By Tom Brennan
One of the first physical signs of a civilization is wine. Evidence of wine means several things to an archaeologist or anthropologist. For one, it means that the place they are excavating had people stay long enough to make pottery in which to store liquids. It also means that they planted some type crop instead of continuing to be wandering hunters and gatherers. And one of the crops they planted or cultivated from an existing growth were grapeswhich they fermented. After that they made wine and learned how to enjoy leisure time with it
Wine is mentioned many times in Scripture. It has a practical use, a sacrificial use and a use in hospitality. It is the sacrifice the priest Melchizedek brings before Abraham for YHWH. Abraham is still a wanderer on his way to The Land which he has not seen yet and uses curds and milk from his goats. He entertains the three strangers with a good meal and milk to drink. Wine is the thing that trips up Noah, Lot, Samson and leads to repentance and complications alike. Part of the evidence brought back by reconnaissance parties on the Conquest was a gigantic bunch of grapes that took two men to haul it. There was more than milk and honey in The Land, there were grapes and that meant wine. Yeshua kept a wedding going in a happy mood by a miracle of making the best wine of the day from well water.
There are different degrees of wine in the Bible. The daily wine was a common variety for meals. The water quality varied by well location and wine was the safest and most dependable way to get adequate fluids in and still enjoy a meal. There were higher quality wines from different grapes that were for enjoyment and leisure as well. Wine could be flavored with different ingredients or herbs for flavor for medicinal uses. This wine in later years was usually diluted since the Greeks and Romans considered drinking it “straight” was a sign of barbarism. Some of the most common artifacts found in digs are shards of pottery wine storage jars with the owners seal or bulla stamped in the handle. Very often these shards are from owners with distinctly Biblical names. Broken pieces of clay call out the truth of the Scriptures from the piles of discarded and broken everyday utensils.
Since the days of the Kibbutzniks, grapes have been a serious crop in The Land. Today wine making is a profitable occupation and industry. There are high quality vineyards and wine tourism is big business in a place that absolutely seems to shake from excitement and exuberance. Israel’s geographic placement means that it has several regions where different crops will thrive. This is an excellent recipe for vintners since they can cultivate different types of grapes and make the best possible wines.
Israel’s wine exports have increased rapidly as a world market re-discovers what Israel has known along. Wine has a value and is enjoyed best in moderation as the Bible teaches. Paul advised his disciple Timothy against drinking too much wine and one of the criteria for selecting elders for the churches was they avoid the same fault. In the beginning the Creator declared His creations “good” and used wisely they are good for us. But He allows permission to choose among the good things too. He is all-wise, isn’t He?
Kosher wine is a definitely major industry too. Many Israelis, and many visitors keep Kosher and Passover and other Feasts call for Kosher. Israel and especially Jerusalem’s Orthodox population is influential in marketing strategies and the Kosher supply side is savvy to this. Add to this the export market and they just can’t grow enough grapes.
Travel and tourism in many places has added wine tours to the variety of their custom offerings. Vintners have been wise to this and have added attractive lodging, dinner and other menus and leisure opportunities to their properties. As the list of nations that provide tourists to world travel increases, the themes of organized tours have included wine tours. In many cities, wine tasting has become a social and business meeting after-hour’s opportunity for leaders and innovators to gather, relax and exchange ideas and opportunities together.
Archaeology has uncovered wine presses in many places in The Land. No matter what you own personal preferences about alcohol are, wine was a fact of life in Bible times and cannot be watered down (pardon the obvious pun). Knowing about wine, asking questions and following the advice given by the Bible about over use of any good thing can only re-enforce the wisdom within the pages.
On your tour to Israel be sure to include a vintner or two. Even if you do not partake of the fruit of the vine, a knowledge of the why’s how’s and history of wine in a place where it is such a major part of The Book is not to be missed. And I’m sure the grape juice is a cut or two above anything you will get somewhere else. One way or another, cheers and blessings!Share this page with your friends
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