Heb. hometz, Gr. oxos, Fr. vin aigre; i.e., "sour wine." The
Hebrew word is rendered vinegar in Ps. 69:21, a prophecy
fulfilled in the history of the crucifixion (Matt. 27:34). This
was the common sour wine (posea) daily made use of by the Roman
soldiers. They gave it to Christ, not in derision, but from
compassion, to assuage his thirst. Prov. 10:26 shows that there
was also a stronger vinegar, which was not fit for drinking. The
comparison, "vinegar upon nitre," probably means "vinegar upon
soda" (as in the marg. of the R.V.), which then effervesces.
The drinks of the Hebrews were water, wine, "strong drink," and
vinegar. Their drinking vessels were the cup, goblet or "basin,"
the "cruse" or pitcher, and the saucer.
To drink water by measure (Ezek. 4:11), and to buy water to
drink (Lam. 5:4), denote great scarcity. To drink blood means to
be satiated with slaughter.
The Jews carefully strained their drinks through a sieve,
through fear of violating the law of Lev. 11:20, 23, 41, 42.
(See Matt. 23:24. "Strain at" should be "strain out.")
(Prov. 25:20; R.V. marg., "soda"), properly "natron," a
substance so called because, rising from the bottom of the Lake
Natron in Egypt, it becomes dry and hard in the sun, and is the
soda which effervesces when vinegar is poured on it. It is a
carbonate of soda, not saltpetre, which the word generally
denotes (Jer. 2:22; R.V. "lye").
(1) Heb. mererah, meaning "bitterness" (Job 16:13); i.e., the
bile secreted in the liver. This word is also used of the poison
of asps (20:14), and of the vitals, the seat of life (25).
(2.) Heb. rosh. In Deut. 32:33 and Job 20:16 it denotes the
poison of serpents. In Hos. 10:4 the Hebrew word is rendered
"hemlock." The original probably denotes some bitter, poisonous
plant, most probably the poppy, which grows up quickly, and is
therefore coupled with wormwood (Deut. 29:18; Jer. 9:15; Lam.
3:19). Comp. Jer. 8:14; 23:15, "water of gall," Gesenius, "poppy
juice;" others, "water of hemlock," "bitter water."
(3.) Gr. chole (Matt. 27:34), the LXX. translation of the
Hebrew _rosh_ in Ps. 69; 21, which foretells our Lord's
sufferings. The drink offered to our Lord was vinegar (made of
light wine rendered acid, the common drink of Roman soldiers)
"mingled with gall," or, according to Mark (15:23), "mingled
with myrrh;" both expressions meaning the same thing, namely,
that the vinegar was made bitter by the infusion of wormwood or
some other bitter substance, usually given, according to a
merciful custom, as an anodyne to those who were crucified, to
render them insensible to pain. Our Lord, knowing this, refuses
to drink it. He would take nothing to cloud his faculties or
blunt the pain of dying. He chooses to suffer every element of
woe in the bitter cup of agony given him by the Father (John
(1.) Heb. seor (Ex. 12:15, 19; 13:7; Lev. 2:11), the remnant of
dough from the preceding baking which had fermented and become
(2.) Heb. hamets, properly "ferment." In Num. 6:3, "vinegar of
wine" is more correctly "fermented wine." In Ex. 13:7, the
proper rendering would be, "Unfermented things [Heb. matstsoth]
shall be consumed during the seven days; and there shall not be
seen with thee fermented things [hamets], and there shall not be
seen with thee leavened mass [seor] in all thy borders." The
chemical definition of ferment or yeast is "a substance in a
state of putrefaction, the atoms of which are in a continual
The use of leaven was strictly forbidden in all offerings made
to the Lord by fire (Lev. 2:11; 7:12; 8:2; Num. 6:15). Its
secretly penetrating and diffusive power is referred to in 1
Cor. 5:6. In this respect it is used to illustrate the growth of
the kingdom of heaven both in the individual heart and in the
world (Matt. 13:33). It is a figure also of corruptness and of
perverseness of heart and life (Matt. 16:6, 11; Mark 8:15; 1
Cor. 5:7, 8).
(1.) "Paper reeds" (Isa. 19:7; R.V., "reeds"). Heb. 'aroth,
properly green herbage growing in marshy places.
(2.) Heb. kaneh (1 Kings 14:15; Job 40:21; Isa. 19:6), whence
the Gr. kanna, a "cane," a generic name for a reed of any kind.
The reed of Egypt and Israel is the Arundo donax, which
grows to the height of 12 feet, its stalk jointed like the
bamboo, "with a magnificent panicle of blossom at the top, and
so slender and yielding that it will lie perfectly flat under a
gust of wind, and immediately resume its upright position." It
is used to illustrate weakness (2 Kings 18:21; Ezek. 29:6), also
fickleness or instability (Matt. 11:7; comp. Eph. 4:14).
A "bruised reed" (Isa. 42:3; Matt. 12:20) is an emblem of a
believer weak in grace. A reed was put into our Lord's hands in
derision (Matt. 27:29); and "they took the reed and smote him on
the head" (30). The "reed" on which they put the sponge filled
with vinegar (Matt. 27:48) was, according to John (19:29), a
hyssop stalk, which must have been of some length, or perhaps a
bunch of hyssop twigs fastened to a rod with the sponge. (See
a common mode of punishment among heathen nations in early
times. It is not certain whether it was known among the ancient
Jews; probably it was not. The modes of capital punishment
according to the Mosaic law were, by the sword (Ex. 21),
strangling, fire (Lev. 20), and stoning (Deut. 21).
This was regarded as the most horrible form of death, and to a
Jew it would acquire greater horror from the curse in Deut.
This punishment began by subjecting the sufferer to scourging.
In the case of our Lord, however, his scourging was rather
before the sentence was passed upon him, and was inflicted by
Pilate for the purpose, probably, of exciting pity and procuring
his escape from further punishment (Luke 23:22; John 19:1).
The condemned one carried his own cross to the place of
execution, which was outside the city, in some conspicuous place
set apart for the purpose. Before the nailing to the cross took
place, a medicated cup of vinegar mixed with gall and myrrh (the
sopor) was given, for the purpose of deadening the pangs of the
sufferer. Our Lord refused this cup, that his senses might be
clear (Matt. 27:34). The spongeful of vinegar, sour wine, posca,
the common drink of the Roman soldiers, which was put on a
hyssop stalk and offered to our Lord in contemptuous pity (Matt.
27:48; Luke 23:36), he tasted to allay the agonies of his thirst
(John 19:29). The accounts given of the crucifixion of our Lord
are in entire agreement with the customs and practices of the
Roman in such cases. He was crucified between two "malefactors"
(Isa. 53:12; Luke 23:32), and was watched by a party of four
soldiers (John 19:23; Matt. 27:36, 54), with their centurion.
The "breaking of the legs" of the malefactors was intended to
hasten death, and put them out of misery (John 19:31); but the
unusual rapidity of our Lord's death (19:33) was due to his
previous sufferings and his great mental anguish. The omission
of the breaking of his legs was the fulfilment of a type (Ex.
12:46). He literally died of a broken heart, a ruptured heart,
and hence the flowing of blood and water from the wound made by
the soldier's spear (John 19:34). Our Lord uttered seven
memorable words from the cross, namely, (1) Luke 23:34; (2)
23:43; (3) John 19:26; (4) Matt. 27:46, Mark 15:34; (5) John
19:28; (6) 19:30; (7) Luke 23:46.
The common Hebrew word for wine is _yayin_, from a root meaning
"to boil up," "to be in a ferment." Others derive it from a root
meaning "to tread out," and hence the juice of the grape trodden
out. The Greek word for wine is _oinos_, and the Latin _vinun_.
But besides this common Hebrew word, there are several others
which are thus rendered.
(1.) Ashishah (2 Sam. 6:19; 1 Chr. 16:3; Cant. 2:5; Hos. 3:1),
which, however, rather denotes a solid cake of pressed grapes,
or, as in the Revised Version, a cake of raisins.
(2.) 'Asis, "sweet wine," or "new wine," the product of the
same year (Cant. 8:2; Isa. 49:26; Joel 1:5; 3:18; Amos 9:13),
from a root meaning "to tread," hence juice trodden out or
pressed out, thus referring to the method by which the juice is
obtained. The power of intoxication is ascribed to it.
(3.) Hometz. See VINEGAR ¯T0003771.
(4.) Hemer, Deut. 32:14 (rendered "blood of the grape") Isa.
27:2 ("red wine"), Ezra 6:9; 7:22; Dan. 5:1, 2, 4. This word
conveys the idea of "foaming," as in the process of
fermentation, or when poured out. It is derived from the root
_hamar_, meaning "to boil up," and also "to be red," from the
idea of boiling or becoming inflamed.
(5.) 'Enabh, a grape (Deut. 32:14). The last clause of this
verse should be rendered as in the Revised Version, "and of the
blood of the grape ['enabh] thou drankest wine [hemer]." In Hos.
3:1 the phrase in Authorized Version, "flagons of wine," is in
the Revised Version correctly "cakes of raisins." (Comp. Gen.
49:11; Num. 6:3; Deut. 23:24, etc., where this Hebrew word is
rendered in the plural "grapes.")
(6.) Mesekh, properly a mixture of wine and water with spices
that increase its stimulating properties (Isa. 5:22). Ps. 75:8,
"The wine [yayin] is red; it is full of mixture [mesekh];" Prov.
23:30, "mixed wine;" Isa. 65:11, "drink offering" (R.V.,
(7.) Tirosh, properly "must," translated "wine" (Deut. 28:51);
"new wine" (Prov. 3:10); "sweet wine" (Micah 6:15; R.V.,
"vintage"). This Hebrew word has been traced to a root meaning
"to take possession of" and hence it is supposed that tirosh is
so designated because in intoxicating it takes possession of the
brain. Among the blessings promised to Esau (Gen. 27:28) mention
is made of "plenty of corn and tirosh." Israel is called "a
land of corn and tirosh" (Deut. 33:28; comp. Isa. 36:17). See
also Deut. 28:51; 2 Chr. 32:28; Joel 2:19; Hos. 4:11, ("wine
[yayin] and new wine [tirosh] take away the heart").
(8.) Sobhe (root meaning "to drink to excess," "to suck up,"
"absorb"), found only in Isa. 1:22, Hos. 4:18 ("their drink;"
Gesen. and marg. of R.V., "their carouse"), and Nah. 1:10
("drunken as drunkards;" lit., "soaked according to their
drink;" R.V., "drenched, as it were, in their drink", i.e.,
according to their sobhe).
(9.) Shekar, "strong drink," any intoxicating liquor; from a
root meaning "to drink deeply," "to be drunken", a generic term
applied to all fermented liquors, however obtained. Num. 28:7,
"strong wine" (R.V., "strong drink"). It is sometimes
distinguished from wine, c.g., Lev. 10:9, "Do not drink wine
[yayin] nor strong drink [shekar];" Num. 6:3; Judg. 13:4, 7;
Isa. 28:7 (in all these places rendered "strong drink").
Translated "strong drink" also in Isa. 5:11; 24:9; 29:9; 56:12;
Prov. 20:1; 31:6; Micah 2:11.
(10.) Yekebh (Deut. 16:13, but in R.V. correctly
"wine-press"), a vat into which the new wine flowed from the
press. Joel 2:24, "their vats;" 3:13, "the fats;" Prov. 3:10,
"Thy presses shall burst out with new wine [tirosh];" Hag. 2:16;
Jer. 48:33, "wine-presses;" 2 Kings 6:27; Job. 24:11.
(11.) Shemarim (only in plural), "lees" or "dregs" of wine. In
Isa. 25:6 it is rendered "wines on the lees", i.e., wine that
has been kept on the lees, and therefore old wine.
(12.) Mesek, "a mixture," mixed or spiced wine, not diluted
with water, but mixed with drugs and spices to increase its
strength, or, as some think, mingled with the lees by being
shaken (Ps. 75:8; Prov. 23:30).
In Acts 2:13 the word _gleukos_, rendered "new wine," denotes
properly "sweet wine." It must have been intoxicating.
In addition to wine the Hebrews also made use of what they
called _debash_, which was obtained by boiling down must to
one-half or one-third of its original bulk. In Gen. 43:11 this
word is rendered "honey." It was a kind of syrup, and is called
by the Arabs at the present day dibs. This word occurs in the
phrase "a land flowing with milk and honey" (debash), Ex. 3:8,
17; 13:5; 33:3; Lev. 20:24; Num. 13: 27. (See HONEY ¯T0001809.)
Our Lord miraculously supplied wine at the marriage feast in
Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11). The Rechabites were forbidden the
use of wine (Jer. 35). The Nazarites also were to abstain from
its use during the period of their vow (Num. 6:1-4); and those
who were dedicated as Nazarites from their birth were
perpetually to abstain from it (Judg. 13:4, 5; Luke 1:15; 7:33).
The priests, too, were forbidden the use of wine and strong
drink when engaged in their sacred functions (Lev. 10:1, 9-11).
"Wine is little used now in the East, from the fact that
Mohammedans are not allowed to taste it, and very few of other
creeds touch it. When it is drunk, water is generally mixed with
it, and this was the custom in the days of Christ also. The
people indeed are everywhere very sober in hot climates; a
drunken person, in fact, is never seen", (Geikie's Life of
Christ). The sin of drunkenness, however, must have been not
uncommon in the olden times, for it is mentioned either
metaphorically or literally more than seventy times in the
A drink-offering of wine was presented with the daily
sacrifice (Ex. 29:40, 41), and also with the offering of the
first-fruits (Lev. 23:13), and with various other sacrifices
(Num. 15:5, 7, 10). Wine was used at the celebration of the
Passover. And when the Lord's Supper was instituted, the wine
and the unleavened bread then on the paschal table were by our
Lord set apart as memorials of his body and blood.
Several emphatic warnings are given in the New Testament
against excess in the use of wine (Luke 21:34; Rom. 13:13; Eph.
5:18; 1 Tim. 3:8; Titus 1:7).