Ecclesiastes 9:7: “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do.”

First came Noah…. In addition to the rescue of every animal, Noah is really a farmer. He plants a vineyard and becomes intoxicated from his fruit of the vine. Then there is Jesus, who often used wine imagery in his teachings. In fact, both Testaments speak often of the consumption of wine as a way of life in ancient Israel.
We know that these ancient people made wine from grapes and any number of other fermentable fruits. It’s the most commonly mentioned alcoholic beverage in any of the texts and is associated with all things good – and a few not so good. There are 10 different words that refer to various wines in the Torah. And in the early Greek Testament, there are five words for wine. Interestingly, the Biblical Hebrew words for wine are used interchangeably between fermented (alcohol) and juice (non-alcoholic). Tirosh refers to grapes in any state of fermenting and is a sweet wine or juice that’s been newly made. There is Chomets, a vinegar used for cooking, but which is also intoxicating. The most common word for wine in the bible is Yayin.
The use of wine, most often described as a bounty of a harvest, a sign of God’s good will and favor upon people is reflected in the texts along with the natural tension of what can happen when you imbibe irresponsibly. Drunkenness in all texts is certainly frowned upon. Wine is used often in rituals of thanksgiving, blessings and anointments. The first public miracle of Jesus was at a wedding in Canaan when he turned water into wine.
The texts also describe the medicinal uses of wine. Without a doubt these ancient people understood the dangers of drinking water. Parasites and other impurities in addition to sharing water with livestock and other human waste would have made drinking plain water simply dangerous. But mixing a little hydrating water into wine was a reasonable way to kill off bacteria and parasites and create a somewhat less toxic water. But there are also references to wine being used as an anesthetic and as a cleaning agent for wound care. Jesus tells of spreading wine and oil into a wound of an injured stranger in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and there is no question that Jesus was encouraged to drink wine as an anesthetic prior to the crucifixion.

Psalm 104:14-15: “[The LORD] makes … plants for man to cultivate – bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.”

Read Psalms 104 in both Hebrew and in in English

א בָּרְכִי נַפְשִׁי, אֶת-יְהוָה: יְהוָה אֱלֹהַי, גָּדַלְתָּ מְּאֹד; הוֹד וְהָדָר לָבָשְׁתָּ. 1 Bless the LORD, O my soul. {N} O LORD my God, Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with glory and majesty. ב עֹטֶה-אוֹר, כַּשַּׂלְמָה; נוֹטֶה שָׁמַיִם, כַּיְרִיעָה. 2 Who coverest Thyself with light as with a garment, who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain; ג הַמְקָרֶה בַמַּיִם, עֲלִיּוֹתָיו: הַשָּׂם-עָבִים רְכוּבוֹ; הַמְהַלֵּךְ, עַל-כַּנְפֵי-רוּחַ. 3 Who layest the beams of Thine upper chambers in the waters, {N} who makest the clouds Thy chariot, who walkest upon the wings of the wind; ד עֹשֶׂה מַלְאָכָיו רוּחוֹת; מְשָׁרְתָיו, אֵשׁ לֹהֵט. 4 Who makest winds Thy messengers, the flaming fire Thy ministers. ה יָסַד-אֶרֶץ, עַל-מְכוֹנֶיהָ; בַּל-תִּמּוֹט, עוֹלָם וָעֶד. 5 Who didst establish the earth upon its foundations, that it should not be moved for ever and ever; ו תְּהוֹם, כַּלְּבוּשׁ כִּסִּיתוֹ; עַל-הָרִים, יַעַמְדוּ מָיִם. 6 Thou didst cover it with the deep as with a vesture; the waters stood above the mountains. ז מִן-גַּעֲרָתְךָ יְנוּסוּן; מִן-קוֹל רַעַמְךָ, יֵחָפֵזוּן. 7 At Thy rebuke they fled, at the voice of Thy thunder they hasted away– ח יַעֲלוּ הָרִים, יֵרְדוּ בְקָעוֹת– אֶל-מְקוֹם, זֶה יָסַדְתָּ לָהֶם. 8 The mountains rose, the valleys sank down–unto the place which Thou hadst founded for them; ט גְּבוּל-שַׂמְתָּ, בַּל-יַעֲבֹרוּן; בַּל-יְשֻׁבוּן, לְכַסּוֹת הָאָרֶץ. 9 Thou didst set a bound which they should not pass over, that they might not return to cover the earth. י הַמְשַׁלֵּחַ מַעְיָנִים, בַּנְּחָלִים; בֵּין הָרִים, יְהַלֵּכוּן. 10 Who sendest forth springs into the valleys; they run between the mountains; יא יַשְׁקוּ, כָּל-חַיְתוֹ שָׂדָי; יִשְׁבְּרוּ פְרָאִים צְמָאָם. 11 They give drink to every beast of the field, the wild asses quench their thirst. יב עֲלֵיהֶם, עוֹף-הַשָּׁמַיִם יִשְׁכּוֹן; מִבֵּין עֳפָאיִם, יִתְּנוּ-קוֹל. 12 Beside them dwell the fowl of the heaven, from among the branches they sing. יג מַשְׁקֶה הָרִים, מֵעֲלִיּוֹתָיו; מִפְּרִי מַעֲשֶׂיךָ, תִּשְׂבַּע הָאָרֶץ. 13 Who waterest the mountains from Thine upper chambers; the earth is full of the fruit of Thy works. יד מַצְמִיחַ חָצִיר, לַבְּהֵמָה, וְעֵשֶׂב, לַעֲבֹדַת הָאָדָם; לְהוֹצִיא לֶחֶם, מִן-הָאָרֶץ. 14 Who causeth the grass to spring up for the cattle, and herb for the service of man; {N} to bring forth bread out of the earth, טו וְיַיִן, יְשַׂמַּח לְבַב-אֱנוֹשׁ– לְהַצְהִיל פָּנִים מִשָּׁמֶן; וְלֶחֶם, לְבַב-אֱנוֹשׁ יִסְעָד. 15 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, making the face brighter than oil, {N} and bread that stayeth man’s heart. טז יִשְׂבְּעוּ, עֲצֵי יְהוָה– אַרְזֵי לְבָנוֹן, אֲשֶׁר נָטָע. 16 The trees of the LORD have their fill, the cedars of Lebanon, which He hath planted; יז אֲשֶׁר-שָׁם, צִפֳּרִים יְקַנֵּנוּ; חֲסִידָה, בְּרוֹשִׁים בֵּיתָהּ. 17 Wherein the birds make their nests; as for the stork, the fir-trees are her house. יח הָרִים הַגְּבֹהִים, לַיְּעֵלִים; סְלָעִים, מַחְסֶה לַשְׁפַנִּים. 18 The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the conies. יט עָשָׂה יָרֵחַ, לְמוֹעֲדִים; שֶׁמֶשׁ, יָדַע מְבוֹאוֹ. 19 Who appointedst the moon for seasons; the sun knoweth his going down. כ תָּשֶׁת-חֹשֶׁךְ, וִיהִי לָיְלָה– בּוֹ-תִרְמֹשׂ, כָּל-חַיְתוֹ-יָעַר. 20 Thou makest darkness, and it is night, wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. כא הַכְּפִירִים, שֹׁאֲגִים לַטָּרֶף; וּלְבַקֵּשׁ מֵאֵל, אָכְלָם. 21 The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their food from God. כב תִּזְרַח הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ, יֵאָסֵפוּן; וְאֶל-מְעוֹנֹתָם, יִרְבָּצוּן. 22 The sun ariseth, they slink away, and couch in their dens. כג יֵצֵא אָדָם לְפָעֳלוֹ; וְלַעֲבֹדָתוֹ עֲדֵי-עָרֶב. 23 Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening. כד מָה-רַבּוּ מַעֲשֶׂיךָ, יְהוָה– כֻּלָּם, בְּחָכְמָה עָשִׂיתָ; מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ, קִנְיָנֶךָ. 24 How manifold are Thy works, O LORD! In wisdom hast Thou made them all; {N} the earth is full of Thy creatures. כה זֶה, הַיָּם גָּדוֹל– וּרְחַב יָדָיִם: שָׁם-רֶמֶשׂ, וְאֵין מִסְפָּר; חַיּוֹת קְטַנּוֹת, עִם-גְּדֹלוֹת. 25 Yonder sea, great and wide, {N} therein are creeping things innumerable, living creatures, both small and great. כו שָׁם, אֳנִיּוֹת יְהַלֵּכוּן; לִוְיָתָן, זֶה-יָצַרְתָּ לְשַׂחֶק-בּוֹ. 26 There go the ships; there is leviathan, whom Thou hast formed to sport therein. כז כֻּלָּם, אֵלֶיךָ יְשַׂבֵּרוּן– לָתֵת אָכְלָם בְּעִתּוֹ. 27 All of them wait for Thee, that Thou mayest give them their food in due season. כח תִּתֵּן לָהֶם, יִלְקֹטוּן; תִּפְתַּח יָדְךָ, יִשְׂבְּעוּן טוֹב. 28 Thou givest it unto them, they gather it; Thou openest Thy hand, they are satisfied with good. כט תַּסְתִּיר פָּנֶיךָ, יִבָּהֵלוּן: תֹּסֵף רוּחָם, יִגְוָעוּן; וְאֶל-עֲפָרָם יְשׁוּבוּן. 29 Thou hidest Thy face, they vanish; {N} Thou withdrawest their breath, they perish, and return to their dust. ל תְּשַׁלַּח רוּחֲךָ, יִבָּרֵאוּן; וּתְחַדֵּשׁ, פְּנֵי אֲדָמָה. 30 Thou sendest forth Thy spirit, they are created; and Thou renewest the face of the earth. לא יְהִי כְבוֹד יְהוָה לְעוֹלָם; יִשְׂמַח יְהוָה בְּמַעֲשָׂיו. 31 May the glory of the LORD endure for ever; let the LORD rejoice in His works! לב הַמַּבִּיט לָאָרֶץ, וַתִּרְעָד; יִגַּע בֶּהָרִים וְיֶעֱשָׁנוּ. 32 Who looketh on the earth, and it trembleth; He toucheth the mountains, and they smoke. לג אָשִׁירָה לַיהוָה בְּחַיָּי; אֲזַמְּרָה לֵאלֹהַי בְּעוֹדִי. 33 I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have any being. לד יֶעֱרַב עָלָיו שִׂיחִי; אָנֹכִי, אֶשְׂמַח בַּיהוָה. 34 Let my musing be sweet unto Him; as for me, I will rejoice in the LORD. לה יִתַּמּוּ חַטָּאִים מִן-הָאָרֶץ, וּרְשָׁעִים עוֹד אֵינָם– בָּרְכִי נַפְשִׁי, אֶת-יְהוָה; הַלְלוּ-יָהּ. 35 Let sinners cease out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. {N} Bless the LORD, O my soul. {N} Hallelujah.