A&tCL V – Joshua Through 2 Chronicles

This post is part of a series on Alcohol & the Christian Life.  It is a continuation of this post.  I am systematically examining every verse in the Bible that deals with wine (and by extension strong drink or alcoholic beverages) to better understand the Biblical stance on alcohol as part of the life of God’s people.

 

The book of Joshua doesn’t mention wine at all.

Judges mentions it in chapters 9, 13 and 19.  In Judges 9 wine (tirosh) is mentioned in a metaphorical way as the appropriate business of a vine as opposed to some other business.   Judges 13 is the beginning of the story of Samson.  13:4 indicates that Samson’s mother is to have neither wine (yayin) or strong (alcoholic) drink of any kind as part of her special preparation.  Up till this point in her life she has been unable to conceive, but she receives an angelic visitation letting her know that she is going to conceive, and because of the special nature of her future son, she herself is to observe certain things, including abstaining from alcoholic drinks and unclean foods.  She repeats his instructions to her husband in verse 7.  Verse 14 has the angel repeating his instructions to both the woman and her husband.  By implication, wine and strong drink are understood to be at least potentially commonplace activities that she is to avoid.  The warning against unclean foods could indicate that this has also become commonplace given the overall description of the time of Judges as a generation who no longer knew who the Lord was or what He had done for their forefathers (Judges 2:10).  Judges 19:19 mentions wine (yayin) as part of the hospitality offered to a traveler, and seems to indicate that this was a commonplace practice.

Ruth 2:14 sometimes is translated as including wine, but it is one of only two verses in the Old Testament that use the Hebrew chometz, and a better translation may well be vinegar.  It’s something that bread is dipped into and seems more like a condiment than a drink or something expressly alcoholic.

1 & 2 Samuel both contain a few references to wine.  1 Samuel makes reference in chapters 1, 10, 16 and 25, and 2 Samuel makes references in chapters 13 and 16.  In all cases the Hebrew word yayin is used.  1 Samuel 1 is the story of Hannah and Eli, and the basic premise is that Eli accuses Hannah of being drunk when she really is just overcome with emotion.  So the references in verses 14, 15, and 24 are all in that context.  The first two contain his accusation and her rebuttal, and verse 24 is a list of the items that she brought to sacrifice to God in thanksgiving for becoming pregnant.   1 Samuel 10:3 simply lists wine as one of the items three men will be carrying with them.  1 Samuel 16:20 likewise just lists wine as one of the items that David’s father sends with young David to his brothers at war.  1 Samuel 25 is the story of the unkindess of a man named Nabal that nearly costs him his life.  Were it not for his much wiser wife, Abigail, his wealth would lay in ruins.  Wine is listed both as an item that she brings to David and his men as a gift, as well as something that Nabal overindulges in.  Nabal is described as a man with several character faults that perhaps could be summarized around pride or greed, but which also include at least occasional drunkenness.  The drunkenness is more of an aspect of his overall failure to be grateful for all God has given him than an issue in and of itself.  In 2 Samuel 13:28  Absalom commands his followers to kill his brother Amnon when Amnon is merry with wine.  It’s reasonable to conclude that he means when Amnon is drunk and therefore unable to realize what is about to happen or adequately defend himself or marshal others to defend him.  Clearly this is an indication of one of the problems with drunkenness – it renders us less able to deal with situations appropriately and others are well aware of this and can use it to their advantage.  Similar in this respect to Lot’s daughters in Genesis 19, excessive drinking is portrayed in an unfavorable and dangerous light because it can weaken our ability to recognize or resist sin, whether our own or the sin that others seek to perpetrate.  2 Samuel 16 lists wine as one of several gifts presented to David.

Of  1 Kings and 2 Kings, only 2 Kings 18:32 mentions wine (tirosh) at all.  Here it is mentioned as one of several blessings that the King of Assyria will give to the inhabitants of Jerusalem if they surrender to him rather than continuing to resist based on the orders of King Hezekiah.

1 and 2 Chronicles mention wine several times.  In the majority of these verses it is yayin that is used, and I’ll cover these first.  1 Chronicles 9:29, 1 Chronicles 12:40 and 1 Chronicles 27:27 each list wine as part of a larger list of inventory items with no further mention or attention paid to it.  Likewise with 2 Chronicles 2:10 & 15, as well as 2 Chronicles 11:11.  2 Chronicles also contains two instances where tirosh is used instead of yayin for wine.  2 Chronicles 31:5 and 32:28 also simply list wine among other commodities without other comment about it, and there seems to be no difference between the choice of yayin or tirosh in any of these verses.

In each of these books wine is treated as an accepted and normal part of life for God’s people.  Certainly it can be abused, and when that happens bad things can happen.  But it remains a constant background in terms of hospitality and a sign of God’s blessing to his creation.

 

 

 

 

 

One Response to “A&tCL V – Joshua Through 2 Chronicles”

  1. A&tCL VI – Ezra through Song of Solomon | Living Apologetics Says:

    […] post is part of a series on Alcohol & the Christian Life.  It is a continuation of this post.  I am systematically examining every verse in the Bible that deals with wine (and by extension […]

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