Today I was in our backyard watering the plants. As I came to our vineyard I noticed the green foliage and upon closer inspection even a cluster of grapes forming! I was so excited I threw the hose down and went into the house to get my phone so I could take a picture. Now this might seem a little crazy to you,(I mean, who gets excited over a vineyard with green leaves, it’s a common occurrence), but this was different. The last couple of years our vineyard didn’t have much green foliage or abundant fruit, so as I looked at those beautiful green leaves I was so excited because I knew that this year it was going to produce fruit.
I’m no vineyard expert but a vineyard needs proper attention from the vinedresser if it is to grow and produce abundant fruit! Why I am sharing this is because the Scripture also speaks a lot about the vineyard. Let’s look at the first occurrence of the word vineyard in Scripture:
Genesis 9:20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard.
The Hebrew word for vineyard is Kerem, pronounced keh-rem and it means a garden or vineyard. We see the word for husbandmen in Hebrew is almost related to Kerem (vineyard). The phrase “Noah began to be a husbandman” in Hebrew is: ‘Noach ish ha ‘Adama’ and literally means “Noah, a man of the soil/ground”. Now this is interesting because we learned in our previous Torah study entitled B’reisheet, that man(humans) was formed from the “Apar Min Ha’Adamah” – The dust of the ground.
Gen 2:7 And יהוה Elohim formed the man out of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils breath of life. And the man became a living being.
Also we learned that God made to grow every good tree out of the ground. Animals also were formed out of the ground!
Gen 2:9 And out of the ground יהוה Elohim made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, with the tree of life in the midst of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Gen 2:19 And from the ground יהוה Elohim formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.
We see the close relationship of man with the earth when they sinned and the ground was cursed on account of man and from there on brought forth thorns and thistles and man would eat bread by the sweat of his face, meaning that he would have to labour hard for the ground to give its produce. I think this relationship started when God gave man the responsibility to tend and keep/guard the garden.
Gen 3:17 And to the man He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘Do not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground because of you, in toil you are to eat of it all the days of your life,
Gen 2:15 And יהוה Elohim took the man and put him in the garden of Ěḏen to work it and to guard it.
Gen 2:16 And יהוה Elohim commanded the man, saying, “Eat of every tree of the garden,
Gen 2:17 but do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for in the day that you eat of it you shall certainly die.”
Interestingly, just after God gave the responsibility of tilling and gaurding the garden to the man, He proceeds to command man not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which clearly shows a connection between the two. So when Adam and Chawwah (eve) disobeyed God the ground was also affected.
We see another example in Scripture, closely related to what we just discussed, let’s read it:
Gen 4:1 And Aḏam knew Ḥawwah his wife, and she conceived and bore Qayin, and said, “I have gained a man from יהוה.”
Gen 4:2 And again, she gave birth to his brother Heḇel. And Heḇel became a keeper of sheep, but Qayin became a tiller of the ground.
This is the story of Cain and Abel, which I’m sure you are familiar with. When we look at the Hebrew words we can glean some more insight. Cain in Hebrew means a spear or to attain, Abel means breath or vanity. Now Cain was a tiller and Abel a keeper of sheep. The Hebrew for a tiller is Awbad and it means to work,to serve another out of obligation but also to dress.
On the other hand the word for keep( as in Abel’s case) is Ro’eh and it means to tend a flock, pasture it and to associate with as a friend, also to rule.
What I’m trying to show here is that the Hebrew language conveys to us the nature of these two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain is a tiller of the ground and his way is that of service out of obligation, not from the heart. His way is tiresome and almost like slavery.
Abel on the other hand is soft and gentle, leading the sheep and nurturing them, but also protecting them from harm. His way is that of love and servitude out of a pure heart.
I think this is clearly shown when they both brought an offering to God in due time and Abel was accepted but Cain rejected.
Gen 4:3-7 And it came to be, in the course of time, that Qayin brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to יהוה. And Heḇel also brought of the first-born of his flock and of their fat. And יהוה looked to Heḇel and his offering, but He did not look to Qayin and his offering. And Qayin was very wroth, and his face fell. And יהוה said to Qayin, “Why are you wroth? And why is your face fallen? “If you do well, is there not acceptance? And if you do not do well, sin1 is crouching at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should master it.”
After looking at the Hebrew we can better understand why Cain’s offering was rejected. It is obvious he did not bring it according to the word of Father, and it is possible that he brought it out of an insincere and evil heart. What was the result? He slew his brother!
So back to the vineyard, when it calls Noah a man of the soil we can now better understand the relationship between man and the earth. After the flood God again instructed Noah with the same responsibility: to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth.
I came across some interesting information about the vineyard. The ISBE dictionary says the following:
3. Antiquity and Importance:
Palestine appears to have been a vine-growing country from the earliest historic times. The countless wine presses found in and around centers of early civilization witness to this. It is probable that the grape was largely cultivated as a source of sugar: the juice expressed in the “wine press” was reduced by boiling to a liquid of treacle-like consistency known as “grape honey,” or in Hebrew debhash (Arabic, dibs). This is doubtless the “honey” of many Old Testament references, and before the days of cane sugar was the chief source of sugar. The whole Old Testament witnesses to how greatly Palestine depended upon the vine and its products. Men rejoiced in wine also as one of God’s best gifts (Jdg_9:13; Psa_104:15). But the Nazirite might eat nothing of the vine “from the kernels even to the husk” (Num_6:4; Jdg_13:14).
The land promised to the children of Israel was one of “vines and fig trees and pomegranates” (Deu_8:8); they inherited vineyards which they had not planted (Deu_6:11; Jos_24:13; Neh_9:25). Jacob’s blessing on Judah had much reference to the suitability of his special part of the land to the vine (Gen_49:11). When the leading people were carried captive the poor were left as vine dressers (2Ki_25:12; Jer_52:16), lest the whole land should lapse into uncultivated wilderness. On the promised return this humble duty was, however, to fall to the “sons of the alien” (Isa_61:5 the King James Version).
4. Its Cultivation:
The mountain regions of Judea and Samaria, often little suited to cereals, have always proved highly adapted to vine culture. The stones must first be gathered out and utilized for the construction of a protecting wall or of terraces or as the bases of towers (Isa_5:2; Mat_21:33). Every ancient vineyard had its wine press cut in a sheet of rock appearing at the surface. As a rule the vinestocks lie along the ground, many of the fruit-bearing branches falling over the terraces (compare Gen_49:22); in some districts the end of the vine-stock is raised by means of a cleft stick a foot or more above the surface; exceptionally the vine branches climb into trees, and before a dwelling-house they are sometimes supported upon poles to form a bower (compare 1Ki_4:25, etc.).
The cultivation of the vine requires constant care or the fruit will very soon degenerate. After the rains the loosely made walls require to have breaches repaired; the ground must be plowed or harrowed and cleared of weeds – contrast with this the vineyard of the sluggard (Pro_24:30-31); in the early spring the plants must be pruned by cutting off dead and fruitless branches (Lev_25:3, Lev_25:4; Isa_5:6) which are gathered and burned (Joh_15:6). As the grapes ripen they must be watched to keep off jackals and foxes (Son_2:15), and in some districts even wild boars (Psa_80:13). The watchman is stationed in one of the towers and overlooks a considerable area. When the grape season comes, the whole family of the owner frequently take their residence in a booth constructed upon one of the larger towers and remain there until the grapes are practically finished. It is a time of special happiness (compare Isa_16:10). The gleanings are left to the poor of the village or town (Lev_19:10; Deu_24:21; Jdg_8:2; Isa_17:6; Isa_24:13; Jer_49:9; Mic_7:1). In the late summer the vineyards are a beautiful mass of green, as contrasted with the dried-up parched land around, but in the autumn the leaves are sere and yellow (Isa_34:4), and the place desolate.
Twot(Theological wordbook of the OT) says the following:
Grape growing was and still is an important part of Palestinian farming. The “grain, new wine, and oil” were the three prominent products of the field (see tîrôsh). Grapes were trodden to make juice for wine and also were dried to make raisins which were widely used, to judge from Abigail’s gift to David (1Sam 25:18; cf. 2Sam 16:1). Treading the winepress became a forceful figure of divine judgment ( Isa 63:3; Rev 14:19). The grapes of Palestine were part of the proof of the productivity of the land (Num 13:23), especially significant because Egypt did not specialize in grapes. Vineyards were not to be picked clean, but gleanings were to be left for the poor (Lev 19:10). Famous is Naboth’s vineyard, his patrimony which he would not part with, but which Ahab secured to his own destruction.
From this we can gather that vineyards were very important in ancient times, the amount of care one puts into it requires real patience. Harvest time was a joyous time with the required hard work. The vine dresser will come to the vine expecting it to bear fruit. To enjoy one’s vineyard is a blessing from God.
Scripture also uses the vineyard figuratively as a type for Israel. Let’s look at a passage in Isaiah:
Isa 5:1-7 Please let me sing to the One I love, a song for my loved One regarding His vineyard: my loved One has a vineyard on a fertile hill. And He dug it up and cleared it of stones, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a watchtower in its midst, and also made a winepress in it. And He waited for the yielding of grapes, but it yielded rotten ones. “And now, O inhabitant of Yerushalayim and man of Yehuḏah, please judge between Me and My vineyard. “What more could have been done to My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I waited for the yielding of grapes, did it yield rotten ones? “And now, please let Me inform you what I am doing to My vineyard: To take away its hedge and it shall be burned; to break down its wall and it shall be trampled down; and I lay it waste; it is not pruned or dug and thornbushes and weeds shall come up; and I command the clouds not to rain on it.” For the vineyard of יהוה of hosts is the house of Yisra’ĕl, and the man of Yehuḏah is His pleasant plant. He looked for right-ruling, but see, oppression; for righteousness, but see, weeping.
God is the vinedresser and Israel His vineyard. He cultivated it and nurtured it. He delivered them from Egypt with a Mighty Hand and led them to a Land He promised their fathers. He nourished them in the wilderness with water from the Rock and fed them with manna. They didn’t lack a thing, all their physical needs were met. Still they rebelled against Him and produced no fruit except for rotten fruit. When the Vinedresser came to see what was the produce and the fruit it yielded; He found none but withered fruit. So pruning was necessary and He pruned them; but still they refused Him.
But Scripture speaks of a future time when His vineyard will flourish and bear fruit “worthy of repentance”.
Isaiah 27:1 In that day יהוה with His severe sword, great and strong, punishes Liwiathan the fleeing serpent, Liwiathan that twisted serpent. And He shall slay the monster that is in the sea.
Isa 27:2 In that day sing to her, “A vineyard of red wine!
Isa 27:3 “I, יהוה, do guard it, I water it every moment; lest any hurt it, I guard it night and day.
Isa 27:4 “Wrath is not in Me. Who would set thornbushes and weeds against Me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together.
Isa 27:5 “Or let him take hold of My strength and make peace with Me. Let him make peace with Me!”
Isa 27:6 Those who come He causes to take root in Yaʽaqoḇ, Yisra’ĕl shall blossom and bud. And they shall fill the face of the world with fruit.
Isa 27:7 Has He smitten him as He smote those who were smiting him? Or were they slain as those they had slaughtered?
Isa 27:8 In measure, by sending her away, You contended with her. He shall take away by His rough wind in the day of the east wind.
Isa 27:9 Therefore by this the crookedness of Yaʽaqoḇ is covered. And this is all the fruit of taking away his sin: when he makes all the stones of the altar like chalkstones that are beaten to dust – Ashĕrim and sun-pillars rise no more.
Isa 27:10 For the city of defence is lonely, a home forsaken and left like a wilderness – there the calf feeds, and there it lies down, and shall consume its branches.
Isa 27:11 When its twigs are dry, they are broken off, women come and set them on fire. For it is a people of no understanding, therefore He who made them has no compassion on them, and He who formed them shows them no favour.
Isa 27:12 And in that day it shall be that יהוה threshes, from the channel of the River to the wadi of Mitsrayim. And you shall be gathered one by one1, O children of Yisra’ĕl. Footnote: 1Jer. 3:14-15.
Isa 27:13 And in that day it shall be that a great horn is blown, and those who were perishing in the land of Ashshur and the outcasts in the land of Mitsrayim shall come, and shall worship יהוה on the set-apart mountain, in Yerushalayim.
They (Israel) planted vineyards; but could not eat of its grapes, they built houses; but could not live in them, all because of their disobedience against Father. But God promises to restore them and He will guard them and water them. He will take away our sin and this He has done through the work of the Messiah, Yahushua (Jesus). Messiah Yahushua says:
Joh 15:1-27 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. “Every branch in Me that bears no fruit He takes away. And every branch that bears fruit He prunes, so that it bears more fruit. “You are already clean because of the Word which I have spoken to you. “Stay in Me, and I stay in you. As the branch is unable to bear fruit of itself, unless it stays in the vine, so neither you, unless you stay in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who stays in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit. Because without Me you are able to do naught! “If anyone does not stay in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up. And they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. “If you stay in Me, and My Words stay in you, you shall ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. “In this My Father is esteemed, that you bear much fruit, and you shall be My taught ones.
Joh 15:9 “As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Stay in My love. “If you guard My commands, you shall stay in My love,1 even as I have guarded My Father’s commands and stay in His love. Footnote: 1See 14:15. “These words I have spoken to you, so that My joy might be in you, and that your joy might be complete. “This is My command, that you love one another, as I have loved you.1 Footnote: 1See 13:34, 15:17. “No one has greater love than this: that one should lay down his life for his friends. “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, for all teachings which I heard from My Father I have made known to you. “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name He might give you.
Joh 15:17 “These words I command you, so that you love one another.“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, for that reason the world hates you. “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they shall persecute you too. If they have guarded My Word, they would guard yours too. “But all this they shall do to you because of My Name, because they do not know Him who sent Me. “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. “He who hates Me hates My Father as well.
Joh 15:24 “If I did not do among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin. But now they have both seen and have hated both Me and My Father, but…that the word might be filled which was written in their Torah, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’ “And when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of the Truth, who comes from the Father, He shall bear witness of Me, but you also bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.
When the Vinedresser comes to your vine(life); what will He find beloved? Will He find a vineyard with broken down walls and thorns and thistles, and producing rotten fruit? Or will He find your vineyard in order; walls up and bearing fruit abundantly; staying in the teaching of his Master?
Let us not produce rotten fruit, but fruit worthy of repentance so that when Father comes to find fruit He may be able to say: well done good and faithful servant………….
Shalom Till Next Time!