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Bible (GB)

Canaan (the biblical name for Palestine), which is called the "Promised Land", had to be conquered or settled twice by the Israelites. This took place under Abraham, the progenitor of Israel (and incidentally also of the Arabs) about 2000 to 1900 and under Moses after forty years of wandering in the desert about 1300 to 1200 B.C. Historical research does not agree on whether the two persons actually lived, or are rather only legendary figures. In any case, Moses died after reaching his destination without having set foot on it. At the border, Moses received orders from Yahweh to have the land of Canaan, which he had intended for the Israelites, explored. There they came to a wadi (torrent valley) near Hebron. This is written in the book of Numbers as follows (13.22 ff): "It was just the time of the first grapes. When they reached the valley of Eshkol, they cut off a vine with one grape, which they carried in twos on a pole, and also some pomegranates and figs. The grape (Hebrew Eschkol = grape) must have been of huge dimensions.

Bibel - Moses mit Gebotstafeln und Riesenweintraube aus dem Eschkoltal (Numeri 13.22)

Wine in the Bible

Wine is a frequent theme in the Bible. Vineyard occurs over 90 times, vine over 60 times and wine press 15 times. According to the Bible researcher Jürgen Becker, wine is referred to directly or indirectly in a total of 979 passages. For comparison, this applies to Homer's (8th century BC) works Iliad and Odyssey only 49 and 85 times respectively. Although beer was also a widespread drink at that time, it did not have the same status. Martin Luther (1483-1546) said "Beer is man's work, but wine is from God. Bible researchers found eight different Hebrew words that were translated as "wine" in the various languages. Not in all cases it is real wine, but partly syrup, more similar to beer or other alcoholic drinks made from various tree and field fruits. The following terms occur over 200 times:

  • Ásis = sweet or vintage wine
  • Chemer = strong red wine, mixed with water
  • Mimsák = mixed or spicy wine(spiced wine)
  • Shékár = strong drink made from barley, honey or dates
  • Shemárim = old wine
  • Sob'e = strong, intoxicating drink mixed with water
  • Tirósh = young wine
  • Yáyin (Jájin) = general name for wine

Bibel - Altar mit aufgeschlagener Bibel / Messkelch mit Hostie, Traube und Brot

Viticulture and wine consumption by the Israelites

How important viticulture was for the Israelite community is illustrated by several statements in the book of Deuteronomy. This is a collection of sermon-like speeches and laws that Moses made known to the Israelites before they entered the land of Canaan. Regarding the participation in an impending battle (20.6), he says: "Who is the man who has planted a vineyard and not yet used it? He gets up and goes back to his house so that he does not die in battle and another man uses it. So the winegrower was exempted from military service until the maiden harvest, and that was a period of three to five years. So the Israelites were more concerned about securing the cultivation of vines than one more man in the battle.

There were guidelines for eating grapes in the vineyard (23.35): "When you come into your neighbor's vineyard, you may eat grapes as much as you like, but you must not put anything into your vessel. And also the time after the harvest was regulated (24.21-22): "When you harvest in your vineyard, you shall not pick after it; it shall fall to the stranger, the orphan and the widow. The book Leviticus 19.10 also deals with this subject: Neither shalt thou gather in thy vineyard, neither shalt thou pick up the fallen berries. Leave them to the poor and the stranger.

Although Judaism affirms frugality and scorns all showiness, it accepts all corporeality as given to God. Thus also the (moderate) enjoyment of wine as an expression of cheerfulness and joy of life. Wine is not only allowed, but it delights the human heart and fills life with bliss. On the holy Sabbath kosher wine plays an important ritual role. There are warnings against excessive consumption, for example of the chemer: it should be drunk mixed with water, because undiluted it confuses the head and brain. But just as often wine and vine are praised and called God's gifts.

Old Testament

In the Old Testament wine or vine is often used in the form of parables, quotations and aphorisms. In the book of Jesus Sirach 9.8 and 9.9 there is an urgent warning against becoming weak through excessive consumption of wine by a married woman: Many have been driven mad by the beauty of a woman, and like a fire, passion is kindled in her. Do not sit together with a wife and do not lie at table intoxicated with her, lest you become attached to her heart and perish in your passion.

The Tent of Meeting was the center of Israelite worship during the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. It was a portable temple that could be taken apart and reassembled. The children of Israel used a tabernacle of the congregation until they built the temple of Solomon. In this tent the consumption of wine was forbidden under threat of death, which is written in the book of Leviticus 10.8 and 10.9 as follows: "Yahweh said to Aaron, 'You and your sons must not drink wine or intoxicating liquor when you go into the tent of meeting. Otherwise you must die. This is a rule from generation to generation for all time.

Bibel - Arche Noah (Genesis Kap. 6 bis 9)

Without a doubt, vines must have been part of the cargo of Noah's Ark, although they are not explicitly mentioned. For after he had survived the Flood by landing on Mount Ararat (in the west of present-day Turkey on the border with Armenia) and left the animals on land, he became a winegrower. In the book Genesis 9.21 it is reported Noah, the farmer, began to plant the vine. When he drank of the wine (yáyin), he was intoxicated and lay bare inside his tent. When his son Ham saw his father's nakedness, he did not cover it, but called his two brothers Shem and Japhpeth, laughed and mocked them. They covered the father first. The incident is also interpreted as the "second great fall after Adam and Eve". But this does not refer to Noah's enjoyment of wine (he will be forgiven), but to the behavior of Ham. Pope Julius II (1443-1513) ordered Michelangelo to paint the "transgression" on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Bibel - Trunkenheit Noahs (Michelangelo) - Sixtinische Kapelle

In the book of Genesis 49.11, on his deathbed, the patriarch Jacob calls his twelve sons (the twelve tribes of Israel) to him, gives them his blessing and has a message for each of them about what they can expect. To his son Judah he says: "To the vine he binds his fillings, and to the vine he binds the young of an ass. He washes his robe in wine, his garment in the blood of the vine. His eyes are cloudy with wine, his teeth white as milk. In the book of Deuteronomy (5th book of Moses, 7.13) wine is counted among the seven blessed fruits that the Jews receive when they strictly observe the laws of God: He (Yahweh) will bless the fruit of your body, the yield of your field, your grain, wine and oil, as well as the young cattle of your cows and the increase of your small livestock.

The importance of the vine is made clear by the prohibition in the 5th book of Moses 22.9, which is also one of the rules for making kosher wine: you shall not plant your vineyard with two things, lest the sanctuary be taken over by the whole: the seed you have sown and the yield of the vineyard. In the book of Jeremiah 2.20 and 2.21 Yahweh rages against the people of Israel who had fallen away from him and compares this as follows "On every high hill and under every green tree, you committed fornication. But I had planted you as a noble vine, as a very true cutting. How did you turn into a wildling, you degenerate vine?

New Testament

Also in the New Testament there are many quotations or parables in connection with wine. One of the best known is the saying of Jesus in the gospel of John (15.1). The parable begins with a metaphorical self-comparison: I am the true vine and my father the vine-grower. It is then interpreted that every vine that does not bear good fruit will be removed. Those vines that bear fruit are purified so that they bear more fruit. Then the image is explicitly extended to the disciples, who are asked to remain in Christ and bear fruit there. Just as a single vine is not able to bear fruit by itself, so the disciples are not able to bear fruit by themselves: I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me and I in him bears much fruit, for without me you can do nothing.

Bibel Neues Testament - Ich bin der Weinstock und Hochzeit von Kana (Joh. Evanelium)

Other examples are the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20.1), the wicked winegrowers (Matthew 21.33) and the well-known miracle at the wedding of Cana (John 2.6), where Jesus miraculously transforms water into wine in six stone jugs. A passage from the Gospel of Matthew 9.16 to 9.17 has become a frequently used proverb. When asked by the disciples of St. John, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not? "No one puts a patch of unwashed cloth on an old garment. For the patch will tear off the garment, and the tear will be even worse. Nor do you pour new wine into old skins. Otherwise the skins will tear, the wine will spill, and the skins will be spoiled. New wine is poured into new skins. Then both are preserved

further information

In the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, a vineyard near Großjena is home to a special monument, which is a stone picture book depicting scenes from the Bible in connection with viticulture and wine enjoyment. In Christianity, the mystical connection of wine to God found its central expression in the Eucharist, in the transformation of bread and wine into Christ's body and blood. See also the keywords alcohol prohibition, country rules, church, measuring cup, measuring wine, wine gods and wine saints

Moses: From Jusepe de Ribera - Link
Bible: From Charlie on Pixabay
Measuring cup: From aalmeidah on Pixabay
Noah's Ark: By Edward Hicks, Public Domain, Link
Noah drunkenness : sacerdos viennensis
Jesus: From anonimous, Gemeinfrei, Link
Wedding of Cana: By Giotto di Bondone, Public domain, Link

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