A Biblical Look At Wine In Light Of The Atoning Work of Christ (Part 3)

A Biblical Look At Wine

(fermented grape juice)

In Light Of The Atoning Work of Christ

Part Three

By Curt Wildy

Introduction To Part Three

In order to get the full context and to avoid misconceptions and misunderstandings, I strongly urge everyone to start with Part One and then to proceed to Part Two (if you haven’t done so already) before reading this third, and what is likely to be the final, part. Nonetheless, as a recap, in Part One I went over how the fermentation of pure grape juice into wine typifies the atonement. I went over how the juice within the grape was called the blood of the grape and how the skin of the grape has leaven on it. When grape juice comes into contact with leaven, even the natural leaven found on the skin of most every grape, it starts to ferment within just a couple of days. I went over how this typified the pureness of Christ and the sins (leaven) of His people that were made to meet on Him.

The most common yeast, the one most likely to be found on the grape skin (and the skin of other fruit), is of the species Saccharomyces cerevisiae. When the grape is crushed, the juice mixes with the leaven and soon starts to ferment. This natural leaven will initiate the fermentation process that will turn grape juice into wine. The entire function of this leaven is to “kill off sugar” and convert it into alcohol. The sin kills the sweetness, but not all of it — for some sugar remains. The leavening agents also release carbon dioxide during the fermentation process; this is part of their natural life cycle and typifies the release of sin (i.e. the removal of it) in like manner to how our own breathing process typifies the taking in of the clean (Holy Spirit) and the removal of our unclean Spirits by the finished work of Christ.

Once the alcohol level reaches 21% or less (depending on the strain of yeast), the leaven is killed off; the high alcohol content creates an environment in which the yeast simply cannot live. If a wine is left unfiltered and/or unfined, some dead yeast cells are left in the finished wine. However, the biblical language makes clear that atonement only comes when the dregs are drunk dry (the dregs being the substance that is made up of, or contains, the dead leaven). This fermentation process represents the fiery work of atonement endured by our Lord; through it, the leaven dies, the dregs are removed, and the perfect wine is made. Again, this is but a brief and superficial overview, I urge you to review Part One for the full picture.

In Part Two, I went over the Greek and Hebrew words for wine and the root words from whence they derived. In it, I put forth the evidence that the wine at issue was of the fermented juice (and thus inebriating) and that the words at issue pertained to blessing, judgment, and in particular, atonement. Again, this is a very brief and superficial overflow, please review Part Two after reviewing Part One for more detail.

In this, the third part, I wish to look at the Greek and Hebrew words for leaven, their roots, and their use in the Bible. I then want to revisit the atonement, revisit some of the words we reviewed in Part Two along with their derivatives, and to then look at how Orthodox Jews view this matter. I trust that in so doing, we will obtain a better understanding of the atonement as it is typified by wine.

How Is Leaven Defined Secularly?

According to the American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, leaven is defined as:

Noun
1. An agent, such as yeast, that causes batter or dough to rise, especially by fermentation.
2. An element, influence, or agent that works subtly to lighten, enliven, or modify a whole.

Verb
1. To add a rising agent to.
2. To cause to rise, especially by fermentation.
3. To pervade with a lightening, enlivening, or modifying influence.

How Is Leaven Defined In The Old Testament?

CHAMETZ

One of the words for leaven in the Old Testament is the Hebrew word chametz [H2557; khaw-mates’]; it means either the thing leavened or leaven (itself). It comes from chamets [H2556 khaw-mates’] and depending on its word form, it means to be leavened, to be sour, to taste something leavened, to be embittered/grieved, to be cruel/oppress/ruthless, to be red. It becomes clear from the root that this leaven typified sin — especially in light of words like sour, embittered, and cruel. However, to be red and to be grieved point to something else important — it points to the suffering of Christ as He was made sin.

Consider the following use of [chamets – H2556]:

Isaiah 63:1 Who [is] this that cometh from Edom, with dyed [chamets – H2556] garments from Bozrah? this [that is] glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. 2 Wherefore [art thou] red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? 3 I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people [there was] none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. 4 For the day of vengeance [is] in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. 5 And I looked, and [there was] none to help; and I wondered that [there was] none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. 6 And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.

Here we have leaven associated with the dying of garments in blood, which in turn, is associated with redemption, propitiation, and salvation.

Sᵉ’OR

Another word for leaven is sᵉ’or [שׂאר H7603; seh-ore’] which means… leaven. [sᵉ’or-H7603] stems from sha’ar [שׁאר – H7604; (shaw-ar’)] which is a primitive root verb meaning to remain, to be left over, to be left behind. Please consider the first use of this word [sha’ar-H7604] in:

Genesis 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 [sha’ar-H7604] alive, and they that were with him in the ark.

In Genesis 7:23 we see yet again that another root word for leaven is associated with an atonement picture; this one being Noah and the remaining seven, and how they were saved in the ark. Remember, in Part Two we went over the fact that the pitch used to seal the ark was a type of the blood of Christ. It is through Christ being made sin, or leaven, that the remnant (remainder) is saved by the blood. Please consider these other passages containing [sha’ar-H7604]:

Leviticus 5:9 And he shall sprinkle of the blood of the sin offering upon the side of the altar; and the rest [sha’ar-H7604]of the blood shall be wrung out at the bottom of the altar: it [is] a sin offering.

Isaiah 4:2 In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth [shall be] excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.3 And it shall come to pass, [that he that is] left [sha’ar-H7604] in Zion, and [he that] remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, [even] every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem:

Isaiah 11:10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. 11 And it shall come to pass in that day, [that] the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant [sha’ar-H7604] of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea…16 And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left [sha’ar-H7604], from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt.

Isaiah 37:31 And the remnant [sha’ar-H7604] that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward: 32 For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this.

These, and many other [sha’ar-H7604] passages from whence leaven [sᵉ’or-H7603] derives, evidence the clear link between the leaven that causes the fermentation of the wine, and the salvation of a holy remnant by that wine (by the blood). This is not coincidence, this is the very foreordained design of God.

How Is Leaven Defined In The New Testament?

ZUME

Leaven in the New Testament is the Greek word zume [ζύμη G2219; dzoo’-may]; it means a fermenting agent (as if boiling up); a thorough, utterly complete change agent affecting itself and others; (negatively) moral or mental corruption, depravity; (positively) purity, integrity, a perfect condition. [zume-G2219] likely comes from zeo [ζέω G2204; dzeh’-o] meaning to be hot; (of liquids) to boil; (of solids) to glow; (figuratively) to be fervent (earnest). This root sounds negative; we think of anger, wrath, and hell when we think of feeling heated, great heat, boiling, etc. I believe there is a right application of this given that our Lord endured the fiery wrath of God on our behalf as He was made leaven (sin) for His people. However, consider the following passages for an additional understanding:

Acts 18:24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, [and] mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent [zeo – G2204] in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.

Romans 12:9 [Let] love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 [Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;4 11 Not slothful in business; fervent [zeo – G2204] in spirit; serving the Lord…

We see that fervent here is used in a positive sense; wasn’t our Lord fervent in His love for the Father, the Godhead, and the elect when He took upon Himself our sins and willingly died the death unto the complete satisfaction of the law? From these words alone, we can already see a picture of the propitiatory work of Christ.

How Is Leaven Used In The New Testament?

Returning to [zume-G2219], we see the first use of this word in:

Matthew 13:33 Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven [zume-G2219], which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

In this passage, we see that (contrary to popular belief) leaven is not inherently bad. Leaven can actually be a good thing. Even in the secular world, the benefit of leaven is well known. Some maintain that yeast/barm (a leavening agent used in the fermentation process) was so highly valued in England that it was called godisgoode (because “it cometh of the grete grace of God“).

Since leaven in itself can be a blessing, God uses language to distinguish the good leaven from the bad… language like “the leaven of malice” or “the leaven of the Pharisees.” We are to be leavened with the Gospel, with the fulness of Christ and the Holy Spirit; we are not to be leavened with the leaven (the false doctrine and resulting sin) of the world. When we are fervent [zeo – G2204] for the Lord, and for His Gospel, we are leavened by Him. When a man is fervent for self, he is leavened with malice, pride, and hypocrisy. When our leavening is of God, without the leavening of the world, we are actually said to be unleavened. We read:

1 Corinthians 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven [zume-G2219], that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened [bread] of sincerity and truth.”

Remember, when grape juice is leavened and fully fermented, it becomes wine; if wine that was never fully fermented were to be leavened again, it would re-ferment. The Good Wine of the Gospel is fully fermented and leaven-free just as fully fermented earthly wine is leaven-free (the fermentation process kills the leaven). Wine may have dead leaven until the dregs/lees are removed, but no active leaven exists. There is no sin remaining in the body and blood of Christ; the Bible declares in Hebrews 9:28So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin [think, without leaven] unto salvation.

When we were leavened with the leaven of sin, we became utterly corrupt. When God quickens His elect, He leavens them with the leaven of the Gospel. The Christian is fermented into something new, a new creature (a picture of the Lord causing us to become, and to be [ginomai; γίνομαι G1096; ghin’-om-ai], the righteousness of God spoken of in 2 Corinthians 5:21. During this good leavening, this good fermentation process, Christ in us purges out (lit. cleanses us from) the old leaven, and makes us into a new lump, an unleavened lump, in Him. He does this experimentally as well via the fiery trials He puts us through. However, we are not redeemed, atoned for, nor propitiated by our fiery trials — it is the fiery trial of Christ on the cross (under the divine wrath of God) that put away sin through His blood. Our sufferings and trials are meant to burn out our experimental impurities as God conforms us to the image of Christ. I cannot stress enough that nothing that we do, or did, plays any role in initiating our salvation, maintaining it, or improving upon it. Christ tread the winepress alone with none to help Him.

In light of this, it is by God’s grace that we are to steer clear of being experimentally re-leavened and re-fermented with the leaven of malice and wickedness; we are to remain the unleavened [bread] of sincerity and truth” — and this we will remain objectively, after the inner man, knowing that we are hid fully in Christ. However, the Christian’s growth in grace likewise includes remaining unleavened as much as God enables in our daily walk as well.

More On The Atonement

I want to look at the Atonement in a bit more detail as it relates to wine in general, and the key words related to wine, in particular. One of my favourite starting points is Psalm 69. I quoted it in a previous part but want to revisit. In that passage, one that (in the spiritual sense) clearly points to the suffering of Christ under the wrath of God as He atoned for His elect, we read:

Psalm 69:1 …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. 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. 6 Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel. 7 Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. 8 I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children. 9 For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me. 10 When I wept, [and chastened] my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach. I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb to them. 12 They that sit in the gate speak against me; and I [was] the song of the drunkards. 13 But as for me, my prayer [is] unto thee, O LORD, [in] an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation. 14 Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters. 15 Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me. 16 Hear me, O LORD; for thy lovingkindness [is] good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies. 17 And hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedily.5  18 Draw nigh unto my soul, [and] redeem it: deliver me because of mine enemies. 19 Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries [are] all before thee. 20 Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked [for some] to take pity, but [there was] none; and for comforters, but I found none.6  21 They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

YAYIN REVISITED

In Part Two, I went over how [yayin-H3196], the same wine that intoxicated Noah and Lot (Genesis 9:21; 19:33); the same wine that Melchizedek gave to Abraham as a blessing (Genesis 14:18); the same wine offered to God as a drink offering (Exodus 29:40); and the same wine that God gives as a blessing to His people (Psalm 104:15) comes from root verb meaning to effervesce. As it relates to wine, the majority view is that the effervescing is caused by the carbon dioxide gas created during the fermentation process. I strongly suggest keeping this root word (to effervesce, as in fermenting) in mind. One minor note that I did not mention in Part Two pertains to the belief (speculation?) by some that the wine [oinos-G3631] (oinos being the Greek word for wine) pertaining to the “new wine in old bottles,” “water into wine,” and most other New Testament wine passages, actually originated from the Hebrew word [yayin-H3196].

There is a related word that we should look at; it is the Hebrew word yaven [יָוֵן – H3121; (yaw-ven’)]. Yaven shares this very same effervesce root as wine [yayin-H3196] and has, in the literal sense, the meaning of “dregs (as effervescing).” However, from this primary meaning comes the secondary meaning of mud, mire, and miry. In verse 2 of Psalm 69, we read “I sink in deep mire [yaven – H3121], where [there is] no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.” So far we have already seen how the effervescing ties-in with the fermentation, and how the fermentation pictures the atonement, and how the drinking of the dregs dry was an integral part of the atonement (the putting away of all sin). Now, we see the picture of dregs again, this time as it relates to mire in general, and Christ being in the mire of our sin (and divine judgment for it), as He endures the Father’s fury in our stead during the atonement. It all ties together.

Concerning both the Lord’s victory over our sin (as He finished the work of atonement) and the anticipation of His coming as Victor. we read:

Psalm 40:1 …I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. 2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry [yaven – H3121] clay, and set my feet upon a rock, [and] established my goings. 3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, [even] praise unto our God: many shall see [it], and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. 4 Blessed [is] that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. 5 Many, O LORD my God, [are] thy wonderful works [which] thou hast done, and thy thoughts [which are] to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: [if] I would declare and speak [of them], they are more than can be numbered. 6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book [it is] written of me, 8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: [Hebrews 10:5-10] yea, thy law [is] within my heart.  9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest. 10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.

Psalm 69:2 has Christ speaking from the point of view of His sinking in the deep [yaven – H3121]/mire/dregs/leaven of our sin as He was made sin for us, bearing our sin in His own body on the cross. Please understand, this was no sin of His own committing; He was not a sinner — He remained the spotless Lamb in and of Himself. However, He was made sin as He willingly took upon Himself our sin: to kill it, to purge it away, as He endured God’s fiery wrath unto satisfaction. Compare this however, to Psalm 40:2 wherein Christ stated that He waited patiently for the LORD; and [after the Atonement was finished and transgressions utterly put away] He inclined unto Him, and heard His cry — and brought Him up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry [yaven – H3121] clay, and set His feet upon a rock, [and] established His goings. We know Psalm 40, like Psalm 69, speaks of Christ because Hebrews 10:5-10 tells us so in direct relation to the Atonement. So we have the wine of blessing and sacrifice (1) tied into its root word meaning to effervesce (fermentation); with (2) fermentation picturing atonement; with (3) another word tying into the same effervesce root word (one that also relates to fermentation in the sense of dregs) and that is directly related to the atonement as well due to its secondary meaning (mire) and it’s use both Psalm 40 and 69 (which are atonement passages). Can you see how beautifully God has put this picture together?

Another word that shares the same effervesce root as wine [yayin-H3196], according to the leading scholars, is yownah [יוֹנָה H3123; (yo-naw’)]; it is a feminine noun meaning a dove or pigeon (apparently from the warmth of their mating).

Consider the following passages in light of sacrifice, sin offerings, atonement, and the figurative aftermath of judgment and atonement:

Leviticus 1:14 And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the LORD [be] of fowls, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons [yownah-H3123].

Leviticus 5:7 And if he be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass, which he hath committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons [yownah-H3123], unto the LORD; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering.

Leviticus 12:6 And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon [yownah-H3123] or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest…8 And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons [yownah-H3123]; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean. 

Psalm 55:1 …Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication. 2 Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise; 3 Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked: for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me. 4 My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. 5 Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me.  6 And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove [yownah-H3123]! [for then] would I fly away, and be at rest. 7 Lo, [then] would I wander far off, [and] remain in the wilderness. Selah. 8 I would hasten my escape from the windy storm [and] tempest…12 For [it was] not an enemy [that] reproached me; then I could have borne [it]: neither [was it] he that hated me [that] did magnify [himself] against me; then I would have hid myself from him: 13 But [it was] thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance.2  14 We took sweet counsel together, [and] walked unto the house of God in company [See Mathew 26:47-50 and John 13:21-30 for New Testament context].

Genesis 8:6 And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made: 7 And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth.3  8 Also he sent forth a dove [yownah-H3123] from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; 9 But the dove [yownah-H3123] found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters [were] on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark. 10 And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove [yownah-H3123] out of the ark; 11 And the dove [yownah-H3123] came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth [was] an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. 12 And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove [yownah-H3123]; which returned not again unto him any more. [Note: this signifying that atonement was made, judgment ended, and that manifest wrath had ended].

Once again, the wine of blessing and sacrifice, the mire of leaven (dregs), the sacrificial pigeon/dove, all tie-in by the one root word meaning to effervesce (as in fermenting).

CHEMER/CHAMAR REVISITED

In Part Two, I discussed in much detail how the Hebrew word for red wine [chemer-H2561; specifically in the sense of fermenting] pertains to both blessing [Deuteronomy 32:9-14] and judgment [Isaiah 27:1-3] and how it stemmed from [chamar-H2560] which is a word meaning to boil, foam, foam up, ferment; to be troubled, be in turmoil; to be reddened [think, being covered, stained, and dyed with blood — which is baptism]; and to daub, seal up, cover or smear with asphalt [which also refers to atonement and baptism — especially in that it is a synonym for [Kaphar-H3722] which is what pitched the ark of Noah and enabled it to endure the baptism through the watery judgment]. If these points are not familiar to you, please review Part Two because it is a vital part of rightly understanding the atonement in general, and how wine pertains to it, in particular.

Please consider the following passage:

Exodus 34:18 The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt. 19 All that openeth the matrix [is] mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, [whether] ox or sheep, [that is male]. 20 But the firstling of an ass [chamor/chamowr-H2543] thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem [him] not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.

When we read “the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb,” we need to note that the word ass  is chamowr/chamor [חֲמוֹר חֲמוֹר ; H2543; (kham-ore’)/{kham-ore}] which means a male donkey (from its red dun). This word is a direct derivative of the root  [chamar-H2560]. Once again we see [chamar-H2560] pointing to atonement and redemption via its derivatives.

 Consider also,

Job 30:15 Terrors are turned upon me: they pursue my soul as the wind: and my welfare passeth away as a cloud.7  16 And now my soul is poured out upon me; the days of affliction have taken hold upon me. 17 My bones are pierced in me in the night season: and my sinews take no rest. 18 By the great force [of my disease] is my garment changed: it bindeth me about as the collar of my coat. 19 He hath cast me into the mire [chomer-H2563], and I am become like dust and ashes. 20 I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me: I stand up, and thou regardest me [not]. 21 Thou art become cruel to me: with thy strong hand thou opposest thyself against me.

Here we see another picture pointing to the suffering of Christ as He was made sin, i.e. cast into the mire, during the atonement. Mire here is chomer [חוֹמֶר H2563; (kho’mer)] which also comes from [chamar-H2560] and means (properly) a bubbling up, i.e. of water, a wave; of earth, mire or clay (cement); also a heap. Like how the [yaven – H3121] mire was a direct sibling tie-in with [yayin-H3196] wine (being a sibing root with it in that they both stem from the root to effervesce as in fermenting), we see that the [chomer-H2563] mire is a direct sibling tie-in with [chemer-H2561] wine (being a sibling root with it in that they both stem from the root [chamar-H2560] which incorporates in its meaning, fermentation).

So we see atonement, atonement, atonement, yoked with the mire, wrath, great heat, and wine, and all associated with root words directly pertaining to fermentation.  Let us not kick against the pricks on this matter.

THE JEWISH TESTIMONY

In my article titled Temperance Movement Errors, in addition to providing resources regarding the debunking of Patton’s infamous Biblical Wines book, I also provided a list of fifteen specific, and highly respected, Bible dictionaries, lexicons, and encyclopedias all of which agreed  that yayin, chemer, and other key biblical wines were all alcoholic in nature and that partaking of them in moderation was no sin. Now I want to turn to Jewish resources. I believe that ethnic Jews can shed some important light on the subject of whether (1) wine was deemed alcoholic or not; (2) whether wine was deemed to be leavened; (3) whether wine was used during the Passover (which directly relates to the atonement and to the blood); and (4) whether wine, when used in moderation, was deemed a blessing of God for His people. I am quoting their works simply to establish a historic precedent; I am not using their judgments to interpret scripture (I believe th at the Bible alone is sufficient to prove that the atoning blood was typified by wine and not grape juice).

Please consider the following quotes (paragraph formatting altered for space and ease of review):

From the Chabad.org website:

For each of the four cups at the Seder, it is preferable to use undiluted wine. However, if needed, the wine may be diluted with grape juice. (One who cannot drink wine may use grape juice alone.) One drinks a cup of wine four times during the Seder: (1) At the conclusion of kiddush. (2) After telling the story of the Exodus from Egypt, before eating the matzah of Motzi Matzah. (3) At the conclusion of the Grace After Meals. (4) After reciting the Hallel. It is preferable to drink the entire cup each time. However, it is sufficient to drink only the majority of each cup. How large a cup should be used? One that contains at least 3½ fluid ounces.

————

Wine and intoxicating beverages are a fascinating subject when viewed from the Torah’s perspective. On one hand, we use wine for kiddush and havdallah on Shabbat and Jewish holidays, and many, many mitzvot are accompanied by a cup of wine. Blessings are recited on a cup of wine beneath the chupah (wedding canopy), at a circumcision, at a Pidyon Haben (the “Redemption of a Firstborn Son”), and let’s not forget the four cups of wine we drink at the Passover seder.

In the Scriptures, wine is described as “bringing joy to G‑d and man” (Judges 9:13). And, indeed, every sacrifice offered in the Holy Temple was accompanied by a wine libation. Because wine is considered to be the “king of beverages” the rabbis coined a special blessing to be recited exclusively on wine: the Hagafen blessing.

And let us not forget the venerated age-old Jewish custom to say l’chaim and wish each other well over a shot glass of schnapps.

From the Passover – Pesach : History and Meaning of Freedom in Faith website:

Passover wine or Kosher for Passover wine or Kosher for Pesach wine is wine that meets the requirements of Jewish law for both kosher wine and for the additional requirements in Jewish law for wine that is permitted to be drunk during the Passover / Pesach festival.

The principle requirement for making Passover wine or Kosher for Passover wine or Kosher for Pesach wine that distinguishes it from kosher wine in Jewish law is that the yeast which is used must not be grown from any of the five grains which are prohibited for use during the Passover / Pesach festival. These grains are: barley, oats, rye, spelt, and wheat. The yeast can be grown, for instance, using various types of fruit such as the grape, plum, cherry, blackberry, boysenberry, apple, or different types of sugar, but not from any of the five aforementioned grains. However, the yeast for kosher wine can be grown from any of the five aforementioned grains.

From the The Orthodox Union website:

When the Jew celebrates, a glass of wine is almost always close at hand: Kiddush, Havdala, the Passover Seder, Purim, and every wedding ceremony and Brit Milah. Wine serves as the symbol of our sanctity, of freedom, of Divinely inspired victories, of the greatest, most joyous moments of our past, and of our dreams for the future. Wine has always held an honored, obligatory, almost irreplaceable, place in our culture. Yet, over the ages, how often did one hear of a Jewish drunkard!

Who, more than the Jew, could better have justified drowning the sorrows and torments of life in a glass of alcohol? Yet the Jew of yesteryear rarely indulged in such a luxury. Even today, with alcoholism rampant in American society, with the Jew exposed no less than any other American to the temptations of drink and drugs, the Kiddush wine seems to protect its celebrants rather than enticing them into the vicious, all-too-familiar, alcoholic spiral of self destruction. People rarely have become drunk on Kiddush.

[Note: “Kiddush (Hebrew: קידוש‎), literally, “sanctification,” is a “blessing” recited over wine or grape juice to sanctify the Shabbat and Jewish holidays.”]

From the Torah.org website:

Perhaps we can find the answer in the topic that immediately precedes the presentation of the priestly blessing – the laws of the Nazir. At certain times, when a man feels himself drawn by worldly temptations, the Torah allows him to make a Nazirite vow whereby he accepts upon himself an abstemious life style for a specified period of time. He may not drink wine or cut his hair, and he must maintain himself on a high level of ritual purity. When the term of the vow expires, these restrictions are removed, and then, the Torah says, “the Nazir shall drink wine.”

“The Nazir shall drink wine.” It almost seems as if the Torah is instructing him to drink wine, not just permitting it. But why? Furthermore, the Torah tells us that at the end of the Nazirite period he is required to bring certain sacrifices, one of which is a sin offering. What was his sin? Our Sages explain that his sin was his voluntary abstention from wine. What is so important about drinking wine? The answer touches on one of the most fundamental tenets of Judaism. The Torah does not want us to withdraw from the physical world and pursue a monastic life. On the contrary, the Torah insists that we find a harmonious balance between our spiritual and physical sides. The Torah does not want us to shun the gorgeous world Hashem created but rather to enjoy it in a civilized manner, to integrate our physical pleasure into our spiritual connection to our Creator. That is the ideal mode of living.The Nazir felt himself out of balance, drawn to worldly temptations to an inappropriate degree. Therefore, the Torah allows him to go temporarily to the opposite extreme in order to regain his balance. Once that period is over, once he recaptures his inner harmony, he “should drink wine.”

From the Dartmouth University Website’s Article Titled Alcohol and Judaism: One View

Conclusion
Overall, the approach of the Jewish rabbinic tradition is to encourage the moderate use of alcohol, particularly wine, within the frameworks provided by existing commandments which require one to be happy in their fulfillment. Wine is an important part of Sabbath and holiday observances, life cycle celebrations, and the holiday of Purim. In the Hassidic world, a small amount of vodka is a legitimate preparation for listening to the teachings of the rabbi and, in oral traditions, a measured amount of alcohol on a regular basis is considered good for one’s health.

At the same time, an alcoholic is not an acceptable witness, cannot be a judge, or lead the community in prayer. Even a small amount of alcohol invalidates one’s teaching and a person is held accountable for all his/her actions while under the influence, unless they have reached the (depraved) level of Lot, whose judgement was so impaired that he was willing to commit incest and was incapable of telling his daughters the truth about their situation.

Perhaps the Jewish point of view can be best summarized by the following teaching given as a commentary to a text in the midrash called Genesis Rabbah (37:7): Wine has two characteristics, one opposite the other. A little is good and a lot is hard. Wine will make a person’s heart happy. A little wine opens the heart to Torah and too much leads to sin and idolatry. About this, it is taught that wine should not enter too deeply into any feast which is not obligated by the observance of a commandment. Wine should only be part of the supernal divine, for the sake of a commandment such as the comforting of mourners and, even there, one should drink only a little.

The number of resources available to prove that Orthodox Jews in particular, and most practicing Jews in general, view wine as a blessing when used in moderation is enormous (I do not include in this statement, the amalgamated pseudo-christian religions that deem themselves to be both “Messianic” and “Jewish” in nature, many of which, oppose the use of wine). Moreover, not only do they admit that they drink it for Passover, they consider it the norm to drink four cups – often undiluted (though they specifically allow for grape juice if wine cannot be tolerated by an individual for any reason). This four cups of wine requirement comes straight from the Mishnah (Pesachim X) which states:

On the eve of any Passover it is not lawful for a person to eat anything from the time of Min’hah (afternoon prayer) until after dusk. Even the meanest in Israel shall not eat until they have arranged themselves in proper order at ease round the able; nor shall a person have less than four cups of wine, even if they must be given him from the funds devoted to the charitable support of the very poor.

Finally, the American Jewish Archives provides a PDF article here pertaining to the Rabbinic reaction to Prohibition, especially as it related to the Passover. One would be hard-pressed to maintain the often alleged, but never proven stance (held by pseudo-Christians and misguided Christians), that Orthodox Jews or most any other observing Jews were against wine drinking in moderation.

Final Thoughts

At this point, my intent is to end the series. In it, I have provided many proof texts evidencing the connection between wine (the fermented, formerly leavened, juice of the grape) and the atonement. I may write more on the matter as I learn more and as God puts it on my heart to do so. More can be said about the partaking aspect of wine; both in the spiritual sense and in the physical — but again, perhaps at a later time. For now, I refer you back to the previous article “Traditions Of Men: Is It A Sin To Drink Wine Or Strong Drink?” if you are interest in the physical aspect of the subject.

In all things, to God be the glory.

  1 comment for “A Biblical Look At Wine In Light Of The Atoning Work of Christ (Part 3)

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