar was used by harvesters for their refreshment. Boaz told Ruth that she might come and dip her bread in vinegar with his people. Pliny says, "Aceto summa vis in refrigerando." [There is the greatest power in vinegar, in cooling.] It made a very cooling beverage. It was generally diluted with water. When very strong it affected the teeth disagreeably, Proverbs 10:26 . In Proverbs 25:20 , the singing of songs to a heavy heart is finely compared to the contrariety or colluctation between vinegar and nitre; untimely mirth to one in anxiety serves only to exasperate, and as it were put into a ferment by the intrusion.

The Emperor Pescennius Niger gave orders that his soldiers should drink nothing but vinegar on their marches. That which the Roman soldiers offered to our Saviour at his crucifixion, was, probably, the vinegar they made use of for their own drinking. Constantine the Great allowed them wine and vinegar alternately, every day. This vinegar was not of that sort which we use for salads and sauces, but it was a tart wine called pesca, or sera. They make great use of it in Spain and Italy, in harvest time. They use it also in Holland and on shipboard, to correct the ill taste of the water.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Vinegar'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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