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LIFE > Life in the World > Drinkers of Wine > Nation of Israel > A Blessing from God


God gives wine! In a psalm that speaks of God’s sovereignty, creation, and providence, it states that God “causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man . . . and wine (yayin) that makes glad the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread to strengthen man’s heart” (104:14-15). The psalmist affirms that God is the cause of the wine, just as He is the cause of the grass, vegetation, oil, and bread.

Hosea 2:8 states that God gave Israel “her grain, new wine (tirosh), and oil.” These three—grain, wine, and oil—are constantly used to speak of God’s provision and blessing on His people (Deut. 7:13; 11:14; 14:23; 18:4; 28:51; I Chron. 9:29; II Chron. 32:28; Neh. 5:11; 10:39; 13:5, 12; Jer. 31:12; Hos. 2:22; Joel 2:19; Hag. 1:11). All three are from God, and to have these three is to be blessed by Him.

And in Deuteronomy 32:14 Moses tells the people that God gave the nation curds from the cattle, milk from the flock, the fat of lambs, the best breed of rams and goats, the chicest wheat, and that the people “drank wine (yayin), the blood of grapes.” Wine is equated with that which is necessary for life and with that which is the best and the most desirable of the good things of life, and God is the One who provides this for His people. He gives that which makes man glad and for which man should be thankful.

Wine was a blessing from God, and the Hebrews enjoyed the wine given to them by God. It was a common drink of the people and was undiluted in Old Testament times (Isa. 1:22). Numerous references to wine and the use of it by the people are found in the Old Testament:

An Israelite who had planted a vineyard but had not enjoyed its fruit was exempt from military service (Deut. 20:6);

The Levite and his concubine had “bread and wine (yayin)” (Jud. 19:19);

Hannah told Eli that she was drinking neither “wine (yayin) nor intoxicating drink (shekar)” (I Sam. 1:15);

Saul was to meet three men going up to God at Bethel, and one was to be carrying “a skin of wine (yayin)” (I Sam. 10:3);

Jesse sent a “skin of wine (yayin) by his son, David, to King Saul (I Sam. 16:20);

Abigail carried to David “two skins of wine (yayin)” after he was rudely treated by her husband (I Sam. 25:18);

Nabal drank “wine (yayin) was “very drunk” (I Sam. 25:36-37);

Amnon was to be killed when his heart was “merry with wine (yayin) (II Sam. 13:28);

For those who were faint in the desert, Ziba carried to David a “skin of wine (yayin)” for them to drink (II Sam. 16:1-2);

Certain Levites were placed over “the fine flour and the wine (yayin) and the oil and the incense and the spices” used at the Tabernacle (I Chron. 9:29);

While at Hebron “wine (yayin)” was brought to David (I Chron. 12:40);

Under King David, Shimei was over the vineyards; and Ziba “was over the produce of the vineyards for the supply of wine (yayin)” (I Chron. 27:27);

Solomon told Hiram he would give to Hiram’s servants “twenty thousand bath of wine (yayin)” for their help in building the Temple of God that had been planned by David; Hiram responded: “Let him send to his servants” (II Chron. 2:10, 15); in other words Hiram desired the wine;

Rehoboam fortified cities and placed in them “stores of food, oil, and wine (yayin)” (II Chron. 11:11);

Darius issued a decree stating that the house of God was to continue; and the Jews were to be given whatever they needed: “young bulls, rams, and lambs for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine (chamar) and oil” (Ezra 6:1, 7, 9; wine was provided to be used in offerings to God);

Artaxerxes authorized that Ezra have up to “one hundred baths of wine (chamar)” for whatever may be needed for “the house of your God” (Ezra 7:20, 22; wine provided for the house of God);

The governors before Nehemiah “laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine (yayin)” but Nehemiah did not do so (Neh. 5:15);

However, there was prepared for Nehemiah daily one ox, six sheep, fowl, “and once every ten days an abundance of all kinds of wine (yayin) (Neh. 5:18); the leader of the Exiles who returned from Babylon enjoyed the fruit of the vine;

For treading the winepresses and selling “wine (yayin)” and grapes on the Sabbath, Nehemiah warned the people (Neh. 13:15);

The wise man admonished the people to give “wine (yayin)” to the “bitter of heart” and “strong drink (shekar)” to the one “who is perishing” (Prov. 31:6);

In light of the inevitability of death, Solomon writes: “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine (yayin) with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works” (Eccles. 9:7);

Solomon adds: “A feast is made for laughter, and wine (yayin) makes merry” (Eccles. 10:19).

During the Old Testament period the Scripture states that “Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking and rejoicing” (I Ki. 4:20), with each man dwelling “under his vine and his fig tree” (v. 25). A man under his own vine and his own fig tree was indicative of blessing and contentment—the figs and wine were blessings from God.

Wine was one of the good things of life. The wise preacher writes: “Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor” (Eccles. 2:24; see: 3:12-13; 5:18; 8:15). And in Joel 1:5 the people are referred to as “drinkers of wine.”

Note: Chamar, an Aramaic word, appears six times in the Hebrew Bible, only in Ezra and Daniel; and each time it is translated “wine” in the AV, the NKJV, and the NIV. The word is used only in connection with pagan kings: Darius, Artaxerxes, and Belshazzar. Literally, the word speaks of thick, mixed syrup that was fermented.

He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
and vegetation for the service of man,
that he may bring forth food from the earth,
and wine that makes glad the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine,
and bread which strengthens man’s heart.
Ps. 104:14-15

By the aid of genial showers the earth produces not merely necessaries but luxuries, that which furnishes a feast as well as that which makes a meal. O that man were wise enough to know how to use this gladdening product of the vine; but, alas, he full often turns it to ill account, and debases himself therewith. Of this he must himself bear the blame; he deserves to be miserable who turns even blessings into curses (C. H. Spurgeon ).

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