The characteristics of wine for body and soul   1 comment

Well-known are the biblical praises of wine from the Psalter, “wine that maketh glad the heart of man” (Ps 104:15, ויין ישׂמח לבב אנוש, καὶ οἶνος εὐφραίνει καρδίαν ἀνθρώπου) and from the line in a parable, where a vine says, “Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man?” (Judges 9:13, החדלתי את תירושי המשׂמח אלהים ואנשים, B Μὴ ἀπολείψασα τὸν οἶνόν μου τὸν εὐφραίνοντα θεὸν καὶ ἀνθρώπους, but Α differently, Ἀφεῖσα τὸν οἶνόν μου, τὴν εὐφροσύνην τὴν παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ τῶν ἀνθρώπων). I was pleased and surprised recently to find a few lines in Arabic (Garšūnī) from a fifteenth-century Psalter (parallel Syriac and Garšūnī) in the collection of Saint Mark’s Monastery in Jerusalem (no. 10, dated 1474/5) that list wine’s effects: five for the body and five for the soul. These lines are written at a ninety degree angle to the rest of the text, but they do seem to be in the hand of the scribe who penned the rest of the book. Here is the text, and a translation is below.

Saint Mark's Monastery, Jerusalem, 10, f. 117r

Saint Mark’s Monastery, Jerusalem, 10, f. 117r

Note that in the second part, three of the five verbs are feminine, but masculine elsewhere.

Five characteristics of wine as they pertain to the body:

  1. Improves digestion [al-haḍm]
  2. Allows [yaḏaru] urine
  3. Improves the skin
  4. Makes the breath pleasant
  5. Intensifies sex [al-bāh]

And five [characteristics of wine] as they pertain to the soul:

  1. Gladdens the soul
  2. Brings hope
  3. Pains the heart
  4. Improves character
  5. Opposes greed

P.S. For some remarks on wine and other alcoholic beverages in Syriac literature, see my paper available here.

One response to “The characteristics of wine for body and soul

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Reblogged this on His memories in a trunk and commented:

    Here’s a post I wrote a few weeks that I thought might interest other readers: it’s on a short Arabic text (written in Syriac letters, a phenomenon known as Garshuni) that lists the effects of wine on the body and soul; English translation provided, along with images from the manuscript. Enjoy! Comments welcome.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: