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LIFE > Life in the World > Drinkers of Wine > Early Use of Wine in the Bible > Isaac & Jacob

ISAAC AND JACOB (Gen. 27:25-37)

Isaac, before his death, was planning to bless Esau, his oldest son. Isaac’s wife learned of his plan and devised a plot whereby Jacob, the youngest son, would be blessed instead of the older son. She prepared a meal and told Jacob to carry it to Isaac who “was old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see” (Gen. 27:1). Jacob took the meal prepared by his mother to his father, a meal that included savory food, bread and “wine (yayin)”; and Isaac ate the food and drank the wine (v. 25).

After eating the meal and questioning Jacob, Isaac blessed his son saying: “May God give you . . . plenty of grain and wine (tirosh)”; Isaac blessed Jacob with the best that the land produced, namely, “grain and wine.” Later Isaac told Esau, who came in to his father to receive the blessing, that he had already blessed Jacob with “grain and wine (tirosh)” to sustain him (vs. 28, 37).

Jacob, the father of the twelve sons whose families would become the tribes of the nation, is himself blessed by his father with wine. And later, God would give to the nation that came from the loins of Jacob the blessing of the fruit of the vine—a blessing of wine.

Isaac, after drinking the yayin, blessed Jacob with tirosh, a word that appears 38 times in the Old Testament, being translated “wine” (26 times), “new wine”  (11 times), and “sweet wine” (1 time) in the AV. In the NKJV it is translated “new wine” (32 times), “wine” (5 times), and “sweet wine” (1 time).

It is generally accepted that the word refers to wine that is not fully aged or mature but which does possess intoxicating capability. Some feel that the word refers to wine made from the first juice that oozed from the grapes after they were placed in the winepress but before they were trodden; hence, this was the “new wine” or “sweet wine” that was of high quality and greatly prized.

Facts will not support the contention that tirosh refers mainly to grape juice. Consider five reasons:

One, like yayin, it is translated by oinos in the Septuagint. Thus, though a distinction can, perhaps, be made between tirosh and yayin, practically speaking, they refer to the same type of drink, a fermented drink from the juice of grapes.

This is evident because both yayin and tirosh are translated by the same word; they must be very similar. The distinction between the two would be that tirosh is a younger wine, a less mature wine.

Two, The Talmud indicates that tirosh was an intoxicating drink.

Three, in Hosea 4:11 where it states that “harlotry, wine (yayin), and new wine (tirosh) enslave the heart,” it is without question that the word refers to a fermented drink. “To enslave the heart,” means “to take away the heart,” that is, to impair the cognitive abilities; judgment and thinking become clouded. Both yayin and tirosh can bring one to this state according to Hosea.

Four, in Jotham’s parable the vine responds to the trees when the trees ask the vine to be king over them by asking them: “Should I cease my new wine (tirosh), which cheers both God and men, and go to sway over trees?” (Jud. 9:13). Tirosh is that which “cheers”; without doubt tirosh is wine. It says that it cheers both “God and man.”

Was God “cheered” when Christ drank wine?

Five, tirosh is even used to speak of wine still in the clusters (Isa. 65:8), though some would point to this verse as a reference where tirosh simply means grape juice. But in Micah 6:15, the text reads: “You shall . . . make sweet wine (tirosh) but not drink wine (yayin)”—the two words, tirosh and yayin, are used as virtual synonyms.

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