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better. But how then came the prophet Joel to threaten the Israelitish drinkers of wine, ch. i. 5, with the cutting off the new wine from their mouth?
It is the fault of the translation, undoubtedly, that occasions the query. The Hebrew word d'DV å sees, should be translated sweet wine. Sweet as the new-trodden juice of grapes,
you will, but old wine of this sort, as appears from the ancient Eastern translators of the Septuagint, were chiefly esteemed formerly, for that which our version renders royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king, (Esth. i. 7,) they translate much and sweet wines, such as the king himself drank.
A remark that Dr. Russell makes, on the white wines of Aleppo, may help to explain this. They are palatable, but thin and poor, and seldom keep sound above a year. Some of the Eastern wines then are poor, and will not keep, while those that were capable of being kept till they were old, and which those that loved drinking desired, were those which were sweet, and consequently proper subjects for the threatening of the Prophet.'
* Οινος σολυς ηδυς, οι αυτος ο βασιλευς επινες Perhaps it was with a view to this, that the soldiers offered our Lord vi. negar, (wine that was become very sour) in opposition to sweet wine princes were wont to drink : for St. Luke tells us they did this in mockery, ch. xxiii. 36, And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar. Medicated wine, to deaden their sense of pain, was wont, we are told, to be given to Jewish criminals, when about to be put to death, (see Lightfoot on Mat. xxvii. 34;) but they gave our LORD vinegar, and that in mockery-in mockery (as they did other things) of his claim to roy. alty: but the force of this does not appear, if we do not recollect the quality of the wines drank anciently by princes, which, it seems, were of the sweet kind,
; Vol. 1. p. 80,
Agrceably to this, the same Prophet describes a state of great prosperity by the mountains dropping down sweet wine : that is, that the mountains of Judea should not produce wine like the thin and poor wines of Aleppo, but that which was rich, and capable of being long kept, and by that means, of acquiring the greatest pleasantness. The same word d'op is very properly translated sweet wine in Amos ix. 13, but our commentators have passed over this circumstance very lightly.
But what completes and finishes the illustration of this passage of the first of Joel, is a curious and amusing observation of Dr. Shaw's concerning the wine of Algiers, though the Doctor has not applied it to that purpose. “The wine of Algiers, before the locusts destroyed the vineyards, in the years 1723 and 1724, was not inferior to the best Hermitage, either in briskness of taste or flavour, But since that time it is much degenerated; having not hitherto (1732) recovered its usual quali
* Accordingly, the MS. C. describes the Eastern wine as not so bad for the head as those of Europe, and particularly the green Rhenish wines, and the heavy wines of Orleans.
Dr. Russell says, (MS. note) that the wine of the preceding year might be called old, in comparison with wine newly made. The sweet or muscadine wines, the Cyprus excepted, do not keep long. Edit,
Chap. iji. 18.
ties. It is a desolation of their vineyards by locusts that Joel threatens, which it seems injures their produce for many years, as to briskness and flavour ; and consequently nothing was more natural than to call the drunkards of Israel to mourn on that account.
The same word occurs Is. xlix. 26. Vitringa, in his comment on that place, supposes it signifies Must there, (that is, wine just pressed out from the grapes ;) but Mons. Lemery, a celebrated French chymist, tells us, that Must will not inebriate, which the Prophet is there speaking of, but produces a very different effect. Our translators then have done much better in translating it sweet wine such as was used in royal palaces for its gratefulness, was capable of being kept to a great age, and consequently with which people were apt to get drunk.
A few generations ago, sweet wines were those that were most esteemed in England itself.
Sir Thomas Brown explains the new-wine, mentioned Acts ii. 13, after the same manner, supposing it signifies not new-wine properly speaking, which was not to be found at Pentecost, but some generous, strong, and sweet wine, wherein more especially lay the power of inebriation; I do not propose this therefore as a new thought, but perhaps the additional illustrations, which are not to be found in Sir Thomas, may be agreeable to the reader.
The Easterns drink their Wine before Meat.
The time of drinking wine, in the East, is at the beginning, not at the close of entertainments, as it is with us.d Sir John Chardin has corrected an error of a
a French commentator as to this point, in his manuscript note on Esther v. 6. It seems the commentator had supposed the banquet of wine meant the dessert, because this is our custom in the West; but he observes “that the Eastern people, on the contrary, drink and discourse before eating, and that after the rest is served up, the feast is quickly over, they eating very fast, and every one presently withdrawing. They conduct matters thus at the royal table, and at those of their great men.”
Dr. Castell, in his Lexicon, seems to have been guilty of the same fault, by a quotation annexed to that note,
Chardin's account agrees with that of Oleariųs, who tells us, that when the ambassadors he attended were at the Persian court, “ at a solemn entertainment, the floor of the hall was covered with a cotton cloth, which was covered with all sorts of fruits and sweetmeats, in
# Dr, Rassel! says, (MS, note,) In Syria it is only among the Christians and Jews that wine is produced at table; and then at the same time with the victuals, or when fruits, nuts, &c. are brought by way of dessert. They commonly drink a small cup of brandy before sitting down.
basons of gold. That with them was served up excellent Shiras wine. That after an hour's time, the sweetmeats were removed, to make way for the more substantial part of the entertainment, such as rice, boiled and roasted mutton, fowl, game, &c. That after having been at table an hour and an half, warm water was brought, in an ewer of gold, for washing; and grace being said, they began to retire without speaking a word, according to the custom of the country, as also did the ambassadors soon after."
This is Olearius's account, in short: by which it appears that wine was brought first; that the time of that part of the entertainment was double to the other : and that immediately after eating, they withdrew. This was the practice of the modern court of Persia, and probably might be so in the days of Ahasuerus. Unluckily, Diodati and Dr. Castell did not attend to this circumstance, in speaking of the banquet of wine prepared by Queen Esther.
Libations of Wine still made in the East.
That account that the MS. C. gives us, of the solemnity with which they begin their feasts in Mingrelia and Georgia, is extremely amusing
· P. 709–712. But Dr. Russell says, this custom is not followed in Syria. Edit.