A Biblical Look At Wine
(fermented grape juice)
In Light Of The Atoning Work of Christ
By Curt Wildy
Introduction To Part Two
In Part One, I gave an overview of how the fermentation process that turns grape juice into wine typifies the atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ. I cannot urge you enough to start with Part One before continuing on if you wish to have a proper understanding of what this study aims to prove. This current part will focus on the various Greek and Hebrew words for wine and we will be taking particular note of the root words from whence they derive. The goal is to show from the biblical usage, as well as from the inherent meanings of the key words, that fermentation is a type of wrath, judgment, trouble, turmoil, and a fiery trial — and that wine is the end-product of the atonement that makes the heart of God’s people joyous. These truths were discussed in Part One, but in this part and later parts, I aim to go into more detail to substantiate the arguments made therein.
How Is Wine Defined Secularly?
The wine associated with the Lord Jesus Christ has to be derived from the fermented juice of the fruit of the grape vine (as opposed to rice wine, or blackberry wine, etc.) because He is the True Vine and we are the branches of His Vineyard. The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines wine as, amongst other things, “the alcoholic fermented juice of fresh grapes used as a beverage” or “the alcoholic usually fermented juice of a plant product (as a fruit) used as a beverage.“
What people call “leavened wine” is a bit of a misnomer in our day given that wine is not leavened. Grape juice is leavened, but the full fermentation process kills the leaven and the filtration process (which removes the dregs) takes away the dead leaven. Perfect wine is 100% leaven free; so when people in our day speak of “leavened wine,” what they actually mean is wine made from the leavening and fermentation of grape juice. Again, these facts are important in that they will help us to better understand the doctrinal truth concerning the atoning blood and propitiatory work of Christ.
How Is Wine Defined In The New Testament?
In the New Testament, there are two Greek words translated as wine: oinos and gleukos.
The first Greek word, oinos [οινος G3631; oy’-nos] means wine in general, and in particular, that wine which is made from fermented grape juice. When we read in Matthew 9:17 “Neither do men put new wine [neos-G3501 + oinos-G3631] into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved” it is generally recognised that it is the expansion of the bottles due to the carbon dioxide gas generated by the fermentation process that causes the bottles to break. Matthew 9:17 is the first use of this word [oinos-G3631] in the Bible. According to the law of first use (which states that the first use of a word sets the tone for its meaning), oinos is mainly referring to fermented wine.
Matthew 11:18-19 “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. 19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber [oinopotes; οἰνοπότης; G3630; oy-nop-ot’-ace; from oinos-G3631 and pino-G4095; pee’-no; meaning to imbibe or drink], a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.“
As stated in Part One, the Lord Jesus would not be criticised and falsely accused of being a winebibber simply for drinking plain, non-alcoholic grape juice.
The other Greek word translated wine is gleukos [γλευκος ; G1098; glyoo’-kos] which is translated in the KJV as new wine (which may be different than neos oinos which is also translated as new wine). Gleukos is generally associated with what is called sweet wine. In the first instance, it does refer to the fresh, unfermented juice of a fruit. However, it is also used to describe that sweet beverage that is apparently a highly inebriating, sugary wine. According to the law of first (and in this case only) use, this is the fermented juice of the grape… it is wine.
“Acts 2:13 …Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine [gleukos-G1098] 14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: 15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.“
If gleukos referred to unfermented, non-alcoholic grape juice in the Bible, why would anyone think that anyone would be inebriated by it? It would have made no sense. However, if gleukos does indeed refer to a sugary wine that is highly intoxicating, then this part of Acts 2 makes perfect sense.
There is a third word that can refer to wine, but as some say, usually does not; this word is sikera and in the AV/KJV it is translated as strong drink. Sikera [σικερα G4608; sik’-er-ah], when not referring to wine, refers to an artificial product made of a mixture of sweet ingredients [whether grain and vegetable-derived or fruit juice-derived (such as dates), or a decoction of honey]. It actually comes from the Hebrew word shekar [שֵׁכָר H7941; shay-kawr’] which is usually translated as “strong drink” in the Old Testament but is translated once as “strong wine” (in Numbers 28:7). These drinks are deemed to be highly intoxicating; this is why God said of John the Baptist in Luke 1:15 “For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink [sikera – G4608]; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.“
According to the biblical usage, all three types of wine/strong drink mentioned in the New Testament refer to previously fermented, inebriating, alcoholic drinks.
How Is Wine Defined In The Old Testament?
In the Old Testament there are several words for wine; I aim to cover each. First, I want to consider what the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia has to say regarding wine. Note that this encyclopedia is one of the most respected sources on Jewish historic/rabbinic/talmudic teaching amongst the Jews. I added the underlining to help show that all these wines were fermented, being aged to different degrees.
There were different kinds of wine. “Yayin” was the ordinary matured, fermented wine, “tirosh” was a new wine, and “shekar” was an old, powerful wine (“strong drink”). The red wine was the better and stronger (Ps. lxxv. 9 [A. V. 8]; Prov. xxiii. 31). Perhaps the wine of Helbon (Ezek. xxvii. 18) and the wine of Lebanon (Hos. xiv. 7) were white wines. The vines of Hebron were noted for their large clusters of grapes (Num. xiii. 23). Samaria was the center of vineyards (Jer. xxxi. 5; Micah i. 6), and the Ephraimites were heavy wine-drinkers (Isa. xxviii. 1). There were also “yayin ha-reḳaḥ” (spiced wine; Cant. viii. 2), “ashishah” (hardened sirup of grapes), “shemarim (wine-dregs), and “ḥomeẓ yayin” (vinegar). Some wines were mixed with poisonous substances (“yayin tar’elah”; Ps. lx. 5; comp. lxxv.9, “mesek” [mixture]). The “wine of the condemned” (“yen ‘anushim”) is wine paid as a forfeit (Amos ii. 8), and “wine of violence” (Prov. iv. 17) is wine obtained by illegal means.
CHEMER & CHAMAR (HEBREW)
For a proper understanding of the role that wine plays in the Bible, we should first look to chemer [חמר H2561; kheh’- mer] a Hebrew word meaning pure (as in unmixed), red wine. The following is the first use of chemer in the Bible:
Deuteronomy 32:9-14 For the LORD’S portion [is] his people; Jacob [is] the lot of his inheritance. 10 He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye…. 13 He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock; 14 Butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou didst drink the pure [chemer-02561] blood of the grape.
Here we see that [chemer-H2561] is a blessing; it is the pure (unmixed) red wine derived from the blood [dam; דָּם H1818; dawm] of the grape which is the juice of the grape. The other passage wherein [chemer-H2561] is used is:
Isaiah 27:1-3 “In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that [is] in the sea. In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine [chemer-02561]. 3 I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest [any] hurt it, I will keep it night and day.“
[Chemer-H2561] stems from the Hebrew root word chamar [02560 חמר khaw-mar’] which is translated in the AV/KJV as troubled, red, daub, and once as foul. What makes this root word so interesting is that it means (depending on its form) to boil, foam, foam up, ferment; to be troubled; to be in turmoil; to be reddenned; and one other thing that I will discuss a bit further down. As the passages below make clear, this word directly relates to divine judgment in general, and the divine judgment suffered by our Lord Jesus Christ (on behalf of the elect), in particular.
Job 16:9 He teareth [me] in his wrath, who hateth me: he gnasheth upon me with his teeth; mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me. 10 They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me upon the cheek reproachfully; they have gathered themselves together against me. 11 God hath delivered me to the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked. 12 I was at ease, but he hath broken me asunder: he hath also taken [me] by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his mark. 13 His archers compass me round about, he cleaveth my reins asunder, and doth not spare; he poureth out my gall upon the ground. 14 He breaketh me with breach upon breach, he runneth upon me like a giant. 15 I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and defiled my horn in the dust. 16 My face is foul [chamar-H2560] with weeping, and on my eyelids [is] the shadow of death.
[These words of Job spiritually point to the suffering of Christ, as our Substitute, under the wrath of God].
Psalm 75:8 For in the hand of the LORD [there is] a cup, and the wine is red [chamar-H2560]; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring [them] out, [and] drink [them].
Lamentations 1:20 Behold, O LORD; for I [am] in distress: my bowels are troubled [chamar-H2560]; mine heart is turned within me; for I have grievously rebelled: abroad the sword bereaveth, at home [there is] as death. 21 They have heard that I sigh: [there is] none to comfort me: all mine enemies have heard of my trouble; they are glad that thou hast done [it]: thou wilt bring the day [that] thou hast called, and they shall be like unto me. 22 Let all their wickedness come before thee; and do unto them, as thou hast done unto me for all my transgressions: for my sighs [are] many, and my heart [is] faint.
[These words of Jeremiah, as with the following passage, likewise point to the suffering of Christ (as our Substitute, as He atoned for us, and as we were baptised and crucified with Him vicariously].
Lamentations 2:11 Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled [chamar-H2560], my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city.
CHAMAR –> KAPHAR / CHEMER –> KOPHER
There is another meaning for this root word chamar, one that means to daub, seal up, cover or smear with asphalt. This meaning directly pertains to being baptised/covered/pitched/atoned for by the blood of the Lamb (this blood being typified by the pure juice of the grape turned into red wine via the (spiritually) heated, boiling, tumultous, and foul fermenting process). With [chemer-H2561] being red wine made from the fully fermented juice of the grape, and with it deriving from [chamar-H2560] (which means, amongst other things, to daub, seal up, cover or smear with asphalt) we can see that these words tie-in with two other words of significant weight and import… kaphar and kopher (with chamar corresponding to kaphar and chemer corresponding to kopher).
Kaphar [כָּפַר H3722 ; kaw-far’] is a Hebrew verb which literally means both (a) to coat or cover with pitch/asphalt (particularly of a red color because it ties in with the reddish-brown dye henna) and (b) to expiate, make atonement for, atone for sin, cover over, pacify, appease, and propitiate. Whereas Kaphar has the dual, but related, meaning of both covering something and making proptitiation / atonement for something, kopher [כּוֹפֶר H3724; (ko’-fer)] (as the noun) has the dual meaning of both the ransom, satisfaction, and price of life (i.e. that which is used to atone for, or ransom, something) — and the thing used to cover something (e.g. asphalt or pitch). Basically, one kaphar’s with kopher (or is kaphar’ed with kopher). As stated, one of the definitions of kopher is henna; henna stains start off orange in color, but after three days it darkens to a reddish brown. I believe that this too is a picture of the blood of Christ and the atonement.
When we consider all relevant sources (the best being James W. Dale’s series on the subject in my opinion), we see that baptism (bapto/baptizo) has a dual meaning; it means: (1) to stain or dye and (2) to cover, whelm, or merse. When we are baptised with the blood of Christ we are stained and dyed by it as it covers and whelms us. Thus, Kaphar=Baptism and Kopher=the blood. Consider:
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by [dia; διά G1223; literally… through] water. 21 The like figure whereunto [even] baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We see that baptism literally saves us; we are literally saved when we are baptized… but not with water… we are literally saved when we are baptised with the blood of Christ. Again, we are not saved by, or baptised by, water — we are baptised and saved through water, with water being the judgment. We see water as a picture of judgment in Noah’s day and during the Exodus — in both cases, God’s people were saved through the water. Consider the following:
Genesis 6:17 And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. 18 And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters. 19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that [were] under the whole heaven, were covered. 20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered. 21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: 22 All in whose nostrils [was] the breath of life, of all that [was] in the dry [land], died.7 23 And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained [alive], and they that [were] with him in the ark.
Exodus 15:18 The LORD shall reign for ever and ever. 19 For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the LORD brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry [land] in the midst of the sea.
We see other pictures of water as judgment. Consider:
Jonah 2:1 Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly, 2 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, [and] thou heardest my voice. 3 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. 4 Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. 5 The waters compassed me about, [even] to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.
Psalm 69:1 To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, [A Psalm] of David. Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto [my] soul. 2 I sink in deep mire, where [there is] no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. 3 I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God. 4 They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, [being] mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored [that] which I took not away. 5 O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee.
So we see that according to 1 Peter 3, this baptism in the blood of Christ (which sees us through the water of judgment) is likened to the saving of the eight souls in the ark. We may ask, how do we know that baptism with the blood is in view concerning Noah’s ark? To understand this properly, we must go back to Genesis 6.
Genesis 6:13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch [kaphar-H3722; verb form] it within and without with pitch [kopher; כּוֹפֶר H3724; (ko’-fer); noun form].
Just as the ark was pitched (kaphar; covered, mersed, baptised) within and wihout, with the red (think henna), atoning pitch/asphalt (kopher), so are our hearts covered with the blood of Christ and our robes made white therein. Those that were in the ark were saved from the watery judgment by the blood (the pitch) that covered the ark. This pitch protected those in the ark from the water in like manner to how the blood keeps us from the judgment and the effects thereof. All of this is a picture of atonement because that is precisely what kaphar means… and kaphar is a synonym for chamar from whence we get the red wine, chemer.
Consider the use of [kaphar-H3722] in the Bible:
Exodus 29:33 And they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made [kaphar-H3722], to consecrate [and] to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not eat [thereof], because they [are] holy.
Leviticus 4:20 And he shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock for a sin offering, so shall he do with this: and the priest shall make an atonement [kaphar-H3722] for them, and it shall be forgiven them.
Deuteronomy 21:8 Be merciful [kaphar-H3722; literally, “be propitiated” like as in Luke 18:13], O LORD, unto thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of Israel’s charge. And the blood shall be forgiven [kaphar-H3722] them.
Psalm 65:3 Iniquities prevail against me: [as for] our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away [kaphar-H3722].
Ezekiel 16:63 That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified [kaphar-H3722] toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord GOD.
Daniel 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation [kaphar-H3722] for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
Consider the use of [kopher-H3724] in the Bible:
Exodus 30:11 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 12 When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom [kopher-H3724] for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when [thou] numberest them.
Numbers 35:31 Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction [kopher-H3724] for the life of a murderer, which [is] guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death. 32 And ye shall take no satisfaction [kopher-H3724] for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again to dwell in the land, until the death of the priest.
Job 33:24 Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom [kopher-H3724].
Proverbs 21:18 The wicked [shall be] a ransom [kopher-H3724] for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.
Isaiah 43:3 For I [am] the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt [for] thy ransom [kopher-H3724], Ethiopia and Seba for thee.
MORE ON THE SYNONYMOUS NATURE OF CHAMAR & KAPHAR
I want to go back to [chamar-H2560] in light of [kaphar-H3722] and [kopher-H3724] and in light of the law of first use. We first see [chamar-H2560] used in:
Exodus 2:1 And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took [to wife] a daughter of Levi. 2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son [Moses]: and when she saw him that he [was a] goodly [child], she hid him three months. 3 And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark [tebah; H8392; tay-baw’) of bulrushes, and daubed [chamar-H2560] it with slime [chemar-H2564; khay-mawr’] and with pitch [zepheth-H2203; (zeh’-feth], and put the child therein; and she laid [it] in the flags by the river’s brink.
Here we see that Moses was put into a box, an ark, just as Noah entered an ark. Tebah is the same word for both Noah’s ark and Moses’ ark. Noah’s ark was pitched [kaphar-H3722] with pitch [kopher-H3724] and Moses’ ark was pitched [chamar-H2560] with slime [chemar-H2564] and pitch [H2203 – zepheth]. God is using different Hebrew words to paint the same picture; He is evidencing the synonymous nature of these words. Again, the pitch protects those in the ark just as the blood of Christ protects those who are in Christ (on a side note, we see another ark sprinked (baptised/pitched/covered) with blood and that is the ark of the covenant which typifies the heart of the believer; however, this is worthy of its own study).
The Hebrew word chemar [חמר H2564; khay-mawr’] meaning pitch, slime, and asphault stems from [chamar-H2560]. It is also important to remember that one of the meanings for [chamar-H2560] (besides to ferment) is to to daub, seal up, cover or smear with asphalt. So one is chamar’ed by chemar’ or one chamar’s with chemar. I am being repetitive here to help with the memorising of the key words/concepts and to help distinguishing them due to the similarities in spelling and Strong numbers. As you may have already guessed, [chemar-H2564] is a sister word to [chemer-H2561] which we discussed above and means red fermented wine. We see that [chemar-H2564] (slime) is used in association with judgement, or what leads to judgment, as per the following passages:
Genesis 14:11 And the vale of Siddim [was full of] slime[chemar-H2564]pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain.
Genesis 11:1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime [chemar-H2564] had they for morter. 4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top [may reach] unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
Remember that [chemer-H2561] is also used in conjunction with judgment as we saw in:
Isaiah 27:1-3 “In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that [is] in the sea. 2 In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine 3 I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest [any] hurt it, I will keep it night and day. [chemer-H2561].“
As a recap, we see [chamar-H2560] directly related to fermentation (judgment), covering, and atonement — and from [chamar-H2560], we get the [chemar-H2564], the slime into which the wicked will fall (typifying divine judgment). This same [chemar-H2564] slime is used to cover/pitch the ark of Moses (Genesis 14:11, Exodus 2:3) which is a type of the atoning blood of Christ. Yet from [chamar-H2560], we also get [chemer-H2561], the fermented red wine (which also typifies the blood as it is put through judgment and covers us). Remember that Isaiaih 27 declares that in the day that leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent, is punished [a verse worthy of its own study/studies], we shall sing a song concerning the vineyard of red wine that the LORD keeps night and day, and waters every moment, lest [any] hurt it.
On a final note related to the Hebrew chemer/chamar/chemar discussion, we saw that Moses’ ark was also pitched [chamar-H2560] with [zepheth-H2203] a word that means asphalt (from its tendency to soften in the sun). This word also pertains to judgment as we read it in its only other biblical use:
Isaiah 34:8-10 “For [it is] the day of the LORD’S vengeance, [and] the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion. 9 And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch [zepheth-H2203], and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. 10 It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.“
Here again, we see the fact that the pitch itself, which saves the believers, is itself associated with judgment — for Christ endured the judgment. We are not saved by the original juice in the grape, but by the juice of the grape that has gone through fiery judgment unto the removal of all leaven, all sin.
There is another related word that also means wine; it is the word chamar [חֲמַר H2562; (kham-ar’)]. Although it is spelled like the root of [chemer-H2561], it is actually the aramaic version of chemer. We find it in three biblical passages — two that lead to blessing and one that leads to cursing:
Ezra 6:8 Moreover I [Darius the King] make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king’s goods, [even] of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered.9 And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine [chamar-H2562], and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which [are] at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail: 10 That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.
Ezra 7:21 And I, [even] I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which [are] beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily, 22 Unto an hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine [chamar-H2562], and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing [how much]. 23 Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?
Daniel 5:1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine [chamar-H2562] before the thousand. 2 Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine [chamar-H2562], commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which [was] in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. 3 Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which [was] at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. 4 They drank wine [chamar-H2562], and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. 5 In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. 6 Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another… 22 And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; 23 But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine [chamar-H2562] in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath [is], and whose [are] all thy ways, hast thou not glorified… 30 In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. 31 And Darius the Median took the kingdom, [being] about threescore and two years old.
We already touched on some aspects of shekar [שֵׁכָר H7941; shay-kawr’] in the New Testament section above. The verb from which it derives is the Hebrew word shakar [שָׁכַר H7937; (shaw-kar’)] which means to become tipsy; to satiate with a stimulating drink or (figuratively) influence; to be, become, or make drunk/drunken/intoxicated.
The first use of shekar appears in:
Leviticus 10:9 “Do not drink wine nor strong drink [shekar-H7941], thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations.“
Clearly the wine and strong drink would be intoxicating both from the literal definition and from its obvious use. As I wrote previously, Aaron and his sons were not commanded to be Nazarites. They were not commanded to stay away from all intoxicating beverages at all times; they were simply commanded to abstain from such beverages “when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation.“
Please consider the use of this strong wine in the Bible; it will become clear that not only was it a blessing to the righteous who drank it wisely, but it was a sweet savour to God Himself:
Numbers 28:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Command the children of Israel, and say unto them, My offering, [and] my bread for my sacrifices made by fire, [for] a sweet savour unto me, shall ye observe to offer unto me in their due season. 3 And thou shalt say unto them, This [is] the offering made by fire which ye shall offer unto the LORD; two lambs of the first year without spot day by day, [for] a continual burnt offering.2 4 The one lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at even; 5 And a tenth [part] of an ephah of flour for a meat offering, mingled with the fourth [part] of an hin of beaten oil. 6 [It is] a continual burnt offering, which was ordained in mount Sinai for a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD. 7 And the drink offering thereof [shall be] the fourth [part] of an hin for the one lamb: in the holy [place] shalt thou cause the strong wine [shekar-H7941], to be poured unto the LORD [for] a drink offering.
Deuteronomy 14:22 Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. 23 And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine [tiyrowsh-H8492; see section below], and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always. 24 And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; [or] if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: 25 Then shalt thou turn [it] into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: 26 And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine [yayin-H3196; see section below], or for strong drink [shekar-H7941], or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household.
Proverbs 31:4 [It is] not for kings, O Lemuel, [it is] not for kings to drink wine [yayin-H3196; see section below]; nor for princes strong drink [shekar-H7941]: 5 Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. 6 Give strong drink [shekar-H7941] unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.
The Hebrew word yayin [יין H3196; yah’-yin] means (intoxicating) wine and is derived from an unused root meaning to effervesce. Effervesce means “to give off bubbles of gas, as fermenting liquors;” thus, clearly the very root and nature of the word pertains to fermented grape juice (intoxicating wine). Consider the first three instances of this word in the Bible, listed in order:
Genesis 9:20 And Noah began [to be] an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: 21 And he drank of the wine [yayin-H3196], and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent… 24 And Noah awoke from his wine [yayin-H3196], and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
Genesis 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine [yayin-H3196]: and he [was] the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
According to the law of first use, yayin is clearly an intoxicating drink. In the third use, we see that Melchizedek, King of Salem, brought forth bread and yayin to Abram. To break from the first two instances and make the third instance of yayin non-alcoholic runs contrary to the biblical flow and to the root-meaning of the word.
God, as we read in Psalm 104:14-15,
“…causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; 15 And wine [yayin-H3196] [that] maketh glad the heart of man, [and] oil to make [his] face to shine, and bread [which] strengtheneth man’s heart.“
Clearly yayin, the result of the fully fermented juice from the fruit of the vine, is a blessing as per Genesis 14:18-19 and Psalm 104:14-15. So far, we have also seen that the (intoxicating) wines chemer, shekar, and chamar (aramaic) are also clearly spoken of as being blessings for God’s people; as we shall see, tiyrowsh, aciyc, and ‘ashiyshah are no different.
Remember, the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia states “There were different kinds of wine. “Yayin” was the ordinary matured, fermented wine, “tirosh” was a new wine, and “shekar” was an old, powerful wine (“strong drink”). This encyclopedia groups tirosh/tiyrowsh with actual wine. However, according to many, the Hebrew word tirosh/tiyrosh/tiyrowsh [תירושׁ H8492; tee-roshe’] usually means must or fresh grape-juice (as just squeezed out). It can mean fresh grape juice, grape juice going through the fermentation process, or fermented grape juice (wine), but many go with the first.
In the Bible, [tiyrowsh-H8492] is called new wine, and may be related to either the neos oinos or the gleukos mentioned in the New Testament section above — both of which exclusively refer to intoxicating wine as per the biblical usage. Yet, the first use of tiyrowsh in the Bible is found in:
Genesis 27:28 “Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine [tiyrowsh-H8492].“
Genesis 27:28 is typical of many psaages in the Bible containing [tiyrowsh-H8492] in that it does not clearly distinguish (intoxicating) wine from (non-intoxicating) fresh grape juice.
Isaiah 65:8 “Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine [tiyrowsh-H8492] is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all.“
Many argue that only this tiyrowsh, supposedly “non-intoxicating,” wine is a blessing because it is plain grape juice and they argue that God puts no blessing on fermented (intoxicating) juice. However, as discussed above, yayin, chemer, shekar, and chamar completely dispel this notion. Moreover, there is biblical evidence that strongly suggests that [tiyrowsh-H8492] is real, intoxicating wine.
In the [shekar-H7941] section above, we discussed Deuteronomy 14:22-26, and noted that [tiyrowsh-H8492] was used there (particularly in verse 23 wherein we read: “And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine [tiyrowsh-H8492], and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.“]. Given the entirety of this quoted passage, one can make the strong argument that the use of [tiyrowsh-H8492] with [yayin-H3196] and [shekar-H7941] suggests that all three pertained to intoxicating wine (as opposed to just the latter two).
Furthermore, we find an even stronger argument pointing to [tiyrowsh-H8492] being an intoxicating wine. We read in:
Hosea 4:6-11 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.3 7 As they were increased, so they sinned against me: [therefore] will I change their glory into shame. 8 They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.4 9 And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings. 10 For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD. 11 Whoredom and wine [yayin-H3196] and new wine [tiyrowsh-H8492] take away the heart.“
The yoking of [yayin-H3196] with [tiyrowsh-H8492] in Hosea 4:11 evidences the fact that [tiyrowsh-H38492] is indeed an intoxicating drink; otherwise, we would have a situation wherein “whoredom and wine [yayin-H3196] and [your not from concentrate, fresh] grape juice [tiyrowsh-H8492] take away the heart.” Does anyone really believe that the abuse of fresh grape juice should be yoked together with whoredom and the abuse of (inebriating) wine? It would seem that the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia is right, and many other commentators wrong, when it groups [tiyrowsh-H8492] with other wines made from fermented grape juice.
The Hebrew word ‘aciyc [עסיס H6071; aw-sees’] can mean wine or sweet wine, but it usually refers to the must or fresh grape-juice. This word is derived from the verb ‘acac [עסס H6072; aw-sas’] meaning to press, crush, press by treading, tread down or out, press (grapes) as in:
Malachi 4:1-3 “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. 3 And ye shall tread down [acac-H6072] the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do [this], saith the LORD of hosts.”
The first use of ‘aciyc itself is in:
Song of Solomon 8:1-2 “O that thou [wert] as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! [when] I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised. I would lead thee, [and] bring thee into my mother’s house, [who] would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine [reqach yanin / H7544 + H3196 / intoxicating wine with spices added to it] of the juice [aciyc-H6071] of my pomegranate.“
In this passage, ‘aciyc appears to be used for the plain juice from whence the spiced wine derived. However, according to biblical usage, ‘aciyc also appears to be used to refer to intoxicating wine. Consider,
Isaiah 49:26 And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine [aciyc-H6071]: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD [am] thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.“
So in addition to being fresh juice, is also refers to new wine (the fermented juice of the vine that still has a higher sugar content than older wines). We see this in Joel 1:5 where ‘aciyc is used in reference to an intoxicating drink:
Joel 1:5 Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine [aciyc-H6071]; for it is cut off from your mouth.“
Yet like other intoxicating wines, [aciyc-H6071] is used as a blessing as well. Consider,
Joel 3:16 The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD [will be] the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.7 17 So shall ye know that I [am] the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more. 18 And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the mountains shall drop down new wine [aciyc-H6071], and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.
Amos 9:11 In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:7 12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this. 13 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine [aciyc-H6071], and all the hills shall melt. 14 And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit [them]; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine [yayin-H3196]thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. 15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.
Cobe’ [סבא H5435; so’- beh] refers to intoxicating drinks (liquor or wine); we see it used scripturally in the following verses:
Isaiah 1:21 How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. 22 Thy silver is become dross, thy wine [cobe’-H5435] mixed with water:
Hosea 4:17 Ephraim [is] joined to idols: let him alone. 18 Their drink [cobe’-H5435] is sour: they have committed whoredom continually: her rulers [with] shame do love, Give ye.
Nahum 1:10 9 What do ye imagine against the LORD? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time. 10 For while [they be] folden together [as] thorns, and while they are drunken [as] drunkards [cobe’-H5435], they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.
Cobe’ comes from the Hebrew primitive root verb caba’ [סבא H5433; saw-baw’] which means to drink heavily or largely, imbibe, and (as a participle) wine-bibber / drunkard. Unlike the other words for intoxicating wine in the Bible, this word appears to alway pertain to sin and judgment.
The Hebrew word ‘enab [עֵנָב H6025; ay-nawb’] means grapes and derives from an unused root verb probably meaning to bear fruit. It would appear that it can also refer to wine; however nothing in the biblical usage refers to it directly as an intoxicating drink (though the inference is there). In all but one instance, [‘enab-H6025] is translated as grapes in the AV/KJV. The one instance wherein it is translated as wine reads:
Hosea 3:1 Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of [her] friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine [‘enab-H6025].
It would definitely appear that [‘enab-H6025] is used as an inebriating wine for the same reason that [tiyrowsh-H8492]appears to be used as such in Hosea 4:11. The very flow of Hosea 3:1 parallels Hosea 4:11 (“Whoredom and wine [yayin-H3196] and new wine [tiyrowsh-H8492] take away the heart”). It would appear that the flagons of [‘enab-H6025] could contain either wine [yayin-H3196] or new wine [tiyrowsh-H8492]. It would be too much of a stretch to argue that the committors of spiritual whoredom look to other gods and love flagons of plain, grape juice.
‘ashiyshah [אשׁישׁה H809; ash-ee-shaw’] is the Hebrew feminine noun translated flagon in the AV/KJV. Many argue, as per several commentaries, that this word literally refers to raisin-cakes used in sacrificial feasts (in the sense of it being closely pressed together and burned). However, John Gill, the AV/KJV translators, and others seem to use it as an actual flagon for wine. We see [‘ashiyshah-H809] used in the following passages (if flagons for, or of, intoxicating wine is indeed in view, then they represent a blessing as per the context):
2 Samuel 6:18 And as soon as David had made an end of offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts. 19 And he dealt among all the people, [even] among the whole multitude of Israel, as well to the women as men, to every one a cake of bread, and a good piece [of flesh], and a flagon [‘ashiyshah-H809] [of wine]. So all the people departed every one to his house.
1 Chronicles 16:1 So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tent that David had pitched for it: and they offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings before God. 2 And when David had made an end of offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD. 3 And he dealt to every one of Israel, both man and woman, to every one a loaf of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon [‘ashiyshah-H809] [of wine].
Song of Solomon 2:1 I [am] the rose of Sharon, [and] the lily of the valleys. 2 As the lily among thorns, so [is] my love among the daughters. 3 As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so [is] my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit [was] sweet to my taste. 4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me [was] love. 5 Stay me with flagons [‘ashiyshah-H809], comfort me with apples: for I [am] sick of love.4 6 His left hand [is] under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me. 7 I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake [my] love, till he please.
We need to distinguish the above passages from Hosea 3:1 which reads “… and love flagons [‘ashiyshah-H809] of wine [`enab-H6025].” The words flagons, or flagons [of wine], in the first three passages referred to [‘ashiyshah-H809] alone; whereas in Hosea 3:1, the phrase “flagons of wine” consists of ‘ashiyshah and `enab together (see above).
[‘ashiyshah-H809] is derived from ‘ashiysh [אשׁישׁ H808; aw-sheesh’] a noun meaning foundation (with the sense of pressing down, possibly being fallen, or ruin). [‘ashiysh-H808] may be related to the word ‘ashuwyah [אשׁויה H803; ash-oo-yah’] which is a passive participle from an unused root meaning to found. However, it is generally believed that [‘ashiyshah-H809] derives from ‘esh [אשׁ H784; aysh], a primitive feminine noun meaning fire; flames; altar-fire; and (figuratively) God’s anger. So we see that this flagon (or flagon of wine) [‘ashiyshah-H809] that is a blessing, has as its most likely root that which pertains to fire, flames, altar sacrifice, and the fiery wrath of God. Once again we see that from judgment (unto satisfaction) comes blessing.
Finally, I want to briefly look at the Hebrew word yeqeb [יקב H3342; yeh’- keb] which is from an unused root meaning to excavate. In the AV/KJV, it is usally translated as winepresses or press (as in a vat) and this is what it literally means. Deuteronomy 16:13 suggests that this word refers to plain grape juice when it is not referring to the actual winepress.
Deuteronomy 16:13 Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine [yeqeb-H3342].
In this part, I covered the various words translated as wine, their root words, and their respective definitions. We also looked at their biblical usage, especially in light of spiritual baptism, atonement, covering, etc. We came across passages pertaining to wine as a blessing, wine as a cursing, the suffering of the wicked, and the suffering of Christ. Already, we can see a picture of wrath and either the blessings or cursings that come from it. I speak of blessings for those in Christ, for He is our Substitute — enduring damnation on our behalf as only the infinite God-man could do. I speak of cursings for those who have no substitute and must “endure” the eternal wrath of God themselves (I use quotes for endure because one cannot possible bear or endure hellfire; God gives the wicked a form of existence to suffer for all eternity, but this cannot be interpreted as them being able to endure the unendurable and unbearable).
I hope that you are beginning to see that our blessing (typified by partaking of the wine) comes about only by the great heat, fire, flames, boiling, burning, turmoil, crushing, and treading down associated with Christ being pressed beyond measure under the weight of the unspeakable fury of God. What a desire we should have to live soberly and uprightly in Him … in light of all the great things that He has done for us. How can we not love a Saviour who has saved us from so great a damnation? How can we not love a God and King who emptied Himself of His glory for a season to suffer in our stead (all because He loved His Father, loved the Godhead, and loved us). Yet how sad and miserable it is that we do not love Him nearly as much as we ought. I trust that there has not been a quickened saint born into this world who did not wish that they could love the Lord all the more. More love, faith, and obedience, may that be our prayer always.
Also, knowing that it is given unto us, God’s elect, “…in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for Hs sake” (Philippians 1: 29), we should see in these studies a picture of our own fiery trials. These trials in no way atone for us, they have nothing to do with our being ransomed, but they are the means by which we are conformed to our Lord’s image. They are also the means by which we can get a tiny taste, a very, very miniscule taste, of what our Lord endured so that our hearts can be pricked and melted by our Redeemer’s infinite sacrifice. We do not endure any aspect of the hatred and wrath of God, if we are His; but we can look at our chastisements and ask “what are these light things in comparison to what our dear lord suffered.”
Finally, if you have read everything in this Part, I thank you. I know that it consists of a lot of definitions; however, I think that they are necessary to help us really get to the heart of the matter. In the upcoming Part(s); I aim to discuss leaven (the secular, Hebrew, and Greek meanings for it) and the wine-making process (especially fermentation) to more closely see how it all ties into the atonement. As with all studies, may Christ be elevated as we are debased. May the House of David (Christ in us) grow stronger and stronger as our natural house of Saul grows weaker and weaker — all to the praise and glory of God.
May our Lord be magnified in all of the earth.
Continue to Part Three
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