Sodom is known for having been more decadent than Israel. And judging on the below Bible verses, their decadence seem to have had something to do with their drinking culture. Was their grapes different than the grapes grown in Israel? Or, was it that they drank a lot more wine than the Israelites did? Or, was it that the Sodomites made stronger wine of perfectly normal grapes? Or, could it maybe have been a mixture of the above?

Or, does the sentence : "their grapes are filled with poison" have a metaphorical meaning? And, if so what is that metaphorical meaning?

Deu 32:32,33 (NIV) Their vine comes from the vine of Sodom and from the fields of Gomorrah. Their grapes are filled with poison, and their clusters with bitterness. Their wine is the venom of serpents, the deadly poison of cobras.


2 Answers 2


The Song of Moses in Deut 32:1-47 is a prophetic song at the end of Moses's life, and following his statement in Deut 31:29-30 about Israel's future falling away (though I prefer NKJV, I'll stick with NIV since that is what your question related to, bold added):

29 For I know that after my death you are sure to become utterly corrupt and to turn from the way I have commanded you. In days to come, disaster will fall on you because you will do evil in the sight of the LORD and arouse his anger by what your hands have made.” 30 And Moses recited the words of this song from beginning to end in the hearing of the whole assembly of Israel:

And then the Song follows, which contains an abundance of figurative language. Such language is the case with vv.32-33, which I'll re-quote here from what the question had:

32 Their vine comes from the vine of Sodom and from the fields of Gomorrah. Their grapes are filled with poison, and their clusters with bitterness. Their wine is the venom of serpents, the deadly poison of cobras.

This is a picture from nature. In nature, the vine refers to the source of what nourishes and produces the fruit, and the vine grows from the nutrients of the field's ground it is planted in; the grapes are that fruit (in the case of a grape vine), which emerge in clusters on the vine; and the wine is the processed form of the grape, after it is crushed.

So this is a direct metaphor to say that Israel's ground, its source of life, at this future stage in history that Moses is prophesying about, is corrupted like that of Gomorrah's fields (i.e. Gomorrah's sinfulness), and their vine that nourishes them is corrupt like that of Sodom's (i.e. Sodom's sinfulness)—in short, they have become "utterly corrupt" (per what Dt 31:29 stated). Their source is corrupt, so they are producing fruit (sinful actions) that will bring deadly consequences and abundant (clusters) of bitterness to them—in short, they "will do evil in the sight of the LORD" that will bring "disaster" upon them (per what Dt 31:29 stated). Their fruit is poisoned, that is, their actions will be sinful, and so when that fruit is processed into wine, it becomes an active agent to spread more death—in short, their "hands have made" things that "anger the LORD" (per what Dt 31:29 stated), which things will be more idols (Dt 32:21-22).

Isaiah prophesies of this relation to Sodom later (Isa 3:8-9, bold added):

For Jerusalem stumbled, And Judah is fallen, Because their tongue and their doings Are against the LORD, To provoke the eyes of His glory. 9 The look on their countenance witnesses against them, And they declare their sin as Sodom; They do not hide it. Woe to their soul! For they have brought evil upon themselves.

But these prophetic words of Moses and Isaiah come to pass in Jeremiah's day as Israel will soon be judged by Babylon, and the LORD declares through Jeremiah (Jer 23:12) in 23:13-14 (bold added):

Among the prophets of Samaria I saw this repulsive thing: They prophesied by Baal and led my people Israel astray. And among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen something horrible: They commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that not one of them turns from their wickedness. They are all like Sodom to me; the people of Jerusalem are like Gomorrah.

And so because of this sinful state, the fall of Judah to Babylon and the captivity of Israel comes within Jeremiah's day, with much death and much bitterness because of their poisoned fruits from their corrupt source.

  • +1. Your argument is that the passage in question is to be taken metaphorically. It is a valid proposition; and the answer is seemingly well researched and is easy to read. Although, I was hoping to read something that specifically dealt with the issue of Sodom's wine consumption. Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 22:46
  • @Constantthin I don't think Sodom's wine consumption has anything to do with the picture being laid out, so sorry, I cannot accommodate that desire. I don't believe the argument in the metaphor is relying on the wine itself as poisonous (or its consumption in excess), but that their wine (metaphorically) is made poisonous because of the root of its corrupted source of growth.
    – ScottS
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 23:13
  • ScottS. Paul warned: "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery" (Eph 5:18). You don't think that Sodom's debauchery was linked to wine in some way? Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 1:00
  • @Constantthin I'm sure their debauchery included alcohol within it. But I don't think that is the focus of the illustration at all here in Deuteronomy. The picture is not that the source of Sodom and Gomorrah's issues are wine, but rather the source of the poisoning of the grapes and wine (versus non-poisonous grapes and wine) was because it was coming from Sodom and Gomorrah (the picture is that they were corrupting the produce, not the produce corrupting them; though what is produced creates a cycle of corruption, and so the poison spreads more corruption).
    – ScottS
    Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 16:23
  • I fear that I have worded the question wrongly. Instead of: "What does the sentence “their grapes are filled with poison” in Deu 32:32,33 (NIV) mean? I should, probably, have asked: "The contextual impact of the Deu 32:32,33 aside; why did people in Moses time equate wine with Sodom and Gomorrah?" Or something similar. Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 23:17

Pr 20:1 ¶ Wine [is] a mocker, strong drink [is] raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

This is the key to the wine and strong drink riddle.

Wine, as Grace is a mocker. When one has too much grace, they presume upon God's mercy and make a mockery of the cross.
Ro 6:1 ¶ What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

Strong drink, as the law, is a deluding debate. When one has too much law, they presume themselves to be righteous; but they are deluded by self-righteousness.

The Nazarite was a shadow of Christ. The Nazarite took a vow not to drink wine of strong drink. Jesus did not partake of law or grace because he was the author of it. A similar image is in the unleavened bread with Jesus as the untaught teacher.

The Nazarite did not cut his hair. God called it his righteousness, but Paul says nature tells us that long hair on a man is a shame. It is easy to see the Nazarite as Christ, remaining righteous while bearing our shame.

The Nazarite did not touch a dead body. So Jesus was buried in an unused grave.

If he did touch the dead, it set him free of his oath without penalty. Jesus's own dead body set him free of the Nazarite oath he took at the last supper.

The wine of Sodom was poison. They presumed upon the grace of God, not minding his Holiness. They spread their poison to others.

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