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The Role of Grapes in the Bible

Grapes are much more than a fruit in the Bible, but are also mentioned throughout the religious text in passages involving raisins, vinegar, and wine. In this article, you will learn why the grape vine is one of the widely mentioned plants in the Bible.

The grape vine was grown during Biblical times with the sole purpose to produce fruit that was also turned into other products. There was no other use for the vine, as the wood had no value in the construction of objects. In fact, according to Ezekiel 15 in the New International Version, it was stated that the vine wood was worthless: “The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, how is the wood of a vine better than that of a branch on any of the trees in the forest? Is wood ever taken from it to make anything useful? Do they make pegs from it to hang things on? And after it is thrown on the fire as fuel and the fire burns both ends and chars the middle, is it then useful for anything? If it was not useful for anything when it was whole, how much less can it be made into something useful when the fire has burned it and it is charred?”

In order to produce grapes, the ancient people had to prune the vines, which was referenced in passages, such as Isaiah 5:6 (“I will make it a wild place where the vines are not pruned and the ground is not hoed, a place overgrown with briers and thorns. I will command the clouds to drop no rain on it” , New Living Translation) and John 15:2 (“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” , New International Version).

Grapevines are born to spread and climb , it is in their nature. This characteristic has been used in the Bible to reference certain figures. For example, in the New International Version, Joseph was compared to a fruitful vine in Genesis 49:22: “Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall.”

However, the comparisons are not always meant in a positive manner. In Hosea 10:1, the spreading of the grape vine branches stretched across the ground instead of growing on posts, poles, trellises and other apparatuses of today. This is seen in the New Living Translation of Hosea, which states: “How prosperous Israel is–a luxuriant vine loaded with fruit. But the richer the people get, the more pagan altars they build. The more bountiful their harvests, the more beautiful their sacred pillars.”

Other references of grapes and the vine in the Bible include the following passages:

It was not uncommon to find grapes and figs mentioned in the same breath in the Bible. An example of this is seen in the English Standard Version of I Kings 4:25: “And Judah and Israel lived in safety, from Dan even to Beersheba, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, all the days of Solomon.”

Even winepresses for the grapes were mentioned in the Bible. For example, in the New International Version of Revelation 14:18-20, you will find the following passage: “Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.” The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath.”