Vine This well-known and valuable plant is the subject of frequent. Biblical notice and a conspicuous element of Oriental agriculture.
I. The following Hebrew words denote the vine:
1. Géphen (גֶּפֶן), or, more definitely, géphen hay-yáyin (גֶּפֶן חִיִּיַן), of frequent occurrence in the Bible, and used in a general sense. Indeed, géphen sometimes is applied to a plant that resembles a vine in some particulars, as גֶּפֶן שָׂדֶה (géphen sadeh), 2Ki 4:39, i.e. probably the colocynth plant, SEE GOURD, or גֶּפֶן סַדֹם (géphen sedom), the vine of Sodom, certainly not a vine. SEE VINE OF SODOM.
2. Sorêk (שׂרֵק), or sorêkah (שׂרֵקָה), is a term expressive of some choice kind of vine (Jer 2:21; Isa 5:2; Ge 49:11), supposed to be identical with that now called in Morocco serki and in Persia kishmish, with small round dark berries and soft stones (see Niebuhr, Descript. de Arabie, p. 147; and Oedmann, Sammlung, 2, 97). From the passage in Jeremiah, it is clear that the sorêk denotes not another species of vine, but the common vine, which by some process of cultivation attained a high state of excellence.
3. Nazir (נָזַיר), originally applied to a Nazarite who did not shave his hair, expresses an "undressed vine" (A.V.), i.e. one which every seventh and every fiftieth year was not pruned (see Gesenius, Thesaur. s.v.).
The regular Greek word for "vine" is ἄμπελος, of generic signification. Grapes are designated by various names: (1.) Eshkol (אֶשׁכֹּל) is either "a cluster," ripe or unripe, like racemus, or a "single grape" (as in Isa 65:8; Mic 7:1).
(2.) Encab (עֵנָב); Arab. eynob, "a cluster."
(3.) Bôser (בֹּסֶר), sour, i.e. unripe grapes (Isa 18:5).
(4.) Zemorah (זמוֹרָה), "a grape cut off." The "blossom" of the vine. is called semadár (סמָדִר), Song 2:13,15. "Grape- stones" are probably meant by chartsanim (חִרַצִנַּים); A. V. "kernel," Nu 6:4. The "cuticle" of the grape is denominated zâg (זָג), ibid. loc. cit.; the "tendrils" by sarigim (שָׂרַיגַים), Joe 1:7. SEE GRAPE.
II. The grape-vine (Vitis vinifera) is supposed to be native on the shores of the Caspian. Its culture "extends from about the twenty-first to the fiftieth degree of north latitude, and reaches from Portugal on the west to the confines of India on the east. It is, however, only along the center of this zone that the finest wines are made, those on the north being harsh and austere; and the grapes grown at the south are better adapted for making raisins, unless when they are grown in elevated positions or on the slopes of mountains. Liebig states that the wines of warm countries possess no odor; wines grown in France have it in a marked degree; but in the wines from the Rhine the perfume is most intense" (Hogg, Vet. Kingdom, p. 181). It may be added that not only is it largely and successfully cultivated in the new world of America, but that, carried across the equator, it thrives in Southern Africa and in the Australian colonies, and may be regarded as the companion of the human family in. nearly all the mild and genial regions, of its sojourn. In the districts of the Caucasus, as well as in the elevated valley of Cashmere, the vine climbs to the tops of the loftiest trees, and the grapes are of fine quality and large size in many places of the intermediate country.
Every part of the vine was, and still continues to be, highly valued. The sap was at one time used in medicine. Verjuice expressed from wild grapes is well known for its acidity. The late Sir A. Burnes mentions that in Cabul they use grape powder, obtained by drying and powdering the unripe fruit, as a pleasant acid. When ripe, the fruit is everywhere highly esteemed, both fresh and in its dried state as raisins. The juice of the ripe fruit, called must, is valued as a pleasant beverage. By fermentation, wine, alcohol, and vinegar are obtained; the lees yield tartar; an oil is, sometimes expressed from the seeds; and the ashes of the twigs were formerly valued in consequence of yielding a salt which we now know to be carbonate of potash.
The first mention of the vine in Scripture occurs in, Ge 9:20: "And Noah began to be a husbandman and he planted a vineyard." Many are of opinion that wine was not unknown before the Deluge, and that the patriarch only continued to cultivate the ville 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 seen any one use it. The grapevine is found wild at this day in the neighborhood of Noah's first vineyard, at the foot of Mount Ararat. Humboldt found it on the shores of the Caspian, in, Caramania, and in Armenia. It is also a native of Georgia and of the northern parts of Persia, but does not extend to India, though several plants of the same family are common among the mountains of the northern parts of that rich country.
Egypt is nowadays by no means eminent for its grapes; but the first time after the planting of Noah's vineyard that we find the vine mentioned in Scripture, it is the vine of Egypt (Ge 40:9-11; comp. Nu 20:5; Ps 78:47). Even although we had not the references in Herodotus, and the tradition ascribing to, Osiris the invention of wine, the frequency with which the plant or its fruit is figured on Egyptian monuments shows how important it must once have been. SEE VINEYARD. The vine, however, was not a native of Egypt, nor does the climate favor it. In ancient times, as we learn from the monuments, great care was taken in its culture, but with comparatively little success; and hence the surprise of the spies when sent to survey the promised land at the immense clusters of grapes they found. Fearing that their account of their great size would not be credited by persons accustomed to the less productive vines of Egypt, they brought back a cluster of the grapes to convince them, as we learn in Nu 13:23-24: "And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two, upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates and of the figs. The place was called Eshcol because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence." Some wine, indeed, has been made in Lower Egypt in different ages, but it was never celebrated either for quality or quantity. From the fortieth chapter of Genesis, where the dream of Pharaoh's chief butler is related, it would appear that the juice of the grape fresh-pressed was drunk by the king, and possibly the Egyptian grape-juice at that time was used in the state of must. But though the Pharaohs drank of the "blood of the grape" in this imperfect state, the Ptolemies reveled in the maturer wines of Palestine, Cyprus, and Greece; and one of them, as, Josephus; tells us, among some magnificent gifts sent to the Temple of Jerusalem renewed the Golden Vine, the symbol of the Jewish nation, of which the treasury has been robbed. Rosenmüller tells us that the Temple, above and around a gate seventy cubits high, which led from the porch to the holy place, a richly carved vine was extended as a border and decoration. The branches tendrils and leaves were of the finest gold, he stalks of the bunches were of the length of the human form, and the bunches hanging upon them were of costly jewels. Herod first placed it there; rich and patriotic Jews from time to time added to its embellishment, one contributing anew grape, another a leaf, and a third even a bunch of the same precious materials. SEE TEMPLE.
Even before Israel took possession, the land of promise was a land of vineyards (De 6:11; De 28:29; Nu 13:23); and it is interesting to observe with what minuteness the divine legislator enacted rules and regulations for the culture of their vineyards, while the prospective owners still wandered in a burning desert (Ex 22:5; Ex 23:11; Le 25:5,11; Nu 6:3; De 22:9; De 23:24; De 24:21). For this culture the portion of Judah was especially adapted, and in obtaining for his inheritance the hilly slopes of the south, the prophecy of his ancestor was fulfilled-he washed his garments in wine and his clothes in the blood of grapes (Ge 49:11). Here, more than elsewhere, are to be seen on the sides of the hills the vineyards, marked by their watch-towers and walls, seated on their ancient terraces — the earliest and latest symbol of Judah. The elevation of the hills and table- lands of Judah is the true climate of the vine, and at Hebron, according to the Jewish tradition, was its primeval seat. It was from the Judean valley of Eshcol "the torrent of the cluster" that the spies cut down the gigantic cluster of grapes. A vineyard on a "hill of olives" ("a horn the son of oil," Isa 5:1), with the "fence," and "the stones gathered out," and "the tower in the midst thereof," is the natural figure which, both in the prophetical and evangelical records, represents the kingdom of Judah. The vine was the emblem on the coins of the Maccabees, and in the colossal cluster of golden grapes which overhung the porch of the second Temple; and the grapes of Judah still mark the tombstones of the Hebrew race in the oldest of their European cemeteries, at Prague (Stanley, Sin. and Palest. p. 162). Although from many of its most famous haunts the vine has disappeared — for example, from Engediboth in Southern Palestine and on the slopes of Lebanon there are specimens sufficient to vindicate the old renown of this "land of vineyards." "The grapes of Hebron are still considered the finest in the Holy Land. Bunches weighing from six to seven pounds are said to be by no means uncommon, and Sir Moses Montefiore said he saw one bunch at Hebron a yard long" (Gadby, Wanderings, p. 458). Schulz (Leüngen des Hosten, 5, 285, quoted by Rosenmüller, Bibl. Bof. p. 223) speaks of supping at Beitshin, a village near Ptolemais, under a vine whose stem was about a foot and a half in diameter, and whose height was about thirty feet, which by its branches formed a hut upwards of thirty feet broad and long. "The clusters of these extraordinary vines," he adds, are so large that they weigh ten or twelve pounds, and the berries may be compared with our small plums." See also Belon, Observat. 2, 340: "Les seps des vignes sont fort gros et les rameaux fort spacieux. Les habitants entendent bien comme il la faut gouverner. Car ils la plantent si loing l'une de l'autre qu'on pourroit mener une charrette entre deux. Ce n'est pas grande merveille si les raisins sont si beaux et le vin si puissant." Strabo states that it is recorded that there are vines in Margiana whose stems are such as would require two men to span round, and whose clusters are two cubits long (Geograph. [ed. Kramer], 1, 112). Now Margiana is the modern district of Ghilan, in Persia, south-west of the Caspian Sea, and the very country on whose hills the vine is believed to be indigenous. Nothing would be easier than to multiply testimonies relative to the large size of the grapes of Palestine, from the published accounts of travelers such as Elliot, Laborde, Mariti, Dandini (who expresses his surprise at the extraordinary size of the grapes of Lebanon), Russell, etc. We must be content with quoting the following extract from Kitto's Physical Hist. of Palest. p. 330, which is strikingly illustrative of the spies mode of carrying the grapes from Eshcol: "Even in our own country a bunch of grapes was produced at Welbeck, and sent as a present from the duke of Rutland to the marquis of Rockingham, which weighed nineteen pounds. It was conveyed to its destination more than twenty miles distant on a staff by four laborers, two of whom bore it in rotation." The greatest diameter of this cluster was nineteen inches and a half, its circumference four feet and a half, and its length nearly twenty-three inches. Beth- haccerem, "the house of the vine" (Jer 6:1; Ne 3:14), and Abel-ceramem, "the plain of the vineyards," took their respective names from their vicinity to vineyards. Gophna (now Jifna), a few miles north of Jerusalem, is stated by Eusebius (Onomast. Φάραγξ βότρυος) to have derived its name from its vines. But SEE OPHNI.
In Italy vines are trained round the trunk of the elm and other trees; in France and Germany for a lowlier growth stakes or wooden props are provided. In Palestine, however, the vine is usually planted on the side of a terraced hill, and the aged branches are allowed to trail along the ground, the fruit-bearing shoots being raised on forked sticks. This latter mode of cultivation appears to be alluded to by Ezekiel (Eze 19:11-12): "her strong rods were broken and withered." Dr. Robinson, who has given us much information on the vines of Palestine, thus speaks of the manner in which he saw them trained near Hebron: "They are planted singly in rows, eight or ten feet apart in each direction. The stock is suffered to grow up large to the height of six or eight feet, and is then fastened in a sloping position to a strong stake, and the shoots suffered to grow and extend from one plant to another, forming a line of festoons. Sometimes two rows are made to slant towards each other, and thus form by their shoots a sort of arch. These shoots are pruned away in autumn" (Bibl. Res. 2, 80,81). Sometimes the large stones are built into a rough wall, about three feet high, and the vines are trained over it, thus exposing a large surface to the sun, and ripening magnificent clusters (Tristram, Travels, p. 606). In the courts of many houses vines are trained over a trellis, or framework of wood, and in the hot weather the ample foliage affords a delightful shadow (see 1Ki 4:25; Mic 4:4).
Besides planting the vine and protecting it from aggressors, such as jackals or "little foxes" (Song 2:15), and that wholesale destroyer "the boar out of the wood" (Ps 80:13), to say nothing of unscrupulous passengers or mischievous marauders (Ps 80:12; Ge 49:22-23), the careful husbandman "prunes and purges" his vine, that it may bring forth more and better fruit (Joh 15:2). "The pruning, or lopping of the fruitless shoots, takes place first in March, when the clusters begin to form. The twig that is lopped off in March has time to shoot by April, when, if it give no promise, it is again lopped off, and thus again, if still fruitless, in May; after which it does not shoot forth, and the process of pruning ceases. Such is the different treatment of the fruitful and the fruitless branch. From the former a twig or shoot is taken away; the latter is taken away itself, and, its wood being unfit for any other use, it is cast into the fire and burned (Eze 15:2,5). The purging of the vine is effected by making incisions in it with a knife, which requires to be done with great skill and delicacy. In this way the infected sap is drawn off, and the diseased vine, which would otherwise die, is preserved. This is what is called the bleeding of the vine, and is often alluded to by religious writers as an emblem of sanctified affliction" (Anderson, Bible Light from Bible Lands, p. 290). Besides wild-boars, jackals, and foxes, other enemies, such as birds, locusts, and caterpillars, occasionally damaged the vines.
The vine in the Mosaic ritual was subject to the usual restrictions of the "seventh year" (Ex 23:11) and the jubilee of the fiftieth year (Le 25:11). The gleanings, oleloth (עֹלֵלוֹת), were to be left for the poor and stranger (Jer 49:9; De 24:21). The vineyard was not to be sown "with divers seeds" (22:9), but fig-trees were sometimes planted in vineyards (Lu 13:6; comp. 1Ki 4:25: "Every man under his vine and under his fig-tree"). Persons passing through the vineyard were allowed to eat the grapes therein, but not to carry any away (De 23:24).
The vintage, batsir (בָּצַיר), which formerly was a season of general festivity, as is the case more or less in all vine-growing countries, commences in September. The towns are deserted, and the people live among the vineyards (כֶּרֶם) in the lodges and tents (Robinson, ut sup.; comp. Jg 9:27; Jer 25:30; Isa 16:10). The grapes were gathered with shouts of joy by the "grape-gatherers" (בָּצִר) (Jer 25:30), and put into baskets (see 6:9). They were then carried on the head and shoulders, or slung upon a yoke, to the "winepress" (גִּת). Those intended for eating were perhaps put into flat open baskets of wickerwork, as was the custom in Egypt (Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt. 1, 43). In Palestine at present the finest grapes, says Robinson, are dried as raisins, tsimmuik (צַמּוּק), and the juice of the remainder, after having been trodden and pressed, "is boiled down to a syrup which, under the name of dibs (דּבִשׁ), is much used by all classes, wherever vineyards are found, as a condiment with their food." For further remarks on the modes of making fermented drinks, etc., of the juice of the grape, see WINE. The vineyard (כֶּרֶם), which was generally on a hill (Isa 5:1; Jer 31:5; Am 9:13), was surrounded by a wall or hedge in order to keep out the wild boars (Ps 80:13), jackals, and foxes (Nu 22:24; Song 2:15; Ne 4:3; Eze 13:4-5; Mt 21:33), which commit sad havoc among the vines, both by treading them down and by eating the grapes. Within the vineyard was one or more towers of stone in which the vine-dressers, koremim (כֹּרמַים), lived (Isa 1:8; Isa 5:2; Mt 21:33; see also Robinson, Bibl. Rest 1, 213; 2, 81). The press, gath (גִּת), and vat, yeket (יֶקֶב), which was dug (Mt 21:33) or hewn out of the rocky soil, were part of the vineyard furniture (Isa 5:2). One of these ancient wine-presses, scooped out in the living rock, has been described by Robinson. He found it on the road from Akka to Jerusalem. "Advantage had been taken of a ledge of rock; on the upper side, towards the south, a shallow vat had been dug out, eight feet square and fifteen inches deep, its bottom declining slightly towards the north. The thickness of rock left on the north side was one foot; and two feet lower down on that side another smaller vat was excavated, four feet square by three feet deep. The grapes were trodden in the shallow upper vat, and the juice drawn off by a hole at the bottom, still remaining, into the lower vat. This ancient press would seem to prove that in other days these hills were covered with vineyards; and such is its state of preservation that, were there still grapes in the vicinity, it might at once be brought into use without repair" (Bibl. Res. 3, 137). This may be taken as a type of the Hebrew wine-press. Like the Egyptians, the Jews may have also employed presses made of wood; but those hewn out of the living rock would be landmarks as permanent as threshing-floors similarly constructed (comp. Jg 7:25; Zec 14:10, with Ge 1:10; 2Sa 24:18). It was a simple but sufficient arrangement, and modern ingenuity has not much improved on it. Nor has any effectual substitute been found for the human foot as an apparatus for expressing the juice of the grape without crushing the seeds or "stones." SEE WINE-FAT.
Approaching Hebron, Dr. Bonar describes the square towers in gardens, corresponding to those mentioned in Isa 5:2; Mt 21:33, and adds, "These towers seem of considerable size, as if meant for something more than watching; and we are told that in summer the inhabitants of the city take up their residence in their gardens, and make use of these towers for shelter by night, as they do of their olives and vines for shade by day" (Land of Promise, p. 61). Even in spring, and long before a single "berry" was ripe, with their fresh and delicate fragrance, and with their promise of "things not seen as yet," there was a great attraction in the vineyards; and though it were only to see if the "vines flourished and the tender grape appeared," it was worth while to arise early and "go forth to the field and lodge in the villages" (Song 2:11-13; Song 7:11-12). Nor must we forget the feathered minstrels which at that season made the vineyards vocal. They are the hiding-place of the bulbul, the nightingale of Palestine; and in vineyards under Hermon, Tristram, in the course of two days, discovered a finch and two warblers, all of them perfectly new to ornithology, and all of them "songsters of no ordinary power and compass" (Travels, p. 606). Even the leaves and the stocks of the vine are useful. The cuttings of the vine and the leaves are much used for manure to the vineyards. The leaves are also-used as a vegetable, chopped meat and rice being rolled up together in single leaves, and boiled for the table; it makes a very agreeable dish. The leaves are also used for fodder. The scarcity of fuel, particularly wood, in most parts of the East is so great that they supply it with everything capable of burning-cow-dung, dried roots, parings of fruits, withered stalks of herbs, and flowers. 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 shall men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon? Behold, it is cast into the fire for fuel" (Joh 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). SEE FUEL.
III. Everywhere present, so beautiful, so valuable, we cannot wonder that the vine reappears on almost every page of poetic Scripture; and, almost as if created on purpose, it has become the symbol of the believer and of the Church. "My beloved hath a vineyard on a very fruitful hill." Thus Israel is a vine brought from Egypt, and planted by the Lord's hand in the land of promise; room had been prepared for it (comp. with this the passage from Belon quoted above); and where it took root it filled the land, it covered the hills with its shadow, its boughs were like the goodly cedar-trees (Ps 80:8-10). Comp. Gmelin (Travels through Russia and North. Persia, 3, 431), who thus speaks of the vines of Ghilan: "It is fond of forests, and is frequently found about promontories; and their lower part is almost entirely covered with it. There, higher than the eye can reach, it winds itself about the loftiest trees; and its tendrils, which here have an arm's thickness, so spread and mutually entangle themselves far and wide that in places where it grows in the most luxuriant wildness it is very difficult to find a passage." To dwell under the vine and fig-tree is an emblem of domestic happiness and peace (1Ki 4:25; Ps 128:3; Mic 4:4); the rebellious people of Israel are compared to "wild grapes," "an empty vine," "the degenerate plant of a strange vine" (Isa 5; Isa 2; Isa 4, but SEE COCKLE; Jer 2:21; Ho 10:1), etc. It is a vine which our Lord selects to show the spiritual union which subsists between himself and his members (Joh 15:1-6). With a stock or stem and its but going branches, a wonderful hydraulic apparatus, made for the rapid transmission and rich elaboration of the liquid treasures hidden in the oil; with feeble and flexible twigs which, in order to grow upward, must clasp the elm or cling to the wall; with its avidity for the sunshine and the shower; with its large soft leaves, and the tender scent of its meek inconspicuous blossom; above all, with its amethystine ripeness empurpling autumn's diadem and inviting the world to gladness, it is an admirable emblem of the Christian and the Church of the believing soul and the believing society. "My soul cleaveth to the dust," and it is only by clasping and climbing that the fallen nature rises; and, like the vine with its curling tendrils, so with the feeble fingers of his faith the Christian takes hold and mounts upward. Of the Rock of Ages, of the Pillar and Ground of the Truth, of the Tree of Life, he takes-hold; and from the dust, and from amid the creeping things, is drawn up into the pure air and the sunshine. And just as he reposes on a sure support Savior as faithful as he is mighty; so he has a strong affinity for those truths and that communion which keep up the spirit's life. The vine subsists by drinking. It is because he is himself such a thirsty plant what his clusters are so refreshing. Through every eager channel absorbing the fullness of the neighboring well, he hangs aloft his flasks of nectar — his pensile fountain filled with the essence Of all the summer, yet cooled again by the broad leaves amid which it nestles. So the believer has not only an aspiring tendency, but a thirsty temperament. Longing for that which is the very life and renovation of his reawakened immortality, his "soul thirsteth for God, the living God;" and with great joy it is that he draws water from the wells of salvation. If true to his privileges, if planted by the river and constantly resorting to God and the word of his grace, the inner life will be vigorous and abundant. Still fat and full of sap, and ever flourishing," through the much fruit which he bears, the world shall be the better, the Father shall be glorified. SEE GARDEN.