The accompanying engraving shows the form and nature of an ancient goatskin bottle, out of which a water-carrier is offering to sell a draught of water. After the skin has been stripped off from an animal, and properly dressed, the places where the legs had been are closed up; and where the neck was, is the opening left for receiving and discharging the contents of the bottle. These were readily borne upon the shoulder, Ge 21:14. See also Jos 9:4,13; Ps 119:83; Jer 13:12.
By receiving the liquor poured into it, a skin bottle must be greatly swelled and distended; and still more, if the liquor be wine, by its fermentation while advancing to ripeness; so that if no vent be given to it, the liquor may overpower the strength of the bottle, or if it find any defect, it may ooze out by that. Hence the propriety of putting new wine into new bottles, which being in the prime of their strength, may resist the expansion of their contents, and preserve the wine to maturity; while old bottles may, without danger, contain old wine, whose fermentation is already past,
Such bottles, or skins, are still universally employed in travelling in the East, as well as by the public water-carriers, and for domestic uses. They were made, for storage in wine cellars, of the hides of oxen or camels. But the smaller ones of goatskins were more generally used for water as well as wine. The ancients, however, were acquainted with the art of making earthenware, and had a variety of elegant small bottles and vases for toilet purposes, made of the precious metals, of stone, glass, porcelain, and alabaster, Jer 19:1,10-11. See CRUSE, VINE, TEARS.
Illustration: Eastern Bottle
Earthenware vessels were also similarly used (Jer 19:1-10; 1Ki 14:3; Isa 30:14). In Job 32:19 (comp. Mt 9:17; Lu 5:37-38; Mr 2:22) the reference is to a wine-skin ready to burst through the fermentation of the wine. "Bottles of wine" in the Authorized Version of Ho 7:5 is properly rendered in the Revised Version by "the heat of wine," i.e., the fever of wine, its intoxicating strength.
Of two kinds:
(1) Of skin or leather, used for carrying water, wine, and milk. A goatskin whole, the apertures at the feet and tail being bound up, and when filled tied at the neck. They are tanned with acacia bark and left hairy at the outside. The Gibeonites' bottles were rent, as they pretended, with their distant journey (Jos 9:4,13). New wines by fermenting would rend "old bottles" of skin (Mt 9:17). It is therefore put in new goatskin bottles, and without a vent to work off the fermentation strains even them.
So Elihu, the young friend of Job, after the older ones had failed to comfort him, compares himself, filled with the spirit which inspired him so as to be full of words seeking for utterance, to new bottles of wine: "my belly is as wine which hath no vent, it is ready to burst like new bottles" (Job 32:19). Hung in the smoke to dry, the skin bottles become parched and shriveled; whence the psalmist (Ps 119:83) says, "I am become like a bottle in the smoke." Skins for wine are still used in Spain, called borrachas.
(2) Bottles of glass or "potters'" earthenware, easily "dashed in pieces": a frequent image of sinners, God's creatures (Ro 9:21-23; 2Ti 2:20-21) dashed in pieces by God their Maker at His righteous pleasure when they do not answer His end, namely His glory (Jer 13:12-14; 19:1-10; Ps 2:9; Re 2:27). The Egyptian monuments illustrate the pottery and glass work of that country fifteen hundred years B.C.
The clouds pouring down water are figuratively "the bottles of heaven" (Job 38:37). "Who can stay (rather, incline, so as to empty out and pour) the bottles of heaven?" the rain filled clouds. "Put Thou my tears (as a precious treasure in Thy sight) into thy bottle" (the repository of precious objects, sealed up anciently), so as to reserve them for a manifold recompence of joy hereafter (Ps 136:5; Isa 61:7)
Although glass was not unknown in Palestine in Bible times, the various words rendered 'bottle' in AV denote almost exclusively receptacles of skin. In RV the NT revisers have wisely introduced skins and wine-skins in the familiar parable (Mt 9:17 ||), but their OT collaborators have done so only where, as in Jos 9:4,13, the context absolutely required it. These skins of the domestic animals, in particular of the goat, were used not only, as we have seen, for wine, but for water (Ge 21:14), milk (Jg 4:19), oil, and other liquids. They were doubtless used, as at the present day, both tanned and untanned. In later times (Mishna), the larger skins sometimes received a coating of pitch on the inside, and were furnished at the neck with a reed to serve as a funnel.
A. R. S. Kennedy.
There are six Hebrew words translated 'bottle ' in the O.T. Among the descendants of Judah there were some described as 'potters,' 1Ch 4:23; and from the relies found in the tombs of Egypt it is evident that bottles were very early made of earthenware; and small ones of glass; though then, as now in the East, especially for larger vessels and for those to be carried about, skins were used. Jos 9:4,13. They are made of goats' skins: the head, the legs and the tail are cut off, and the body drawn out. In the N.T. the word is ?????, and signifies a 'wineskin,' or 'skin-bag.' Hence new wine must be put into new skins, which are more or less elastic. Mt 9:17; Mr 2:22; Lu 5:37-38. The Lord was teaching that the new principles of the kingdom would not suit the old forms of Judaism: everything must be new.
The Arabs keep their water, milk and other liquids in leathern bottles. These are made of goatskins. When the animal is killed they cut off its feet and its head, and draw it in this manner out of the skin without opening its belly. The great leathern bottles are made of the skin of a he-goat, and the small ones, that serve instead of a bottle of water on the road, are made of a kid's skin. The effect of external heat upon a skin bottle is indicated in
a bottle in the smoke, and of expansion produced by fermentation in
new wine in old bottles. Vessels of metal, earthen or glassware for liquids were in use among the Greeks, Egyptians, Etruscans and Assyrians, and also no doubt among the Jews, especially in later times. Thus
a potter's earthen bottle. (Bottles were made by the ancient Egyptians of alabaster, gold, ivory and stone. They were of most exquisite workmanship and elegant forms. Tear-bottles were small urns of glass or pottery, made to contain the tears of mourners at funerals, and placed in the sepulchres at Rome and in Palestine. In some ancient tombs they are found in great numbers.
refers to this custom.--ED.)
BOTTLE. The eastern bottle is made of a goat or kid skin, stripped off without opening the belly; the apertures made by cutting off the tail and legs are sewed up, and, when filled, it is tied about the neck. The Arabs and Persians never go a journey without a small leathern bottle of water hanging by their side like a scrip. These skin bottles preserve their water, milk, and other liquids, in a fresher state than any other vessels they can use. The people of the east, indeed, put into them every thing they mean to carry to a distance, whether dry or liquid, and very rarely make use of boxes and pots, unless to preserve such things as are liable to be broken. They enclose these leathern bottles in woollen sacks, because their beasts of carriage often fall down under their load, or cast it down on the sandy desert. These skin bottles were not confined to the countries of Asia; the roving tribes, which passed the Hellespont soon after the deluge, and settled in Greece and Italy, probably introduced them into those countries. We learn from Homer, that they were in common use among the Greeks at the siege of Troy; for, with a view to an accommodation between the hostile armies, the heralds carried through the city the things which were necessary to ratify the compact, two lambs, and exhilarating wine, the fruit of the earth, in a bottle of goat skin:
???? ???, ??? ????? ???????, ?????? ???????, '???? ?? ??????. Il. lib. 3:50. 246.
The bottle of wine which Samuel's mother brought to Eli. 1Sa 1:24, is called ???, and was an earthen jug. Another word is used to signify the vessel out of which Jael gave milk to Sisera: she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, Jg 4:19. This is called ????? which refers to something supple, moist, oozing, or, perhaps, imports moistened into pliancy, as that skin must be which is kept constantly filled with milk. This kind was usually made of goat skins. This word is also used to denote the bottle in which Jesse sent wine by David to Saul, 1Sa 16:20. It is likewise employed to express the bottle into which the Psalmist desires his tears may be collected. Ps 56:8; and that to which he resembles himself, and which he calls a bottle in the smoke, Ps 119:83, that is, a skin bottle, blackened and shrivelled. Beside the words already considered, another ????, in the plural, is used, Job 32:19. This signifies, in general, to swell or distend. On receiving the liquor poured into it, a skin bottle must be greatly swelled and distended; and it must be swelled still farther by the fermentation of the liquor within it, as that advances to ripeness. In this state, if no vent be given to the liquor, it may overpower the strength of the bottle, or it may penetrate by some secret crevice or weaker part. Hence arises the propriety of putting new wine into new bottles, which, being strong, may resist the expansion, the internal pressure of their contents, and preserve the wine to due maturity; while old bottles may, without danger, contain old wine, whose fermentation is already past, Mt 9:17; Lu 5:38.