Wine and Strong Drink
In ancient times, people diluted their wine and secondarily fermented beverages with water as a thirst quencher. It made the drink last longer and took more effort to get drunk. Today, we don’t dilute our wine, but bartenders may dilute hard liquor mixes, and we do dilute our fruit juices! Do you notice your bottle of fruit juice? It says 100% juice. What does that mean? It means that the little bit of juice they put in the bottle is 100% juice, but most of the liquid in the bottle is water. Your purchased juices are almost always diluted. It’s an ancient tradition.
Yeshua created the best wine ever made in John 2, John 2:9-10, “The head waiter tasted the water that had become wine, but he did not know where it came from, but the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom 10and said to him, “Every party host serves the good wine first and then the cheaper wine when they are drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.”” All we can do with these Scriptures is to speculate as to whether or not the wine was secondarily fermented or diluted. Since it was used to celebrate a wedding, I would guess that it was at least primarily fermented. The picture portrayed is that of celebrating with a new bride and groom and their families and friends, not a drunkard-filled saloon.
So, what was the purpose of wine and secondarily fermented beverages? Numbers 28:7, “The drink offering with it must be 1.5 liters of wine for one of the lambs. You must pour out in the set-apart place a drink offering of a secondarily fermented beverage to Yahuwah.” Deuteronomy 14:26, “There you will spend the (tithe) money for whatever you desire: For oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for secondarily fermented beverages, or for whatever you desire; you will eat there before Yahuwah your Divine One, and you will rejoice, you and your household.” Proverbs 31:1-9, “The words of King Lemuel, an oracle his mother taught him. 2What, my son? What is it, son of my womb? What do you want, son of my vows? 3Do not give your strength to women, or your ways to those who destroy kings. 4It is not for kings, Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, nor for rulers to ask, “Where is the secondarily fermented beverage?” 5Lest they forget what has been decreed, and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. 6Give secondarily fermented beverages to a person who is perishing and wine to those in bitter distress. 7He will drink, and he will forget his poverty, and he will not remember his trouble. 8Speak for those who cannot speak, for the causes of all who are perishing. 9Speak out and judge by the measure of what is right and plead the cause of poor and needy people.”
When Yeshua was on the execution stake, at first he refused the wine, Matthew 27:34, “They (the Roman soldiers) gave him wine to drink mixed with an analgesic. But when he tasted it, he would not drink.” Then later, just before his death, he accepted the drink of wine, Matthew 27:48, “Immediately, one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with diluted sour wine, put it on a trekking pole, and gave it to him to drink.” John said it like this: John 19:29-30, “A container full of sour wine was placed there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop stick and lifted it up to his mouth. 30When Yeshua had taken the diluted sour wine, he said, “It is finished.” He bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
Have you ever looked up the Hebrew word behind the “strong drink” English? Strong’s # H7941, Shekar. Did you notice the TWOT number 2388a? I looked up the article in the Theological Wordbook of the OT. The author stated that the Arabs invented distilling liquor in the Middle Ages, in the 8th century AD. That doesn’t sound right, because Deut. 14:26 sure seems to talk about distilled hard liquor. Maybe the Arabs invented distilling but did it thousands of years ago, not 1,300 years ago? Either we don’t understand “strong drink” from the Hebrew shekar, or someone invented distilling many thousands of years ago.
What is most fascinating to me, though, is that wine is for pouring out drink-offerings to Yahuwah and secondarily fermented beverages are a way to celebrate the tithe offerings. Consuming wine or secondarily fermented beverages is all about worshiping Yahuwah!
Drink, not to excess or drunkenness, but to worship Yahuwah.
Strong’s # G4608 – The Greek word “Sikera” used for secondarily fermented beverage in the Septuagint.
– Transliteration: Sikera
– Phonetic: sik’-er-ah
1. strong drink, an intoxicating beverage, different from wine; it was an artificial product, made of a mixture of sweet ingredients, whether derived from grain and vegetables, or from the juice of fruits (dates), or a decoction of honey
– Origin: of hebrew origin H7941
– TDNT entry: None
– Part(s) of speech: Noun Neuter
– Strong’s: Of hebrew origin [H7941]; an intoxicant that is intensely fermented liquor: – strong drink.
Total KJV Occurrences: 1
• drink, 1
Decoction means: (pharmacology) the extraction of water-soluble drug substances by boiling.
So now I see that strong drink could be made without distillation. But secondary fermentation doesn’t make a lot of sense, since the alcohol at some point kills the fermenting process, like around 15% alcohol, but that may be exactly what the Father meant!
So, we can give Arabs credit for inventing distillation in the 8th century AD and still have a secondarily fermented beverage in Old Testament times!
Not to beat a dead horse too much, but to get the history correct, maybe we need a better English translation of our Scriptures? When Torah was given, 4,466 years ago, in 2447 BC, in actual history, there was no such thing as distilled high alcohol content liquor. So, a better English language translation of “strong drink” might read, “secondarily fermented beverage(s)” in verses like Judges 13:4 or Deuteronomy 14:16. Unfermented wine, would of course, be very close to everyday grape juice. Secondarily fermented beverages never went above 15% alcohol, because the alcohol itself killed the fermentation process. But it was not high alcohol content liquor. And don’t forget the culture, they watered the wine or beverage down, either to make it go farther, or so folks wouldn’t get drunk so easily, or just to make a better thirst quencher. Then in the context of the whole Bible we see that drinking wine or a secondarily fermented beverage is not sin, but getting drunk is. I have corrected my Son Of Man Bible to reflect a better interpretation of the words “strong drink.”
So here’s the conclusion that the Father downloaded to my mind the other day. He created the fermentation process, but with an alcohol content limiter built in to the process. Natural fermentation halts at about 15% alcohol, because the alcohol itself kills the fermentation process. Distillation, on the other hand, was invented by an Arab in the 8th century AD, by the inspiration of Satan himself. Distillation is a perversion of Yahuwah’s natural process of fermentation. Distillation is the counterfeit to Yahuwah’s beautiful creation. Distillation allows the alcohol content to reach super high levels, thereby allowing humans to destroy themselves more quickly. So today we have alcohol addictions, and people destroying themselves and their families and communities at an unprecedented and increasing rate. But praise Yahuwah, Yeshua can deliver you from any addiction, alcohol, drugs, sex, whatever! Just ask him today!