Tonight I was reading a commentary on 2 Corinthians. It led me to a very interesting verse that may have some major application in the “Alcohol Debate.” As some of you may know, I hold the “Moderation Position” of said debate. Well in my research I have come upon many people discussing the tradition of Israel mixing their wine with water to dilute it. Robert Stein wrote an article called Wine-Drinking in New Testament Times in Christianity Today (Volume 19, June 20, 1975, Pg. 9-11). Stein provides ample evidence to support this claim. I do not necessarily disagree with this claim – or Stein’s evidence. I do not really think it applies to the Alcohol Debate, at least I did not think it applied to the Alcohol Debate – I may change my opinion based on the scripture I read today. This is the scripture:
How the faithful city has become a harlot,
She who was full of justice!
Righteousness once lodged in her,
But now murderers.
Your silver has become dross,
Your drink diluted with water.
Bingo! The word there “drink” is the Hebrew word sōbe which is translated “wine or drink.” So, what does this mean? Well, this means the tradition of watering down your wine can probably be verified with this text. That is great news, but it has more application to this debate – Isaiah is saying that diluting your wine with water is a bad thing… in fact it seems that it is as detestable as your city lodging murderers and your silver becoming dross (Isaiah goes on with many other terrible things as well).
This tells me that Stein’s argument is flawed – what he and other pro-Abstainers saw as a good tradition (diluting your drink) is actually seen by Isaiah as a detestable practice!
What do you all think? Please correct me if I am wrong or if there is a flaw in my argument/thinking. Is sōbe (rather than shekar or yayin) to far removed from the Alcohol Debate? Are there any texts directly contrary to this one (i.e. the practice of diluting wine/drink seen as a good thing)?
I look forward to hearing what you all have to say!