Question: Hello, I was reading your online article about fermented and unfermented wine in the Bible and had a specific question about the passage which I have copied and pasted at the bottom of this message. You said that yayin is unfermented wine or grape juice and then say that Deut. 32:33 tells us that fermented wine is poison. My confusion is Deut. 32:33 uses the Hebrew word yayin to portray that wine was poisonous. It also used specifics here. Saying that Gomorrah’s wine was poisonous not that all wine was poisonous. Please help me to understand this interpretation as I am still trying to get a full understanding of whether wine is okay to drink or not. Thank you for your time and consideration. God Bless.
Answer: Thanks for your question. You might want to read the other tract and questions I have answered on this subject, but the main thing I am trying to get across is that you have to look at the context in each case when it talks about wine in Scripture. Some people have assumed that each and every time the word wine is used it means a fermented drink. This is not the case since there are verses that say specifically that the wine was in the grape on the vine. It would be nice if there was a word used that told us each time whether or not it was grape juice or fermented grape juice we are speaking of, but this is not the case, the word grape juice is a relatively new word. So we have to look at the words before the text we are considering and the words after it.
In this verse in Deuteronomy 32:33 from the text and since the word poison is used the Lord is speaking of what they had done with their grape juice and that was to ferment it, and drink it. God shows us what he thought of their wine and that was, it was like gall, bitter, poison of serpents, and cruel venom of cobras, not a positive description by any stretch of the imagination.
But it also sounds very much like another description which we know what is being spoken of and that is Proverbs 23:31-32. Let’s read the context also starting at verse 29 of this same passage: “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine.” (Now we are warned not to even get mixed up in drinking this fermented drink which is a poison, because it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper.) Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: They have struck me, but I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink? I don’t know about you, but from my drinking experiences in the past, this is a pretty realistic description of what happens when one is drinking.
God wants to spare us this heartache and trouble, but we need to decide that we will not even look at the alcohol to be tempted by it. I have enjoyed my health and life so much since I gave up drinking. If one wants to drink he or she cannot say God’s Word is encouraging people to drink. If one studies all the passages on alcohol you see that God wants us to walk away from it for several reasons. The most holy life a person could lead in Scripture was that of a Nazirite, and they could not even drink grape juice, but we are not told we have to do this, but we are to be like Jesus and not even look at it when it is fermented. I have to say no thank you often when I am at a wedding or place where they are drinking alcohol, but it has always been a good testimony when I kindly say, no thanks.
Thanks for the question,
Gary T. Panell
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