Of this valuable and familiar plant there are several varieties, the natural products of warm climates, where also it has been cultivated from the earliest times. Hence the early and frequent mention of its products in Scripture, Ge 9:20; 14:18; 19:22; Job 1:18. The grape-vine grew plentifully in Palestine, De 8:8, and was particularly excellent in some of the districts. The Scriptures celebrate the vines of Sibmah and Eshcol; and profane authors mention the excellent wines of Gaza, Sarepta, Lebanon, Sharon, Ascalon, and Tyre. See SOREK. The grapes of Egypt, Ge 40:11, being small, we may easily conceive of the surprise which was occasioned to the Israelites by witnessing the bunch of grapes brought by the spies to the camp, from the valley of Eshcol, Nu 13:23. The account of Moses, however, is confirmed by the testimony of several travelers; and even in England a bunch of Syrian grapes has been produced which weighed nineteen pounds, was twenty-three inches in length, and nineteen and a half in its greatest diameter. At the present day, although the Mohammedan religion does not favor the cultivation of the vine, there is no want of vineyards in Palestine. Besides the large quantities of grapes and raisins which are daily sent to the markets of Jerusalem and other neighboring places, Hebron alone in the first half of the eighteenth century, annually sent three hundred camel loads, or nearly three hundred thousand pounds weight of grape juice, or honey of raisins, to Egypt.
In the East, grapes enter very largely into the provisions at an entertainment, and in various forms contribute largely to the sustenance of the people. See GRAPES. To show the abundance of vines which should fall to the lot of Judah in the partition of the promised land, Jacob, in his prophetic benediction, says of this tribe, he shall be found
Binding his colt to the vine,
And to the choice vine the foal of his ass;
Washing his garments in wine,
His clothes in the blood of the grape.
In many places the vines spread over the ground and rocks unsupported. Often, however, they are trained upon trellis-work, over walls, trees, arbors, the porches and walls of houses, and at times within the house on the side of the central court. Thus growing, the vine became a beautiful emblem of domestic love, peace, and plenty, Ps 128:3; Mic 4:4.
The law enjoined that he who planted a vine should not eat of the produce of it before the fifth year, Le 19:23-25. Nor did they gather their grapes on the sabbatical year; the fruit was then left for the poor, the orphan, and the stranger, Ex 23:11; Le 25:4-5,11. See also Le 19:10; De 24:21. At any time a traveler was permitted to gather and eat grapes in a vineyard, as he passed along, but was not permitted to carry any away, De 23:24. Another generous provision of the Mosaic code exempted from liability to serve in war a man who, after four years of labor and of patience, was about to gather the first returns from his vineyard, De 20:6.
Josephus describes a magnificent and costly vine of pure gold, with precious stones for grapes, which adorned the lofty eastern gate of the Holy Place. It was perhaps in view of this that our Savior said, "I am the true Vine;" and illustrated the precious truth of his oneness with his people, Joh 15:1-8.
In the expression, "The vine of Sodom," De 32:32, there does not seem to be an allusion to any then existing degenerate species of vine. The writer means rather to say that their vine, that is figuratively their corrupt character, instead of yielding good grapes, bears only poisonous fruit, like that for which the shores of the Dead Sea have always been famed- such as "the apples of Sodom," for example, said to be beautiful without, but nothing but shreds or ashes within.
The Jews planted their VINEYARDS most commonly on the side of a hill or mountain, Jer 31:5, (See MOUNTAIN,) the stones being gathered out, and the space hedged round with thorns, or walled, Isa 5:1-6; Ps 80; Mt 21:33. Vineyards were sometimes rented for a share of their produce, Mt 28:20; and from other passages we may perhaps infer that a good vineyard consisted of a thousand vines, and produced a rent of a thousand silverlings, or shekels of silver, Isa 7:23, and that it required two hundred more to pay the dressers, Song 8:11-12. In these vineyards the keepers and vine-dressers labored, digging, planting, propping, and pruning or purging the vines, Joh 15:2, gathering the grapes, and making wine. They formed a distinct class among cultivators of the ground, and their task was sometimes laborious and regarded as menial, 2Ki 25:12; 2Ch 26:10; Song 1:6; Isa 61:5. Scripture alludes to the fragrance of the "vines with the tender grapes," Song 2:13, and draws from the vineyard many illustrations and parables, Jg 9:12; Mt 20:1; 21:28. The vineyard of Naboth,
1Ki 21, has become a perpetual emblem of whatever is violently taken from the poor by the rich or the powerful. The deserted hut or tower, in which a watchman kept guard during, the season of ripe grapes, Ps 80:12-13; Song 2:15, becomes, when all are gathered, an apt image of desolation, Isa 1:8. A beautiful allegory in Ps 80 represents the church as a vineyard, planted, defended, cultivated, and watered by God.
The VINTAGE followed the wheat harvest and the threshing, Le 26:5; Am 9:13. The "first ripe grapes" were gathered in June, or later on elevated ground, Nu 13:20; and grapes continued to be gathered for four months afterwards. The general vintage, however, was in September, when the clusters of grapes were gathered with a sickle, and put into baskets, Jer 6:9, carried and thrown into the wine-vat or wine-press, where they were probably first trodden by men, and then pressed, Re 14:18-20. It was a laborious task, lightened with songs, jests, and shouts of mirth, Jer 25:30; 48:33. It is mentioned as a mark of the great work and power of the Messiah, that he had trodden the figurative wine-press alone, and of the people there was none with him, Isa 63:1-3; Re 19:15. The vintage was a season of great mirth, Isa 16:9-10, and often of excesses and idolatry, Jg 9:27; while the mourning and languishing of the vine was a symbol of general distress, Isa 24:7; Hab 3:17; Mal 3:11. Of the juice of the squeezed grapes were formed wine and vinegar. See PRESS.
Grapes were also dried into raisins. A part of Abigail's present to David was one hundred clusters of raisins, 1Sa 25:18; and when Zibah met David, his present contained the same quantity, 2Sa 16:1; 1Sa 30:12; 1Ch 12:40. Respecting other uses of the fruits of the vine, see GRAPES, HONEY, VINEGAR, and WINE.
one of the most important products of Palestine. The first mention of it is in the history of Noah (Ge 9:20). It is afterwards frequently noticed both in the Old and New Testaments, and in the ruins of terraced vineyards there are evidences that it was extensively cultivated by the Jews. It was cultivated in Palestine before the Israelites took possession of it. The men sent out by Moses brought with them from the Valley of Eshcol a cluster of grapes so large that "they bare it between two upon a staff" (Nu 13:23). The vineyards of En-gedi (Song 1:14), Heshbon, Sibmah, Jazer, Elealeh (Isa 16:8-10; Jer 48:32,34), and Helbon (Eze 27:18), as well as of Eshcol, were celebrated.
The Church is compared to a vine (Ps 80:8), and Christ says of himself, "I am the vine" (Joh 15:1). In one of his parables also (Mt 21:33) our Lord compares his Church to a vineyard which "a certain householder planted, and hedged round about," etc.
Ho 10:1 is rendered in the Revised Version, "Israel is a luxuriant vine, which putteth forth his fruit," instead of "Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself," of the Authorized Version.
Noah appears as its first cultivator (Ge 9:20-21); he probably preserved the knowledge of its cultivation from the antediluvian world. Pharaoh's dream (Ge 40:9-11, see Speaker's Commentary) implies its prevalence in Egypt; this is confirmed by the oldest Egyptian monuments. So also Ps 78:47. Osiris the Egyptian god is represented as first introducing the vine. Wine in Egypt was the beverage of the rich people; beer was the drink of the poor people. The very early monuments represent the process of fermenting wine. The spies bore a branch with one cluster of grapes between two on a staff from the brook Eshcol. Bunches are found in Palestine of ten pounds weight (Reland Palest., 351). Kitto (Phys. Hist. Palest., p. 330) says a bunch from a Syrian vine was sent as a present from the Duke of Portland to the Marquis of Rockingham, weighing 19 pounds, and was carried on a staff by four, two bearing it in rotation.
Sibmah, Heshbon, and Elealeh (Isa 16:8-10; Jer 48:31) and Engedi (Song 1:14) were famous for their vines. Judah with its hills and tablelands was especially suited for vine cultivation; "binding his foal unto the vine and his ass' colt unto the choice vine he washed his garments in wine and his clothes in the blood of grapes, his eyes shall be red with wine" (Ge 49:11-12). Both Isaiah (Isaiah 5) and the Lord Jesus make a vineyard with fence and tower, the stones being gathered out, the image of Judah (Mt 21:33). Israel is the vine brought out of Egypt, and planted by Jehovah in the land of promise (Ps 80:8; compare Isa 27:2-3). The "gathering out of the stones" answers to God's dislodging the original inhabitants before Israel, and the "fencing" to God's protection of Israel from surrounding enemies.
The choicest vine (sowreq, still in Morocco called serki, the grapes have scarcely perceptible stones; Jg 16:4 mentions a town called from this choice vine Sorek) is the line of holy patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joshua, etc. The square "tower" was to watch against depredations, and for the owner's use; the "fence" to keep out wild boars, foxes, jackals, etc. (Ps 80:13; Song 2:15). The "fence" may represent the law, the "stones" gathered out Jerome thinks are the idols; the "tower" the temple "in the midst" of Judaea; the "winepress," generally hewn out of the rocky soil, the altar. The vine stem is sometimes more than a foot in diameter, and 30 ft. in height.
To dwell under the vine and fig tree symbolizes peace and prosperity (1Ki 4:25). When apostate, Israel was "an empty vine," "the degenerate plant of a strange vine," "bringing forth fruit unto himself" not unto God (Jer 2:21; Ho 10:1). In Eze 15:2-4 God asks "what is the vine wood more than any tree?" i.e., what is its preeminence? None. Nay the reverse. Other trees yield good timber; but vine wood is soft, brittle, crooked, and seldom large; "will men take a pin of it, to hang any vessel thereon?" not even a "pin" or wooden peg can be made of it. Its sole excellence above all trees is its fruit; when not fruit bearing it is inferior to other trees. So, if God's people lose their distinctive excellency by not bearing fruits of righteousness, they are more unprofitable than the worldly, for they are the vine, the sole end of their being is to bear fruit to His glory.
In all respects, except in bearing fruit unto God, Israel was inferior to other nations, as Egypt, Nineveh, Babylon, in antiquity, extent, resources, military power, arts and sciences. Its only use when fruitless is to be "cast into the fire for fuel." Gephen is a general term for the vine, from whence the town Gophna, now Jifna, is named. Nazir is "the undressed vine," one every seventh and 50th year left unpruned. The vine is usually planted on the side of a terraced hill, the old branches trailing along the ground and the fruit bearing shoots being raised on forked sticks. Robinson saw the vine trained near Hebron in rows eight or ten feet apart; when the stock is six or eight feet high, it is fastened in a sloping direction to a stake, and the shoots extend front one plant to another, forming a line of festoons; sometimes two rows slant toward each other and form an arch.
Sometimes the vine is trained over a rough wall three feet high, sometimes over a wooden framework so that the foliage affords a pleasant shade (1Ki 4:25). The vintage is in September. The people leave the towns and live in lodges and tents among the vineyards (Jg 9:27); sometimes even before the vintage (Song 7:11-12). The grape gatherers plied their work with shouts of joy (Jer 25:30). The finest grapes in Palestine are now dried as raisins, tsimuq. The juice of the rest, is boiled down to a syrup, called fibs, much used as an accompaniment of foods. The vine was Judaea's emblem on Maccabean coins, and in the golden cluster over the porch of the second temple. It is still to be seen on their oldest tombstones in Europe. The Lord Jesus is the antitypical vine (John 15).
Every branch in Jesus He "pruneth," with afflictions, that it may bring forth more fruit. So each believer becomes "pure" ("pruned," katharoi, answering to kathairei, "He purgeth" or pruneth). The printing is first in March, when the clusters begin to form. The twig formed subsequently has time to shoot by April, when, if giving no promise, it is again lopped off; so again in May, if fruitless; at last it is thrown into the fire. On the road from Akka to Jerusalem, Robinson saw an upper ledge of rock scooped into a shallow trough, in which the grapes were trodden, and by a hole in the bottom the juice passed into a lower vat three feet deep, four square (Bib. Res. 3:137). Other winepresses were of wood; thus the stone ones became permanent landmarks (Jg 7:25). The vine is the emblem, as of Christ, so of the church and each believer.
Vine of Sodom. De 32:32; Isa 1:10; Jer 23:14. (See APPLES OF SODOM.) J.D. Hooper objects to the Calotropis or Asclepias procera, the osher of the Arabs, that the term "vine" would scarcely be given to any but a trailing or other plant of the habit of a vine, and that its beautiful silky cotton within would never suggest the idea of anything but what is exquisitely lovely. He therefore prefers the Cucumis colocynthis. Tacitus writes, "all herbs growing along the Dead Sea are blackened by its exhalations, and so blasted as to vanish into ashes" (Hist. 5:7).
Josephus (B. J. 4:8, section 4) says" the ashes of the five cities still grow in their fruits, which have a color as if they were fit to be eaten, but if you pluck them they dissolve into smoke and ashes." The Asclepius gigantea or Calotropis has a trunk six or eight inches in diameter, and from ten to 15 ft. high, the bark cork-like and grey. The yellow apple-like fruit is yellow and soft and tempting to the eye, but when pressed explodes with a puff, leaving in the hand only shreds and fibres. The acrid juice suggests the gall in De 32:32, "their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter."
the well-known valuable plant (vitis vinifera) very frequently referred to in the Old and New Testaments, and cultivated from the earliest times. The first mention of this plant occurs in
That it was abundantly cultivated in Egypt is evident from the frequent representations on the monuments, as well as from the scriptural allusions.
The vines of Palestine were celebrated both for luxuriant growth and for the immense clusters of grapes which they produced, which were sometimes carried on a staff between two men, as in the case of the spies,
and as has been done in some instances in modern times. Special mention is made in the Bible of the vines of Eshcol,
of Sibmah, Heshbon and Elealeh
and of Engedi.
From the abundance and excellence of the vines, it may readily be understood how frequently this plant is the subject of metaphor in the Holy Scriptures. To dwell under the vine and tree is an emblem of domestic happiness and peace,
the rebellious people of Israel are compared to "wild grapes," "an empty vine," "the degenerate plant of a strange vine," etc.
It is a vine which our Lord selects to show the spiritual union which subsists between himself and his members.
The ancient Hebrews probably allowed the vine to go trailing on the ground or upon supports. This latter mode of cultivation appears to be alluded to by Ezekiel.
The vintage, which formerly was a season of general festivity, began in September. The towns were deserted; the people lived among the vineyards in the lodges and tents. Comp.
The grapes were gathered with shouts of joy by the "grape gatherers,"
and put into baskets. See
They were then carried on the head and shoulders, or slung upon a yoke, to the "wine-press." Those intended for eating were perhaps put into flat open baskets of wickerwork, as was the custom in Egypt. In Palestine, at present, the finest grapes, says Dr. Robinson, are dried as raisins, and the juice of the remainder, after having been trodden and pressed, "is boiled down to a sirup, which, under the name of dibs, is much used by all classes, wherever vineyards are found, as a condiment with their food." The vineyard, which was generally on a hill,
was surrounded by a wall or hedge in order to keep out the wild boars,
jackals and foxes.
Within the vineyard was one or more towers of stone in which the vine-dressers lived.
The vat, which was dug,
or hewn out of the rocky soil, and the press, were part of the vineyard furniture.
VINE, ???, Ge 40:9; ???????, Mt 26:29; Mr 14:25; Lu 22:18; Joh 15:4-5; Jas 3:12; Re 14:19; a noble plant of the creeping kind, famous for its fruit, or grapes, and the liquor they afford. The vine is a common name or genus, including several species under it; and Moses, to distinguish the true vine, or that from which wine is mode, from the rest, calls it, the wine vine, Nu 6:4. Some of the other sorts were of a poisonous quality, as appears from the story related among the miraculous acts of Elisha, 2
Kings 4:39, 41. (See Grapes.) The expression of "sitting every man under his own vine," probably alludes to the delightful eastern arbours, which were partly composed of vines. Capt. Norden, in like manner, speaks of vine arbours as common in the Egyptian gardens; and the Praenestine pavement in Dr. Shaw gives us the figure of an ancient one. Plantations of trees about houses are found very useful in hot countries, to give them an agreeable coolness. The ancient Israelites seem to have made use of the same means, and probably planted fruit trees, rather than other kinds, to produce that effect. "It is their manner in many places," says Sir Thomas Rowe's chaplain, speaking of the country of the Great Mogul, "to plant about and among their buildings, trees which grow high and broad, the shadow whereof keeps their houses by far more cool: this I observed in a special manner, when we were ready to enter Amadavar; for it appeared to us as if we had been entering a wood rather than a city." "Immediately on entering," says Turner, "I was ushered into the court yard of the aga, whom I found smoking under a vine, surrounded by horses, servants, and dogs, among which I distinguished an English pointer." There were in Palestine many excellent vineyards. Scripture celebrates the vines of Sorek, of Sebamah, of Jazer, of Abel. Profane authors mention the excellent wines of Gaza, Sarepta, Libanus, Saron, Ascalon, and Tyre. Jacob, in the blessing which he gave Judah, "Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine, he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes," Ge 49:11; he showed the abundance of vines that should fall to his lot. "Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches hang over the wall," Ge 49:22. "To the northward and westward," says Morier, "are several villages, interspersed with extensive orchards and vineyards, the latter of which are generally enclosed by high walls. The Persian vine dressers do all in their power to make the vine run up the wall, and curl over on the other side, which they do by tying stones to the extremity of the tendril. The vine, particularly in Turkey and Greece, is frequently made to entwine on trellises around a well, where, in the heat of the day, whole families collect themselves, and sit under the shade." Noah planted the vine after the deluge, and is supposed to have been the first who cultivated it, Ge 9:20. Many are of opinion that wine was not unknown before the deluge; and that this patriarch only continued to cultivate the vine after that event, as he had done before it: but the fathers think that he knew not the force of wine, having never used it before, nor having ever seen any one use it. He was the first that gathered the juice of the grape, and preserved it till by fermentation it became a potable liquor. Before him men only ate the grapes like other fruit. The law of Moses did not allow the planters of vineyards to eat the fruit before the fifth year, Le 19:24-25. The Israelites were also required to indulge the poor, the orphan, and the stranger, with the use of the grapes on the seventh year. A traveller was allowed to gather and eat the grapes in a vineyard as he passed along, but he was not permitted to carry any away, De 23:24. The scarcity of fuel, especially wood, in most parts of the east, is so great, that they supply it with every thing capable of burning; cow dung dried, roots, parings of fruits, withered stalks of herbs and flowers, Mt 6:30. Vine twigs are particularly mentioned as used for fuel in dressing their food, by D'Arvieux, La Roque, and others: Ezekiel says, in his parable of the vine, used figuratively for the people of God, "Shall wood be taken thereof to do any work? Or will men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon? Behold, it is cast into the fire for fuel," Eze 15:3-4. "If a man abide not in me," saith our Lord, "he is cast forth as a branch" of the vine, "and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned," Joh 15:6.