Like many other ingredients in Galilee Nutritionals products, grapes have a strong connection to the Israel and the Bible. The weather conditions in Israel’s northern and central sections--with cool, wet winters and warm summers--mimic other famous grape-growing regions, such as coastal California. Modern Israel has a flourishing wine industry, but Biblical associations with wine go back to almost the very beginning of the Bible, where Noah plants a vineyard—and then suffers the effects of too much wine (Genesis 9).
Later in the Old Testament, when Moses sends 12 men to spy out the land of Israel, they return with reports of giants and enormous fruits. To prove their statements, they bring back a bunch of grapes so large it must be suspended on a pole that is carried by two men (Numbers 13:23). This vibrant image has been adopted as a logo by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism.
Wine is a popular thread through the Prophets and Writings, as it was a part of service in the Temple (see, for example, Leviticus 23:13) and vineyards are seen as a blessing from God (Isaiah 65:21 and elsewhere). Queen Esther manages to foil the enemy of the Jews by inviting him to two banquets—where wine is naturally served—with the king (Esther 5:5-6 and Esther 7:1-2).
Also an important part of holiday celebrations, wine is especially central at the Passover seder. Four cups of wine are consumed over the course of the evening, corresponding with God’s promises to Moses and the enslaved Israelites in Exodus 6. “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.”
Jesus’s last supper may have been a Passover seder, replete with wine and unleavened bread; several Gospel accounts explain that the meal was part of Passover festivities, including Matthew 26:17-30. Because the Temple was standing and serving its holy purpose, Jesus and his disciples could have consumed a lamb prepared in the Biblically prescribed manner (Exodus 12:2-11). This is something that is missing from Passover celebrations today, though it is recalled at the seder with both spoken passages and a roasted bone on the seder plate.
Our celebration of Passover begins next week, on the evening of the full moon. We are looking forward to joining others worldwide as we retell the story of the exodus and its attendant miracles—accompanied by, of course, the fruit of the vine!