Glossary of Bible words defined in Hebrew & Greek: wines, sobriety, getting drunk

Old Testament words (Hebrew, Aramaic)

Yayin: n., juice from grapes, with or without later fermentation. Num. 6:3 distinguishes yayin and fermented yayin. Examples of yayin without fermentation: Isa. 16:10; 40:10,12, Jer. 48:33. Nobody is denying yayin was intoxicating (sometimes anyway). Nobody is denying that “wine is a mocker…” (Prov. 20:1) Indeed, Levitical priests who drank at all in God’s house were even threatened with capital punishment. With clear minds, they could distinguish between the holy and the unholy (Lev. 10:9). Jews have long distinguished between yayin and intoxicating yayin. “The difference between that kind of wine, and … the kind of wine G–d will offer the righteous to drink in the world to come, is that the former is liable to intoxicate (those that drink it), whereas the latter causes pure joy (to those who imbibe it).” – Isaiah HaLevi Horovitz (a Polish rabbi and kabbalist c.1565 – 1630 AD) See also yayin and oinos in the Temperance Bible Commentary, Appendix C.

Shekhar: n., sweet drink, with or without later fermentation. Num. 28:7; Deut. 14:26. Num. 6:3 distinguishes between shekhar and fermented shekhar.

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Neither be “getting drunk” nor be drunk. 1 Thessalonians 5:7

“But you, brothers, are not in darkness, so that the day should overtake you like a thief. For you are all sons of light and sons of day; we are not of night nor of darkness. So then we should not sleep as the others, but we should watch and we should be sober. For those sleeping, sleep by night; and those becoming drunk, get drunk by night. But we being of the day should be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet, the hope of salvation, because God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, the One having died for us, so that whether we might watch or we might sleep, we may live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as also you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-11 Berean Literal Bible)

See the contrasts in 1 Thessalonians 5:7! Since we should be sober: neither are we getting drunk [present participle], nor are we drunk. Neither are we falling asleep [present participle], nor are we asleep.
For those falling-asleep [present participle] – by night they are asleep; And those getting-drunk [present participle], by night they are drunk. (1 Thessalonians 5:7)
Both of their behaviours (to be getting drunk and to be drunk) are contrasted with our sober behaviour in the verses before and after!

Present participle verbs in English have the -ing suffix. The following Bible translations (which are more literal translations) keep the present participle “getting drunk” or “becoming drunk” because these closely match the present participle in the original Greek text of 1 Thessalonians 5:7:

“the ones getting-drunk are-drunk at night”
(Disciples’ Literal New Testament)

“those becoming drunk, get drunk by night”
(Berean Literal Bible)

“those becoming drunk, get drunk by night”
(Apostolic Bible Polyglot Interlinear)

“those making themselves drunk, by night are drunken”
(Young’s Literal Translation)

“those making themselves drunk, are drunken by night”
(Literal Standard Version)

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Babylon ‘Lady of Kingdoms’ was not sober and was overthrown in a moment

Daniel was absent from king Belshazzar’s boozy feast (Daniel 5) until he was summoned to read the writing on the wall. That very night the Chaldean king was killed (Dan. 5:30). The lady of kingdoms did not think it necessary to be sober because she trusted in her own military might, not in the Lord.

Greek historian Xenophon (Cyropaedia 7.5) said Cyrus gave a pep talk to his soldiers shortly before the great Babylonian Chaldean Empire was successfully overthrown (539 B.C.):

“we are now to march are the same men that we have repeatedly defeated, and that, too, when they were all drawn up in battle line with their allies at their side, and when they were all wide awake and {nēphontas} sober and fully armed; whereas now we are going to fall upon them at a time when many of them are asleep, many drunk, and none of them in battle array. And when they find out that we are inside the walls, in their panic fright they will be much more helpless still than they are now.”

Herodotus (Histories, 1.191) said: “But as it was, the Persians took them unawares, and because of the great size of the city (those who dwell there say) those in the outer parts of it were overcome, but the inhabitants of the middle part knew nothing of it; all this time they were dancing and celebrating a holiday which happened to fall then, until they learned the truth only too well.”

Christ coming when you do not expect

Now keep in mind the Son of Man – Christ – is coming at an hour you do not expect (Matthew 24:44; Luke 12:40; 21:34). Unless you believe Him, you will behave like the “Lady of Kingdoms” in complacent self-assurance, instead of sober belief. “… she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’” (Revelation 18:7)

Isaiah and Habakkuk (1:6) and had prophesied the sudden demise of the haughty Chaldean kingdom:

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Ephesians 5:18 unsaved drunk but saved inhale the Spirit

Eph 5:17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. [See Prov. 20:1 “… whoever is led astray by it is not wise”.]

Eph 5:18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is {asōtia} dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit

(NKJV)

Spirit

The original Greek term pneuma had no dual meaning of alcoholic spirits (e.g. rum, vodka) – unlike today’s English term spirit. Rather, the Holy Spirit Himself is like breath. (See John 3:8; 20:22.) As you inhale, your stomach is squeezed smaller. Because God has given you the Spirit of wisdom, you now understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph. 1:17; 5:17; 1 Cor. 2:13). By contrast, others are led astray by drinking (Prov. 20:1). Their expanded stomachs expel the breath from their lungs. (They exhale the Spirit, so to speak.) So they do not understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph. 5:17). Because they drink, they are not sober in all things (2 Tim. 4:5), and so they cannot distinguish between the holy and the unholy (Lev. 10:10).

No Salvation

Asōtia: no salvation (from a = negative prefix, sōtia = save) (Do not misunderstand the English term “excess” of KJV.)

Compare: “5 … constitute in each city elders, as I to thee gave orders; 6 if any one is irreproachable… not under an accusation of {asōtia} profligacy … 7 It behooves for the overseer irreproachable to be, as of God a steward; … not a wine-drinker …”

(Titus 1:5-7, Emphatic Diaglott New Testament)

1 Pet 4:3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles–when we walked in …drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties… 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of {asōtia} dissipation, speaking evil of you.

(NKJV)

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)
  • {chometz shekhar} literally “fermented cider” (as in Lev. 10:9, but not the first form of cider)
  • {mishra} 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 grapes
  • dried 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. 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.

Judges 9:13 grapes “tirosh” cheer God and men

“But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my TIROSH [grapes] that cheers God and men and go hold sway over the trees?’” (Judges 9:13)

cluster of green grapes
Tirosh – Grapes (Micah 6:15)

See the meaning of tirosh, as one “…shall tread grapes (tirosh), but not drink wine (yayin).” (Micah 6:15 ESV) Unfermented grape juice in Isaiah 16:10 was indeed within the meaning of yayin – and in Proverbs 23:29-35 alcoholic wine was also within the meaning of yayin. The vine itself simply has solid grapes, namely tirosh in Hebrew.

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