Christian Churches of God
Wine in the Bible
(Edition 1.1 19970104-19990109)
The purpose of this paper is to complement the paper Vegetarianism and the Bible (No. 183) and to produce a correct and balanced view of the use of alcoholic beverages within the laws of God.
Wine in the Bible
Modern so-called Christian temperance unions and the churches associated with them have completely distorted the application of the biblical texts. As with the doctrine of vegetarianism, which often accompanies this distorted view of the biblical position on alcohol, the views stem from misapplication of Scripture and an unhealthy unscriptural asceticism which attributes sin both to God within His law and to Messiah in the execution of that law.
Some of these churches would actually bar Jesus Christ from admission and baptism based on his views and consumption of wine. The same ascetic views were prevalent in Judaic society in the first century stemming from Pythagorean and Gnostic sources within Kabbalah. These same ascetics penetrated Judaism, Heathenism, and later Christianity. These were the same ascetics that called Christ a glutton and a wine-bibber because he drank with publicans and sinners (Mat. 9:10-11; 11:19; Mk. 2:15-16).
Matthew 9:10-17 And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" 12 But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, `I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." 14 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" 15 And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16 And no one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. 17 Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; if it is, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved." (RSV)
This text confirms both that Christ sat at meat and that he was with publicans. We see that he drank wine with them.
Matthew 11:19 the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds." (RSV)
To suggest that Christ drank grape juice while the publicans and sinners drank wine in the normal sense, yet was condemned for drinking with them, is ludicrous. These same publicans and harlots believed and were converted.
Matthew 21:31-32 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him. (KJV)
The same self-righteousness that permeates these ascetics today is the reason the publicans and harlots inherited the Kingdom of God before the self-righteous could at the time of Christ. Mark carries the same story.
Mark 2:15-16 And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. 16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? (KJV)
Luke also carries the story of the conversion of the publicans and their relationship with the church (Lk. 3:12). Many of the early church were converted publicans and harlots with whom these self-righteous ascetics would not even consort.
Luke 5:29-35 And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them. 30 But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? 31 And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. 32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. 33 And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink? 34 And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? 35 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days. (KJV)
The reason that Christ did not concern himself with the ascetics is that they were righteous in their own eyes and justified by their own behaviour, as is the case today. They do not enter the Kingdom of God themselves and, by their misrepresentation, prevent others who might do so from entering. Christ drank alcoholic beverages with these people.
Luke 7:29-34 And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him. 31 And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? 32 They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. 33 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. 34 The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! (KJV)
These hypocrites do not enter the Kingdom of God through their own respect of persons and misapplication of the law.
Luke 15:1-7 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. 3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. (KJV)
These people were not sinners because they drank, but rather from their other weaknesses. The chief among the publicans was granted salvation above these people.
Luke 19:1-10 And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. 4 And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. 6 And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. 8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. 9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (KJV)
The heart of this man was humble and true above these accusers of the brethren. The law gives the right to any form of alcoholic beverage and not just wine.
Deuteronomy 14:22-26 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, 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, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household, (KJV)
These vegetarian and temperance advocates seek to accuse God and His law as unrighteous by their self-righteous asceticism. The contention made by these people is not new. It is derived from Gnostic mysticism as we have seen from the history in the paper Vegetarianism and the Bible (No. 183). The argument makes claims regarding the biblical texts that seek to deny that the wine referred to in the Bible in a positive sense was alcoholic and that Christ did not consume alcoholic beverages. Samuele Bacchiocchi in his apology for the temperance groups entitled Wine in the Bible (abridged ed., Signal Press, Chicago, 1989) attempts to develop the thesis that where wine is referred to in a positive sense, regardless of the words used and translated as wine, then that wine is in fact unfermented grape juice and where it is used in a negative sense then that wine is fermented, regardless of the fact that the same words are used. This approach is not only unconvincing, it shows an appalling lack of knowledge of the wine making process.
An example of the problem is in the comparison between the USA and France. France eats the same amount of fat per capita as does the USA but has some forty percent of the heart attack problems of the USA precisely because it drinks red wine and the US population does not. This is a self-inflicted wound of the erroneous mentality of the US Protestant system based on Scriptural error and asceticism (for the relationship to pork consumption and cirrhosis of the liver cf. the paper The Food Laws (No. 15)).
The fact that the same self-righteous ascetics called Messiah a drunkard and a wine-bibber on the testimony of three apostles is proof that he drank alcohol. If it were possible for Christ to have had access to and have drunk such a thing as unfermented wine it is certain that the apostles would have made mention of that fact in rebuttal. Their silence on the issue is compelling evidence that the contention is wrong. An examination of the terms involved show that the concept is wrong. The arguments surfaced from Gnosticism and existed right up to and in the Reformation among the Manichean and Montanist Cathars or Puritans who are the real source of this asceticism in modern Protestantism. Bullinger has examined the argument in the Appendix 27 to the Companion Bible.
The Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, in its article Wine, says that from ancient times Syria-Palestine was famous for the quantity and quality of its wine (Vol. 4, p. 849). Sinuhe the Egyptian records that the area (land of Yaa) had more wine than water (ANET 18-22; Pritchard, The Ancient Near East, Vol. 1, p. 7; cf. Num. 13:23,27). Ben Sirach states it is one of the good things ... created for good people (Ecclus. 39:25-26). Although wine was made anciently from pomegranates and dates, Palestinian wine was almost exclusively from fermented grape juice (Interp. Dict., p. 849; cf. Song of Songs 8:2 re pomegranates in parallel to spiced wine). We will examine the eight Hebrew words translated as wine in the Bible. The understanding of these terms throws clear light on the subject of wine in the Bible.
The word yayin (SHD 3196) (perhaps imported from the Caucasus cf. Interp. Dict., ibid.) is from an unused root yayan – to ferment or to effervesce. It is thus wine as fermented wine and, hence, also can mean intoxication. Hence, it has broad meaning as banqueting wine and also wine (bibber). The word used as wine-bibber in Proverbs 23:20 is actually two words meaning heavy drinkers of wine or yayin (SHD 5433 and 3196). Thus, moderation is advanced by this proverb – not abstinence. Yayin occurs 142 times in Scripture and includes fermented wine of all kinds. Occurrences show that the most righteous of the patriarchs drank yayin.
Genesis 9:20-21 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: 21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. (KJV)
Melchisedek brought yayin to Abraham.
Genesis 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. (KJV)
Yayin is definitely intoxicating.
1 Samuel 25:36-37 And Abigail came to Nabal; and, behold, he held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king; and Nabal's heart was merry within him, for he was very drunken: wherefore she told him nothing, less or more, until the morning light. 37 But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. (KJV)
The yayin was the wine here that went out of Nabal. The term was very drunken is in fact drunk to excess (SHD 7910, 5704, 3966; cf. Green’s Interlinear Bible). Yayin is the end process of fermentation.
The drunkards of Ephraim were overcome (knocked down) with yayin (Isa. 28:1). Jeremiah states this.
Jeremiah 23:9 Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness. (KJV)
Bullinger’s Companion Bible holds that from these passages it is perfectly certain that yayin was fermented and intoxicating. It is also perfectly certain that yayin was used for sacred purposes and for blessings.
Genesis 49:12 His [Judah’s] eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk. (KJV)
This blessing of Judah will be carried over to the millennial system as a blessing for Israel as a whole.
Amos 9:13-15 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, 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] 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. (KJV)
They shall drink the yayin thereof. The word asis is also used which is derived from asas – to tread – and means the new wine of the vintage year. We will examine this below.
The Bible enjoins the consumption of yayin on mankind as part of God’s blessings.
Ecclesiastes 9:5-10 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. 6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun. 7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. 8 Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment. 9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. 10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. (KJV)
There is no assertion that the consumption of yayin will blemish the garment of the individual but rather God accepts their works. To suggest that yayin is both fermented and unfermented wine is truly bizarre and shows an ignorance of the terms and the process of wine making.
Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (p. 288 ff) says that cognates of the word yayin appear in Akkadian, Ugaritic, Aramaic, Arabic and Ethiopic. It says it is the usual Hebrew word for fermented grape. It was commonly drunk for refreshment and was an article of commerce (Ezek. 27:18). Strongholds were supplied with it in case of siege (2Chr.. 11:11).
Proverbs 31:4-7 is the only indication in the Bible that wine should not be drunk by a particular class of people, namely the king.
Proverbs 31:4-7 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: 5 Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. 6 Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. 7 Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more. (KJV)
The injunction is against those in power executing judgment under the law not to forget judgment through strong drink. Wine was to make one merry without getting drunk (2Sam. 13:28).
This message of moderate enjoyment or balance in all things is the constant message of the Bible. Wine and strong drink was to be the means of celebration before the Lord at the feasts (see also Vine’s, ibid.). To suggest otherwise is to directly pervert Scripture. Vine says that yayin clearly represents an intoxicating beverage (p. 289) and is used as a synonym for tirosh where both can be intoxicating (ibid.). Yayin can refer to wine at any stage.
The vows of the Nazarite entailed abstinence not only from wine but from even the seeds of the grape or any produce of the vine (Num. 6:3-4,13-21).
Numbers 6:3-4 He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. 4 All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk. (KJV)
The words here involve yayin and mishrat anavim which is expressed grape. The Chief Rabbi of the Central Synagogue of Sydney, Rabbi Franklin, is of the view that this is the distinction between wine and grape juice and that there is no basis whatsoever for asserting that yayin or the other terms in the wine making process refer to other than fermented wine. He says the distinction made here for the Nazarite involves both categories of wine and grape juice. He resumes the consumption of alcohol at the cessation of his vow.
Numbers 6:13-21 And this is the law of the Nazarite, when the days of his separation are fulfilled: he shall be brought unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: 14 And he shall offer his offering unto the LORD, one he lamb of the first year without blemish for a burnt offering, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish for a sin offering, and one ram without blemish for peace offerings, 15 And a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, and wafers of unleavened bread anointed with oil, and their meat offering, and their drink offerings. 16 And the priest shall bring them before the LORD, and shall offer his sin offering, and his burnt offering: 17 And he shall offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD, with the basket of unleavened bread: the priest shall offer also his meat offering, and his drink offering. 18 And the Nazarite shall shave the head of his separation at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall take the hair of the head of his separation, and put it in the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offerings. 19 And the priest shall take the sodden shoulder of the ram, and one unleavened cake out of the basket, and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them upon the hands of the Nazarite, after the hair of his separation is shaven: 20 And the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the LORD: this is holy for the priest, with the wave breast and heave shoulder: and after that the Nazarite may drink wine. 21 This is the law of the Nazarite who hath vowed, and of his offering unto the LORD for his separation, beside that that his hand shall get: according to the vow which he vowed, so he must do after the law of his separation. (KJV)
After the vow was completed, the Nazarite drank yayin. Moreover, the vows of abstinence could not be divided. The law was as a whole. Messiah was not a Nazarite and the elect are given a higher order of priesthood. However, the Nazarite drank yayin at the expiration of his vows. Thus we see that yayin was used in ritual and sacred ceremonies and at the Feast of Yahovah (Deut. 14:24-26). Yayin was poured out as a drink offering to Yahovah (in Ex. 29:40; Lev. 23:13 and Num. 15:5).
There is no distinction, either biblically or in history, in the term yayin that could apply in an unfermented or non-alcoholic sense to yayin. To assert that the Nazarite refrained from drinking alcoholic yayin and drank some form of non-alcoholic yayin, if that were possible, at the cessation of his vows is the most puerile of reasoning and with no basis in history or in fact. The correct term for grape juice in Hebrew is mishrat anavim.
Yayin is made from Tirosh although yayin can be generic. The LXX uses oinos to translate both yayin and tirosh. The word tirosh (SHD 8492 tîyrôsh) is derived from the root (SHD 3423 yarash – to possess or occupy (by driving out previous tenants). It can thus mean to seize, to rob, to inherit, or expel. It is properly must (or new wine) and is called tirosh (according to the Companion Bible) because it gets possession of the mind. Strong holds it is derived from the sense of express or squeeze as juice from the grape. Strong holds it can apply to fermented new or sweet wine. It occurs 34 times in the Old Testament. Tirosh became a poetic expression for ritual wine. In the Qumran texts, it is used in replacement of yayin (Interp. Dict., ibid.). This usage of the term probably relates to the concept among them that they were the pure group, in replacement of the apostate priesthood of the Temple. They were also prone to asceticism.
Tirosh is often held to be applied to the grapes in the harvest from Genesis 27:27-28.
Genesis 27:27-28 And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the LORD hath blessed: 28 Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: (KJV)
This argument is used by Samuele Bacchiocchi (in his Wine in the Bible, Signal Press, 1989, p.22). He holds that this applies to either the grapes or the fresh grape juice since it is harvested together with grain and oil. Bullinger has already examined this premise and holds it is simply a reference to or synedoche for liquids and solids (corn – grain or wheat – SHD 1715 dagan and wine tirosh). Dagan is effectively the increase of the field. Bacchiocchi makes an extraordinary accusation against Messiah in his quote on page 43 concerning the miracle of the water and the wine (Jn. 2:10).
Moral consistency demands that Christ could not have miraculously produced between 120 and 180 gallons of intoxicating wine for the use of men, women and children gathered at the Cana’s wedding feast, without becoming morally responsible for their intoxication. Scriptural and moral consistency requires that “the good wine” produced by Christ was fresh, unfermented grape juice. This is supported by the very adjective used to describe it, namely kalos, which denotes that which is morally excellent, instead of agathos, which is simply good.
This extraordinary argument of Bacchiocchi assumes Messiah would have produced an inappropriate amount of wine if it was indeed alcoholic, and that the wedding guests would have been intoxicated by the 120-180 gallons in the six stone jars containing two or three metretes apiece (rendered firkin in the KJV). The assertion is made without any knowledge of the size and duration of the feast. Firstly, the village of Cana was involved. The guests included the disciples as incidental guests. The village of both parties was usually involved and the feast also lasted, sometimes, for a week. This could have been many hundreds, if not a thousand or more guests.
We might assume that the metretes involved was the Aeginetan measure which is the same, according to Cleopatra, Galen and Didymus, as the Babylonian, Syrian or Antiochean metretes and that this is not simply a Greek translation for the much smaller Roman amphora. The Aeginetan metretes was two-fifths greater than the Attic metretes which was half as large as the Roman amphora and contained some nine gallons (see Smith’s Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, second ed., London, 1851, art. Metretes, p. 762). Thus we have between six and ten gallons multiplied by two or three for each of six jars. Thus we have between 72 and 180 gallons – not 120 to 180 gallons as the RSV might indicate. But also, there is no indication of the duration of the feast, nor of the numbers (the note to Jn. 2:1 in the Companion Bible says it sometimes lasted a week). The wine here was oinos which is used in the LXX to translate the Hebrew yayin which is fermented wine and also the tirosh in that sense.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (pp. 1050ff.) indicates that the metretes was the equivalent of a bath, basing their comparison on Josephus’ comment (A of J, viii, 2.9 ), and also his comment that a kor was equivalent to ten metretes – hence ten baths (xv, 9.2 ). Thus the jars were probably two to three baths. Each bath equalled approximately 39 litres (ISBE, p. 1051). Thus, the jars could have had from 78 to 117 litres each.
To run out of wine at a wedding feast is a great calamity to the Hebrew mind as with most people. It would be taken as a reflection on the family. This probably happened because the numbers were greater than expected and lasted longer than anticipated. The miracle could have been performed on day two or three of a seven day feast. Day three could apply to the third day after the last event, all of which had been spent at the feast and this is the probable intention of John 2:1. As this was Cana of Galilee on the road from Nazareth to Tiberias and Messiah and his family and friends were there, it probably involved most of Cana and Nazareth. Many hundreds were probably involved. Any caterer would testify to the fact that 72 to 180 gallons would barely last such a group four days and on this basis the ration would be some 18 to 45 gallons of wine per day.
For two hundred guests, which would probably be very conservative, we would have no more than two pints a day per man and probably much less. A pint a day is a fair ration for wine or ale. This was a feast. Instead of trying to impute sins to Messiah (as they imply if their argument is not accepted) by the fact of Messiah producing good wine at the wedding, we should look at all the facts behind any such conjecture. Messiah produced (SGD 3631) oinos or yayin at the wedding and in such quantities as was appropriate and of a quality that was outstanding. Kalos (SGD 2570) means beautiful but chiefly good as being valuable or virtuous for appearance or use and is thus distinguished from agathos (SGD 18) which is intrinsic (see Strong’s notes). There is no moral connotation here in regard to the virtue of grape juice over wine. Moreover, there is no indication that this was all drunk at the wedding. The fact that the comment of the good wine being reserved until last was made indicates we are dealing with alcohol. Elisha performed a similar miracle with oil and there is no suggestion that the quantity or miracle was inappropriate (2Kgs. 4:1-7). It is only asserted by those who see demons in wine jars.
The miracle of the water into wine is probably a direct example of the conversion of the world system from the water that was Judah to the wine that was the Church under the Holy Spirit. The wine symbolised not only the blood of the Messiah which was the means of access to the Holy Spirit but also the fact that the wine was the fruit of the vineyard of the Lord. There is no suggestion that the miracle was inappropriate or the quantity was excessive.
The extraordinary and unbalanced accusation concerning wine reaches its height in Bacchiocchi’s comments on page 49 of his work.
If the contents of the cup [at the Lord’s Supper] were alcoholic wine, Christ could hardly have said: “Drink of it, all of you” (Matt 26:27; cf. Mark 14:23; Luke 22:17), especially in view of the fact that a typical Passover cup of wine contained not just a sip of wine, but about three quarts of a pint. Christ could hardly have commanded “all” of His followers to drink the cup, if its content were alcoholic wine. There are some to whom alcohol in any form is harmful. Young children who participate at the Lord’s table should certainly not touch wine. There are those to whom the simple taste or smell of alcohol awakens in them a dormant or conquered craving for alcohol. Could Christ, who taught us to pray “Lead us not into temptation,” have made His memorial table a place of irresistible temptation for some and a danger for all? The wine of the Lord’s Supper can never be taken freely or festally as long as it is alcoholic and intoxicating.
This sort of reasoning is absurd. There were twelve grown men plus one at this Supper. Thus, about an ounce of wine per man is involved. Children are not allowed to partake of the Supper at any rate. It appears that the distinction between 14 and 15 Nisan is not understood by Bacchiocchi. There was never any assertion in the Church that non-alcoholic beverages were taken at the Lord’s Supper. In fact, the Apostolic Constitution shows that it was understood as being alcoholic and part of the religious process (Bk. VIII, Ch. XLIV, and Canon 51, 53, ANF, Vol. VII, p. 503). Wine is by definition alcoholic and the Church in one instance took this to the point of censure as was the case with the Corinthians. The comments regarding the non-alcoholic nature of wine with Messiah drip self-righteous accusation. If Messiah had real wine then he would have sinned. Why? Because these people are ascetics. They are the same people in different guise that accused Messiah of being a wine-bibber and a glutton. They would probably refuse him baptism in his own church. The Church in its variant forms has been giving this same communion cup for 2,000 years with no problem to any but the ascetics.
There is no doubt that yayin is distinct from tirosh and both are used in alcoholic reference as we see from Hosea.
Hosea 4:11 Whoredom and wine [yayin] and new wine [tirosh] take away the heart. (KJV)
Tirosh is a product of the wine press.
Proverbs 3:10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine. (KJV)
The blessing and protection of God is held in the retention of this product.
Isaiah 62:8 The LORD hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength, Surely I will no more give thy corn to be meat for thine enemies; and the sons of the stranger shall not drink thy wine, for the which thou hast laboured: (KJV)
Joel 2:24 And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats [vats] shall overflow with wine and oil. (KJV)
Also the distinction comes as part of the curses.
Micah 6:15 Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap; thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil; and sweet wine, but shalt not drink wine. (KJV)
This distinction shows that tirosh is the process of fermentation by which yayin is made and is of itself new wine. The term tirosh is translated into the Greek as SGD 1098 gleukos which means new wine or must and used of the sweet and highly inebriating fermented wine (Strong’s).
Acts 2:12-16 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. 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. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; (KJV)
There is no doubt that must or tirosh or gleukos was fermenting and intoxicating. Peter did not deny that they drank wine. He denied the charge that they were drunk, not on the basis of their abstinence, but on the basis of the fact that it was the third hour of the day and they could, therefore, not be drunk. This stems from the injunction against rising up early to go after strong drink.
Isaiah 5:11 Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them! (KJV)
The apostles drank wine as is amply testified to in the Bible. It was fermented wine. If they did not drink true wine, it would be amply identified in the Bible and the fact of the matter is that it is never suggested. Paul did not tell the Corinthians not to drink but rather to do things decently and in order in their own homes (1Cor. 11:21-22).
1Corinthians 11:21-22 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. 22 What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. (KJV)
He told Timothy to drink wine for the good of his health (1Tim. 5:23).The injunction against drinking wine among the elect is as priests approaching God.
Leviticus 10:9 Do not drink wine nor strong drink, 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: (KJV)
This is the clear demarcation point in the consumption of alcoholic beverage before God. An elder or an elder woman should be not given to or enslaved (dedoulomenas) by much wine. One does not have to be abstemious (1Tim. 3:3,8; Tit. 2:3). Sophron in Titus 1:8 means right minded or sensible (so also Tit. 2:2,5; 1Tim. 3:2; cf. Mk. 5:15; cf. Marshall’s Interlinear main text).
The next term we find for wine is chemer (SHD 2561) and also chamar (SHD 2562) from (SHD 2560) châmar – to boil up. Hence, it means to ferment with scum; to glow with redness or also to daub with pitch or to be red. This sense is derived from (SHD 2564) chemar or bitumen. Chemer etc. occurs eight times and is used of pure red wine from the process of fermentation and SHD 2562 corresponds to it as red wine.
Deuteronomy 32:14 speaks of the pure chemer of the grape.
Deuteronomy 32:13-14 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 blood of the grape. (KJV)
The Interlinear Bible shows from the main text and the translation that the text is: and from the blood of the grape you shall drink wine (or chemer).
The Lord endorses and, in fact, keeps this product for Israel.
Isaiah 27:2-3 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. (KJV)
This product of pure red wine was supplied by direction of Cyrus and Artaxerxes to Israel for the service of the God of Heaven.
Ezra 6:9 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, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail: (KJV)
It is impossible to make unfermented chemer even if the absurdity of such a move would have been considered. To suggest that the process refers to boiling in the sense that it sterilised the wine and made it sterile grape juice is truly incredible. Bullinger says The Rabbins called it neat wine, because, unmixed with water, it disturbs the head and brain (Companion Bible, App. 27, III).
This word (SHD 7941) is translated strong drink and is derived from the word shakar (SHD 7937) meaning to become tipsy or to get drunk. It is a very intoxicating drink or liquor made from barley, honey or dates. It is thus the equivalent of whisky or strong mead or like liquor.
It is used as a drink offering to the Lord in the Holy Place and is given as a blessing for the feast.
Numbers 28:7 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 to be poured unto the LORD for a drink offering. (KJV)
The feast laws involve this blessing directly and endorse the sale and consumption at the feast of both yayin and shekar.
Deuteronomy 14:25-26 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), or for strong drink (shekar), or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household, (KJV)
To suggest that these beverages are non-alcoholic is absurd.
This word comes from the word asas to tread and means new or sweet wine of the vintage year. The term appears in Isaiah 49:26.
Isaiah 49:25-26 But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children. 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: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob. (KJV)
This context might be construed in a negative sense even though it is concerning the blessing and protection of the nation. However, the context in which it is used in Joel 3:17-18 and Amos 9:13 shows it is a blessing conferred by God and stated to be such by Him.
Joel 3:17-18 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, 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. (KJV)
Amos 9:13 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, and all the hills shall melt. (KJV)
This asis is a millennial blessing of God.
This word applies to any form of intoxicating drink and is derived from the term sab’a meaning to drink to excess or become drunk. Mixing wine with water was considered an adulteration and undesirable. Isaiah uses it in the sense that the dilution of it is a penalty.
Isaiah 1:22 Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water: (KJV)
Hosea uses it in the sense of taking away a capacity to enjoy themselves.
Hosea 4:18 Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredom continually: her rulers with shame do love, Give ye. (KJV)
The sense of the application is perhaps not as clear in the RSV where it is used to refer to a band of drunkards rather than their sob’e becoming sour.
Hosea 4:18 A band of drunkards, they give themselves to harlotry; they love shame more than their glory. (RSV)
These two applications refer to a diminished capacity of the nation.
Mamsak (SHD 4469; from SHD 4537 to mingle especially of wine) is mixed or spiced wine. Proverbs 23:30 uses it in the sense that it is definitely alcoholic. The injunction is against tarrying too long over the yayin and this beverage – rather than not drinking it.
Isaiah 65:8-12 Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine 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. 9 And I will bring forth a seed out of Jacob, and out of Judah an inheritor of my mountains: and mine elect shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there. 10 And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor a place for the herds to lie down in, for my people that have sought me. 11 But ye are they that forsake the LORD, that forget my holy mountain, that prepare a table for that troop, and that furnish the drink offering unto that number. 12 Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter: because when I called, ye did not answer; when I spake, ye did not hear; but did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not. (KJV)
Here the mamsak is used as a drink offering but God is indignant that it is poured out on the mountains to false gods. Those are they that prepare a table for Fortune (RSV). It is a drink offering to Eloah only.
Isaiah 65:8-12 Thus says the LORD: "As the wine is found in the cluster, and they say, `Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it,' so I will do for my servants' sake, and not destroy them all. 9 I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah inheritors of my mountains; my chosen shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there. 10 Sharon shall become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for my people who have sought me. 11 But you who forsake the LORD, who forget my holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny; 12 I will destine you to the sword, and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter; because, when I called, you did not answer, when I spoke, you did not listen, but you did what was evil in my eyes, and chose what I did not delight in." (RSV)
The Babylonian deity of Fortune was Gad (SHD 1408) pronounced gawd, called Baal-Gad in the Bible and rendered as that troop (see Strong’s). Yahovah is jealous here of the drink offering being poured out to another deity. There is no sense of a diminishing of the alcoholic properties or value of the mamsak as a drink offering.
This word (SHD 8105) shemer (im; pl.) is derived from the sense of (SHD 8104) shamar meaning to keep or preserve or to lay up. Hence it is old wine, purified from the lees and racked up. It has been translated as the dregs. Traditionally in ancient times, wine was allowed to remain with the lees or grape residue in the vats or wineskins. It became more flavoursome. It was purified after some time and then racked as a vintage.
God has reserved a vintage for the Gentiles, which was of the lees. This has both a positive and a negative context. The positive context was that God had reserved salvation for the Gentiles. This was not understood by Judah.
Psalm 75:8 For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; 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. (KJV)
Here we see the best wine yayin stored by God as a blessing on His people is given to them in a cup held in His hand. The term is the yayin foams (SHD 2564). Shemarim is here rendered as the dregs but the sense is also that it is what is left of the pure blessings given to Israel which are left for those of the nations. There is no possibility that either word can apply to unfermented wine. The sense is of progressive vintage. Salvation is of the Gentiles and, thus, the negative sense conveyed here is of the ungodly who will be made to partake of the Lord’s cup. This is often thought of as the cup of wrath. However, God wishes that no flesh should perish.
Shemarim is the end result of the vintage process. It is a blessing reserved for the feasts by God. The shemarim is thus the end result of the process and is applied also to the Gentiles as the last of the vintage of God.
Isaiah 25:6 And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. (KJV)
The sense of being settled on the lees is applied in the sense of humans being settled on the lees. Thus, the word is derived from the sense of stacking up on the lees. This only has meaning to fermented vintages. The humans are, in this sense, rebuked for sitting back on the lees.
Zephaniah 1:12 And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil. (KJV)
This sense is in the last days when people are settled back into complacency and have no fear of God. They do not bother to purify themselves so that they may be acceptable to God. That is the case at present. This was the case with Moab and God punished him.
Jeremiah 48:11 Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed. (KJV)
The sense here was as a vintage on the lees which had not been decanted or mixed or purified. Moab had not gone into captivity and had settled away from God and God was going to deal with Moab in His own way.
The analogy, however, shows that the sense of undisturbed vintage wine, strengthened by the flavour of the grape residue, racked and preserved is the sense of the name. Wine was strained before it was drunk and this purified it from the lees or grape residue, and also from foreign matter and insects (Mat. 23:24). This is the straining of the gnat referred to by Christ. Old wine was preferred to new wine (Ecclus. 9:10; Lk. 5:39). This is a result of the ageing of a fermented wine.
Wine is used for a medicine as we saw from 2Samuel 16:2 and 1Timothy 5:23 and was used as a dressing on wounds (Lk. 10:34).
Worshippers brought a skin of wine on a pilgrimage to the Temple (1Sam. 1:24; 10:3). It was poured out at the base of the altar (Ecclus. 50:15; cf. Josephus A of J, III, ix, 4), and had the same symbolism as blood – hence Christ’s comments as the high priest where he offered his own blood to cleanse the Temple. This was symbolised by wine. It was, however, never offered by itself – hence the body and blood of Christ reflecting on the sacrifices (Ex. 29:40; Lev. 23:13; Num. 15:7,10; 28:14; etc. cf. Interp. Dict., ibid.). Wine is mentioned at the Passover in the book of Jubilees 49:6 and, because of this, it is concluded by Ross (Interp. Dict., ibid.) that it was not used in the Passover until Hellenistic times. However, the prohibition against beer and not wine from the Elephantine papyrus (see Pritchard, op. cit.) suggests that Ross is wrong.
Both the New Testament and Old Testament have both praise and condemnation for wine. Habbakuk condemns wine as treacherous (Hab. 2:5; cf. Hos. 4:11). Micah complains that the people want a preacher who will speak of wine and strong drink (Mic. 2:11). Isaiah condemns the shepherds who are interested in procuring wine and filling themselves with strong drink (Isa. 56:11-12; cf. Hos. 7:5) and the priests and prophets who reel and stagger because of wine (Isa. 28:7). The prohibitions on the priesthood drinking on duty are in Leviticus 10:9 and Ezekiel 44:21.
Moderation is the key to the Bible’s attitude. Proverbs carries the warnings against overindulgence (Prov. 20:1; 21:17; cf. 23:20-21; 23:31-35).
The view of total abstinence from wine is found among the Rechabites. However, they vowed not only to give up wine but also never to build houses (Jer. 35:6-7). This vow was taken out of a sense of piety to their ancestor but in no way establishes the behaviour as normal or God inspired or required.
The Psalms praise Yahovah for giving wine to gladden the heart of man (Ps. 104:15; cf. Judges 9:13; Eccl. 10:19).
This word is derived from ’ashah meaning to press. This word is the cause of confusion in the biblical texts and is seized on by the temperance lobby to demonstrate that the process involved the making of heavy syrup rather than wine. It is translated flagons of wine in the KJV. It is a pressed hardened syrup made of grapes either from the lees, or, a sweet cake of dried grapes or pressed raisins (Companion Bible refers). David gave the people a cake of raisins and not a flagon of wine. The word is entirely different and has no relationship to the other words used for wine and which describe correctly the process of the manufacture of wine as an ancient alcoholic beverage. This process of making the hard pressed cake is identified and has a specific term in Hebrew.
2 Samuel 6:19 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 of wine. So all the people departed every one to his house. (KJV)
This is repeated in 1Chronicles. There is thus no doubt we are talking of a different substance and process.
1 Chronicles 16:3 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 of wine. (KJV)
The Song of Songs uses the same word meaning raisin cakes. The connection here is of raisin or grape-cakes and apples.
Song of Songs 2:5 Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love. (KJV)
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. (KJV)
The sense here is of loving sweet grape-cakes. There is no suggestion that wine is involved here in a negative sense. In fact, the negative sense of the grape-cakes is applied here as the two-fold sense is applied to other produce of the vine. Bacchiocchi’s contention of the positive/negative distinction does not stand up to scrutiny.
The making of this product from a syrup would probably involve the rendering process. Specialist advice from Mr Peter Leske of the Australian Wine Research Institute states that grape juice commences to ferment within twelve hours of pressing (dependent upon temperature). The process can be halted by boiling. This process must remove enough water to halt the fermentation process by killing the yeast which causes it. This must be repeated under the conditions that applied in ancient times. The result is a thick caramelised syrup. Effectively this is a jam making process and the product is no longer classified as wine. In ancient times, the process would have involved the almost total rendering of the product as with jam. With today’s technology using vacuums, the process is more efficient and less reduction is necessary. However, the modern liquid sweetening or sugar product is 700 grams per litre – whereas grape juice is 150-200 grams per litre. The terminology of the Bible indicates that the product was also not regarded as wine. This product ’ashishah which can be pressed to make a sweet cake-like jam solid is made either from the lees or as a jam syrup. That is why it was issued by David as a ration with bread. In Hebrew, this product is also no longer classified as wine.
It was customary in Egypt to name wines from the districts in which they were produced much as we find in France. Although the Bible does not contain such names for the wines of Palestine, the areas around Hebron were noted in Judah. Several place names have to do with viticulture (see Abel-Kera-Mim Anab; Beth-Haccherem; Eschol). The vine of Sibmah is also mentioned by Isaiah, which reached to Jazer and strayed to the desert (Isa. 16:8). The wines in Syria were world famous such as the wine of Helbon and the wine of Uzal (Ezek. 27:18-19).
The grapes were harvested in August and September and were spread out in the sun for a time before they were made into wine. The vintage took place in September, being mentioned in connection with the Feast of Booths (Deut. 16:3) (see Interp. Dict., art. ‘Wine’, p. 850).
Psalms 8, 81 and 84 are according to the Gittith – being the same as the root used for the wine vat – and the Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible thinks they may be harvest Psalms. Grapes were trodden (Heb. walk cf. Neh. 13:15; Job 24:11; Isa. 16:10) and in teams. Hence Isaiah 63:3 refers to treading the winepress alone. The winepress was in two parts – an upper and a lower vat connected by a channel. The upper was twice as large and higher than the lower. The grapes were trodden in the upper and collected in the lower. In Roman times, three or four vats were connected by channels. The olive harvest, which was later, was probably pressed in the same vats (Interp. Dict., ibid.). The first stage of fermentation began some six to twelve hours after pressing began in the lower vat. Then the wine was transferred to jars (Jer. 13:12; 48:11) or skins for further fermentation and storage. That is why Christ said you do not place new wine in old skins (Mat. 9:17; Mk. 2:22; Lk. 5:37-39). The problem is that fermenting wine expands. The leather of the skin, when moist, stretches with the expanding liquid. An old wine skin has gone through the process of expansion and has no more elasticity to take up the pressure of the expanding liquid. Therefore new wine will expand and split an old wine skin. It must have the elasticity of a new skin. Christ could not have possibly been referring to grape juice here. He could only have been referring to a fermenting expanding wine. So also Job 32:18-19.
Job 32:18-19 For I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me. 19 Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles. (KJV)
Thus, the analogy with the Holy Spirit is used. The fermentation process is what is happening with the elect. We are the fruit of the vine that becomes God through the Holy Spirit. Christ is the body and the true vine. The vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the house of Israel and the men of Judah are his pleasant plant (Isa. 5:7).
Wine was liberally provided at banquets and the Hebrew word for banquet or feast is drinking (SHD 4960 mishteh, see also Interp. Dict., p. 851). Hence, wine was generally included in gifts to superiors, as with Abigail and Ziba to David (1Sam. 25:18; 2Sam. 16:1).
As an article of trade, Solomon gave Hiram 20,000 baths of wine among other things in return for the timber required for the Temple (2Chron. 2:8-10,15). It is extremely unlikely that Hiram would have been satisfied with grape juice. In a few days it would have become wine in any case.
The Companion Bible sums up Appendix 27 with the words:
With these data it will be seen that the modern expression “unfermented wine” is a contradiction of terms. If it is wine, it must have been fermented. If it has not been fermented, it is not wine, but a syrup.
Leaven is sour dough, and not wine. It is that which causes the fermentation. There can be no leaven after the process of fermentation has ceased.
This argument is also important as it is advanced by the uninformed that wine is a leavened product and, thus, fermented wine cannot be used at the Passover because of the injunction against leaven. The injunction is about leavened bread and the removal of leaven from the home. Wine is not bread and once the fermentation process ceases it is a finished product. The Bible is quite clear that wine is permitted during the three feast periods and thus it is obvious that beverages do not fall into the category prohibited during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Beer is viewed as a prohibited product during unleavened bread and the rabbinical authorities base this view on an oral tradition. This view has affected the translation of ancient documents in that the reconstruction of the Passover papyrus from Elephantine inserted the ellipsis in the ostraca as a prohibition on beer from this view as is noted by Ginsberg in the footnote to the translated text (see The Passover Papyrus, Pritchard, The Ancient Near East: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures, Princeton, 1958, p. 278). In footnote 5, H. L. Ginsberg notes that the:
… restoration is only correct if Hananiah’s tradition, like Rabbinic law, included under “leaven” fermented corn but not fermented fruit (wine). The Samaritans take a more rigorous view.
Thus, rabbinical law permitted wine but not beer. There is no suggestion throughout history that unfermented wine was used as the norm for the Passover. Louis Ginsberg (1873-1941) allows, from the references of both the Babylonian and the Jerusalem Talmud, that unfermented wines may be used optionally (lekatehillah) for the consecration of a festival by means of a cup of wine (Kiddush) and other religious ceremonies outside of the Temple (Louis Ginsberg “A Response to the Question Whether Unfermented Wine May Be Used in Jewish Ceremonies”, American Jewish Year Book 1923, p. 414 cf. Bacchiocchi, ibid., p. 50).
This concession is just that, a concession. It is certainly not the norm for Jewish Ceremonies of Kiddush, and the Lord’s Supper is not an observed Jewish ceremony. It is not the meal of 15 Nisan. It is the meal of 14 Nisan, or the Meal of the Preparation. Christ was dead by the Passover meal because he was the Passover.
Bacchiocchi makes an assertion on page 12 of his abridgment.
The gradual abandonment of the Biblical stand for total abstinence by an increasing number of churches has contributed to the alarming drinking problem of our time.
This claim has no basis in history or in fact outside of the Montanist and Manichean heresies and their descendants. Temperance is an aberration of the ascetic sects of history and their descendants who are the so-called Puritans. It became most prevalent in the USA and resulted in the prohibition era this century. Alcoholism is a weakness of individuals – not of a system. The proper enjoyment of alcohol imputes no sin to God or to Christ.
In each of the examples we have seen, the instance where the word for wine is used is in both a positive and a negative sense. The Hebrew language is rich with terminology regarding alcoholic beverages. Each word reflects a part of the process involved in the making of wine. English uses other words with specific meaning to convey the same sense. The process is complex and is an important part of the daily lives of both peoples. To suggest that wine was non-alcoholic grape juice when spoken of in a positive sense in biblical literature is an insult to the intelligence of the average Bible student. Rabbinical authorities regard it as absurd. Such a view, which comes from Gnostic sources which practised ascetic values with vegetarianism, seeks to wrest Scripture in a self-righteous ascetic world view which has been rejected by Christianity over the centuries. It entered mainstream Christianity among the Puritans or Cathars and has adapted the doctrines to embrace the Trinitarian Godhead so that it would be more acceptable than its Montanist and Manichean ancestors. It is, however, a heresy that has been rejected by all other forms of Christianity because of its direct perversion of Scripture.