From: Christopher Hutson (
Date: Tue Apr 21 1998 - 12:28:07 EDT


Thanks for considering my observations on your lexicography of OINOS.
It seems that we approach the business of lexicography in somewhat
different ways, especially when it comes to using symbolic and
figurative texts to determine word meanings.

First, as for the dream of Pharaoh's butler, you wrote:

>>>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
>>>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.

and I questioned:

>>Isn't the point of the dream that the imagery is highly symbolic?
>>it were obvious, then why would it be necessary to seek an
and you responded:

>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".
>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
>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!

It seems to me that you are reading this text in a strangely wooden
and literal sense, although it is clearly symbolic. That is, this is
not a simple description of the actual process by which anyone ever
made a beverage. I doubt if anyone ever in the history of the world
simply held a cup in one hand and squeezed grapes into it. For one
thing, in order to get any reasonable amount of juice out of the
grapes, one would need to use some sort of press and use both hands
just for the squeezing (unless one had one of those newfangled fancy
electric juicers). Is there any historical evidence for hand-sqeezing
grapes or for a one-hand-operated press in antiquity? For another
thing, it seems unlikely that anyone would squeeze directly into a
drinking cup, since it would be preferable to strain out pulp and
seeds before drinking the juice (certainly before offering it to a
king). Finally, the prisoner is the "cup-bearer" (MASQEH; LXX: "chief
wine pourer" ARCIOINOCOOS), so that it seems unlikely that his normal
daily activities would have included the beverage production, but
rather some sort of table service or supervisory role (as in LXX).
Now, although I have no problem reading this dream as a stylized
representation of wine production (as in the LXX), I recognize that
the Hebrew does not specify that the beverage in question is wine. So
I am willing to entertain the notion that grape juice was a beverage
option in ancient Egypt. But I think you cannot treat this stylized
dream sequence as if it were a straightforward descriptin of
historical wine/juice production in ancient Egypt.

As for all those poetic passages in the prophets, I think the real
issue boils down to how one reads figurative language. I commented
with regard to Judges 9:13:

>>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.

and you responded

>In poetic imagery words do not suddenly lose their normal way of
>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.

Here is the nut of the matter. I think the point of metaphor is
precisely that a word DOES lose its normal way of being used. My
difficulty--and perhaps some listers can offer suggestions--is that I
don't know what to call the figure of speech I read in Judges 9:13,
where the vine "produces wine" or in Jeremiah 40:10, 12, the "harvest
of wine." Maybe there is a technical term for it already (someone
help me out), but maybe we could call it a sort of "proleptic
metaphor" or a "metaphor of potential." That is, a given item is
viewed from the perspective of what it will poetentially become.

For example, if I refer to a steer as "steak on the hoof," the
semantic range of meanings for the word "steak" does not include a cow
in a pasture. This is a figure of speech that views the steer from
the perspective of what it will soon become AFTER a butcher gets ahold
of it.

For example, if I refer to a convict as a "dead man walking," the
semantic range of the word "dead" does include people who are walking
around. This is a figure of speech which views the walking man from
the perspective of what he will soon become.

For example, if I say to a group of Cub Scouts, "Follow me, men!" I
am ascribing to a group of prepubescent boys the qualities that I
anticipate they will eventually develop. But, even though a word like
"man" has a wide range of application, it does NOT include
prebubescent boys.

For example, if Micah's Latter Day counterpart had delivered an oracle
to a group of Nephites in Vermont, "You will tap the trees, but you
will not enjoy the syrup," this would not mean that the word "syrup"
could mean "sap," even "maple sap." Syrup is a processed comodity, as
is wine.

What if Micah should say, "You will thresh wheat but not taste the
What if the Wheat should say to the herbs, "Shall I give up producing
bread in order to become king of the grasses?" (so they go to the

And so one, with all the poetic passages you cite from the prophets
plus my own citation from Homer.

>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.

I don't think anyone is arguing this for TIYROS. We agree that it
means "new wine," "must," or "juice." I don't know what some
Hebraists might say about YAYIN. The focus of this thread has been
primarily on OINOS, which I would maintain always refers to an
alcoholic beverage.



Christopher R. Hutson
          Hood Theological Seminary
          Salisbury, NC 28144

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:39:30 EDT