Yeast, fermentation, excluded from offerings on the altar (Leviticus 2:11)

“No present which ye bring near to Jehovah is made {chametz/chometz} fermented, for with any {seor} leaven or any honey ye perfume no fire-offering to Jehovah” (Leviticus 2:11, Young’s Literal Translation).

(Sometimes chametz may be permitted — specifically when in bread לֶחֶם lechem (bread) — only when the leavened bread is for less important purposes (Lev. 7:12-13). But no type of fermentation whatsoever is appropriate for the very holy burnt offerings.)

This verse (Lev. 2:11) is also relevant when considering the type of wine suitable for nesek ( poured offerings / libations) at the Jewish Temple. Maimonides (writing in 12th century A.D.) noted the Maghrebi Jews understood Leviticus 2:11 to exclude even a tiny amount of yeast put into a large volume of wine. Nevertheless, others preferred instead to disregard this verse of Scripture.

“We may only make Kiddush upon wine fit for libations on the altar. Hence, if honey or leaven was mixed [with the wine]—even if only a drop like mustard seed into a large barrel—we can not make Kiddush on it.” (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Sabbath 29.14, referring to Leviticus 2:11)

Excluding leaven (yeast) would be to avoid fermentation.*

An obligation to sin? What?!

But a certain rabbi Rava unwisely ignored various Scriptural warnings against intoxication (e.g. Deut. 21:20; Prov. 23:31) – even daring to proclaim an “obligation” to sin against God! For example: “Rava said: A person is obligated to become intoxicated with wine on Purim until he is so intoxicated that he does not know how to distinguish between cursed is Haman and blessed is Mordecai.” (Megillah.7b.7)

*(See also Num. 6:3 which lists both yayin and chometz yayin (wine and fermented wine) because Nazarites have neither.)

New Testament: obligation to clean out the yeast, evil, wickedness!

Again in the New Testament, we are reminded of leaven excluded in Lev. 2:11:

“cleanse out, therefore, the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, according as ye are unleavened, for also our passover for us was sacrificed — Christ, so that we may keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of evil and wickedness, but with unleavened food of sincerity and truth. I did write to you in the epistle, not to keep company with whoremongers — and not certainly with the whoremongers of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, seeing ye ought then to go forth out of the world — and now, I did write to you not to keep company with [him], if any one, being named a brother, may be a whoremonger, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner — with such a one not even to eat together.” (1 Cor. 5:7-11, YLT)

יַיִן Fact check: where does Old Testament say any wine required at Passover? (yayin in Hebrew)

R. C. Sproul made a very questionable claim: “…everybody knows that the Old Testament feast of the Passover, that Jesus celebrated in the upper room, called for the use of real wine – by Devine sanction.” (R. C. Sproul, The Wedding Feast, sermon at St Andrew’s Chapel, Sanford, Florida, 9 Jun. 2002.)

I found where the Old Testament talks about the Passover: wine is not mentioned!

I found no Old Testament verse that commands {yayin} “wine,” nor even mentions the fruit of the vine, for the Passover seder meal.

Ex. 12; Ex. 13:3-10; Ex. 23:15, 18; Ex. 34:18, 25; Lev. 23:5-8; Num. 9:1-14; Num. 28:16-25; Num. 33:3; Deut. 16:1-8; Josh. 5:10-11; 2 Kin. 23:9, 21-23; 2 Chr. 8:13; 2 Chr. 30; 2 Chr. 35:1-19; Ezra 6:19-22; Ezek. 45:21-24.

Sproul said “real wine” when he meant alcoholic wine exclusively, forgetting the unfermented wine of Isaiah 16:10 is equally real {yayin} “wine” – by God’s own word. (This verse is about wine, but not about the Passover.)

Also the Greek New Testament itself never says {oinos} “wine” referring to the Last Supper, but only refers to the cup and the “fruit of the vine.”

Matt. 26:2, 17-19; Mark 14:1, 12, 14, 16; Luke 2:41; Luke 22:1, 7-8; Luke 22:11, 13, 15; John 2:13, 23; John 6:4; John 11:55; John 12:1; John 13:1; John 18:28, 39; John 19:14; Acts 12:3-4; Acts 20:6; 1 Cor. 5:7-8; Heb. 11:28.

Nothing wrong with grape juice!

The danger of former alcoholics relapsing is one of multiple reasons for various church denominations to stipulate the observance the Lord’s Supper with only unfermented wine.

Paul rebukes some Corinthians for what? (1 Cor. 11:21)

Jeremiah 31:25 (Greek version) contrasts methuo with being hungry (peinao). 1 Cor. 11:21 likewise contrasts methuo with being hungry (peinao). I understand methuo in 1 Cor. 11:21 the same way as in Jeremiah 31:25. This is how several translations have rendered 1 Cor. 11:21, without any intoxication (for methuo) in this specific passage because in this context it is contrasted with being hungry:

“For, in eating it, every one takes first his own supper; and one, indeed, is hungry, and another is filled.” (Living Oracles New Testament)
“for in eating every one strives to take his own supper first, and while one is hungry, another is surfeited.” (Mace)
“for every one at eating taketh first his own supper, so one indeed is hungry and another is plentifully fed.” (Charles Thomson version)
“each one for the own supper takes before in the to eat, and one indeed is hungry, one but is filled.” (Emphatic Diaglott – Benjamin Wilson)

R.C. Sproul should have demoted his ungodly son, rather than loading slander against sober men

In the same sermon (2002), R. C. Sproul made further questionable claims, such as an allegation against his childhood pastor who supposedly denied Christ even did a miracle at the wedding of Cana. I think that pastor did believe Christ miraculously turned water into non-alcholic wine at Cana. But still Sproul was full of spite and slander against him.

As with Eli, the same R.C. Sproul Sr. should not have honoured his son more than God (1 Sam. 2:29). R. C. Sproul Jr. was employed by Ligonier Ministries even after he very grossly promoted alcohol to Christians in 2003, writing extremely un-Christian things like: “it’s not enough that we should drink, but that we ought to drink well.”

R. C. Sproul Jr., while still openly in “Christian” ministry, lectured against Christians to “stop suggesting that it is wrong to drink alcohol in moderation, or that drinking alcohol in moderation somehow is a failure to love my brothers?” One scandal has lead to another and another. The same man was convicted after drink driving on 29 Nov. 2016 – with blood alcohol content as high as 0.175 – and endangering the lives of R. C. Sproul’s grandchildren.

In fact the Bible does requires us again and again to be sober.

Numbers 6:3 Which wines did Nazarites reject?

Numbers 6:3 – The Nazarites are separated from:

  • {yayin} “wine” (in the first instance here it is ordinary grape juice as in Isa. 16:10 and Jer. 48:33).
  • {shekhar} “cider” (in the first instance here it is not “strong” drink – as I perceive it is not in Num. 28:7; Deut. 14:26).
  • {chometz yayin} literally “fermented grape juice,” “fermented yayin” (as in Lev. 10:9, but not the first form of yayin). “As the ancients did not scientifically distinguish between the alcoholic and acetous fermentations, the generic word signifying ‘fermented’ was used to describe both.” (Numbers 6:1-4, Temperance Bible Commentary)
  • {chometz shekhar} literally “fermented cider” (as in Lev. 10:9, but not the first form of cider).
  • {mishra} an infusion, for example a drink made from leftover macerated grape pulp – soaked in water (a bit different than ordinary grape juice “wine” already mentioned at the start of verse 3).
  • moist {enab} grapes. Apparently it was unnecessary for Num. 6 to mention tirosh (“grapes” in Mic. 6:15 ESV) because it mentions enab (grapes) anyway.
  • dried {enab} grapes.

1. The Origin of wine “yayin” and its subsequent decay… 2. “chometz yayin” 3. “chometz”

  1. yayin” (Num. 6:3, 20) unfermented grape juice simply called “yayin” here and elsewhere in the Bible (not fermented and not intoxicating).
  2. chometz yayin” “fermented wine” (this phrase only in Num. 6:3) also simply called “yayin” elsewhere in the Bible (fermented and intoxicating). Wine, cider, and bread become chometz (leavened, fermented) only because wild yeast or cultured yeast begins to cause decay. Otherwise wine etc. would remain in the original state. (Everything chometz is excluded from the Passover and the Unleavened Feast.)
  3. chometz” (Prov. 10:26; 25:20) “vinegar”, regardless of being made from wine or from another source. (Vinegar is fermented but not intoxicating). Old techniques used to prevent alcoholic wine from turning to vinegar were also able to prevent wine from turning into alcoholic wine itself.

Jesus no drinker at Last Supper nor at Calvary

flat unleavened bread being cooked in oven with fire

“Seven days ye eat unleavened things; only—in the first day ye cause {seor} leaven to cease out of your houses; for any one eating anything {chametz/chometz} fermented from the first day till the seventh day, even that person hath been cut off from Israel.” (Exodus 12:15, Young’s Literal Translation)

The Last Supper was after preparations for the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Things. No leaven was in the upper room! (See Ex. 12:15,19.) Unleavened bread, etc. has symbolic meaning at this feast (1 Cor. 5:8). Yeast itself (שְׂאֹר seor in Hebrew) and everything leavened/fermented is absolutely excluded. But refusing alcoholic drinks always has practical benefits: so that you can distinguish between the holy and unholy (Lev. 10:10). Christians are expected to be sober perfectly, vigilant at all times, not only at certain times (Luke 21:34; 1 Pet. 1:13-17; 1 Pet. 5:8; 2 Tim. 4:5).

Let’s look at the Greek words at the Last Supper, at the beginning of the crucifixion, and finally at the end of the crucifixion:

1. At the Last Supper: none of the gospels use the word wine (oinos). He gave “the fruit of the vine” (gennematos tes ampelou) at the Last Supper (Matt. 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18).

2. At the beginning of the crucifixion: Jesus refused the vinegar (oxos) that was mixed with poison (chole) (Matt. 27:34). Like Matthew 27:34 (MT & TR), the Septuagint also says both chole and oxos in Ps. 69:21. The Hebrew of Ps. 69:21 says poison (rosh) for food and vinegar (chometz) for drink. Luke 23:36 says vinegar (oxos). Mark 15:23 says Jesus refused wine that had bitterness (oinos smurnizo) at the beginning of the crucifixion. Mark’s gospel does not later repeat the term “oinos smurnizo” – nor even wine (oinos).

At the beginning of the crucifixion, at Luke 23:36, the Majority Text (MT), Textus Receptus (TR) and Westcott-Hort (WH) texts say soldiers offered oxos (vinegar) to Jesus. At Matthew 27:34, the MT & TR say oxos (vinegar) mixed with chole (poison) and WH says oinos (wine) mixed with poison. Jesus rejected the poisonous drink! At Mark 15:23, the MT, TR & WH texts say oinos (wine) with smurnizo (bitterness) – what Jesus refused!

3. Later, near the end of the crucifixion: Jesus accepted plain vinegar (oxos) when He said, “I thirst.” (John 19:28) Here John only cites the final clause of Ps. 69:21 about vinegar for drink, but not the first clause about poison offered for food. John 19:29-30 says vinegar (oxos). Matt. 27:48 and Mark 15:36 also say vinegar (oxos) not wine (oinos). This time it was not mixed with poison. So this time He accepted plain vinegar.

Continue reading “Jesus no drinker at Last Supper nor at Calvary”

Some ancient wines not even mildly intoxicating. Others were intoxicating.

Firstly: nobody is disputing that alcoholic wines existed (but non-fortified). Yet here is some of the evidence why anybody who wished to avoid all alcoholic wine was able to avoid this type in Biblical times.

…the Roman writer Cato, in his treatise On Agriculture, gave this prescription: ‘If you wish to keep new wine sweet the whole year round, put new wine in a jar, cover the stopper with pitch, place the jar in a fishpond, take it out after the thirtieth day; you will have sweet wine all the year round.’ The ancients knew if somebody wanted to get intoxicated, then the sweetest wines were very unsuitable.

Cato, On Agriculture, Section 120.

Continue reading “Some ancient wines not even mildly intoxicating. Others were intoxicating.”

X