Saturday, March 01, 2014

Wine in Ancient Times

Some people believe that the ancient people in the Bible beginning with Noah and even Jesus Christ drank fermented alcoholic wine.  But the scriptures also differebtiate between "new wine" of your own making (Isaiah 65:8, D&C 89:6)and "stong drink" prepared in its strength (Alma 55:13). The following are links and notes which challanges this view.

The Bible clearly states that Noah grew grapes and made wine and even got quite intoxicated at least once. It is my opinion that Noah either mistakenly fermented wine on one occasion or that Ham was the first to ferment grape juice into an alcoholic intoxicating strong drink and tested it out on Noah.

Ham swapped Noah's juice (new wine) with strong drink. Noah would have then unknowingly imbibed Ham's strong drink, gotten intoxicated, and then was drunk and naked in his tent. Either way, the Bible says Ham found Noah intoxicated and mockingly told his brothers to come and see.   

My suspicion is that Ham may have had something to do with the fermenting of the wine because when Noah woke up with quite the hangover, he cursed Canaan, the son of Ham.  So, I think the Bible suggests there may be more to the story than Ham calling for his brothers.  

In any case, some of the oldest fermented wine has recently been discovered in Canaan.  So it seems Canaan would have continued producing and consuming strong drink which consequently drives away the holy spirit and brought upon his seed the curse.

[Raising Canaan: wine discovered in Israel from 1700 BC]

I think some may try to excuse their alcohol consumption by referencing wine consumption in the Bible.  However, scripture also clealy speaks against drunkeness and the consumption of "strong drink". 

"And, again, strong drinks are not for the belly, but for the washing of your bodies." (Doctrine and Covenants, Doctrine and Covenants, D&C 89:7)

Aaronic Priests worthy of temple service lived a higher law and were prohibited from drinking both wine or strong drink.

"Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:" (Old Testament, Leviticus, Leviticus 10:9)

Isaiah condems drinking strong drink.

"Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them! ...  Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:" (Old Testament, Isaiah, Isaiah 5:11;22)

Even Paul required that NT Bishops be "sober" and "not given to wine". (1 Tim 3:2-3)

LDS live under a higher law and should always be worthy of temple service.  But what about the wine Christ must have drank and created from water at the marriage at Cana?  Is alcoholic wine okay in moderation just so long as you don't get drunk? The following article at explains several common non-alcoholic ways to preserve wine.

Ancient civilizations had several ways of preventing fruit and fruit juices from fermentation, and preserve non-alcoholic wine (grape juice) throughout the year:

1. boiling the juice and reducing it to a syrup that could later be diluted with water (preserves like honey).
2. boil the juice with minimum evaporation and then immediately seal it with beeswax in airtight jars (pasteurization). 
3. Drying the fruit in the sun and then reconstituting it with water, 
4. adding sulfur to the fruit juice (preservative), 
5. filtering the juice to extract the gluten (yeast can't grow on sugar alone without media).
6. boiling fermented juice to eliminate the alcohol. 

Aristotle, who was born 384 b.c., wrote “The wine of Arcadia was so thick that it was necessary to scrape it from the skin bottles in which it was contained and to dissolve the scrapings in water” (quoted in Nott’s Lectures on Biblical Temperance, p. 80). 

Horace, born in 65 b.c., wrote, “There is no wine sweeter to drink than that of Lesbos; it was like nectar . . . and would not produce intoxication.”

“The Mishna [a collection of oral Jewish traditions] states that the Jews were in the habit of drinking boiled wine” (Kitto’s Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature, vol. 2, p. 447). 

Albert Barnes wrote, “The wine of Judea was the pure juice of the grape, without any mixture of alcohol. It was the common drink of the people and did not produce intoxication.”

Adam Clarke, commenting on Genesis 40:11, wrote, “From this we find that wine anciently was the mere expressed juice of the grape without fermentation. The saky, or cupbearer, took the bunch [of grapes], pressed the juice into the cup, and instantly delivered it into the hands of his master. This was anciently the yayin [wine] of the Hebrews, the oinos [wine] of the Greeks, and the mustum [wine] of the ancient Latins.” 


Anonymous said...

It is well documented that Joseph Smith drank wine...with alcohol in it. He enjoyed an occasional ciagr as well.
The church had bars and taverns to sell the stuff as well.

David B said...

Yes, the LDS Word of Wisdom was not given as a commandment at first but later accepted as a commandment by the Church after the end of Prohibition. The point here is that there is evidence that ancient Israel was more sober.

The point of the Word of Wisdom is that it is a warning to us that because of evil designs of wicked men in the Last Days God has decided that his people not use any of it. Some prople can drink responsibly. But many cannot. And these substances are marketed and availible to our children. Better that as a community we abstain for the bennifit of the "weakest of Saints"

llewellyn wright said...

I struggle to believe that the water that Jesus turned into wine was not alcoholic. It was common practice in His time to serve the best wine first and as the guest got intoxicated a little to then bring out the lower quality wine.
Also in the BOM where Gideon came up with the plan to give the guards the tribute of wine to get drunk so they could make their escape showed the even the people of Limhi made wine and most likely drank it themselves.
I do agree with the WOW and that we shouldn’t drink, but I don’t think this was always the case anciently.

David B said...

LWright-- None of what you are saying is new. Everything you have said represents mainstream thinking . The point of this post is to document other points of view with supporting evidence. Yes, Gideons wine given to the Lamanites was alcoholic, that doesn't mean Nephite wine was. Christ's wine at Cana could have just been less dilute, not more alcoholic as many like to suppose.

David B said...

48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; (New Testament, Matthew, Matthew 24)