FROM THE "INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BIBLE ENCYCLOPEDIA"
....'to be or become drunk"; in the same root as sugar,
saccharine: With the exception of Nu 28 7, "strong drink" is
always coupled with "wine." The two terms are commonly used as
mutually exclusive, and as together exhaustive of all kinds of
Originally shekhar seems to have been a general term,
intoxicating drinks of all kinds, without reference to the
material out of which they were made; and in that sense, it would
Reminiscences of this older usage may be found in Nu. 28:7 (where
shekhar is clearly equivalent to wine, as may be seen by
comparing it with verse 14, and with Ex 29:40, where the material
of the drink offering is expressly designated "wine").
When the Hebrews were living a nomadic life, before their
settlement in Canaan, the grape-wine was practically unknown to
them, and there would be no need of a special term to describe
it. But when they settled down to an agricultural life, and came
to cultivate the vine, it would become necessary to distinguish
from the other kinds of intoxicants; hence the borrowed word
'yayin' ("wine") was applied to the former, while the latter
would be classed together under the old term 'shekhar', which
would then come to mean all intoxicating beverages other than
wine (Lev.10 9; Nu.6 3; Dt.14 26; Prov.20 1; Isa.24 9). The
exact nature of these drinks not clearly indicated in the Bible
itself. The only fermented beverage other than grape-wine
specifically named is pomegranate-wine (Cant 8 2: "the juice of
my pomegranate," RVin "sweet wine" - of my pomegranate"); but we
may infer that other kinds of shekhar besides that obtained from
pomegranates were in use, such as drinks made from dates, honey,
raisins, barley, apples, etc. Probably Jerome (c 400 AD) was near
the mark when he wrote, "Sikera in the Heb tongue means every
kind of drink which can intoxicate, whether made from grain or
from the juice of apples, or when honeycombs are boiled down into
a sweet and strange drink or the fruit of palm oppressed into
liquor, and when water is coloured and thickened from boiled
herbs" (Ep. ad Nepotianum). Thus shekhar is a comprehensive term
for all kinds of fermented drinks, excluding wine.
Probably the most common sort of shekhar used in Bible times was
palm or date-wine. This is not actually mentioned in the Bible,
and we do not meet with its Heb name 'yen temarim' ("wine of
dates") until the Talmudic period. But it is frequently referred
to in the Assyr-Bab contract tablets (cuneiform), and from this
and other evidence we infer that it was very well known among the
ancient Sem peoples. Moreover, it is a known thirst-quenching
beverage. Of course, drink as such is not condemned in either the
OT or the NT (see DRUNKENNESS); Moses and the elders eat and
drink before God on Mount Sinai (Exod.24:9-11), and only the
ungodly withhold drink from the thirsty (Isa.32:6). Furthermore,
Jesus refers to his gospel as "water welling up to eternal life"
(John 4:14) and to his blood as "drink indeed" (John 6:55).
Nevertheless, although Koheleth claims that there is nothing
better for a man than to eat, drink, and take pleasure in his
work (Eccl.2:24; 3:13; 5:18-H 5:17; cf. 8:15), Paul says that
"the kingdom of God does not mean food and drink but
righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom.14:17).
J. F. Ross
EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
'yayin' - "wine." Cognates of this word appear in Akkadian,
Ugaritic, Aramaic, Arabic, and Ethiopic. It appears about 141
times and in all periods of biblical Hebrew.
This is the usual Hebrew word for fermented grape. It is usually
rendered "wine." Such "wine" was commonly drunk for refreshment:
"And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine..."
(Gen.14:18; cf. 27:25). Passages such as Ezek.27:18 inform us
that "wine" was an article of commerce: "Damascus was thy
merchant in the multitude of the wares of thy making, for the
multitude of all riches; in the wine of Helbon, and white wool."
Strongholds were supplied with "wine" in case of siege (2 Chron.
11:11). Proverbs recommends that kings avoid "wine" and strong
drink but that it be given to those troubled with problems that
they might drink and forget their problems (Prov.31:4-7). "Wine"
was used to make merry, to make one feel good without being
intoxicated (2 Sam.13:28).
Second, "wine" was used in rejoicing before the Lord. Once a year
all Israel is to gather in Jerusalem. The money realized from the
sale of a tithe of all their harvest was to be spent "for
whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for
wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth:
and thou shalt eat there before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt
rejoice..." (Deut.14:26). "Wine" was offered to God at His
command as part of the prescribed ritual (Exod.29:40). Thus it
was part of the temple supplies available for purchase by
pilgrims so that they could offer it to God (1 Chron.9:29).
Pagans used "wine" in their worship, but "their wine is the
poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps" (Deut.32:33).
Yayin clearly represents an intoxicating beverage. This is
evident in its first biblical appearance: "And Noah began to be a
husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: and he drank of the wine,
and was drunken..." (Gen.9:20-21). The word is used as a synonym
of tirosh, "new wine," in Hos.4:11, where it is evident that both
can be intoxicating. Tirosh is distinguished from yayin by
referring only to new wine not fully fermented; yayin includes
"wine" at any stage. In Gen.27:28 (the first biblical occurrence
of the word) Jacob's blessing includes the divine bestowal of an
abundance of new wine. In 1 Sam.1:15 yayin parallels shekar,
"strong drink." Shikar in early times included wine (Num.28:7)
but meant strong drink made from any fruit or grain (Num.6:3).
People in special states of holiness were forbidden to drink
"wine," such as the Nazarites (Num.6:3), Samson's mother (Judg.
13:4), and priests approaching God (Lev.10:9).
In Gen. 9:24 yayin means drunkenness: "And Noah awoke from his
VINES EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT WORDS
1. OINOS ... is the general word for wine. The mention of the
bursting of the wineskins, Matt.9:17; Mark 2:2; Luke 5:37,
implies fermentation. See also Eph.5:18 (cp. John 2:10; 1 Tim.3:
8; Tit.2:3). In Matt.27:34, the R.V. has "wine" (A.V., "vinegar,"
translating the inferior reading oxos).
The drinking of wine could be a stumbling-block and the Apostle
enjoins abstinence in this respect, as in others, so as to avoid
giving an occasion of stumbling to a brother, Rom.14:21. Contrast
1 Tim.5:23, which has an entirely different connection. The word
is used metaphorically (a) of the evils ministered to the nations
by religious Babylon, 14:8; 17:2; 18:3 (b) of the contents of the
cup of Divine wrath upon the nations and Babylon, Rev.14:10; 16:
2. GLEUKOS ... denotes sweet "new wine," or must, Acts 24:13,
where the accusation shows that it was intoxicant and must have
been undergoing fermentation some time. In the Sept., Job 32:19
Note: In instituting the Lord's Supper He speaks of the contents
of the cup as the "fruit of the vine." So Mark 14 : 25.
GIVEN TO WINE see BRAWLER, No. 1
OINOPOTES ... a wine-drinker (oinos, and poles, a drinker), is
used in Matt.11:19; Luke 7:34. In the Sept., Prov.23:20.
For WINEBIBBINGS see EXCESS, Note (2)
1. LENOS ... denotes a trough or vat, used especially for the
treading of grapes, Matt.21:33. Not infrequently they were dug
out in the soil or excavated in a rock, as in the rock-vats in
In Rev.14:19,20 (twice) and 19:15 (where oinos is added, lit.,
'the winepress of the wine') the word is used metaphorically with
reference to the execution of Divine judgment upon the gathered
foes of the Jews at the close of this age preliminary to the
establishment of the Millennial kingdom.
2. HUPOLENION ... was a vessel or trough beneath the press itself
(hupo, beneath, and No.1), for receiving the juice, Mark 12:1,
R.V., "a pit for the winepress." In the Sept., Isa.16:10; Joel 3
:13; Hag.2:16; Zech.14:10.
For WINE-SKINS see SKIN
One thing I have learned over the many years of studying the word
of God, is that on the important doctrines of salvation and life
that the Lord wants us to know about, He gives us MANY ways to
arrive at the same ONE truth. This issue we are studying is no
I now ask the reader to restudy what the enclosed Bible
Dictionaries gave concerning the words STRONG DRINK as used in
the Bible. I will especially draw your attention to THE
INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BIBLE ENCYCLOPEDIA on pages 18 and 19 of
I am not going to use the word WINE (Heb. Yayin) to try and prove
that the Lord does not disapprove of Christians using alcoholic
beverages in moderation, for as we have seen, those like Mr.
Saunders will just answer "So we find that 'yayin' is a
generic word applied to the juice of the grape in all conditions
.... fermented or unfermented. In view of the fact that the Bible
speaks so strongly against the use of alcoholic wine in many
places, reason would dictate that where the word is used in the
positive sense it would refer to the unfermented 'wine'."
And this is exactly the case taken by Dr. Samuele Bacciocchi in
his 300 plus page book on "Wine and the Christian."
The truth of this matter does not hinge just on the word 'wine.'
The Hebrew word for STRONG DRINK is 'shekar' (shaykawr). It is
No.7941 in Strong's Concordance. Here is what that concordance
has to say regarding this word:
"shekar, shaykawr; from 7937; an intoxicant, i.e. intensely
alcoholic liquor: - strong drink, + drunkard, strong wine."
As for the Hebrew word 7937 in the above concordance, we read:
"shakar, shawkar; a prime root; to become tipsy; ....."
This word 'shekar' is used 20 times in the OT. The word itself
and the twenty places where it is used will clearly show it is
not referring to apple juice, orange juice, lime juice, 7UP, or
Coca-Cola. It is always referring to a fermented alcoholic
Let's look at two scriptures which I think are very revealing.
"And the Lord spoke unto Aaron, saying, Do not drink wine nor
STRONG DRINK, (shekar) you nor your sons with you, WHEN YOU GO
INTO THE TABERNACLE of the congregation, lest you die...."
Now if it was already known by Moses and Israel that it was not
Godly to drink alcoholic beverages - that it would be a sin to
drink fermented juices - that fermented drinks were in themselves
wrong, there would have been no need for the Lord to specific
have had to mention to Aaron that he was not to partake of Strong
Drink when officiating in the tabernacle. He would have known
that as he would have known that partaking of fermented drinks at
ANY TIME was not allowed by God, if indeed that was and is what
God teaches. The clear inference from this verse is that it was
not wrong for Aaron and his sons to drink wine or strong drink
except when working in the tabernacle.
"And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children
of Israel, and say unto them, When (it was only done for certain
periods in a persons life) either man or woman shall separate
themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves
unto the Lord. He shall separate himself from wine and STRONG
DRINK (shekar) and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of
STRONG DRINK, neither shall he drink any liquor of grape (grape
juice) nor eat moist grapes or dried .... All the days of the vow
of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: UNTIL
the days be fulfilled..." (Numbers 6:1-5).
Notice, the man or woman who undertakes a Nazarite vow for a
period of time, is only to refrain from the things mentioned in
verses 3 to 6, for and during that period of time. The clear
inference is that when NOT under a Nazarite vow ALL of the things
in these verses were quite permissable. Was it wrong in Israel to
cut ones hair, to touch a dead body, to drink unfermented grape
juice, or eat moist or dried grapes? Of course not! So likewise,
if we are willing to be honest with all these verses and what is
said in them, it was NOT WRONG for the men and women of Israel to
drink WINE or STRONG DRINK when not under a Nazarite vow !!
Do you see also how in verse 3 WINE and STRONG DRINK are put in
contrast to "liquor of grapes ." It should be obvious to even a
casual reader that wine and strong drink is here meaning
fermented beverages, while liquor of the grapes means unfermented
grape juice. If all in Israel had been instructed already (as
surely they would have on such an evil thing as sipping fermented
drinks - as many look at it) by God about never at any time
partaking of alcoholic beverages, there would have been no need
at all to tell them that they must refrain from drinking wine and
strong drink when under a Nazarite vow, as all would have known
that they were never to drink such liquids. The truth is, no such
total condemnation by God was ever given to Israel. Surely, if it
is so un-Godly and so un-Christian as to let a drop of fermented
wine ever pass your lips as some maintain, we would be able to
find at least one verse in the first five book of the Bible, or
any of the other books of the OT, which would state something to
the effect, "Wine or Strong drink shall in no way pass your
lips." With all that God's word says AGAINST drunkenness with no
command or instruction such as, "Wine and strong drink is sin,
you shall not partake of it" I would say, immediately leaves us
no room but to question the accuracy and logic of such articles
and booklets as that of Mr.Saunders and others.
GOD TAUGHT ISRAEL TO DRINK FERMENTED BEVERAGES!
Friend, do you love the TRUTH of God's word more than the ideas,
the opinions, the guesses, the half truths and the ways that seem
right unto men? Are you willing to admit your error when shown
you are in error. If you hold views similar to Mr.Saunders (and
I can show you from the Eternal's own mouth that He actually
TAUGHT all of Israel to drink alcoholic beverages) will you be
able to shout for joy at finding the pure truth of God, or will
your self-righteous stubborn ideas lead you to pervert and twist
the clear word of the Lord?
We shall now find out the answer to the above questions.
Concerning the keeping of the Feast of Tabernacles, God said to
" You shall surely tithe all the yield of your seed .... And
you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place in which He
will cause His name (and presence) to dwell ... And if the
distance is too long for you to carry your tithe ... then you
shall turn it into money, and bind up the money in your hand, and
shall go to the place (of worship) which the Lord your God has
chosen. And you may spend that money for whatever your appetite
craves, for oxen, or sheep, or new wine or strong drink, or
whatever you desire..." (Deut.14:22-26 Amp.Bible).
DID YOU SEE IT ?
The Israelites were instructed from the mouth of God Himself,
that when attending the Feasts of the Lord they could spend their
money on oxen, sheep, wine (yayin) and notice it - STRONG DRINK
There is no way around it - for the honest of heart - for the
lover of God's truth more than man's cleaver twistings of
scripture. Here in Deut.14 the great Eternal God INSTRUCTED the
people of Israel that they could, IF they desired, BUY and
CONSUME at His festivals, as a part of the festive worshipping of
Him - STRONG DRINK - fermented and intoxicating beverages! This
is not talking about strong apple juice or orange juice. This is
not talking about strong fig tea, or strong Pepsi-Cola, its
talking about SHEKAR - STRONG FERMENTED LIQUIDS! Its talking
about buying and consuming fermented beverages that are strong
enough to make you drunk if you over indulge.
As shocking and maybe as angry as this will make some, your
Bible, the very word of God teaches that the Lord God is not a
teetotaller, He does not preach total abstinence, He is not a
prohibitionist. The Lord God does not teach or preach that
fermented wine or other strong alcoholic beverages are sin! He
does very strongly preach that it is sin to get DRUNK - He
teaches that it is the wrong USE of fermented liquids that is
JOHN THE BAPTIST AND JESUS CONTRASTED
Announcing that John the Baptist would be born, the angel told
his father that he "shall drink neither wine nor strong drink..."
(Lk.1:15). Are we to suppose this means that he would not drink
grape juice, apple cider and the like? Our religious total
abstinence preachers would probably have us believe that this is
what was meant. More the truth is that John was prophesied to be
a Nazarite - that is, under a Nazarite vow from birth to death.
Jesus was never prophesied to be under such a vow. John preached
in the wilderness, dressed in camels hair, ate locusts and wild
honey, and as we have seen did not drink wine or strong drink.
The religious leaders rejected him as coming from God - they even
said he was demon possessed. He was not what they expected a
"man of the cloth" to be. When Jesus came on the scene He lived
in such a way that they still could not accept His activities as
being Godly. Their attitude was, we have our own ideas as to what
a man of God should look like, dress like, eat and drink like,
regardless of what the word of God says. Their teaching was, we
demand you dance to our tune - to the way we look at it. Notice
the way Jesus put it:
"What shall I liken the men of this generation to? They are like
unto small Children sitting in the market square, and calling to
each other, and saying, We have played our musical instruments
but you have not danced to our beat; we have been mournful but
you have not wept. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread
nor drinking wine in banquets and you say, he is demon
possessed. The Son of man is come EATING and DRINKING..."
Are we to understand this to mean that John did not eat loaves of
bread or drink grape juice while Jesus did eat bread and did
drink grape juice? Some would say so. But Jesus gives us the
answer as to what they accused Him of. Continuing:
"and you say, Behold a GLUTTONOUS man, and a WINEBIBBER, a friend
of tax collectors and sinners." (Luke 7:31-34 paraphrased
Jesus was not a glutton, but He did attend enough festivals and
what we would call house parties put on by the wealthy, that the
religious bigots of His day could exaggerate His activities and
call Him names by saying He was a glutton.
Notice what else they called Jesus. A GRAPEJUICE-bibber! He drank
so much grape juice that they could easily hang on Him the very
shameful name of someone who tarried long at sipping grape juice
- a grape juice bibber! Really? I say that with tongue in cheek.
No! Jesus was called a winebibber because unlike John who never
partook of wine or strong drink from birth, Jesus did partake of
the same. The natural understanding of such accusations hurled at
Him would I submit, lead the unbiased mind to recognize that
Jesus did indeed partake of fermented wine. Jesus never got drunk
nor did He tarry long at wine, He never over indulged, but He
used it enough that the pompous, holier-than-thou religious
leaders once again blew His "liberty in the Lord" all out of
proportion and called Him a winebibber.
Jesus knew the scriptures and teachings of the OT - He knew that
there was never one command or verse that made fermented wine or
strong drink of themselves, sin! Jesus knew the scriptures where
the Lord had taught Israel that if they so desired at the
festivals they could buy and drink wine and strong drink, (It
would seem that Mr.Saunders did not know this verse as it was not
mentioned anywhere in his entire 52 page booklet. He accuses
others in no uncertain terms of, 'the blind leading the blind'
but I say he has forgotten the saying, 'He that lives in glass
houses should never throw stones'). It is just as true that Jesus
knew the many verses of the OT that condemn drunkenness - those
that are deceived and led astray in heart and mind by alcoholic
drinks. Jesus knew all this because He was the one who inspired
all these Scriptures to be written - He was the God of the OLD
TESTAMENT - the God of the OT was the one who became Jesus Christ
of the New Testament. If you have never had this shown to you
then study my article "Jesus Christ - God of the Old Testament".
TO BE CONTINUED