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)

תִּירוֹשׁ Isaiah 62:8-9 tirosh grapes, not alcohol, in the holy places! (Hebrew meaning of tirosh)

Certainly tirosh in Isaiah 62:8-9 cannot be alcohol because of the penalty for drinking any alcoholic yayin in the holy places (Lev. 10:9-11).

Isaiah 62:8-9 does NOT contain the word wine (yayin) in the original Hebrew text, despite some of the English versions today (e.g. NLT, CEV) very needlessly adding “wine” into verse 9.* Verse 8 merely says תִּירוֹשׁ tirosh (grape) which is the same word tirosh as in Isa. 65:8 where the tirosh (grape) is found in the cluster! The Wycliffe translation says “grape” for tirosh in Isa. 65:8 (and the CEV says “grape” for tirosh for Isa. 62:8).

The ASV usually translates tirosh as “new wine” (or “vintage” in Mic. 6:15). The Temperance Bible Commentary (Appendix A) renders tirosh consistently as “vine-fruit” in all 38 instances, such as Isa. 62:8 and Isa. 65:8. “And the sons of the stranger shall not drink thy vine-fruit, for which thou hast laboured” (Isa. 62:8). “As the vine-fruit is in a (single) cluster” (Isa 65:8).

Tirosh originally meant solid grapes, as noted by the Babylonian Talmud. “During the time of the Mishna, tirosh meant sweet fruits; the term included grapes but not wine.”
(Yoma 76b, Babylonian Talmud (c. 450 – 550 AD), English translation by William Davidson)

Isa. 62:8 Jehovah hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength, Surely I will no more give thy grain to be food for thine enemies; and foreigners shall not drink thy {tirosh} new wine, for which thou hast labored:

Isa. 62:9 but they that have garnered it shall eat it, and praise Jehovah; and they that have gathered it shall drink it in the courts of my sanctuary.

(ASV)

Lev. 10:8 Then the LORD spoke to Aaron, saying:

Lev. 10:9 “Do not drink {yayin} wine or {shekhar} intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations,

Lev. 10:10 that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean,

Lev. 10:11 and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.”

(NKJV)

* P.S. If somebody today needlessly inserts the word “wine” into Isa. 62:9, then this would confuse readers today who are not aware that juice was ready to be called {yayin} wine in Isa. 16:10 even at the very time when it was squeezed from grapes.

In Isa. 62:8, the Greek Septuagint translated tirosh as oinos, just as it usually did elsewhere (e.g. Judg. 9:13; Prov. 3:10; Zech. 9:17). These verses show that:

  • Solid grapes are on the grapevine (Judg. 9:10; tirosh translated as oinos).
  • Solid grapes overflow the press (Prov. 3:10; tirosh translated as oinos).
  • Solid grapes are eaten by young girls (Zech 9:17; tirosh translated as oinos).

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.

Accidental fermentation of new wine prevented by new clean wineskins (Matthew 9:17)

“Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:17)

“The common explanation of this custom is erroneous and insufficient (vis., that new skin-bags were used in order to resist the expanding pressure of the carbon dioxide (CO₂) gas made by fermentation). For it cannot have been customary to put wine during fermentation into any kind of bottles, either new or old, because fermentation, when intentional, was continued on in the wine-vat (Greek, hupoleenion; Latin, lacus); and when, by mistake, fermenting wine was poured into skin-bags drawn tight, the destruction of the bag, no matter how new and strong, would certainly be the result. [See Note on Job 32:19.]”

“For I am full of words;
The spirit within me compels me.
Indeed my belly is like wine that has no vent;
It is ready to burst like new wineskins.” (Job 32:18-19)

“The facts stated by [Jesus] the Saviour can only be understood in the light of the efforts used by the ancients to prevent grape-juice from fermenting, by straining the juice in order to free it from much of its glutinous material, and then bottling it with sulphur fumigation; or by boiling the juice, which aborts all incipient fermentation, and then sealing it inside bags or other air-tight containers. Obviously, to make these precautions effective, the wine-bags themselves must have been free from ferment; and there was no other way to ensure the absence of [accidental] fermentation besides using perfectly new skin-bags. If old bags had been used, then some of the decayed albuminous matter adhering to their sides, by the action of air, must have become changed into a leaven or ferment (Hebrew, seor); or, by long wear and heat, thus it began fermenting, would subsequently burst the skin, and be spilled and ‘lost’. But if the wine was poured into bags made of skin never used before, then no tendency for fermentation would be present, and both the wine and the bags would be preserved,—the wine preserved from fermentation, and the bags preserved from bursting. Otherwise these would surely be the results from the expanding pressure of carbon dioxide (CO₂) gas made by fermentation trying to find a vent.”

Temperance Bible-Commentary, p. 265, Matt. 9:17 (The wording is updated to newer English.)

Swarms of locusts make you sober up!

1 Cor. 15:34 instructs : get sober – eknēphō! Likewise Joel 1:5 (Sept.) also says people got sober – eknēphō! This is certainly not “moderate drinking!”

1 Cor. 15:32 What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
1 Cor. 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
1 Cor. 15:34 {eknēphō} Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

(ESV)

Evidently in Greek: getting sober meant nobody drank at all; no drinks were available! You will never find so-called “moderate drinking” in Joel 1:5! Notice:

  1. Nobody could be drunkards… So get sober!
  2. Nobody could be drinkers… So get sober!
  3. Joel (in Hebrew) indicates nobody could then even taste any of the {ahsis} fresh-juice because none was available after many swarms of locusts had devoured all the vines! Compare Deut. 28:38-39

{Eknēphō in Greek} Awake, ye drunkards, and weep, And howl all drinking {yayin in Hebrew} wine, because of the {ahsis in Hebrew} juice, For it hath been cut off from your mouth.

swarming locusts leave nothing behind
swarming locusts leave nothing behind

(Joel 1:5 Young’s Literal Translation)

Hear this, you elders; give ear, all inhabitants of the land!
Has such a thing happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers?
Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation.
What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten.
What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten,
and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten.
Awake, you drunkards, and weep, and wail, all you drinkers of {yayin} wine, because of the {ahsis} sweet wine, for it is cut off from your mouth.
For a nation has come up against my land, powerful and beyond number; its teeth are lions’ teeth, and it has the fangs of a lioness.
It has laid waste my vine and splintered my fig tree; it has stripped off their bark and thrown it down; their branches are made white. (Joel 1:2-7 ESV)

Eknēphō: sober up in Greek Septuagint translation (Joel 1:5).

Ahsis is a Hebrew word meaning ‘fresh-juice’ (sometimes from various fruits, for example ‘fresh-juice’ of pomegranates – Song 8:2b). Elsewhere the Septuagint rendered ahsis as glukasmon for Joel 3:18 and Amos 9:13, though it does not appear to render anything directly for ahsis in Joel 1:5.)

Conclusion: sober up.

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

Old Testament words (Hebrew, Aramaic)

Yayin: יַיִן 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; Jer. 40:10,12; 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) Word forms: Strong’s H3196. See also yayin and oinos in the Temperance Bible Commentary, Appendix C.

Shekhar: שֵׁכָר n., sweet drink, cider with or without later fermentation. Num. 28:7; Deut. 14:26. Num. 6:3 distinguishes between shekhar and fermented shekhar. Word forms: Strong’s H7941, shekar, sekar, shechar. Luke 1:15 borrowed the Hebrew שֵׁכָר shekhar in Greek as σίκερα sikera, and the Septuagint (usually) has σίκερα too. In Latin, Jerome borrowed the Hebrew shekhar as siceram – e.g. Deut. 14:26; 29:6; Judg. 13:4,7,14 – rather than using terms like ‘ebrietas’ (inebriation) as for some other passages – e.g. Prov. 20:1. Arabic has the related word sakar سَكَر.

Pri Hagafen: פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן n., fruit of the vine, grapes (similar to “fruitful vine” Isa. 32:12; Zech. 8:12). When grape juice is consumed, pri hagafen is said within a Hebrew prayer of thanksgiving to the Creator. In the New Testament, the “fruit of the vine” was at the Last Supper (in Greek: gennematos tes ampelou). I cannot see anywhere in the Old Testament itself any mention of the fruit of the vine (or wine or anything like this) said to be required at the Passover or Feast of Unleavened Things! Hananiah (419 B.C.) said the Law’s exclusion of leavened foods at this weeklong feast would likewise exclude leavened drinks (Hananiah, Elephantine Passover letter). Num. 6:3 distinguishes wine from fermented (leavened) wine.

Enab: עֵנָב n., grapes – either fresh or dried (Num. 6:3). Word forms: Strong’s H6025, enav, enabh.

Tirosh: תִּירוֹשׁ n., grapes – fresh (similar to enab) “You shall sow, but not reap; you shall tread olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil; you shall tread grapes (tirosh), but not drink wine (yayin)” (Mic. 6:15 ESV). Apparently it was unnecessary for Num. 6:3-4 to mention tirosh because it already mentions enab anyway. Certainly tirosh in Isa. 62:8-9 cannot be alcohol – else the penalty would apply for drinking any in the holy places (Lev. 10:9-11). Even those who interpret tirosh as something intoxicating just once in Hos. 4:11 would be unlikely to claim it was always so in all other verses. Word forms: Strong’s H8492, tiros. See also: Judges 9:13 grapes “tirosh” cheer God and men.

Shemar: שֶׁמֶר n., preserved thing. “preserved things” (Isa. 25:6 YLT). This verse in Hebrew does not say yayin (wine). Shemar is a rare word. Word forms: Strong’s H8105, shemer, shemarim.

Khamar: חֲמַר (Ezr. 6:9; 7:22), חַמְרָא (Dan. 5:1, 2, 4, 23) n., – juice from grapes, with or without later fermentation. (Khamar ܚܡܪܐ is found in Aramaic vocabulary, and yayin in Hebrew vocabulary. Commentaries also refer to Aramaic as Chaldee or Syriac.) Examples of khamar in Targum Jonathan showing that it is not exclusively alcoholic: וַחֲמַר (Isa. 16:10; Lam. 2:12), חַמְרָא (Jer. 40:10,12). Arabic has the related word khamr خَمْر. Word forms: Strong’s H2562, chamar, hamar, hhamra, hhamer. See also: חֶמֶר Strong’s H2561, chemer, hemer, hhemar (Deut. 32:14).

Ahsis: עָסִיס n., fresh juice (for example fresh juice of pomegranates or other fruits). Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13, Song 8:2. Word forms: Strong’s H6071, asis.

Sobeh: סֹבֶא n., “drink” (Isa. 1:22 YLT). Sobeh is a rare word. Word forms: Strong’s H5435, sobe, sobhe.

Mishra: מִשְׁרָה n., an infusion, for example, a drink made from leftover macerated grape pulp – soaked in water. Similarly, the water in which flax seeds are soaked is called the mishra of flax. Mishra is a rare word, found in Num. 6:3 “liquor” of grapes in KJV; it does not simply mean ordinary grape juice. “As, in a case where one soaked grapes in water and the water has the taste of wine, a nazirite is liable for drinking this mixture, as it assumes the status of wine.” (Pesachim 44b) Word forms: Strong’s H4952, misra, mishrah. But we should expect Numbers 6:3-4 Nazarite passage to mention ordinary grape juice once somewhere – specificaly by some name, not mishra. (It even mentions Nazarites eating neither fresh grapes nor raisins.) Indeed the text does name grape juice once because the same verse Num. 6:3 also twice mentions yayin יַיִן – a more common word, wine both unfermented and fermented.

Mesek: מֶסֶךְ n., Ps. 75:8. Word forms: Strong’s H4538, mesekh, misach, mesec, mecek, mesech. See also: Strong’s H4537.

Mimsak: מִמְסָךְ n., Prov. 23:30; Isa. 65:11. Word forms: Strong’s H4469, mamsakh, mamsak, mamcak.

Matstsah: מַצָּה n., something non-fermented, unleavened; a drink or food not affected by any yeast. Example: only unleavened things were allowed for the Passover and Unleavened Feast, and for all of the most holy offerings of the Jews. English translators sometimes say “Feast of Unleavened Bread” but the word לֶחֶם lechem (bread) is not actually in the Hebrew text. So Young’s Literal Translation simply says “feast of unleavened things” (Ex. 23:15, etc.). The meaning of unleavened things applies to the Christian sacrament (1 Cor. 5:7-8). Word forms: Strong’s H4682, massa.

Chometz: חֹמֶץ n., opposite of matstsah; any drink or food after it was affected by yeast so that its sugars have become fermented. Bacteria will then convert any alcohol into acetic acid. Leavened bread (Hos. 7:4) and vinegar (Prov. 10:26) are both called חָמֵץ chametz / חֹמֶץ chometz. (Yeast itself is called שְׂאֹר seor.) During baking, temperatures exceed 60 °C (140 °F) and so the yeast cell dies. Easton’s Bible Dictionary says that ‘in Heb. hamets, properly “ferment.” In Num. 6:3, “vinegar of wine” is more correctly “fermented wine.”’ Num. 6:3 shows the word chometz can be used to describe some types of yayin wine, though certainty not all! Examples of chometz items: leavened bread, alcoholic beer, malt vinegar, alcoholic wine, wine vinegar, alcoholic cider, cider vinegar, rice wine, etc. (The chometz fermentation process is inhibited by high concentrations of sugar, by high temperatures and by low temperatures.) Even though unleavened and leavened breads may both be in peace offerings (Lev. 7:12-13) yet only the unleavened things (Num. 6:17; Lev. 7:12) are applicable for the peace offerings of Nazarites and for peace offerings during the Feast of Unleavened Things (2 Chr. 30:21-22). But the most holy offerings of the Jews used unleavened things exclusively. Word forms: Strong’s H2557, H2558, chomets, hames, hamets.

Nesek: נֶסֶךְ n., poured-offering (Num. 6:17). Examples: water, blood, yayin, shekhar. Word forms: Strong’s H5262, necek, nehsek, naysek. See also: nesak Strong’s H5261.

Achar: אָחַר v., hesitate, to delay from reluctance – as in Gen. 24:56; Ex. 23:29; Eccl. 5:4; Isa. 5:11. In Prov. 23:30, some translations have tarry or linger long. Some look at wine (Prov. 23:31) yet they initially achar (hesitate) to drink it (Prov. 23:30) – being wary of its bad effects (Prov. 23:29). Word forms: Strong’s H309, ahar.

Ashishah: אֲשִׁישָׁה n., raisin cake. 2 Sam. 6:19; 1 Chr. 16:3; Song 2:5; Hos. 3:1. Word forms: Strong’s H809, asisa, eshishah.

Soreq: שׂרֵק n., Word forms: Strong’s H8321.

Shakar: שָׁכַר v., to satisfy, i.e. drink sufficiently to quench the thirst (e.g. Hag. 1:6) – which could be said of having of wine, milk, etc. (Song 5:1), blood (Deut. 32:42; Isa. 63:6). Ambrose [337-397 AD] quoted Song. 5:1 and explained this verse uses the word “inebriation” very differently than in some of the other verses. He said of this verse: “But this inebriation makes men sober. This inebriation is one of grace, not of intoxication. It leads to joy, not to befuddlement.” (Ambrose, ‘Hexameron, Paradise, and Cain and Abel’). [Ambrose noted sober inebriation: “sobriam vini ebrietatem” (Ambrose cited in Augustine, Confessions, 13.23) and “sobriam ebrietatem” in the hymn Splendor Paternae Gloriae by Ambrose.] Notably in Isa. 49:26 to quench the thirst by blood is compared with drinking ahsis, fresh juice. In Gen. 43:34 shakar contrasts with hunger from a severe famine (Gen. 43:1). The verb does not always mean anyone is intoxicated (Isa. 29:9; 51:21). But sometimes this verb can also mean somebody is becoming tipsy, or worse, by drinking alcohol (Gen. 9:21; 1 Sam. 1:14; Hab. 2:15). Word forms: Strong’s H7937. See also verb in Greek vocabulary: methuo.

Sikor: adj. Word forms: Strong’s H7910.

New Testament words (Greek)

Oinos: οἶνος n., juice from grapes, with or without later fermentation, like Hebrew yayin. When the angel Gabriel declared John the Baptist was never to drink any oinos (Luke 1:15), the term wine corresponds to Hebrew yayin יַיִן in Num. 6:3 about the Nazarites drinking neither wine nor fermented wine. Nobody is disputing that alcoholic wines existed. Do not be drunk (Eph. 5:18). Yet some ancient wines were not even mildly intoxicating. Anybody who wished to avoid all alcoholic wine was able to avoid this type in Biblical times. Wedding of Cana (John 2:1-11); A non-alcoholic type of wine would benefit Timothy’s stomach (1 Tim. 5:23). Septuagint examples of oinos without fermentation: Isa. 16:10; 40:10,12, Jer. 48:33. Even on the cross, Christ refused to accept oinos mixed with a bitter drug (Mark 15:23). Word forms: Strong’s G3631. See also yayin and oinos in the Temperance Bible Commentary, Appendix C. The Greek Septuagint normally translated tirosh as oinos too (e.g. Judg. 9:13; Prov. 3:10; Isa. 62:8; Zech. 9:17).

Oinon neon: οἶνον νέον, new wine. Matt. 9:17; Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37-38. The Septuagint has οἶνον νέον “new wine” in Isa. 49:26 for Hebrew ahsis, fresh juice.

Oinopotēs: οἰνοπότης n., a drinker of oinos. A false accusation is recorded in Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:34. Christ denied this false accusation, and He also forbids Christians to behave like unbelievers (Matt. 24:48-51; Luke 12:45-46). John and Jesus both preached, saying to repent, because the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt. 3:2; 4:17). Word forms: Strong’s G3630. Compare the term hudropoteō ὑδροποτέω in 1 Tim. 5:23 meaning a drinker of water. Oinopotēs is a different word than methusos drunkard as in 1 Cor. 5:11; 6:10.

Paroinos: πάροινος n., to be near to oinos. 1 Tim. 3:3; Tit. 1:7. Church leaders “near the drink” are ignoring this rule, but certainly Christ Himself would not ignore it! Word forms: Strong’s G3943.

Oinophlugia: οἰνοφλυγία n., 1 Pet. 4:3. Word forms: Strong’s G3632.

Methusos: μέθυσος n., drunkard in 1 Cor. 5:11; 6:10. Septuagint: Prov. 23:21; 26:9. Word forms: Strong’s G3183.

Methuo: μεθύω v., to eat/drink to satisfy one’s hunger/thirst, for example by drinking water (In Sept.: Ps. 36:8; 65:9-10; Isa. 55:10; 58:11; Jer. 31:14, 25; Hag. 1:6) or by another beverage. Hag. 1:6 would simply mean to be satisfied, but this word by itself does not imply a very large amount of something is consumed. The word only sometimes means to be intoxicated (In Sept.: Gen. 9:21; 1 Sam. 1:13-14; 25:36; Joel 1:5). In 1 Sam. 25:36, the Hebrew text adds another word when describing Nabal as “very” intoxicated. The Greek translation methuo in Genesis 43:34 should be understood in light of Jeremiah 31:25 which contrasts methuo with hunger peinao. In the New Testament, 1 Cor. 11:21 likewise contrasts methuo with hunger peinao. So I would understand methuo in John 2:10 in the same way as Jer. 31:25 and 1 Cor. 11:21 – even though at other times it may indicate an intoxicated person (Rom. 13:13; Gal. 5:21). Word forms: Strong’s G3184, methyo. See also verb in Hebrew vocabulary: shakar.

Nēphō: νήφω v., to be nephalistic, “to be free from the influence of intoxicants.” (“Sober”, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). 1 Thess. 5:6, 8; 2 Tim. 4:5; 1 Pet. 1:13; 4:7; 5:8. In 1 Thess. 5:6, to be getting drunk (present participle) and to be drunk are both contrasted with “to be sober.” Word forms: Strong’s G3525. Nephalism is also mentioned by Josephus, Philo, Xenophon (“nēphalioi” Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 3.12.2; “nēphein” Philo, Drunkenness, 37.151; “nēphontas” Xenophon, Cyropaedia 7.5.)

Nēphaleos: νηφαλέος adj., nephalistic, “of drink, unmixed with wine… sober … of persons” (Liddell and Scott Lexicon). 1 Tim. 3:2, 11; Tit. 2:2. Word forms: Strong’s G3524, nephalios.

Ananēphō: ἀνανήφω v., to sober back up. 2 Tim. 2:26. Word forms: Strong’s G366.

Eknēphō: ἐκνήφω v., to sober up and quit drinking. 1 Cor. 15:34. Septuagint: Gen. 9:24; 1 Sam. 25:37; Joel 1:5. Word forms: Strong’s G1594.

Sikera: σίκερα n., cider; sweet drink, with or without later fermentation. As the angel Gabriel declared, John the Baptist was never to drink any cider (Luke 1:15). This Greek term is borrowed from Hebrew shekhar שֵׁכָר in Num. 6:3 about the Nazarites drinking neither cider nor fermented cider. Word forms: Strong’s G4608, sikera.

Gennēmatos tēs ampelou: γενήματος τῆς ἀμπέλου fruit of the vine, like Hebrew pri hagafen. The fruit of the vine was at the Last Supper (Matt. 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18) while the term oinos wine is not stated.

Gleukous: γλεύκους n., sweet juice, like Hebrew ahsis translated into Greek as γλυκασμόν (Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13) or like Hebrew yayin (Job 32:19). In Acts 2:13 gleukous is said sarcastically. Josephus used the term gleukos γλεῦκος when grape juice was strained directly after squeezed for the king’s cup (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 2.5.2, referring to Gen. 40:11). Word forms: Strong’s G1098, gleukos. The related term glukus γλυκύς (sweet) is found in Jam. 3:11-12; Rev. 10:9-10.

Oxos: ὄξος n., vinegar, like the Hebrew chometz (Ps. 69:21). Oxos is only intoxicating if mixed with a poisonous drug to make it so. Christ only accepted vinegar oxos when nothing was mixed with it (Matt. 27:48; Mark 15:36; John 19:29-30). Word forms: Strong’s G3690.

Pharmakeia: φαρμακεία n., (Gal. 5:20) drug. “(Eng., ‘pharmacy,’ etc.) primarily signified ‘the use of medicine, drugs, spells;’ then, ‘poisoning;’ then, ‘sorcery,’ (“Sorcery”, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). Word forms: Strong’s G5331. Pharmakos: φάρμακος (Rev. 9:21; 18:23). People are deceived by taking drugs. Pharmakos “an adjective signifying ‘devoted to magical arts,’ is used as a noun, ‘a sorcerer,’ especially one who uses drugs, potions, spells, enchantments…” (“Sorcerer”, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). Word forms: Strong’s G5333.

Zumoō: ζυμόω v., to make leavened. Matt. 13:33; Luke 13:21; 1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9. Consider the parable of leaven secretly hidden within flour (Matt. 13:33; Luke 13:21). This parable’s leaven represents the contamination (hypocrisy, malice, and wickedness) secretly hidden within good flour in the Kingdom of Heaven. Beware how one man’s lawless hypocrisy contaminates many other people (Matt. 16:12; Luke 12:1; 1 Cor. 5:6-8; Gal. 5:9). For example a contaminator professes to be a Christian brother, even though he refuses to sober up (1 Cor. 5:9-11; 15:33-34). Compare the leaven to other parables saying the Kingdom of Heaven includes bad fish or tares. (Conversely, Hag. 2:12-13 means that a little bit of something holy does not “reverse contaminate” to make other things become holy. Yet some commentators have mistaken the leaven of the parable in Matt. 13:33.) Word forms: Strong’s G2220, zymoō.

Zymē: ζύμη n., leaven. Word forms: Strong’s G2219, zume. The Septuagint in Ex. 12:15 has ζύμην for both yeast itself (seor in Hebrew) and ferment (chometz in Hebrew). Before quickly jumping to incorrect conclusions about ἄρτος artos (bread) in 1 Cor. 10:16, remember bread is not always leavened (see bread unleavened ἄρτους ἀζύμους Ex. 29:2 in Septuagint). Twelve times the Gospels and 1 Corinthians refer to the Lord’s ποτήριον “cup” (Matt. 26:27; Mark 14:23; Luke 22:17,20; 1 Cor. 10:16, 21, 25-28). Suppose what if these verses had instead mentioned wine (oinos)? Yet again before quickly jumping to conclusions, we should remember wine (oinos) is not always fermented/leavened (Isa. 16:10 in Septuagint) – but only sometimes.

Azumos: ἄζυμος adj., unleavened. Matt. 26:17; Mark 14:1, 12; Luke 22:1, 7; Acts 12:3; 20:6; 1 Cor. 5:7-8. Word forms: Strong’s G106. The Latin Vulgate borrowed the Greek term as azymos. English translators sometimes say “Feast of Unleavened Bread” but the word ἄρτος artos (bread) is not actually with it in the Greek text, so Young’s Literal Translation simply says “unleavened food” (Luke 22:1, etc.).

Pneuma: πνεῦμα n., spirit (Eph. 5:18). This word 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.) Word forms: Strong’s G4151.

Potos: πότος n., any type of party (1 Pet. 4:3). In the Septuagint the word is sometimes used in a good sense (Job 8:11 of water), but sometimes in a bad sense (Prov. 23:30). Word forms: Strong’s G4224. Compare: potamos ποταμός, river. See also in Hebrew vocabulary: mishteh מִשְׁתֶּה.

Asōtia: ἀσωτία n., no salvation. Do not misunderstand the English term “excess” of KJV. All the New Testament references have alcohol in the context – Eph. 5:18; Tit. 1:6; 1 Pet. 4:3. Word forms: Strong’s G810.

Askos: ἀσκός n., Matt. 9:17; Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37-38. Word forms: Strong’s G779. See also in Hebrew vocabulary: chemeth, nod, nebel.

Sōphronōs: σωφρόνως adv., Tit. 2:12. Word forms: Strong’s G4996.

Sōphroneō: σωφρονέω v., Mark 5:15; Luke 8:35; Rom. 12:3; 2 Cor. 5:13; Tit. 2:6; 1 Pet. 4:7. Word forms: Strong’s G4993. (1 Pet. 4:7 has both sōphroneō and nephō.)

Sōphronizō: σωφρονίζω v., Tit. 2:4. Word forms: Strong’s G4994.

Sōphrōn: σώφρων adj., 1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:8; 2:2, 5. Word forms: Strong’s G4998. (1 Tim. 3:2 and Tit. 2:2 have both nēphaleos and sōphrōn.)

Sōphrosunē: σωφροσύνη n., Acts 26:25; 1 Tim. 2:9, 15. Word forms: Strong’s G4997.

Egkrateia: ἐγκράτεια n., Acts 24:25; Gal. 5:23; 2 Pet. 1:6. Word forms: Strong’s G1466.

Kōmos: κῶμος n., Rom. 13:13. Word forms: Strong’s G2970.

Kraipalē: κραιπάλη n., (Luke 21:34) headache from drinking. Word forms: Strong’s G2897.

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:

Continue reading “Babylon ‘Lady of Kingdoms’ was not sober and was overthrown in a moment”
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