From: Edgar Foster (
Date: Mon Apr 20 1998 - 11:16:25 EDT


Do I understand you correctly? You believe that OINOS and its Hebrew
counterparts CAN denote alcoholic beverages, but not always? If so,
this is in harmony with BAGD which says that OINOS "normally" refers
to alcholic wine.


E. Foster

---Ward Powers <> wrote:
> Fellow b-greekers:
> At 18:15 98/04/18 EST, Christopher Hutson wrote:
> >
> >Ward,
> >
> >Thanks for your lexical notes on wine in various biblical texts. The
> >list is helpful, though I must admit that some of your citations do
> >not seem at all convincing to me.
> >
> >>(a) that those of biblical times did not always wish to drink
> >alcoholic
> >>wine on every occasion when they were thirsty, and that they often
> >drank
> >>fresh grape juice. For example, in the cupbearer's dream (Genesis
> >40:11) he
> >>"took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharoah's cup, and put the cup
> >in his
> >>hand". No question about it: Pharaoh was drinking freshly-squeezed
> >grape
> >>juice. The context shows that when the cupbearer saw this in his
> >dream it
> >>was what he customarily did. See 40:12, "you will put Pharaoh's cup
> >in his
> >>hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer"; which
> >(40:21) is
> >>exactly what happened subsequently.
> >
> >Isn't the point of the dream that the imagery is highly symbolic? If
> >it were obvious, then why would it be necessary to seek an
> >interpreter?
> Indeed. However, what is said in the interpretation is highly
> In the verses quoted above (Genesis 40:11-12), Pharaoh's cup in the
> is still Pharaoh's cup in the interpretation, and the squeezing the
> in the dream is answered to in the interpretation by the cupbearer
> told he will do "just as you used to do when you were his
cupbearer". I
> contend that the normal and reasonable way of understanding these
words is
> that the cupbearer used to squeeze grapes into the cup to make a
drink for
> Pharaoh, and then put it into Pharaoh's hand, and that within three
days he
> will be doing precisely this again. If it were to be taken other
than in
> this way, then the squeezing of the grapes into Pharaoh's cup in the
> would be given another meaning in the interpretation - and it is not!
> >So I am not certain that this particular text says
> >anything about a Pharaoh's taste in beverages. In any case, the word
> >"wine" does not occur, so I'll pass on.
> At this point in my previous post I adduced Genesis 40:11-12 in
support of
> my statement that in biblical times grapejuice was drunk on occasion
as a
> beverage. I contend that this is so irrespective of Genesis 40. But
I also
> contend that Genesis 40 provides an instance of it.
> [SNIP]
> >>That is, the TIYROS is translated by OINON.
> >
> >Here I think you are going way too far with the text. First, I would
> >be wary of putting much weight on any poetic passage, since the
> >of poetry is to stretch words and play with their meanings.
Second, I
> >think you misread Micah 6:15. "You shall tread grapes but not drink
> >wine" is parallel to "you shall sow, but not reap," and both are
> >extensions of "I have begun to strike you down, making you desolate
> >because of your sins" (6:13). The point is that those who sow will
> >not be around months later to take in the harvest or the harvest will
> >be stolen from them, so they will be hungry despite their labor and
> >toil. Likewise, those who tread grapes will not be around months
> >to enjoy the wine when it is mature, or the wine will be stolen from
> >them, so they will be thirsty despite their labor and toil.
> >Certainly, "wine" here is not a reference to the juice soaking their
> >toes in the vat.
> No, I am not misreading Micah 6:15. I invite you to read it again,
and what
> I was saying in my previous post about it. In Micah 6:15 the NIV
has, "you
> will crush grapes but not drink the wine", and the NRSV has "you
will tread
> grapes but not drink wine": it is the word "GRAPES" (not "wine")
upon which
> I am focussing. This word (in these versions being translated
"grapes") in
> the Hebrew is TIYROS, and the verse means "you will crush out
> but not drink the wine [i.e. which in process of time would come
from the
> grapejuice). The "wine" here is YAYIN, but the word "grapes" or
> "grapejuice" is TIYROS. There is no way that TIYROS in this verse
can be
> made to refer to fermented wine, because it is what comes out of the
> when pressed, and is being contrasted with the YAYIN. Now in the
Greek the
> one verb PIEZW, "press" [BAGD p.657, specifically referring to Micah
> applies to both pressing olives for oil and grapes for grapejuice.
> part of the verse reads, KAI [SU PIESEIS - sense repeated from the
> reference to olives] OINON, KAI OU MH PIHTE: "and you will press out
> and not drink [it]". It is to be noted that the OINON of the LXX
> the TIYROS in a verse where the TIYROS in indisputably the liquid
which is
> being pressed out of the grape. If OINON could not be used in Greek
> grapejuice, then the Greek would have read instead, "And you will
press out
> the XYZ [whatever other word is envisaged as being used for the
> and not drink the OINON." But this is not what we have. Instead, in
> verse OINOS refers to the liquid produced at the time of [and by]
> or treading the grapes.
> Thus both TIYROS and OINOS can be used in reference to grapjuice
when it is
> pressed or squeezed out.
> >>Similarly a vine bearing grapes is
> >>referred to as having wine in Judges 9:13 (also TIYROS, and also
> >translated
> >>in the LXX as OINOS).
> >
> >Similarly, this is poetic imagery. This is obviously not language
> >that is to be taken literally, unless we believe that trees talk.
> >Further, the "wine" that the vine "produces" is clearly that which
> >grapes become after they are harvested and processed, just as in the
> >parallel episode, the "oil" that the olive tree "produces" is only
> >after the olives are harvested and processed.
> In poetic imagery words do not suddenly lose their normal way of being
> used. What you say is true, of course, but that does not take away
from the
> fact that in this parable the vine is recorded as saying that it is
> carrying "wine"; and this verse accords with others which illustrate
> use of TIYROS with reference to the juice in the grape.
> >>Grapes are described [1 Chronicles 27:27] as "the treasures of the
> >wine in
> >>the fields". "Wine" here is YAYIN; in the LXX the passage reads, KAI
> >EPI
> >
> >I think the point here is that Shimei and Zabdi have assignments that
> >are correlated. The latter is over the processed wine, while the
> >former is over the vineyards from which the wine is processed. The
> >"wine in the fields" here is only a way of designating what these
> >grapes are intended for. I don't think it in any way implies that
> >grapes have "wine" in them while they are on the vine.
> I acknowledge that you see this passage as referring proleptically
to the
> future wine to be produced, and so do not accept that "wine" is
being used
> in reference to what is "in the fields". I differ from you. I see this
> verse as stating that the treasures of wine are in the fields at the
> in question; which means that right then the "wine" is in the grapes
on the
> vines. I hold that this is the normal way of treating the meaning of
> words, and the only reason for not taking them this way is to avoid
> here another instance of YAYIN referring to unfermented wine.
> >
> >Harvesting the crop of grapes
> >>is described (Jeremiah 40:10, 12) as "to harvest the wine" (NIV),
> >"gather
> >>the wine" (NRSV); again, YAYIN in the Hebrew, OINOS in the LXX. But
> >grapes
> >>contain grapejuice not fermented wine.
> >>
> >>When one treads a winepress, what one produces from the grapes is,
> >>course, unfermented grapejuice. But what one treads out of the
> >winepress,
> >>what flows out of the winepress, is called YAYIN, "wine" (Isaiah
> >16:10;
> >>Jeremiah 48:33), OINOS in the LXX.
> >
> >Again, all of this is poetic imagery. You can find similar imagery
> >Homer, Od 9.110-111, where the island of the Cyclops is very fertile,
> >containing "vines which bear wine (OINOS) of the finest grapes." But
> >this is poetic imagery. Homer certainly meant fermented wine, but he
> >was playing with the words and painting a vivid picture. This is the
> >nature of poetry.
> The passages that I have cited refer to what one treads out of the
> in the winepress, and what flows out of the winepress - which it
cannot be
> disputed is grapejuice - as being YAYIN in the Hebrew, OINOS in the
> To refer to this as "poetic imagery" does not change the fact that
this is
> the way words are being used. YAYIN and OINOS are being used to
refer to
> grapejuice.
> I respectfully reaffirm my conclusion from my examination of the
> which is: that TIYROS, YAYIN, and OINOS are all able to be used in
> reference to unfermented wine, and do not always of necessity refer
to an
> alcoholic beverage. Sometimes the translators themselves use an
> word other than "wine" because they too recognize this as being the
> But usually these Hebrew and Greek words are translated as "wine" in
> versions. Therefore if we wish to understand the Scriptures aright,
we must
> (I submit) recognize that "wine" is a general term which can be used
> reference to the product of the vine at any time from when it is
juice in
> the grape in the field, through to an acknowledged alcoholic
beverage. As
> always, context is very significant in this matter. Sometimes it will
> clearly indicate that one situation or the other is in view.
Sometimes the
> immediate context itself does not so indicate, in which case we will
> to the wider context; or we may have to regard the evidence in a
> occurrence as inconclusive and accept that there is legitimate room
for a
> difference of opinion and interpretation between exegetes.
> But, in my humble opinion, we are not justified in concluding that
> use of TIYROS or YAYIN in the Hebrew, OINOS in the Greek, or "wine"
in an
> English version, refers always and only to an alcoholic beverage.
> Regards,
> Ward
> Rev Dr B. Ward Powers Phone (International):
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