Heb. hometz, Gr. oxos, Fr. vin aigre; i.e., "sour wine." The Hebrew word is rendered vinegar in Psalms 69:21 , a prophecy fulfilled in the history of the crucifixion ( Matthew 27:34 ). This was the common sour wine (posea) daily made use of by the Roman soldiers. They gave it to Christ, not in derision, but from compassion, to assuage his thirst. Proverbs 10:26 shows that there was also a stronger vinegar, which was not fit for drinking. The comparison, "vinegar upon nitre," probably means "vinegar upon soda" (as in the marg. of the RSV), which then effervesces.
The Hebrew word translated "vinegar" was applied to a beverage consisting generally of wine or strong drink turned sour, but sometimes artificially made by an admixture of barley and wine, and thus liable to fermentation. It was acid even to a proverb, ( Proverbs 10:26 ) and by itself formed an unpleasant draught, ( Psalms 49:21 ) but was used by laborers. ( Ruth 2:14 ) Similar was the acetum of the Romans --a thin, sour wine, consumed by soldiers. This was the beverage of which the Saviour partook in his dying moments. ( Matthew 27:48 ; Mark 15:36 ; John 19:29 John 19:30 )
vin'-e-ger (chomets; oxos):
Vinegar, whose use as a condiment (Ruth 2:14) needs no comment, is formed when a saccharine fluid passes through a fermentation that produces acetic acid. In the ancient world vinegar was usually made of wine, although any fruit juice can be utilized in its manufacture, and "vinegar of strong drink" (palm juice?) is mentioned in Numbers 6:3. Undiluted vinegar is of course undrinkable, and to offer it to a thirsty man is mockery (Psalms 69:21), but a mixture of water and vinegar makes a beverage that was very popular among the poor (Greek oxos, oxukraton, Latin posca--names applied also to diluted sour wine). It is mentioned in Numbers 6:3 (forbidden to the Nazirite) and again in the Gospels in the account of the Crucifixion. The executioners had brought it in a vessel (John 19:29) for their own use and at first "offered" it to Christ, while keeping it out of reach (Luke 23:36). But at the end the drink was given Him on a sponge (Mark 15:36; Matthew 27:48; John 19:29,30). In addition, the King James Version, following Textus Receptus of the New Testament, has "vinegar .... mingled with gall" in Matthew 27:34, but this rests on a false reading, probably due to Psalms 69:21, and the Revised Version (British and American) rightly has "wine." Vinegar, like all acids, is injurious to the teeth (Proverbs 10:26); and when it is combined with niter an effervescence is produced (Proverbs 25:20). The appropriateness of the last figure, however, is obscure, and Septuagint reads "as vinegar on a wound," causing pain.
Burton Scott Easton
These files are public domain.