There are eight Hebrew words translated wine. A careful observation of their use will tell us all that there is to be known on the subject.
I. Yayin, from the root yayan, to ferment, used of every sort of wine. The word occurs 142 time, and includes fermented wine of all kinds.
The first occurrence is :
Gen. 9:21. "Noah planted a vineyard and drank yayin and was drunken."
Gen. 14:18. "Melchizedek ... brought forth bread and wine."
1Sam. 25:36, 37. Nabal drank yayin and "was very drunken."
Isa. 28:1. "The drunkards of Ephraim ... are overcome (i.e. knocked down) with yayin."
Jer. 23:9. "I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom yayin hath overcome".
It is perfectly certain, therefore, from these passages, that yayin was fermented, and was intoxicating.
Yayin was also used for sacred purposes and for blessing.
Gen. 49:12. "His (Judah's) eyes shall be red with yayin, and his teeth white with milk."
Amos 9:13. "I will bring again the captivity of my people, and they shall plant vineyards and drink the yayin thereof." (v. 14 is No. V.)
Ecc. 9:7. "Drink thy yayin with a merry heart, for God now accepteth thy works."
The Nazarite, at the expiration
of his vow, drank yayin. See Num. 6:13-20. It was used at the
Feasts of Jehovah (Deut. 14:24-26), and was poured out as a drink-offering to
Jehovah (Ex. 29:40. Lev. 23:13. Num. 15:5).
II. Tirosh, from yarash, to possess = must, or new wine, so called because it gets possession of the brain. It occurs thirty-four times in the Old Testament.
Hos. 4:11. "Whoredom and yayin and tirosh take away the heart" (i.e. they blunt the feelings, derange the intellect).
Some say that tirosh means grapes, and is used as solid food, because in Gen. 37:28 we read of "tirosh and corn". We might as well say that when we speak of "bread and water", that water is also a solid, because bread is a solid. On the contrary, "tirosh and corn" mean liquids and solids, by the figure of Synecdoche (of Genus), Ap. 6.
Prov. 3:10. "Thy presses shall burst out with tirosh."
Isa. 62:8. "The sons of the stranger shall not drink thy tirosh."
Joel 2:24. "The fats (vats) shall overflow with tirosh and oil."
Mic. 6:15. "Thou shalt
tread ... tirosh, but shalt not drink yayin."
III. Chemer, from chamar, to ripen. Hence used of strong red wine. It occurs eight times.
Deut. 32:14. "The pure chemer of the grape."
Isa. 27:2, 3. "A vineyard of chemer. I the Lord do keep it".
Ezra 6:9. Cyrus and Artaxerxes commanded that chemer should be given to the people of Israel for the service of the God of Heaven.
The Rabbins called it neat
wine, because, unmixed with water, it disturbs the head and brain.
IV. Shekar = strong drink (from shakar, to get drunk), a very intoxicating drink made from barley, honey, or dates.
Num. 28:7. "In the holy place shalt thou cause the shekar (strong wine) to be poured unto the Lord for a drink offering."
Deut. 14:-25, 26.
"Thou ... shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose :
and thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for
oxen, or for sheep, of for yayin (wine), or for shekar (strong
drink), or for whatsoever thy soul desireth : and thou shalt eat there
before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine
V. 'Asis (from 'asas, to tread) new or sweet wine of the vintage year.
Isa. 49:26. "They shall be drunken with their own blood, as with 'asis (sweet wine)".
The drinking of this was held out
by God as a blessing conferred by Him. Joel 3:17, 18. Amos 9:13.
VI. Sob'e, any kind of strong intoxicating drink : from sab'a, to drink to excess, become drunk : occurs twice.
Isa. 1:22. "Thy silver is become dross, thy sob'e (wine) mixed with water".
Hos. 4:18. "Their sob'e
(drinking bout or carouse) is over" (A.V. their drink is sour
(marg. gone). (R.V. marg. their carouse is over).
VII. Mimsak, mixed or spiced wine.
Prov. 23:30. "They that tarry long at the yayin; they that go to seek mimsak (mixed wine)."
Isa. 65:11. "That
prepare a table for Fortune, and that fill up mingled wine (mimsak) unto
VIII. Shemarim, from shamar, to keep, preserve, lay up; hence, old wine, purified from the lees and racked off.
Ps. 75:8. "but the shemarim (dregs), all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them."
Isa. 25:6. "Wines on the lees."
Zeph. 1:12. "I will ... punish the men that are settled on their shemarim (lees)".
Jer. 48:11. "Moab ...
hath settled on his lees."
N.B. The word translated "flagons of wine" is 'ashishah, from 'ashash, to press; hence a hardened syrup made of grapes, a sweet cake of dried grapes or pressed raisins. It occurs in 2Sam. 6:19. 1Chron. 16:3. Song 2:5. Hos. 3:1.
With these data it will be seen that the modern expression, "unfermented wine", is a contradiction of terms. If it is wine, it must have fermented. If it has not been fermented, it is not wine, but a syrup.
Leaven is sour dough, and not wine. It is that which causes the fermentation. There can be no leaven after the process of fermentation has ceased.