Wine in Ancient Israel

grapes and grape leaves

photo courtesy of Freefoto

The word wine is mentioned over 200 times in the Bible, either in a real or symbolic sense.

Take, for example, Isaiah 5:11

Woe to those who rise early in the morning,

that they may run after strong drink,

who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them!

Or from Isaiah 25:6

On this mountain the Lord of hosts

will provide for all peoples

a feast of rich food and choice wines,

juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.

Whether you are a teetotaler or a wine connoisseur, there’s no denying that wine and winemaking held significant value in the agriculture, economy, and culture of Biblical times. Here are ten tidbits about wine in Biblical times:

  1. Vineyards required more care and faithful tending than any other crop grown in Israel.
  2. Vineyards were found in the hills and valleys of both Judea and Galilee, where the best soil had washed into the rocky crevices.
  3. The crop was so important to the people that watchtowers were built near the vineyards and guards were set to protect the ripening fruit from thieves.
  4. The grapes were cut from the vines with small hooked knives and brought to the winepress, a huge vat hewn out of solid rock, where they were trampled on by the men of the village.
  5. The grape harvest was a joyful activity accompanied by singing, music, and dancing.
  6. Jewish wine, like all other Jewish food, must be kosher and must be made by only Jewish hands.
  7. We all know that the best wine was served first at weddings, and the lesser vintage later on in the festivities.
  8. The wine was always strained through a fine mesh sieve as it was poured into earthenware or metal drinking cups.
  9. Wine was most often mixed with water or—in the Greek and Roman tradition—flavored with cinnamon, thyme, or honey.
  10. Wine wasn’t just for drinking, it was also used for religious ceremonies and as an antiseptic to treat wounds.
What is your favorite Bible verse about wine, vineyards, or winemaking?



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