In the Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32), Moses says that the vine of Israel grew from a cutting from Sodom’s vine, from the vineyard of Gomorrah. Such vines produce only bitter fruit or worse - venom from dragons ( tanniyn ; vv. 32-33).

The image is picked up in Isaiah, who complains about the worthless grapes produced by the vineyard of Jerusalem (5:1-7). Not coincidentally, Isaiah has earlier charged that Jerusalem has become Sodom (1:9-10; 3:9). The wine of Jerusalem’s feasts is the poisonous wine of the serpent (cf. 5:11-12).

So there’s wine and there’s wine: There is the wine of the dragon, the serpent that poisons; and there is the wine of the one who was lifted like the Bronze Serpent, struck, and killed.

Articles by Peter J. Leithart