John Kitto (AD 1804-1854) was an outstanding Bible scholar. His work was highly praised by Charles H. Spurgeon. A keen observer of physical detail, while living in the Middle East he gained detailed knowledge of the land and the people; people who lived much as they did in Bible times. Kitto’s Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature (1852) was a standard for decades.
John Kitto has the following to say about wine in Bible times:
“WINE. No fewer that thirteen distinct Hebrew and Greek terms are rendered in our common version by the word ‘wine.’ Besides the pure juice of the grape, frequent mention is made in Scripture of a kind of boiled wine or syrup, the thickness of which rendered it necessary to mingle water with it previously to drinking (Proverbs 9:2, 5), and also of a mixed wine, made strong and inebriating by the addition of drugs, such as myrrh, mandragora, and opiates (Proverbs 23:30; Isaiah 5:22). This custom has prevailed from the earliest ages, and is still extant in the East.
We are not, however, to conclude that all mixed wine was pernicious or improper. There were two very opposite purposes sought by the mixture of drinks. While the wicked sought out a drugged mixture, and was ‘mighty to mingle strong drink,’ Wisdom, on the contrary, mingled her wine with water or with milk (Proverbs 9:2, 5) merely to dilute it and make it properly drinkable. Of the latter mixture Wisdom invites the people to drink freely, but on the use of the former an emphatic woe is pronounced.
In Isaiah 25:6, mention is made of ‘wines on the lees.’ The original signifies ‘preserves’ or ‘jellies,’ and is supposed to refer to the wine cakes which are esteemed a great delicacy in the East.”
-John Kitto, The Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature; 1852.
Note: This boiled down, thick, strong wine was not alcoholic and would not spoil or ferment. It would be mixed with water to drink. I have some, kept at room temperature, that is in perfect condition after several years. See much more on wine in Bible times, and on Isaiah 25:6 in the book, Ancient Wine and the Bible.
-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, May 11, AD 2013.
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Ancient Wine Production and the Bible
Charles H. Spurgeon on Alcohol
Alabama Baptist Review of "Ancient Wine and the Bible"
Deuteronomy 14:26 - Does it Commend Alcohol?
Other articles in lower right margin.