Notes on alcohol use in the not-so Minor Prophets, including Daniel

Daniel (6th century BC) – on the propriety of drinking alcohol

Daniel 1:5, 8, 10, 16 – Daniel and his friends refused to partake of the king’s wine because they knew it would defile them.  They chose instead to hold fast to the covenant blessing of God.  The wine mentioned here was the intoxicating, fermented type.

Daniel 5:1-5, 22-31 – The king drank wine in the presence of thousands, as did his servants and family, from the sacred vessels that had been taken from the temple in Jerusalem.  While drinking, they praised the gods of the earthly material from which the vessels were made.  As a result of this sacrilege and the king not having glorified God (and further, the king’s knowledge of his father Nebuchadnezzar having been deposed by God because of his pride), God sent a message of judgment to the king.  That very night, he was killed.  The type of wine mentioned here was the fermented, intoxicating type.

Daniel 10:3 – Daniel mourns for three weeks, allowing no wine (the fermented type) to enter his mouth.

Hosea (8th century BC) – on the results and consequences of wine used in worship of false gods

Hosea 2:8-9, 12-13 – Since Israel refused to confess God as Lord, He will take back Israel’s agricultural prosperity which included wine-making.

Hosea 2:22-23 – God will renew a call to Israel and they will call Him Lord, and restore the produce (and wine-making) of the land to them.

Hosea 4:11 – Wine and new wine was used, along with harlotry, in worship of false gods.

Hosea 4:18 –Drinking (liquor, strong drink) is equated to rebellion which is equated to continual harlotry and love of dishonor.

Hosea 5:11 – Oppression and brokenness come from willingly walking in human precepts.

Hosea 7:5; 9:15 – Inflamed with wine, princes (the king’s children, leaders, and followers) plotted to do evil, and to be rebellious.

Hosea 7:14 – Israel assembled in the prosperity of their agriculture (and wine-making), perhaps in celebrating the false gods that made them prosperous, to rebel against God.

Hosea 9:1-2 – The new wine shall fail because of the love of harlotry.

Hosea 9:4 – Wine offering to the Lord was no longer acceptable to Him.

Hosea 14:7 – God will remember the repentant person, whose scent (remembrance) shall be like the wine of Lebanon.  In this sense, the word wine is used as fresh squeezed grapes (rarely is the original word used as fermented juice).

Joel (7th century BC) – on the associations of drunkenness

Joel 1:5 – The perils of drunkenness (intoxicating drink) and the drinkers of wine (sweet, new) are associated (ref. Isaiah 5:11 on waking in the morning only to want to get drunk).  Also see Isaiah 28:7-8 which associates intoxication and use of new wine as leading to erring.  Mentioned is the crown of pride which is the drunkards of Ephraim in Isaiah 28:3 (see Hosea for more about the drunkenness of Ephraim) in contrast with the crown of glory and the diadem of beauty which is the Lord in 28:5.  And, in Isaiah 55:1 is mentioned the satisfaction that only God can give in His abundance (we might not understand this since God also says in 55:8 that His thoughts and ways are not our thoughts and ways).

Joel 1:9-10 – The drink offering is cut off; it is described as new wine dried up.

Joel 2:18-19, 24; 3:18 – In response to repentance, God will restore and send an abundance of blessings (new wine included).  By these things, His people will be satisfied and refreshed.

Joel 3:3, 13 – God will judge non-repentant people (nations) because, among other things, they gave boys to be used in place of harlots (prostitutes) and sold girls for wine so they could get drunk (the word used for wine is the usual Hebrew word for fermented grape).  So, child sex trafficking and drunkenness are associated and will receive God’s wrath.  A full winepress equals great wickedness.

Amos (8th century BC) – on the unethical behavior associated with drinking intoxicating beverages

Amos 2:8 – God punishes His people who are caught up in depravity, including drinking the wine of those guilty of sin (drinking it with them).  Wine in this context is fermented and intoxicating.

Amos 2:12 – It is unethical to give alcohol to those who are dedicated to God (in this case, those who God called and raised up Himself, or maybe drew to Himself salvifically).  This is associated with disobedient people commanding prophets not to prophesy.

Amos 4:1 – God will punish even His own people who oppress and crush the poor and needy, and who lead them to be intoxicated as a way to “drink away their sorrows.”  By the way, this happened to Native Americans, a black mark in American history (read Isaac McCoy, a missionary to Native Americans in the early 1800’s).

Amos 5:11, 17 – Because of the lack of repentance, prosperity will end and the fruits of labor will not be enjoyed (in this case, wine is fermented and the people intended to drink it but God did not allow it).

Amos 6:5, 8; 8:4-14 – Woe to those who drink large quantities of wine (fermented) and do other things associated with the rich, upper class people of the day (it’s their pride that matters here).  They don’t care for their fellow man, even though their own sins have caused affliction upon them (their fellow man).  God will send a famine of hearing the words of the Lord, not of food and water.  In other words, “you had your chance and you blew it.”

Amos 9: 13-14 – At some point, God will redeem His people and provide abundance (sweet wine is non-fermented).  When God establishes His covenant with them, He will let them drink wine (fermented) made from the vineyards that they planted and which now are abundant.  This kind of drinking is not associated with unethical behavior and was (is) divinely sanctioned for an obedient people, not an individual person, in a future time of complete deliverance and redemption.

Obadiah (6th, maybe 8th, century BC) – on the carelessness of drinking in the midst of holiness

Obadiah 15-16 – God includes Edom’s drinking and carousing with the violence they did against God’s people, Israel.  The drinking of the nations refers to their receiving God’s wrath along with Edom.   Obadiah’s prophesy is the only one (of the prophets) not directed against Israel or Judah.  The original word, drink, means to partake or imbibe, with a relationship to the word that means to irrigate.  For example, Jonah 3:7 uses the same word to refer to drinking water or watering livestock.

Jonah (8th century BC) – there is nothing in Jonah about the use of alcohol

Jonah 3:7 – Here is an example of the original word for drink that is used in numerous other verses (especially in the prophets).  The use here refers to drinking water or watering livestock.  Most interesting is the fact that Jonah is the prophet to whom Jesus compared His own three day burial period.  It’s interesting because Jonah is the only prophet who doesn’t mention alcohol and the only prophecy (in the OT) that does not mention Israel or Judah, for good or bad.  As bad as Nineveh was, God did not single out any use of alcohol or other reference to intoxication, or even to new, sweet, fresh wine.  Certainly, the people of Nineveh used alcohol.  They were considered the most barbaric, blood-thirsty, wanton nation on earth at their time.

Micah (8th century BC) – on the sin of desiring and foolishly neglecting the effects of alcohol

Micah 2 (esp. 11) – Disobedient people who premeditate evil and do it, who oppress women and children, and who defile the rest God has given them, deserve a “preacher” who comes among them proclaiming with lies the merits of wine and strong drink.  In this sense, both wine and strong drink are intoxicating beverages.

Micah 6:15 – When God strikes disobedient people, all their effort to survive (to eke out a living) will be thrown down by Him, especially the making of sweet wine (non-fermented) and their hope to drink it for intoxicating purposes.

Nahum (7th century BC) – on drunkenness equated to helplessness

Nahum 1:10 – Like drunkards who are foolish and helpless, God’s enemies (or disobedient people) are vulnerable to His judgment against them.

Nahum 3:11 – Drunk in this sense means fully and helplessly intoxicated.

Habakkuk (7th century BC) – on the folly of getting drunk and getting others drunk

Habakkuk 2:5 – It is sinful to be so intoxicated that one cannot satisfy himself with the things of the world, in spite of being mocked by those for whom he has no regard (some are oppressed by him).

Habakkuk 2:15-16 – A “woe” has two parts:  The first part is a pronouncement of something bad, in this case getting someone drunk so as to engage in some sinful activity with him/her.  The second part is God’s pronouncement of judgment; in this case, the one who has caused others to get drunk should experience the same shameful activity that they perpetrated upon their victim.

Zephaniah (7th century BC) – God foils the plans of the disobedient to get drunk

Zephaniah 1:13 – As in other prophecies, the disobedient people’s intent was to plant vineyards and make wine for the purpose of getting drunk (the original sense of this verse), but God will not allow it as part of His judgment against them.

Haggai (6th century BC) – self-centered people can’t get enough intoxicating drink

Haggai 1:5-6 – In both senses (drink as a verb and drink as a noun), there is the meaning of intoxication.  God told the self-centered people to consider their ways:  they can’t get enough.

Haggai 1:11 – Because of self-centeredness, God called for a drought on the land which prevented the making of new, fresh wine.  In this case, God withheld a staple for survival, that is, a nutritious non-fermented fruit drink.  By inference, this is the type of wine His people should be drinking.

Haggai 2:12 – The wine in this case is fermented.  Anything that touches it will not be made holy.

Haggai 2:16 – The wine vat here is simply that, the vat where the juice is drained when the grapes are pressed.  Nothing here about alcohol.

Zechariah (6th century BC) – on the literal and comparative inhibition and unrestraint of drunkenness

Zechariah 7:6 – Eating and drinking (in this case, getting drunk) was done selfishly, with no regard for God and His glory.

Zechariah 9:15; 10:3-7 – The host of the Lord (God’s army, His people) will fight His battle with divine intent, unrestrained and uninhibited, as if they had been drinking (intoxicated).

Zechariah 9:17 – New, fresh (unfermented) wine will be refreshing to the people God saves.

Zechariah 12:2 – God will send people reeling, like a drunken man, before the people He saves (in this case, saved people as represented by the city of Jerusalem).

Zechariah 14:10 – Winepresses here are the vats where the juice is drained when the grapes are pressed.  Nothing here about alcohol.

Malachi (5th century BC) – defiled offerings to the Lord:  a different abuse of alcohol

Malachi 1:7-14 – Although alcohol use is not specifically mentioned in Malachi, the prophecy gives explicit details of how offerings to the Lord were defiled.  These offerings included wine (fermented) as commanded in Exodus 29:38-41 (a daily offering which included an alcoholic drink offering poured out to the Lord), Leviticus 23:13 (a wave offering, that is, waving a sheaf of first fruits and pouring an alcoholic drink offering to the Lord), and Numbers 15:5-10 (an offering for any purpose, which again included an alcoholic drink offering poured out to the Lord).  The specifics of the defilement are mentioned:  rotten food, blemished or blinded animals, and attitude of the giver.  We can only imagine that the drink offering was polluted as well, lending to the conclusion of the improper use of alcohol for completely different reasons other than for intoxicating purposes.

It could be that offering an alcoholic, fermented wine to the Lord helped to fuel the burnt offering and had nothing to do with using wine (alcoholic) as a beverage.  This probability is seen in the context of God’s instructions in making a burnt offering to Him as a sweet aroma.  (Throughout Exodus and Numbers, when a wine offering was made, the reference was usually to a fermented, alcoholic type of wine.)  Likewise, oil might be a fuel for the fire, too, and was part of the sacrifice (after all, fresh pressed olive oil was used for lamps).  However, these are mere speculations.  The bigger issue was (and is) being obedient to exactly what God commanded.

Malachi 2:7-8 – The priests led the people astray, causing them to depart from the way of the Lord, to stumble at the law, and to corrupt the covenant.  These acts by the religious leaders clearly tell the story of how the offerings (sacrifices) were defiled.

Malachi 3:3-7 – God offers purification so that offerings to the Lord are acceptable and pleasant.

Malachi 3:8-12 – God commanded a tithe of the produce of the ground, as well as additional offerings (undefiled offerings).  According to Deuteronomy 14:22-26, this included new (fresh) wine.  If this tithe could not be carried the distance to the Lord’s house, then the giver could exchange his products for money and buy whatever his heart desired.  God’s list of suggested items to purchase included fermented wine or other similar drink  so that one could eat and rejoice before the Lord.  As in Amos 9, this kind of drinking is not associated with unethical behavior and was (is) divinely sanctioned for an obedient people not an individual person (note that in Malachi 3:9, God says, “even this whole nation”).  In Malachi 3:11, God singles out this aspect of the tithe, rebuking the devourer and protecting the crop of grapes.

Malachi 4:4 – Remember the Law of Moses, with the statutes and judgments.  In the stronger sense of the word remember, those who fear the name of God are to act on the Law and look for the one who will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers (Luke 1:16-17).  In all that we do with the Law, we must be found faithful turning hearts of fathers to children and children to fathers (although that one may do it, he is our example of being found great in the sight of the Lord).  If alcohol consumption disrupts the turning of the hearts, then it must not be used.


Daniel (6th BC) – the propriety of drinking alcohol

Hosea (8th century BC) – results and consequences of wine used in worship of false gods

Joel (7th century BC) – the associations of drunkenness

Amos (8th century BC) – unethical behavior associated with drinking intoxicating beverages

Obadiah (6th, maybe 8th, century BC) – the carelessness of drinking in the midst of holiness

Jonah (8th century BC) – there is nothing in Jonah about the use of alcohol

Micah (8th century BC) – on the sin of desiring and foolishly neglecting the effects of alcohol

Nahum (7th century BC) – drunkenness equated to helplessness

Habakkuk (7th century BC) – the folly of getting drunk and getting others drunk

Zephaniah (7th century BC) – God foils the plans of the disobedient to get drunk

Haggai (6th century BC) – self-centered people can’t get enough intoxicating drink

Zechariah (6th century BC) – literal and comparative inhibition and unrestraint of drunkenness

Malachi (5th century BC) – defiled offerings to the Lord:  a different abuse of alcohol

Copyright © 2013, by Don Hamlin. All rights reserved.

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