The Garden and Grapes

This study of The Garden and Grapes could have been The Fruit Eve and Adam Ate. Now before I lose some of you, it needs to be said that God, in His wisdom, did not tell us the type of fruit on the Tree of Knowledge. Declaring that grapes could be a possibility is a big “What If” and that is fine with me. 

Now, the next sticky point is that the Bible says tree and not vine. The actual word in Biblical Hebrew is etz. This word has two means – tree and wood. So, in Ezekiel 15:2,6 and Numbers 6:4 when it is translated into the phrase called a vine tree, it started me on this study. Most vines do not take a freestanding form of a tree. But I have seen some vines that are kept small actually act like a tree. You will not make a chair or tool handle out of that wood, but they can stand up and look like a tree (small tree). (We had a freestanding wisteria vine that was under six-foot-tall with a single main trunk and an umbrella-shaped top.)

 https://www.balashon.com/2007/01/etz-and-ilan.html is a website that does a good job with the word etz

I would usually argue that the tree Eve ate from was a fig tree. Fig trees in scripture can be a shadow for dead religious works, practices, and churches. That idea is simple to grab a hold of because Adam and Eve sewed together fig leaves to hide from God. Jesus during Holy Week symbolically put an end to “fig tree religion” when He cursed one because of no fruit. He then became “the true Vine” with Gentiles grafted into Him. THINKING OUT LOUD MOMENT – What if the Tree of Life was/is a “true” fig tree!

Grapes, grapevines, wine, winepresses, and raisins all are mentioned in the Bible. Just like the Tree in the Garden, these items can carry a “Good and Evil” label or function. Wine is good in some context and a troublemaker in others, just like the knowledge the tree gave Eve and Adam. It is this dual nature that makes me lean in the favor of grapes as “the fruit” in the Garden. Numbers 6:3 contains the requirements for a Nazirite while he is seeking God (John the Baptist was one for life Luke 1:15.) Why grapes? The plant is a symbol of the kingdom and grapes/raisins are good for the body. Wine can “gladden man’s heart” but too much wine can lead to debauchery. My simple thought is that God wanted them to focus on HIM for the time they were seeking God. Hearing God and not the many voices around you for a season is good. After that time, they then could enjoy “grapes” again.

A Sample of Grape Verses

There are many verses in the Bible about grapes, wine, and raisins. So, the ones I am about to use are just a sample that shows the good/evil nature.

Deuteronomy 32: 32+33 For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter (KJV). These verses are talking about Jeshurun (the upright one), which is another name for Israel.

Hosea 9:10a (KJV) I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the first ripe in the fig tree at her first time. Part B is the other story – but they went to Baal Peor and separated themselves unto that shame, and their abominations were according as they loved. The section that proceeds this is comparing Israel (northern kingdom) to Gibeah, the town in Benjamin that raped the Levite’s wife. King Saul was from Gibeah. 

Isaiah 5:4 (NIV) What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?

Luke 5:38+39 (NIV) is the story of new wine into new wineskins. New wine is the Spirit of God and His fresh anointing. Verse 39 – And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, The old is better. Sticking with the idea of good/evil and new/old, the old knowledge is “just better”.

Mark 12:1 is the parable about the kingdom and Jesus, as told using a vineyard and renters.

John 2:1 is the first of the seven major miracles in John (there are many more). Jesus is at a wedding, creating a “need” from the fruit of the vine in stone/earthen jars, and the very next story is a Passover. How much more symbolism does one story.

May I please try to pull my scattered thoughts in and end this study? Grapes, like knowledge, are not the problem. What you do with the grapes/knowledge defines them as good or evil. 

If the “tree” is a stumbling root, doing something useful with a vine tree’s wood will fall into that good/bad area. If you need a strong solid piece of wood, it is not coming from a vine. They are good for fuel for a fire, wreaths for your door, or tying bundles of sticks together. Swinging out of a tree is a good use, as well. Some days knowledge is like that wood. It will burn you up, make a pretty wall hanging, actually bring things/thoughts together, or have you flying around in the air going nowhere and just leave you hanging.

Final thought – Adam and Eve would have gotten “everything” they needed if they would have eaten from the Tree of Life.   

Fruit and Nuts – Grapes + Recabites

Grapes, raisins, vines/branches, and wine

When it comes to symbolism what better icon is there than the grape plant for representing the Church of Jesus?  Jesus used it in parables, it is part of our communion and it is referred to throughout Scriptures. Now as with most symbols you can attach several meanings to grapes and its vines; I am going to look at a few and let God reveal others to you.

  1. Part of Communion – The wine is to represent the Blood of Jesus. * Sorry, I did not say grape juice! I do go to a church that uses grape juice but ancient Israel would have had to ferment it in order to keep it. Several churches I know use grape juice so as to not have weaker Christians stumble and I am good with that!* But wine is a “living drink” having come from many individual grapes all put together and joined by yeast (it does not have to symbolize sin) to become something new. Yeast in Luke 13:21 is used as a picture of the Kingdom of God.
  2. Jesus refers to Himself, as the Vine and we, the Church, are the branches. John 15:5
  3. Nazirites – People separated to God for a season could not eat or drink any part of the grape plant while under the vow. (Look in Numbers 6 and remember that Samson was a Nazirite and so was John the Baptist, probably.) Interesting type and shadow, that people in the Old Testament who choose to get close to God had to give up grapes, a symbol for the church.
  4. Medicine – In 1 Timothy 5:23 Paul urges Timothy to use a little wine because of his stomach; the alcohol can kill germs.
  5. The vine in Judges 9: 12+13 – refuses to rule over other plants so that it can do its job. I did not find any reference to a “vine” that was not grape.
  6. Misuse of wine – I guess the one that stands out is Noah getting drunk after the Flood. Proverbs 20: 1- “Wine is a mocker” (NIV) speaks for its self or Proverbs 23:29-35, “When will I awake so I can get another drink.”
  7. Raisins – They are grapes with most of the water (Holy Spirit) taken out of them but they still can revive a weak individual. Ex. 1 Samuel 30:12

However, you view wine drinking is between you and Jesus but the grape plant and its fruit are and always will be part of Church symbolism.

The picture of the grapevine is from http://free-extras.com/images/growing_grapes-5434.htm

Recabites (NIV) or Rechabites (KJV)

First, my apology to anyone who is not familiar with American slang; the word “nut” can carry several meanings and for this blog, it is someone who is crazy (at least according to worldly standards).

The main story of the Recab family is found in Jeremiah 35. Here the prophet Jeremiah is instructed by God to have all of the men of the family come to the Temple and serve them wine. No pressure right, THE MAN of God invites you to church and expects you to join in “the boys night out” he is throwing. They refuse and state that they don’t drink because of a long-standing family tradition. (Drinking alcohol is not the point but it could be; I know it is a very volatile topic. I don’t drink because it is one thing that God delivered me from when I got saved. I have found out through the years that it is not me who is uncomfortable with not drinking but the drinkers around me.) They also state another family tradition of not owning houses or planting fields. Now all of this combined for some people would qualify them as “NUTS”, no “American Dream” of your own house; then to top all of that off they tell the man of God, NO.

So who were these Recabites who would say no when put into such a pressure situation? According to 1 Chronicles 2:55 they are one of the family groups that came from Caleb, the faithful spy in the Exodus story. Now there are several “Recabs” in the Bible and not all of them are from Caleb and when you read verse 55 you may recognize Kenites and again there are several groups with this name that do not seem to be related. But more specifically they may have come from the Jehonadab who sided with Jehu in 2 Kings 10 (it makes you wonder if they are part of the 7000 in 1 Kings 19) to get rid of Ahab and the prophets of Baal. So taking a stand and following God was a long time family tradition for the Recabites.  And in Jeremiah 35:19 God honors them because they honored the instructions of their ancestors. With a promise to always have a family member who serves God!

The picture of the Recabites is from http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/Pictures/StandardBibleStoryReadersBook5/images/scan0017.jpg