Rebekah Welton


This article reassesses the metaphors found in Isa 49:26a and 63:6 in their historical and socio-religious context of alcohol production. Interdisciplinary approaches from archaeology and anthropology are used to counter traditional interpretations that have emphasised a context of alcohol consumption and drunkenness rather than wine production. I argue that these grape treading images, which also evoke blood imagery, focus upon the transformation of grape juice into wine and invoke the notion of divine participation in the production of alcohol. The transformation of the blood of Israel’s enemies is the punishment that Yahweh is imagined to carry out in these scenes, rather than inflicting drunkenness on them.


Isaiah, wine, metaphor, drunkenness, blood, Israel, viticulture, winemaking, fermentation.

I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine.[1]

Isaiah 49:26a

I trampled the nations in my anger; in my wrath I made them drunk and poured their blood on the ground.[2]

Isaiah 63:6

These two verses from Isaiah both describe divinely orchestrated destruction of the enemies of ancient Israel and Judah.[3] As the above quotations show, traditional translations typically take the verses to describe drunkenness, but there is another poetic interpretation or double entendre that makes greater sense of these images when interdisciplinary approaches are integrated. Imagery of food and drink permeates prophetic texts of the Hebrew Bible and expresses almost every facet of the relationship between Israel and God.[4] However, we are so far removed from the material realities of ancient Israel and Judah that it is impossible to understand the meanings of this food imagery without contextualising terms within their own culturally specific foodways.[5] Indeed, word meaning from root derivation has been critiqued by those working in cognitive linguistics:

…it is no longer adequate to discuss words only by means of cognate languages, or by root derivation, or even by means of syntagmatic and paradigmatic comparisons. All these things are valid enterprises in their own right, but they can no longer claim that they hold the key to meaning as such.[6]

Instead, the world of the author(s) is a better context in which to assess likely word meaning.[7] Using these two verses from Isaiah I will demonstrate how a better understanding of ancient foodways, or specifically, the production of wine in ancient southwest Asia,[8] can help us to move beyond assumed and traditional interpretations towards those which better capture the contextually-specific socio-religious nuances of food and drink imagery.[9] The use of blood imagery in both these verses is also significant and its role will be illuminated in relation to wine. First, however, the interpretational issues of these verses will be highlighted.

There are a number of problems with the traditional translations of these verses into English. In Isa 49:26a Yahweh declares he will cause his people’s oppressors to eat their own flesh—in other words, he promises to trigger in them some kind of self-cannibalism. The deity’s subsequent statement is consequently understood to refer to the oppressors drinking their own blood to the point of intoxication, thus rendering the half-verse: “I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk (yishkarun) with their own blood as with wine (‘asiys).” [10] This paralleling of the actions of eating and drinking is not explicit in the Hebrew, however, for the verb “to drink” (sh-t-h or sh-q-h) does not occur in the verse, and there is no preposition to point to the substance with which the oppressors become “drunk” (sh-kh-r). As the NJPS translation illustrates, most English translations twice insert the term “with,” even though there is not a single occurrence in the Hebrew. It is this verb, sh-kh-r, which has created problems in translations of the verse and is the focus of this article. The difficulties of the Hebrew are evident in the differing syntax in Greek versions of this verse, in which the verb “to drink” (pinō) is supplied, perhaps added as a gloss to smooth interpretation alongside the verb “to become drunk” (methuō).[11] Without the necessary prepositions or a verb “to drink,” the Hebrew is difficult to translate smoothly, as is also indicated by Claus Westermann who translates the text by simply reading yishkarun as “they drink,” which sidesteps the difficulties imposed by the this word by simply ignoring its association with drunkenness.[12] Due to the assumption that this verse is about intoxication, grammatical contortions have been introduced into both English and Greek translations, but there are ways to read this text that do not require additional words to be inserted as I will explore later.

An assumption concerning the nature of ‘asiys has also contributed to the grammatical contortions in translations of Isa 49:26a. The usual words for wine, yayin or tiyrosh, are not present in this verse. Instead, the term employed is ‘asiys, which English translators, following the Greek, have rendered as “wine”. HALOT recommends that ‘asiys be translated as grape juice, it is the liquid held within grapes, and extracted from grapes through treading in a wine vat.[13] The grape juice has not completed the process of fermentation, and thus has little, if any alcoholic content.[14] It is not possible for grape juice to become alcoholic without the grape first being crushed or damaged in some way (explained further below). Note the single biblical occurrence of the verb ‘asas in Mal 4:3: “And you shall tread down (ve’asotem) the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says Yahweh of hosts.” It seems likely that ‘asiys denotes the product released from grapes during the treading of the fruit in the wine production process, while ‘asas denotes the treading itself.[15] In relation to Amos 9:13, where the mountains—the usual location for vineyards in ancient Israel—are depicted dripping ‘asiys, Anderson and Freedman comment that the substance “is the pressed-out grape juice of the grapes, hardly fermented at that stage.”[16] Other commentators have similarly translated and described the liquid.[17] Carey Ellen Walsh states that ‘asiys refers to “an agricultural yield more than it does a type of wine.”[18] Indeed, Songs 8:2 reads: “spiced wine from the juice of my pomegranates.” That both terms (“wine” and “juice”) are used in Songs 8:2 demonstrates that they refer to different liquids. The juice of the pomegranates is the substance out of which the wine is made; the juice itself is not to be considered wine. Joel 1:5–7 also suggests that ‘asiys is the product of vines rather than wine itself:

Wake up, you drunkards, and weep;

and wail, all you drinkers of wine,

on account of the grape juice,

for it is cut off from your mouth.

For a nation has invaded my land,

powerful and innumerable;

its teeth are a lion’s teeth,

and it has the fangs of a lioness.

It has laid waste my vines,

and splintered my fig trees;

it has stripped off their bark and thrown it down;

their branches have turned white.

In this passage, the agricultural products of grapes and figs (v.7) are no longer available, and thus the lack of ‘asiys means that ultimately, drunkards cannot consume wine: “they may mourn with all the lovers of wine over the destruction of the grape-vines and the loss of the grape juice, which the locusts have snatched, as it were, from their very lips.”[19] Explicitly, the text states that it is the wine that is the consumed substance, but it is because of the lack of ‘asiys, as contextualised in v. 7, that the wine is no longer available. If the ‘asiys was the intoxicating substance consumed by drunkards, v. 5 would more naturally refer to “drinkers of ‘asiys,” not “drinkers of yayin”. Other commentators of Joel have also understood ‘asiys to refer to grape juice that has not yet been processed.[20] ‘asiys has been translated as “wine” in modern versions of Isa 49:26 because of the difficulty of translating yishkarun which is commonly understood as “they shall be drunk”. Because other occurrences of ‘asiys clearly refer to grape juice, it is solely on the basis of its use in Isa 49:26 that some scholars opine that ‘asiys must have been alcoholic, but this is then a circular argument for translating ‘asiys as “wine:” they translate ‘asiys as “wine” because they understand sh-kh-r to refer to becoming drunk; they then translate yishkarun as “they become drunk” because they have rendered ‘asiys as “wine.” [21] This forced translation in which ‘asiys is understood to be an alcoholic beverage is therefore unsatisfactory.

Having looked at the problems in Isa 49:26a, similar assumptions have affected translations of Isa 63.1–6, to which I shall now turn. Here, Yahweh uses the metaphor of a press for treading grapes in claiming he has trodden Edom in his anger. In this process their “blood” or “juice,” here the Hebrew nitskham, stains Yahweh’s clothing red, as would happen to any grape-treader wearing long garments. Nitskham occurs only twice in the MT, here in Isa 63 verses 3 and 6, and appears to refer poetically to the blood that so resembles red grape juice. Verse 6 then repeats that Yahweh has trampled the people,[22] followed by the particular statement in question, where disagreement exists between some English translations. Many commentaries and modern translations such as the NJPS, KJV, and NIV translate va’ashakrem as relating to drunkenness: “I trampled peoples in my anger, I made them drunk in my rage.”[23] This phrase is not a poetic parallel as trampling people does not make them drunk, and while this is how the root sh-kh-r is usually translated the consequent rendering of the whole verse is not logical. Sh-kh-r is the root used in this verse in both 1QIsaa and 1QIsab,[24] and the use of this root is also supported by the Vulgate, while the LXX removes the problematic phrase from verse 6 altogether. The NRSV, however, translates the phrase as “I crushed them in my wrath,” following some medieval manuscripts which read the kaph in this word as a bet, likely a scribal error due to the similarities in the forms of the letters.[25] Some commentators have also supported this reading and have therefore suggested emending the MT to va’ashabrem.[26] Regardless of whether va’ashakrem was the original form or not, the use of va’ashakrem in the MT and Qumran texts means that va’ashakrem had some significance and meaning within the communities who produced and read those versions. As has been demonstrated, the English translations that rely on the concept of drunkenness do not provide a coherent metaphor, in that the context of the grape press indicates a metaphor associated with wine production, not wine consumption.

The key feature of wine production that has not been paid enough attention in traditional interpretations of Isa 49:26a and 63:6 is the transformation of a non-alcoholic liquid (juice) to an alcoholic one (wine). I therefore propose that these verses might better be understood in relation to the transformative phenomenon of the wine making process as a metaphor for the transformative destruction brought about by Yahweh. Isa 49:26a may then be rendered “I will make your oppressors eat their flesh and like grape juice, their blood they will ferment.” Isa 63:6 may be rendered “I trampled peoples in my anger, Ifermented them in my wrath, and I brought down their blood to the ground”. In order to support these interpretations I will now turn to the archaeological evidence of wine production. While ancient wine making is a well-known process for archaeologists, rarely is it taken into account in traditional biblical commentaries and translations. In order that the wine making process is at the forefront of the mind during interpretation I shall outline it here. Please forgive the repetition if this is a process with which the reader is already familiar.

Archaeologists have uncovered numerous wine processing installations and associated utensils and vessels across Israel Palestine, while tomb art from ancient Egypt has provided visual information about wine production in the ancient world. Ancient poetic texts can offer scribal perspectives regarding both wine production and wine’s socio-religious connotations. I will begin by discussing grape processing activities before moving on to the socio-religious connotations of alcohol production.

Vineyards were grown on terraced hills and mountainsides. Vines prefer growing on such inclines because sunlight reaches the full length of the vine, and cold air—which can cause frost—can easily move down to the valley allowing warmer air to insulate the vines.[27] Terraces also allow rainfall to spread out over the level surface to be used by the plant growing there instead of running down to the bottom of the mountain.[28] The grape harvest begins once sour green grapes have turned dark red, usually at the end of summer or early autumn.[29] Having been harvested, the grapes would have been transported from the mountainside vineyard, possibly on the back of a working animal, to the grape press.

The remains of press installations tell us that grape treading was probably a team effort requiring considerable physical exertion. In the Iron Age, presses were often cut directly into rock, such as the one found at Gibeon and dated to the eighth and seventh centuries BCE.[30] The press consisted of shallow basins which were large enough to allow two people to tread the grapes. The juice would flow into a plastered cellar for the initial fermentation. An earlier installation excavated at Tel Michal—likely constructed in the 10th century BCE—is not rock cut but instead consists of two vats dug into the ground that are lined with bricks and plaster.[31] The two rectangular vats are connected via a channel to two circular receiving vats, which have a depression at their bottom to allow sediment to collect there, making it easier to clean and keeping some sediment out of the finished liquid. This complex at Tel Michal also has a central basin, which may have been used as a place to pile the stacks of grapes before treading, so that the juice oozing from under the weight of the stack was not wasted and could drain into the vats.[32] In order to release the juice from the grapes the fruit would have been trodden by foot. This method prevents the grape skins from bruising and secreting a bitter fluid, which could ruin the wine. [33]

In Egyptian tomb art, treaders are shown holding onto either a cross bar, or ropes hanging from a cross bar, above their heads in order to keep their balance.[34] These artworks might explain the presence of holes suitable for holding the ends of poles found cut into the rock around the vats in Israelite and Judahite sites.[35] Despite having something to hold on to, it seems that treading was a particularly tiring activity, especially in the hot sun. One description of this process from a Byzantine document, the Geoponika, illustrates how strenuous this activity may have been. It reads: “The men that press must get into the press having scrupulously cleaned their feet, and none of them must eat or drink while in the press, nor must they climb in and out frequently…the men that tread must also be fully clad and have their girdles on, on account of the violent sweating.’[36] That treading grapes caused violent sweating suggests that it was vigorous and strenuous work, and it appears frequent rests were not permitted for the treaders.

As grapes are trod, natural yeasts living on the grape skins mix with the sugars of the grape juice, triggering the last major stage of wine production: fermentation. It was the treading process which began to turn the grape juice into an alcoholic beverage, it was not possible to ferment the grape juice within the grapes without exposing the juice to the external yeasts via crushing them in some way. During this first stage of fermentation the grape juice would have bubbled and foamed in the press as carbon dioxide was rapidly produced and released by the yeast.[37] Within six to twelve hours fermentation would have reached its peak. As long as carbon dioxide released from the fermentation process was able to escape, the initial fermentation could be followed by a lower rate of fermentation in either the wine vat or in jars.[38] As the grapes were trod, and the juice began to visibly ferment into wine, this fermenting liquid would have ran down into collecting vats, such as those at Tel Michal. It was likely evident to the ancient vintner that the juice was transforming into the finished product, wine, within these first hours of treading, due to the vigorous bubbling.

The ancient vintner did not know what was happening on a chemical level, as they had no knowledge of yeasts, oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, or any other chemical involved in this reaction that produces ethanol. The vintner did, however, need to know when to put the wine in jars, so that the wine did not turn sour. As Carey Ellen Walsh comments, ‘while the grape harvest had its risks and uncertainties, once the vintner got the grapes to press, fermentation was a hardy and therefore dependable process.’[39] This was likely the case to some extent because the yeast was already present on the skin of the grapes, and could easily start reacting with the sugar present in the juice as treading was carried out. However, the ancient vintner knew when to stop only through trial and error, or inherited wisdom, rather than by understanding and controlling the chemical process. Fermentation was inherently precarious because there was no way to measure the chemical process; in modern wine making vintners can test the wine and add sugars or acids, and control the temperature, to increase or decrease the speed of fermentation, all of which affects the final product. For ancient winemakers, it was less of a scientific process, and due to the high chance of failure a successful batch was likely viewed to some extent in terms of magical or religious “luck,” or divine blessing. With this in mind I shall turn to the socio-religious associations of wine-making in ancient southwest Asia.

Successful wine harvests for export were vital to the flourishing of the Judahite economy and this dependence contributed to wine’s elevated status in socio-religious terms too. This is evidenced in a range of Hebrew texts in which wine is used in elite ritual and royal contexts, but also prophetic poetry.[40] The ‘Song of the Vineyard’ from Isa 5:1–2 describes the process of building a vineyard, with all the necessary structures and conditions required to produce viable grapes. These actions are presented as an activity undertaken by Yahweh:

My beloved had a vineyard

on a very fertile hill.[41]

He dug it and cleared it of stones,

and planted it with choice vines;

he built a watchtower in the midst of it,

and hewed out a wine vat in it;

he expected it to yield grapes,

but it yielded inedible grapes (Isa 5:1–2).

In this poem, Yahweh is depicted as an expert vintner, carrying out everything necessary to grow grapes successfully. The time, labour and care required for each task is demonstrated: the vintner would need to pick a fertile area to clear of stones, and build a watchtower to enable constant surveillance in order to prevent the valuable plants from being damaged. Here, the wine vat is hewed out of the rock in preparation for the treading of good grapes. The vine, however, does not bear good fruit; instead, wild, rotten or bitter grapes, apparently unsuitable for wine, are produced, thus encapsulating Yahweh’s disappointment with Israel’s behaviour.

The production of alcohol appears to have been associated with specific deities in ancient southwest Asian and eastern Mediterranean cultures. A Sumerian hymn to Ninkasi, the goddess of beer, describes aspects of the beer making process. In this hymn, which has been dated to about 1800 BCE but is likely much older, Ninkasi is said to be responsible for the different stages of turning grain into beer. It was likely an acknowledgement that humans are reliant on, or in some way indebted to, Ninkasi for the ability to produce beer:

You are the one who handles the dough,

[and] with a big shovel,

Mixing in a pit, the bappir with sweet aromatics,

You are the one who bakes the bappir

in the big oven,

Puts in order the piles of hulled grains,

You are the one who waters the malt

set on the ground,

The noble dogs keep away even the potentates,

You are the one who soaks the malt in a jar

The waves rise, the waves fall.

You are the one who spreads the cooked

mash on large reed mats,

Coolness overcomes.

You are the one who holds with both hands

the great sweet wort,

Brewing [it] with honey and wine

The filtering vat, which makes

a pleasant sound,

You place appropriately on [top of]

a large collector vat.

When you pour out the filtered beer

of the collector vat,

It is [like] the onrush of

Tigris and Euphrates.[42]

The hymn suggests that the human knowledge of beer brewing ultimately derives from a kind of divine expertise; just as Yahweh knows how to grow a vineyard and tread grapes in Isaiah, Ninkasi knows how to process grain into beer. Yahweh can prevent the production of wine: “I have caused the wine to fail from the winepresses” (Jer 48:33. Cf. Isa 16:10) or cause the wine vats to overflow (Joel 4:13 [EST 3:13]; Prov 3:10). Isa 65:8 suggests that the wine that comes from clusters of grapes contains Yahweh’s blessing.[43] Indeed, in Isa 5:1–2 the failed grape harvest, acting as a metaphor for Israel’s disappointing behaviour, is a potent and moving image because of the associations of divine blessing that successful harvests were conceived as having. In Psa 75:9 [75:8 EST], Yahweh also bears a cup of red and/or foaming wine (perhaps an allusion to the bubbling which occurs during fermentation), and gives Israel foaming and/or red wine to drink in Deut 32:14.

The close association of divine figures with wine production and consumption is also found in other ancient cultures. For example, the Ugaritic text KTU 1.22 I, lines 18b–20 conveys the idea that the deity El produced wine:

Wine to delight the thirsty,

The wine of ecstasy,

(from) high up in the Lebanon,

dew transformed into foaming wine by El.[44]

In ancient Greek mythology, the god Dionysus was long associated with wine. On the Linear B tablets from Pylos, c. 1250 BCE, he is only tenuously connected to wine, but later texts such as the Dionysiaca of Nonnus say he passed on the knowledge of wine making to humankind.[45] Dionysus was therefore worshipped as the god of wine, among other attributes, and wine drinking was a major part of his associated worship (as well as that of the gods Bacchus and Liber who were Dionysus’s Roman equivalents). In ancient Egyptian texts, the god Osiris was understood to have taught humans to make beer and wine, and the goddess Hathor was also worshipped as a goddess of drunkenness.[46] In Mesopotamia, the female deity of brewing, Šiduri, in Tablet X of the Epic of Gilgamesh, is depicted with her golden pot stand and brewing vat. The Hittite weather god Tarhunzas is closely associated with viticulture on the 8th century BCE Ivriz relief, being depicted holding a cluster of grapes. Finally, in the story known as the wedding at Cana, Jesus is also a producer of alcohol by turning water into wine (John 2:1–12).[47]

In short, the ability to produce alcoholic liquid from a non-alcoholic one appears to have been understood as an act performed by the divine. Notably, anthropologists have made the observation that in certain pre-industrial cultures the fermentation of beer is understood to be a supernatural conversion of foodstuffs. Michael Dietler and Ingrid Herbich refer to fermentation as “a quasi-magical transformation of food,” which “augments the symbolic value of alcohol in the common liminal aspects of rituals.”[48] Given the textual evidence relating to the deities’ involvement in creating alcohol, fermentation may have been seen as a phenomenon facilitated by the divine, and originating from the gods, rather than being a mundane or natural process. A parallel example may be seen in ancient medicine, in which healing deities had an active and complementary role in treating a patient, along with the use of medicinal plants, which themselves may have been associated with the divine realm.[49] In ancient medicine the human practitioner’s specialist knowledge, and the positive involvement of the deity, were both required to ensure the desired outcome. A similar scenario may have been seen to be at work for ancient vintners; their specialist knowledge complemented and created the opportunity for deities to transform substances into inebriants.

For the ancient Israelites and Judahites, the transformation of grape juice or water into an alcoholic substance may have had no other explanation than that of being a manifestation of a blessing from a deity. The archaeological and socio-religious insights discussed provides a more culturally sensitive context in which to understand wine making imagery in biblical texts. With this context established, I shall now turn to the issue of inebriation and the verb sh-kh-r in the MT.

The verb[50] sh-kh-r occurs 19 times in the MT, 10 times in qal,[51] which is “to become drunk,” four in piel,[52] which is “to make drunk,” four in hiphil,[53] which is “to make drunk,” and once in hithpael,[54] which is “to make oneself drunk.” A clear human consumer, plus an object or instrument that is consumed and facilitates inebriation, is employed with the verb. Alternatively, the verb “to drink”—that is, the physical act of drinking a liquid—is present (sh-t-h or sh-q-h).[55] The MT offers many examples of these two constructions which clearly convey the meaning of sh-kh-r as “becoming drunk:” in Jer 51:39 it states: “When they are inflamed, I will set out their drink [or drinking feast] (mishteyhem) and make them drunk (vehishkartiym), until they become merry and then sleep a perpetual sleep and never wake.” This passage clearly presents the drink or drinking feast as the inebriating instrument for the human consumers. It is therefore likely from the context of the lexemes surrounding sh-kh-r that the meaning of the term sh-kh-r is “becoming drunk,” the inebriating instrument being the drink or drinking feast. Similarly, Lam 4:21 reads: “Rejoice and be glad, O daughter Edom, you that live in the land of Uz; but to you also the cup shall pass; you shall become drunk and strip yourself bare.” Here it is evident that the instrument causing the inebriation in this passage is the cup, in this case Yahweh’s “cup of wrath.”[56] Most cases identify the inebriating substance by using a preposition. In Gen 9:21, for instance, the drinker becomes drunk from the wine: “He drank from the wine and became drunk” (vayesht min-hayayin vayishcar).

I turn now to the two verses in Isaiah, Isa 49:26a and 63:6, both of which have a preposition following the verb sh-kh-r. In all other cases of the verb sh-kh-r + preposition, the preposition is min (“from”) as in Gen 9:21; Deut 32:42; 1 Sam 51:21 and Jer 51:7. Isaiah 49:26a and 63:6, however, use che (“like/as”) and ba (“in”) respectively. The lack of the preposition min in preference for one of these alternatives points to a slightly different poetic understanding of sh-kh-r in these verses.

This idea is clearest in Isa 63:6. The preposition following sh-kh-r is ba, which takes khamati as the object (“in my wrath”). If the author had wanted to convey the idea that the people became drunk “from” Yahweh’s wrath, min would be the more likely preposition, much as in all other cases of people becoming drunk in the texts. Min is used to indicate a direct cause of drunkenness, but another preposition, such as che or ba likely indicates an associated object, rather than a direct cause. This verse also lacks a reference to consumption either through a verb “to drink” or an instrument such as a cup or drink/drinking feast. Even in the cup of wrath motif, a cup is used to imply that the nations Yahweh is punishing are drinking from the cup. As this is absent from Isaiah 63:1–6 an alternative reading seems more likely. Yahweh, in his wrathful mood within the press, is making the people sh-kh-r. There are no lexemes surrounding the verb sh-kh-r that indicate that the meaning of sh-kh-r in this passage is “becoming drunk.” Instead, the lexemes surrounding sh-kh-r here are those to do with wine production, as opposed to wine consumption (e.g. the wine vat, trampling, clothing stained red). We could therefore say that the associations of sh-kh-r in this instance are related to grape processing, but the verb is being used metaphorically and applied to humans as a form of punishment. Yahweh is in a press and is described as trampling in his rage (bakhamatiy), which we may imagine befits the vigour involved in grape treading.[57] This image accords with the information noted above that in the press the red liquid would be bubbling violently as it ferments, treaders would be sweating from exerting themselves and would need to hold onto overhanging ropes to steady themselves during their boisterous trampling.

In the English translations of Isa 49:26a “with” is inserted twice (“with their blood,” and “with wine”) while the only preposition present in the Hebrew is a single che (“like/as”). Additionally, the fact remains that ‘asiys is not an inebriating substance, and instead is the juice held within the skin of the grape which does not start to ferment until treading has begun in the wine-making process. As grape juice, ‘asiys, is a lexeme associated with wine production and, because we know from ancient wine production methods that grape juice was released from treading grapes in a wine vat, it again seems likely that the associations of sh-kh-r in this verse are not related to “becoming drunk,” but more likely some aspect of grape processing, as in Isa 63:6. In Isa 49:26a Yahweh causes the oppressors to sh-kh-r their blood like grape juice. That is, Yahweh’s treatment of the oppressors’ blood is likened to the processing and transformation of grape juice.

In the light of the foregoing analysis, Isaiah 63:6 is better translated “I trampled peoples in my anger, Ifermented them in my wrath, and I brought down their blood to the ground,” while Isaiah 49:26a is best rendered “I will make your oppressors eat their flesh and like grape juice, their blood they will ferment.” This proposed understanding of sh-kh-r accords with the transformative process innate in wine production that was understood to include divine participation, which is what we see in Isa 49:26a and 63:6.

In addition to the metaphor of the transformation to alcoholic liquid at play in both Isa 49:26a and 63:6, these texts also incorporate blood imagery. For example, in Isa 63:6 Yahweh is treading people like grapes in a press so ferociously that the people begin to transform just as grape juice would, and this substance (nitskham) is brought down to the ground. This latter imagery works on the basis of knowing that visibly fermented liquid in a press would run down through channels into a deeper collecting vat. This metaphor also alludes to imagery of murder or death by evoking the conceptual metaphor that blood is life:

The identification of blood with life in the Hebrew Bible, Mesopotamia, and Greece can be similarly based on a common empirical experience that life leaves the body simultaneously with the blood, but it may also be based on a conceptual or primary metaphor that stems from a universal physical experience that life is flowing in its container, the body. This is how we arrive at the concept of blood, liquid life, which can be poured into animals and people and which can again be poured out at death and return to the earth from where it can continue to act and yell and accuse if it sees fit.[58]

Frequently, when a being dies in biblical texts, the blood returns to the earth in some way. For instance, in Gen 4:10 Yahweh states that Abel’s blood cries out to him from the ground, and in Deut 12:16 when a gazelle, deer or an animal that is not sacrificed is killed, the blood must be poured onto the ground (cf. Lev 17:13). When a living being is killed, the ground appears to have a role in receiving the blood of the victim. This is also a point of criticism in Eze 24:7: “For the blood she shed is inside it; she placed it on a bare rock; she did not pour it out on the ground, to cover it with earth.”[59] In the metaphor of the grape press, the blood of grapes, and the blood of people, are collapsed together by evoking imagery of both killing, and of wine making. In Isa 63:6 Yahweh’s destruction of the people he is punishing is total, in his rage he tramples them, transforms them into an alcoholic substance and their blood is brought down to the ground or collecting vat.

In Isa 49:26a, blood is also mentioned, this time using the more typical dam, and here the blood is transformed alike to grape juice. If blood is coterminous with life within the conceptual metaphor, then the alcoholic transformation of blood is the transformation from life to a radically different state. The oppressors’ blood has become metaphorically alcoholic, it no longer has the capacity to support life. The red mulch of trampled grapes is aesthetically evocative of blood and thus there is a metaphoric logic in using grape treading to poetically describe the violent end of life that Yahweh directs at his enemies.

Both Isa 49:26a and 63:6 imply a kind of corpse abuse in that enemy bodies are mutilated and transformed by being trampled and fermented. Francesca Stavrakopoulou has highlighted how the consumption of corpses by wild animals in Israel and Judah was a type of corpse abuse that signified the “uncontrolled, unregulated loss and disposal of the dead” due to the corpses’ total destruction.[60] This loss and disposal did not just invert traditional mortuary rituals, but rendered the corpse unable to enact any social role for the living community; the connection between the dead, the land, and the living was ruptured by the devouring of the corpse by beasts.[61] The destruction of enemies in Isa 49:26a and 63:6 via trampling and fermenting also completely transforms and destroys their corpses and the consumption of corpses is explicit in Isa 49:26a in the allusion to eating one’s kin. The use of corpse abuse is explicit and likely functioned to erase the enemies of Israel. In Babylon and Edom’s metaphorically fermented state they have been utterly transformed into what Tracey Lemos may term “non-person[s],” they become dehumanised by Yahweh, their personhood uncreated.[62] The idea of treading corpses like grapes as the blood-juice bubbles and foams, not only evokes images reminiscent of body-horror and the grotesque, but also eliminates the identity and power of Edom and Babylon. The purpose of this corpse abuse delegitimises Babylon and Edom’s claim to the land, by eliminating their personhood and presence alive or dead, affirming Israel’s rightful return.[63]

The imagery in Isa 49:26a and 63:6 may be viewed as a continuation of the metaphor of Yahweh as a vintner. Not only does he build and tend to a vineyard, but he also treads grapes and turns them into alcoholic wine. This metaphor is used in regard to Yahweh’s relationship, or treatment, of humans and is always used as an analogy for punishment and destruction. This imagery echoes Robert Carroll’s striking characterisation of Yahweh as a “chef of death:”

Butchery is food and drink to YHWH…Images of YHWH in the prophets frequently reflect a blood-thirsty figure, wading through blood, blasting everything in sight and threatening further violence to generations and generations of people and their children’s children (e.g., Jer 2:9). The representation of the deity is generally that of a berserker god. And as such a berserker figure one may include his role as a chef of death, that is of one who serves food and drink to his creatures in order to punish and to destroy them. If we could imagine a mad chef running amok among the kitchens of the cosmos, then we might have an adequate rendition of one of the representations of the deity in the Hebrew Bible.[64]

Rather than a kitchen chef of destruction, in these Isaianic metaphors Yahweh is very specifically operating within the sphere of the vineyard and grape press. He is the divine vintner, grape treader and wine maker. Each of these aspects serve as metaphor for punishment: his destruction of the vineyard (Isa 5:5–6), his wrathful treading of the grapes, his sh-kh-r-ing of the red grape-blood, and the serving of the cup of wrath.[65] These are components of a broad constellation of vineyard and wine related images in which Yahweh grows vines and treads grapes prior to serving the finished product as a punishment. In contrast to Yahweh as the hospitable host, Carroll notes that given Yahweh’s penchant for destruction “it is hardly surprising that when the prophetic texts are read for their discourses on food and drink, the inhospitable nature of the rampaging YHWH should frequently come to the fore.”[66] All of these aspects of Yahweh as a producer of wine reverse the typically positive associations of vineyards, grape harvests, and drunkenness in a dramatic way. This subverted imagery is potently persuasive as a form of rhetoric because the negative depiction of the wine is such an extreme reversal of its usual symbolism. Indeed, this mirrors Yahweh’s overturning of divine benevolence as the liquid now embodies his divine displeasure and wrathful annihilation. Wine is perfectly positioned to act as a vehicle for signifying Yahweh’s inhospitality because it is culturally laden with the associations of blessing and hospitality, rendering it both shocking, and yet suitably flexible, to carry the force and terror of Yahweh’s punishment. Within this metaphoric constellation of vine growing, grape treading and wine serving, Yahweh tramples Babylon and Edom, transforms them, and uses this divine, alcoholic beverage to pass on further punishment and destruction via the cup of wrath. It is perhaps to be expected that a beverage created from the trampling of a furious deity should also be considered full of wrath itself.

In conclusion, Yahweh does not just spill the blood of those he punishes; he renders it utterly transformed, so that it becomes a new unrecognisable substance which no longer contains their personhood. Babylon’s and Edom’s association with the land is ruptured by the chaotic effects of trampling, resulting in the vigorous and transformative bubbling in the grape press—a corpse abuse encapsulating their total elimination. The traditional translations of Isa 49:26 and 63:6 which jarringly depict drunkenness in the context of production fail to grasp the full horror and effect of the images being evoked. Readers of these verses from the MT and 1QIsaa and 1QIsab may well have understood them not as depictions of drunken Babylonians and Edomites, but instead as depictions of foreign corpse abuse which legitimised Israel’s return. Drunkenness does not remove the presence of Edom and Babylon from the land; their elimination via fermentation, however, does. Yahweh’s divine trampling of Israel’s enemies until they ferment transforms and thus eradicates their very existence.


Abel, Ernest L. Intoxication in Mythology: A Worldwide Dictionary of Gods, Rites, Intoxicants and Places. Jefferson: McFarland & Company Inc., 2006.

Achtemeier, Elizabeth. NIBC: Minor Prophets I. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996.

Ademiluka, Solomon O. “Proverbs 23:29–35 in the Light of the Role of the church in Nigeria in Curbing alcoholism.” Verbum et Ecclesia 41, (2020): 1–11. doi:10.4102/ve.v41i1.2060.

Ahlström, Gösta W. “Wine Presses and Cup-Marks of the Jenin-Megiddo Survey.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 231(1978): 19–49.

Anderson, Francis I. and David Noel Freedman. Amos: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. New York: Doubleday, 1989.

Baltzer, Klaus. Deutero-Jesaja: Kommentar zum Alten Testament. Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 1999.

Barmash, Pamela. Homicide in the Biblical World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Berges, Ulrich. Jesaja 49–54. Freiburg: Herder, 2015.

Blenkinsopp, Joseph. Isaiah 40–55: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. New York: Doubleday, 2002.

Blenkinsopp, Joseph. Isaiah 56–66: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. New York: Doubleday, 2003.

Böck, Barbara. The Healing Goddess Gula: Towards an Understanding of Ancient Babylonian Medicine. Leiden: Brill, 2014.

Brettler, Marc Zvi. “Incompatible metaphors for YHWH in Isaiah 40–66.” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 23 (1998): 97–120. doi:10.1177/030908929802307807.

Brueggemann, Walter. Isaiah 40–66. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998.

Carroll, Robert P. “YHWH’s Sour Grapes: Images of Food and Drink in the Prophetic Discourses of the Hebrew Bible.” Semeia 86 (1999): 113–131.

Childs, Brevard. Isaiah. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001.

Civil, Miguel. “A Hymn to the Beer Goddess and Drinking Song.” Pages 67–89 in Studies Presented to A. Leo Oppenheim. Edited by Robert D. Biggs and John A. Brinkman. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964.9.

Coggins, Richard J. “Do we still need Deutero-Isaiah?” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 23 (1998): 77–92. doi:10.1177/030908929802308106.

Cox, Jeff. From Vines to Wines: The Complete Guide to Growing Grapes and Making Your Own Wine. North Adams: Storey Publishing, 1999.

Cripps, Richard S. The Book of Amos. London: SPCK., 1969 [1929].

Curtis, Robert. Ancient Food Technology. Leiden: Brill, 2001.

Dietler, Michael and Ingrid Herbich. “Liquid Material Culture: Following the Flow of Beer among the Luo of Kenya.” Pages 395–408 in Grundlegungen: Beiträge zur europäischen und afrikanischen Archäologie für Manfred K.H. Eggert. Edited by Hans-Peter Wotzka. Tübingen: Francke, 2006.

Gibson, Shimon. “Agricultural Terraces and Settlement Expansion in the Highlands of Early Iron Age Palestine: Is There a Correlation Between the Two?” Pages 113–146 in Studies in the Archaeology of the Iron Age in Israel and Jordan. Edited by Amihai Mazar. Sheffield: Sheffield University Press, 2001.

Goldingay John and David Payne. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary of Isaiah 40–55 Vol 2. ICC: London: T&T Clark International, 2006.

Goldingay, John. The Message of Isaiah 40–55: A Literary-Theological Commentary. New York: T&T Clark International, 2005.

Graves-Brown, Carolyn. Dancing for Hathor: Women in Ancient Egypt. London: Continuum, 2010.

Harper, William Rainey. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Amos and Hosea. ICC 23. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1960 [1905].

de Hemmer Gudme, Anne Katrine. “Liquid Life: Blood, Life, and Conceptual Metaphors in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East.” Pages 63–69 in Language, Cognition, and Biblical Exegesis: Interpreting Minds. Edited by Ronit Nikolsky, István Czachesz, Frederick S. Tappenden and Tamás Biró. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019.

Herzog, Ze’ev. “A Complex of Iron Age Winepresses (Strata XIV–XIII).” Pages 73–75 in Excavations at Tel Michal, Israel. Edited by Ze’ev Herzog, George Rapp Jr. and Ora Negbi. Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 1989.

Homan, Michael. “Beer, Barley and שׁכר in the Hebrew Bible.” Pages 92–142 in Le David Maskil: A Birthday Tribute for David Noel Freedman. Edited by Richard E. Friedman and William H. C. Propp. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2004.

Irudayaraj, Dominic S. Violence, Otherness and Identity in Isaiah 63:1–6: The Trampling One Coming from Edom. New York: T&T Clark, 2017.

Jordan, David. “An Offering of Wine: An Introductory Exploration of the Role of Wine in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Judaism through the Examination of the Semantics of some Keywords.” PhD Diss.: University of Sydney, 2003.

King, Philip and Lawrence E. Stager. Life in Biblical Israel. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001.

Knight, George A. F. Deutero-Isaiah: A Theological Commentary on Isaiah 40–55. New York: Abingdon Press, 1965.

Kobel, Esther. “The Various Tastes of Johannine Bread and Blood: A Multi-Perspective Reading of John 6.” Pages 83–89 in Decisive Meals: Table Politics in Biblical Literature. Edited by Kathy Ehrenspeger, Nathan Macdonald and Luzia S. Rehman. London: T&T Clark, 2012.

Koole, Jan L. Isaiah III/2: Isaiah 49–55, translated by Anthony P. Runia, Leuven: Peeters, 1998.

Koole, Jan L. Isaiah III/3: Isaiah 56–66, translated by Anthony P. Runia, Leuven: Peeters, 2001.

Lemos, Tracey. Violence and Personhood in Ancient Israel and Comparative Contexts. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.

MacDonald, Nathan. Not Bread Alone: The Uses of Food in the Old Testament. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

March, Jennifer. Cassell’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology. London: Cassell, 2001.

McCann Jr., J. Clinton. “The Book of Isaiah: Theses and Hypotheses.” Biblical Theology Bulletin 33 (2003): 88–94. doi:10.1177/014610790303300302.

North, Christopher. The Second Isaiah. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964.

Oswalt, John N. The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 40–66. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.

Peters, Kurtis. Hebrew Lexical Semantics and Daily Life in Ancient Israel: What’s Cooking in Biblical Hebrew. Leiden: Brill, 2016.

Poo, Mu-Choo. Wine and Wine Offering in the Religion of Ancient Egypt. 3rd ed. New York: Routledge, 2013.

Pritchard, James B. Winery, Defences, and Surroundings at Gibeon. Philadelphia: The University Museum, 1964.

Raabe, Paul R. Obadiah: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. New York: Doubleday, 1996.

Rautman, Marcus Louis. Daily Life in the Byzantine Empire. London: Greenwood Press, 2006.

de Rossi, Giovanni. B. Variae Lectiones Veteris Testamenti III. Parmae: 1786.

Schmidt, Uta. Zukunftsvorstellungen in Jesaja 49–55. Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Theologie, 2013.

Scullion, John J. Isaiah 40–66. Wilmington: Michael Glazier Inc., 1982.

Seely, Jo Ann H. “The Fruit of the Vine: Wine at Masada and in the New Testament.” Brigham Young University Studies Quarterly 36 (1996–97): 207–227.

Shead, Stephen L. Radical Frame Semantics and Biblical Hebrew: Exploring Lexical Semantics. Leiden: Brill, 2011.

Smith, John Merlin, William Hayes Ward, and Julius A. Brewer. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Obadiah and Joel. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1959 [1911].

Sommer, Benjamin D. A Prophet Reads Scripture: Allusion in Isaiah 40–66. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998.

Stavrakopoulou, Francesca. “Gog’s Grave and the Use and Abuse of Corpses in Ezekiel 39:11–20.” Journal of Biblical Literature 129 (2010): 67–84. doi:10.2307/27821005.

Welton, Rebekah. “He is a Glutton and a Drunkard:” Deviant Consumption in the Hebrew Bible. Leiden: Brill, 2020.

van Wolde, Ellen J. Reframing Biblical Studies: When Language and Text Meet Culture, Cognition and Context. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2009.

Walsh, Carey Ellen. The Fruit of the Vine: Viticulture in Ancient Israel. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2000.

Westermann, Claus. Isaiah 40–66: A Commentary. Translated by David M. G. Stalker. London: SCM, 1969.

Whybray, Roger N. Isaiah 40–66. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984.

Wolff, Hans Walter. Joel and Amos. Translated by Waldemar Janzen, S. Dean McBride, Jr., and Charles A. Muenchow. Philadelphia; Fortress Press, 1977.

Wyatt, Nicolas. Religious Texts from Ugarit, 2nd Ed. London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002.

[1] NRSV. Translations my own unless otherwise stated.

[2] NIV.

[3] I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the peer reviewers who provided very helpful feedback, and to colleagues who commented on earlier drafts of this article: Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Saul Olyan and Anne Katrine De Hemmer Gudme. Thank you. Any errors that may remain are entirely my own.

[4] Robert P. Carroll, “YHWH’s sour grapes: Images of food and drink in the prophetic discourses of the Hebrew Bible,” Semeia 86 (1999), 113–131 (116).

[5] The “foodways” of a culture are the normative and socially acceptable phenomenon that facilitate and constitute the consumption practices of a group of people. For example, what was eaten and by whom (diet); how it was produced and by whom (farming and agriculture); how it was prepared and by whom (cooking); the participants in consumption (commensality); and special consumption events that were different to everyday meals (feasts).

[6] Kurtis Peters, Hebrew Lexical Semantics and Daily Life in Ancient Israel: What’s Cooking in Biblical Hebrew (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 52.

[7] Other biblical scholars have contributed to this approach, see Ellen J. van Wolde, Reframing Biblical Studies: When Language and Text Meet Culture, Cognition and Context (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2009); Stephen L. Shead, Radical Frame Semantics and Biblical Hebrew: Exploring Lexical Semantics (Leiden: Brill, 2011).

[8] The geographical term preferred in this article will be “ancient southwest Asia” instead of “ancient Near East” in order to move away from terms laden with European colonialism.

[9] This article will not wade into the scholarly arguments that focus on the relationship or unity between Isaiah 40–55 and Isaiah 56–66. The use of a similar metaphor need not presume the same authorship, unity, or a clear direction of influence. It may be thus more helpful to view Isaiah as an “anthology” or, “an enormous bran-tub, containing the most wonderful variety of goodies.” Richard J. Coggins, “Do we still need Deutero-Isaiah?” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 23 (1998), 77–92 (91), doi:10.1177/030908929802308106. See also, Benjamin D. Sommer, A Prophet Reads Scripture: Allusion in Isaiah 40–66 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998), 187–195; Marc Zvi Brettler, “Incompatible metaphors for YHWH in Isaiah 40–66,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 23 (1998), 97–120 (98–99), doi:10.1177/030908929802307807; J. Clinton McCann Jr., “The Book of Isaiah—Theses and Hypotheses,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 33 (2003), 88–94 (88–90), doi:10.1177/014610790303300302.

[10] NJPS Version. Followed by John Goldingay, The Message of Isaiah 40–55: A Literary-Theological Commentary (New York: T&T Clark International, 2005), 394; John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 40–66 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 313; Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 40–55: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York: Doubleday, 2002), 313, 315; Walter Brueggemann, Isaiah 40–66 (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998), 118; Brevard Childs, Isaiah (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 388; Christopher North, The Second Isaiah (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1964), 58; George A. F. Knight, Deutero-Isaiah: A Theological Commentary on Isaiah 40–55 (New York: Abingdon Press, 1965), 197; Jan L. Koole, Isaiah III/2: Isaiah 49–55 trans. Anthony P. Runia (Leuven: Peeters, 1998), 81; Uta Schmidt, Zukunftsvorstellungen in Jesaja 49–55 (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Theologie, 2013), 122; Klaus Baltzer, Deutero-Jesaja: Kommentar zum Alten Testament (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 1999), 415; Ulrich Berges, Jesaja 49–54 (Freiburg: Herder, 2015), 26.

[11] The NETS provides the following translation of the LXX: “and they shall drink their own blood as new wine, and shall be drunken.”

[12] Claus Westermann, Isaiah 40–66: A Commentary, trans. David M. G. Stalker (London: SCM, 1969), 218.

[13] HALOT s.v. עׇסִיס, 860.

[14] See also Joel 4.18 [EST 3.18] and Amos 9.13 where the mountains drip grape juice, a metaphor for the vineyards on terraced tells producing grapes which can subsequently be made into wine.

[15] See also, Solomon O. Ademiluka, “Proverbs 23:29–35 in the light of the role of the church in Nigeria in curbing alcoholism,” Verbum et Ecclesia 41 (2020), 1–11 (2), doi:10.4102/ve.v41i1.2060.

[16] Francis I. Anderson and David Noel Freedman, Amos: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York: Doubleday, 1989), 922.

[17] William Rainey Harper, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Amos and Hosea, (ICC 23; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1960 [1905]), 200; Elizabeth Achtemeier, NIBC: Minor Prophets I (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1996), 234; Richard S. Cripps, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Amos: The Text of the Revised Version (London: SPCK., 1969 [1929]), 275; Philip King and Lawrence E. Stager, Life in Biblical Israel (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 101.

[18] Carey Ellen Walsh, The Fruit of the Vine: Viticulture in Ancient Israel (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2000), 197.

[19] John Merlin Smith, William Hayes Ward, and Julius A. Brewer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Obadiah and Joel (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1959 [1911]), 77.

[20] Hans Walter Wolff, Joel and Amos, trans. Waldemar Janzen, S. Dean McBride, Jr., and Charles A. Muenchow (Philadelphia; Fortress Press, 1977), 28–29; Achtemeier, NIBC: Minor Prophets I, 126; John Merlin Smith et al, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Obadiah and Joel, 79.

[21] For example, David Jordan, “An Offering of Wine: An Introductory Exploration of the Role of Wine in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Judaism through the Examination of the Semantics of some Keywords (PhD Diss.: University of Sydney, 2003), 131,; John Goldingay and David Payne, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary of Isaiah 40–55 Vol 2 (ICC: London: T&T Clark International, 2006), 199; Jo Ann H. Seely, “The Fruit of the Vine: Wine at Masada and in the New Testament,” Brigham Young University Studies Quarterly 36 (1996–97), 207–227 (211),

[22] Note that the Hebrew could be understood to be speaking of a future event as found in the KJV translation.

[23] Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah, 599; Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 56–66: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York: Doubleday, 2003), 245; Dominic S. Irudayaraj, Violence, Otherness and Identity in Isaiah 63:1–6: The Trampling One Coming from Edom (New York: T&T Clark, 2017), 28; Childs, Isaiah, 514; J. John Scullion, Isaiah 40–66 (Wilmington: Michael Glazier Inc., 1982), 185; Jan L. Koole, Isaiah III/3: Isaiah 56–66, trans. Anthony P. Runia (Leuven: Peeters, 2001), 342.

[24] Note however that in the Qumran texts the word is a hiphil rather than a piel as in the MT, but this does not affect the meaning as both hiphil and piel can be taken as factitive.

[25] See Giovanni. B. de Rossi, Variae Lectiones Veteris Testamenti III (Parmae: 1786), 3:58.

[26] Westermann, Isaiah 40–66, 380); Roger N. Whybray, Isaiah 40–66 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984), 255; Brueggemann, Isaiah 40–66, 226.

[27] Jeff Cox, From Vines to Wines: The Complete Guide to Growing Grapes and Making your own Wine (North Adams: Storey Publishing, 1999), 35–36.

[28] Shimon Gibson, “Agricultural Terraces and Settlement Expansion in the Highlands of Early Iron Age Palestine: Is There a Correlation Between the Two?” in Studies in the Archaeology of the Iron Age in Israel and Jordan, ed. Amihai Mazar, (Sheffield: Sheffield University Press, 2001), 115.

[29] Walsh, “The Fruit of the Vine,167–168.

[30] James B. Pritchard, Winery, Defences, and Surroundings at Gibeon (Philadelphia: The University Museum, 1964), 1–27.

[31] Ze’ev Herzog, “A Complex of Iron Age Winepresses (Strata XIV–XIII),” in Excavations at Tel Michal, Israel, eds. Ze’ev Herzog, George Rapp Jr. and Ora Negbi (Minneapolis: The University of Minnesota Press, 1989), 75.

[32] Ze’ev Herzog, “A Complex of Iron Age Winepresses,” 73.

[33] Robert Curtis, Ancient Food Technology (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 151.

[34] Curtis, Ancient Food Technology, 151 and see the depiction on 152 from the 18th Dynasty Tomb of Nakht at Thebes.

[35] Gösta W. Ahlström, “Wine Presses and Cup-Marks of the Jenin-Megiddo Survey,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 231(1978), 30–34.

[36] Quoted in Marcus Louis Rautman, Daily Life in the Byzantine Empire (London: Greenwood Press, 2006), 181.

[37] Cox, From Vines to Wines, 129.

[38] Walsh, Fruit of the Vine, 187.

[39] Walsh, Fruit of the Vine, 188.

[40] On the socio-religious uses of wine in the Hebrew Bible and in ancient Israel and Judah see Rebekah Welton, ‘He is a Glutton and a Drunkard’: Deviant Consumption in the Hebrew Bible (Brill: Leiden, 2020), 132–137.

[41] Or: “My beloved had a vineyard on a hill, a son of fatness.”

[42] Abbreviated verses 3–10 of the Hymn to Ninkasi, translated by Miguel Civil in “A Hymn to the Beer Goddess and Drinking Song,” in Studies Presented to A. Leo Oppenheim, eds. Robert D. Biggs and John A. Brinkman (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964), 67–89.

[43] Additionally, there are many texts that depict wine as a blessing of Yahweh alongside other successful crops such as grain: Gen 27:28; Deut 7:13; Deut 16:13–17; Psa 104:14–15; Joe 4:18 [EST 3:18]; Prov 3:9–10. There are also many other texts in which lack of wine is representative of divine punishment, see Isa 24:7; Hos 9:1–2; Hag 1:6, 11; Isa 16:10; Jer 48:33; Zep 1:13; Mic 6:15.

[44] Translation by Nicolas Wyatt, Religious Texts from Ugarit, 2nd Ed. (London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002), 323.

[45] Jennifer March, Cassell’s Dictionary of Classical Mythology (London: Cassell, 2001), 182.

[46] Mu-Choo Poo, Wine and Wine Offering in the Religion of Ancient Egypt, 3rd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2013), 149–51; Carolyn Graves-Brown, Dancing for Hathor: Women in Ancient Egypt (London: Continuum, 2010), 168–9.

[47] For discussion on the similarities between Jesus and Dionysus regarding wine and blood see Esther Kobel, “The Various Tastes of Johannine Bread and Blood: A Multi-perspective Reading of John 6” in Decisive Meals: Table Politics in Biblical Literature, eds. Kathy Ehrenspeger, Nathan Macdonald and Luzia S. Rehman(London: T&T Clark, 2012), 82–98 esp. 90–92. One even finds this trope outside of the ancient Mediterranean. For example, in Intoxication in Mythology: A Worldwide Dictionary of Gods, Rites, Intoxicants and Places, Ernest Abel demonstrates that the association between alcohol production and divine beings is potent cross-culturally. Ernest L. Abel, Intoxication in Mythology: A Worldwide Dictionary of Gods, Rites, Intoxicants and Places (Jefferson: McFarland & Company Inc., 2006).

[48] Michael Dietler and Ingrid Herbich, “Liquid Material Culture: Following the Flow of Beer among the Luo of Kenya,” in Grundlegungen: Beiträge zur europäischen und afrikanischen Archäologie für Manfred K.H. Eggert, ed. Hans-Peter Wotzka (Tübingen: Francke, 2006), 396.

[49] Barbara Böck, The Healing Goddess Gula: Towards an Understanding of Ancient Babylonian Medicine (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 179–181.

[50] The root sh-kh-r also occurs as an adjective 13 times (1 Sam 1:13; 1 Sam 25:36; 1 Kings 16:9; 1 Kings 20:16; Job 12:25; Psalm 107:27; Pro. 26:9; Isa 19:14; 24.20; 28.1; 28.3; Jer 23.9; Joel 1:5) meaning “drunk” see HALOT s.v. שִׁכּוֹר, 1489. The root also occurs as a noun, shekhar, which is commonly translated as “strong drink;” but most likely refers to beer. (Michael Homan, “Beer, Barley and שׁכר in the Hebrew Bible,” in Le David Maskil: A Birthday Tribute for David Noel Freedman, eds. Richard E. Friedman and William H. C. Propp (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2004)). And also as the noun shikaron meaning “drunkenness” in Jer 13:13; Eze 23:33, 39:19.

[51] Gen 9:21; 43:34; Song 5:1; Isa 29:9; 49:26; 51:21; Jer 25:27; Lam 4:21; Nah 3:11; Hag 1:6.

[52] 2 Sam 11:13; Isa 63:6; Jer 51:7; Hab 2:15.

[53] Deut 32:42; Jer 48:26; 51:39; 51:57.

[54] 1 Sam 1:14.

[55] Gen 9:21; 43:34; 1 Sam 1:14; 2 Sam 11:13; Song 5:1; Isa 29:9; 51:21; Jer 25:27; 51:7; 51:39; Lam 4:21; Hab 2:15; Hag 1:6.

[56] Discussed further below. The cup of wrath motif is a metaphoric motif used frequently in prophetic texts to convey Yahweh’s wrath and punishment of Israel or other nations. See the excursus on the cup of wrath in Paul R. Raabe, Obadiah: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York: Doubleday, 1996), 206–242. See also Rebekah Welton, “He is a Glutton and a Drunkard:” Deviant Consumption in the Hebrew Bible (Leiden: Brill, 2020), 211–222.

[57] khemah derives from kham meaning “heat,” HALOT, s.v. חֵמָה n.2 and 3, 326, which possibly makes this an allusion through word play to the heat produced through exertion by grape treaders. In addition, the word khamar, may be in mind as another word play as can mean boiling or foaming, HALOT s.v. חָמַר II, 330, and is used in conjunction with wine in the following instances: Psalm 75.8: “For in the hand of Yahweh there is a cup with foaming wine…;” Deut 32:14: “…you drank the foaming blood of grapes;” Isa 27.2 “On that day sing to her, a vineyard of foaming.” Thus, the anger, or heat, in which Yahweh treads, may also playfully allude to the foaming or “boiling” appearance of the grape juice as it ferments.

[58] Anne Katrine de Hemmer Gudme, “Liquid Life: Blood, Life, and Conceptual Metaphors in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East” in Language, Cognition, and Biblical Exegesis: Interpreting Minds, eds. Ronit Nikolsky, István Czachesz, Frederick S. Tappenden and Tamás Biró (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2019), 63–69 (67).

[59] On these verses see discussion in Pamela Barmash, Homicide in the Biblical World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 95–97.

[60] Francesca Stavrakopoulou, “Gog’s Grave and the Use and Abuse of Corpses in Ezekiel 39:11–20,” Journal of Biblical Literature, 129 (2010), 67–84 (74–75), doi:10.2307/27821005.

[61] Stavrakopoulou, “Gog’s Grave and the Use and Abuse of Corpses,” 76.

[62] Tracey Lemos, Violence and Personhood in Ancient Israel and Comparative Contexts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 49.

[63] Stavrakopoulou, “Gog’s Grave and the Use and Abuse of Corpses,” 84.

[64] Carroll, “YHWH’s sour grapes,” 114. Emphasis in original.

[65] On the cup of wrath motif see Welton, “He is a Glutton and a Drunkard,” 211–222; Nathan MacDonald, Not Bread Alone: The Uses of Food in the Old Testament (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 189–190.

[66] Carroll, “YHWH’s sour grapes,” 115. Emphasis added.