Monday, January 14, 2013

Did Yeshua Drink Fermented Wine (i.e. the good stuff)?

Why did we bring wine to the Temple?  Would G-d want us to bring something to Him that He did not like?

Why have wine for kiddush and havdallah?  Does it have to do with the command to call Shabbat a delight (Isaiah 58:13)?

Well, you might point to the fruit in the Garden of Eden and say "Look at what evil the fruit of the vine has caused!"  Yes, that's true.  And you may say "Look at what wine did to Noah and so many others!"  Yes, that's also true.

So we should not use wine because it can be used for evil?

Would you say "Don't use fire because fire can kill"?  No, you would not.  And why?

Wine, like a person, has both destructive and creative potential.  Jews believe in directing wine toward a creative end:  namely, enjoying the commandments and thereby sanctifying life itself.

Asceticism as a lifestyle is evil. Paul got a little angry with the Colossians because they were listening to the lie "do not taste, do not handle, do not touch." Paul said to not let those ascetic types judge them for what they were eating (feasting) and drinking (celebrating).

Hmm, it's almost as if the Believers at Colossae had gotten into some Judaism and were learning to enjoy the commandments!  But is there proof that they were practicing Judaism, that Paul was teaching Gentiles to observe Jewish Law?  Let's look and see!

"Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day."

So Paul's readers were enjoying the commandments and then Paul, in the same passage, says what specific commandments they were enjoying.  And, what a coincidence, those festivals, celebrations, and Sabbaths all traditionally involve the drinking of wine!

So did Yeshua drink fermented wine?  Well, that I don't know.  Does anyone have any thoughts on this?


  1. I don't see any reason to believe he didn't especially since the process used to keep the juice from fermenting wasn't invented until 1869CE...

    It is impossible to keep the grape juice from fermenting within a couple of days without both refrigeration and preservatives. The fact of the matter is that by the time the grape is ripe on the vine it already has traceable amounts of alcohol in the juice.

    1. Andre,

      That's interesting stuff. I have a friend in the wine industry...maybe I'll ask him more about what you've mentioned, see if he can add anything to that.

  2. Wine was generally made by treading the grapes in a press (Isaiah 63:2-3). The wine was then refined or aged (Isaiah 25:6). Obviously aged implies fermentation. Our Master considered wine to be improved by age (Luke 5:39).
    Wine was often kept in jars (Jeremiah 32:19; 48:12). It was also kept in skins (1 Samuel 25:18; Joshua 9:4, 13; Jeremiah 13:12; Mathew 9:17; Luke 5:37-38). The consequence of putting new (and obviously still fermenting) wine in old skins was that the old skins which could no longer stretch to accommodate the gasses would burst (Mark 2:22).
    In the following examples, the word wine (Strong’s #3196) is in every case alcoholized, fermented wine. By the way the word “beer” is Strong’s #7194.
    • Melchizedec gave alcoholized wine to Abraham (Genesis 14:8).
    • Hannah used alcoholized wine as an offering when she brought Samuel to Eli (1 Samuel 1:24).
    • Jesse sent David to Saul with a gift of alcoholized wine (1 Samuel 16:20).
    • Abigail gave a gift of alcoholized wine to David who accepted it and blessed her (1 Samuel 25:18).
    • The priests were to abstain only while on duty (Ezekiel 44:21; Leviticus 10:9).
    • A man under the Nazarite vow was only to abstain during the term of his vow (Numbers 6:3-4, 20).
    • Joseph (often used as a type of Jesus and one of the few figures in the Bible that are not assigned any specific blame) and his brothers drank and became tipsy. (Genesis 43:34)
    • Nehemiah received and distributed all sorts of wine (Nehemiah 5:18).
    • Esther served alcoholic wine (Esther 7:2).
    • Wine makes people mirthful (Esther 1:10; Ecclesiastes 10:19).
    • Wisdom, generally typified as the Holy Spirit, uses alcoholized wine to symbolize her gifts (Proverbs 9:5; Isaiah 55:1).
    • Solomon promotes drinking alcoholized wine (Ecclesiastes 9:7).
    • Alcoholized wine and even extremely strong distilled liquor was used for the drink offerings (Numbers 28:7; Deuteronomy 14:26).
    • Job’s family drank alcoholized wine (Job 1:13).
    • David, the man after God’s own heart, praised alcoholized wine and says God gave it (Psalm 104:14-15).
    • When Solomon speaks against wine in Proverbs 20:1 and 21:7, he describes drunkenness or excess.
    • Isaiah describes the taking away of alcoholized wine as a punishment (Isaiah 24:9, 11).
    • Alcoholized wine is used to relieve suffering and externally as well as internally for medicinal purposes (Proverbs 31:6; Mark 15:23; Luke 10:34; 1 Timothy 5:23).
    Jesus compared the relationship his disciples had with him to alcoholized wine. Obviously these three passages are rendered meaningless if one believes Jesus was referring to simple grape juice or must (Matthew 9:17 cp Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37).
    Jesus compared the relationship his disciples had to well-aged wine and the life of the Pharisees and scribes had to raw new wine, saying old wine is better than new (Luke 5:39). Who ages grape juice?
    Jesus used wine to illustrate the blood he shed for us (Matthew 26:27-29; Mark 14:23-25; Luke 22:20; John 6:53-56.
    Jesus was characterized by the Pharisees as a “drunkard” (Strong’s #3631; Luke 7:33-34). In what way is this an insult if Jesus limited Himself to grape juice?
    The wine Jesus transformed from water was alcoholized (John 2:10; 4:46). How would the chief servant’s comments make any sense if what they were drinking was merely grape juice?
    Jesus warned against drunkenness, not drinking (Luke 21:34).

    1. Cajun,

      We are so blessed by your gift of scholarship! Thank you for gathering that precious information!

      By the way, my friend in D.C. who works in the wine industry (he's not a Believer) verified that Yeshua would've been drinking fermented wine. The only way to stop the fermentation is to reduce the temperature of the wine to near-freezing, something that wasn't possible back then.

    2. Cajun,

      What would you say to the argument that Biblical wine was produced from a condensed syrup via a heating process that killed the yeast, thereby reducing (not eliminating) the alcoholic content? Have you heard of this type of process?

    3. “Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it swirls around smoothly; At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, And your heart will utter perverse things.”
      ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭23:31-33‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

    4. Why would Jesus act against: "Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies! You will be filled with shame instead of glory. ". Habakkuk 2:15

    5. He wouldn't. However, the verse doesn't say, "Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin at all." The part "till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies" is an important aspect about what is unacceptable about the situation therein. The immorality in that verse is not the alcohol, but the drunkenness and the goal of uncovering nakedness.

  3. I do not feel qualified to answer that type of question without a substantial investment in study which I can't take on right now.
    My principle interest is in the lexical clues that indicate "alcoholized" wine, i.e. Joseph and his brothers getting tipsy, it being used to help people forget the bitterness of their lives, or the man saying 'people usually bring out the lesser wine when people won't notice'. All these clearly indicate alcohol, without having to delve into the intricacies of the manufacturing process.
    By the way, the lexical arguments are (to me) far more weighty than the presumptions moderns have on how various wines were made thousands of years ago, which are dubious.