Wine and Symbolism in the Old and New Testament
Wine holds great symbolic meaning in the Bible and has been significant throughout the history of the Church. In the Old Testament wine was typically drunk during religious ceremonies, and is a part of Jewish and Christian communion. Wine is referred to hundreds of times in the Bible.
Wine plays a vital role in Jewish culture. It has a symbolic function, including its use as a sacred or ritual drink, and is often consumed during Jewish holidays.
In the Christian faith wine symbolizes Christ’s blood, the New Covenant, and corresponds with the Passover cup. When we consider that the Holy Spirit could not be given until Jesus died, the new wine implies more than just forgiveness, but also God’s spirit.
This article will explore the symbolism associated with wine in the Old and New Testaments.
What Does the Bible Say About Wine?
For much of humanity’s history, wine has had a place in certain religious ceremonies, especially in the Jewish religion. Wine has also been used as a power symbol in history to show wealth or prosperity; so it’s no surprise that Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine.
The concept of wine in the Bible (the Old Testament and the New Testament) is multifaceted, sometimes positive and sometimes negative. While wine was a part of religious ceremonies and was used for medicinal purposes, it also led to violence, rape, and even death of many people.
Healing Properties of Wine
The Apostle Paul warns Timothy that those who continually drink alcohol will not inherit God’s kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). So, while Christians can enjoy wine, it must be taken in moderation.
However, when taken in moderation, wine can bring joy and improve life (Ecclesiastes 9:7). It has healing properties (Psalm 104:14-15) and was often used for celebrations like weddings or anointing kings. It could also be used to mourn someone’s death (2 Samuel 3:35) or celebrate their life (Deuteronomy 16:13-14). The Bible does not say “drinking” wine makes life better; instead, it says that good wine is a blessing from God. Wine can be used to show joy at important events such as weddings, the birth of a child, or the harvest.
Symbol of Wine
Wine is a symbol that appears in multiple passages in both the Old and New Testaments. The central theme of these passages is that wine is a blessing from God, showing his continued goodness to us. Many passages, such as Esther 5:6 and Ecclesiastes 9:7, use wine to symbolize joy at important events, like weddings or banquets. Another common theme throughout the Bible is that wine should be shared with others and not hoarded.
Negative Aspects of Wine
The Bible forbids the excess of wine. The following passage refers to drunkenness: “Be not among winebibbers; nor among gluttonous eaters of flesh: for the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags” (Prov. 23:20, 21). Solomon wrote, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Prov. 20:1).
Examples of the incorrect use of alcohol are shown throughout the Bible, often revolving around conflict, war, and debauchery. Although wine can be a blessing when consumed in moderation, it is a substance that should be handled with care and respect. Excess and debauchery can be caused by wine, as seen in the Bible. One example was the Israelites’ behavior after escaping slavery in Egypt. They lost control at a party before leaving for Canaan, which created animosity between different tribes.
In the Bible, wine symbolizes both good and bad—something that is not immediately apparent to many. Sometimes it symbolizes God’s love, and other times it represents temptation. While wine was the elixir of life for many, it also played a role in the demise of others. Whether it is negative or positive, wine has played an important symbolic role in the history of the Old and New Testaments.
- Role of Wine in Medieval Christianity, Islam, and Judaism
- The Evolution of Wine in Christian vs. Islamic Theology
This Day in Wine History
October of 538 B.C.: King Belshazzar of Babylon raised an excellent feast for thousands of his lords and was inebriated. During the festivities, a hand appeared and began writing on the wall. It was a “writing… maketh no end” (Daniel 5:5). The king asked for suggestions from wise men, but they could not read what was written or make sense of it. Then, the queen suggested Daniel be consulted. He explained that someone had “numbered thy kingdom and finished it.” This meant that God would shortly bring seventy years of desolations upon his people, including the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar II in 586 B.C.
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 John 2:1-11 King James Version: “And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now”.
 Deuteronomy 7:13: He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land, your grain, new wine and olive oil, the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you.
 Solomon also called Jedidiah was a Monarch of the Kingdom of Israel 970-931 BCE
 580-539 BC, Prince of Nabonidus and ruler of the Neo-Babylonian Kingdom