From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

Vinegar ( ὄξος, acetum ) was credited with manifold efficacy by the ancient physicians.* [Note: HN xxiii. 27 ff.] Nor was the medicinal its sole use. It served as the drink of the lower orders, especially slaves;† [Note: Mil. Glor. iii. 2. 23.] and it was the only refreshment allowed to soldiers while engaged in active service. ‘The vigilant humanity of Julian,’ says Gibbon,‡ [Note: and Fall, ch. xxiv. See Wetstein on  Matthew 27:34.] ‘had embarked a very large magazine of vinegar and biscuit for the use of the soldiers, but he prohibited the indulgence of wine.’

It is twice mentioned in the story of the Crucifixion. The quaternion of soldiers (cf.  John 19:23) charged with the execution had with them a jar of their posca , as it was termed; and, when they had accomplished their laborious task, they refreshed themselves from it. The bystanders, led by the exultant priests, were meanwhile mocking the meek Sufferer and deriding His Messianic claim. ‘He is King of Israel,’ they cried: ‘let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe on him.’ The soldiers heard the taunt and joined in. ( Luke 23:35-43 =  Matthew 27:39-44 =  Mark 15:29-32).

Again, after He had uttered His cry of desolation: Eli, Eli, lama ‘ăzabht âni (see Dereliction), Jesus moaned, ‘I thirst’; and one of the bystanders, probably a Roman soldier,§ [Note: So Jerome, Euth Zig., on the ground that Jews would have understood the Hebrew Eli.] moved by pity, took a sponge and, dipping it in the posca , put it on the end of a hyssop reed. His comrades interfered. Ignorant of Hebrew, they took Eli for the name Elias , and supposed that Jesus was invoking the help of one of that name. ‘Hold!’|| [Note: | Mt.’s ἄφες may be the Hellenistic sign of Imperat. (modern Gr. ἄς): cf.  Matthew 7:4 =  Luke 6:42; but its construction as an independent Imperat. is equally permissible (cf. Epict. iv. i. 79) and yields a better sense, besides being favoured by Mk.’s ἄφετε.] they cried. ‘Let us see if Elias is coming to save him.’ But the man persisted in his humane purpose, and held up the sponge to the parched lips ( Matthew 27:45-50 =  Mark 15:33-37 =  John 19:28-30).

St. Mark’s account is much confused. It represents the offering of the vinegar as an act of mockery, in opposition to both St. Matthew and St. John, and the cry, ‘Hold,’ etc., as uttered, without any apparent provocation, by the man with the reed. There is here an example of the style of modification which the Evangelic tradition—in this instance correctly reproduced by St. Matthew—suffered in the process of oral transmission: (1) The interference of the bystanders was omitted; and (2) ἄφες, suitable when addressed to one man, was altered to fit the new conception of the situation into ἄφετε.

It is nothing strange that Jesus accepted the posca after refusing the ‘myrrhed wine’ ( Mark 15:23 =  Matthew 27:34). He refused the narcotic (see Crucifixion), He accepted the refreshment.

David Smith.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [2]

חמצ ,  Numbers 6:3;  Ruth 2:14;  Psalms 69:21;  Proverbs 10:26;  Proverbs 25:20; οξος ,  Matthew 27:48;  Mark 15:36;  John 19:29-30; an acid produced by a second fermentation of vinous liquors. The law of the Nazarite was that he should "separate himself from wine and strong drink, and should drink no vinegar of wine, nor vinegar of strong drink, nor any liquor of grapes." This is exactly the same prohibition that was given in the case of John the Baptist,  Luke 1:15 , οινιν και σικερα ου μη πιη , wine and sikera he shall not drink. Any inebriating liquor, says Jerom, is called sicera, whether made of corn, apples, honey, dates, or other fruits. One of the four prohibited drinks among the Mohammedans in India is called sakar, which signifies inebriating drink in general, but especially date wine. From the original word, probably, we have our term cider or sider, which among us, exclusively means the fermented juice of apples. Vinegar was used by harvesters for their refreshment. Boaz told Ruth that she might come and dip her bread in vinegar with his people. Pliny says, "Aceto summa vis in refrigerando." [There is the greatest power in vinegar, in cooling.] It made a very cooling beverage. It was generally diluted with water. When very strong it affected the teeth disagreeably,   Proverbs 10:26 . In  Proverbs 25:20 , the singing of songs to a heavy heart is finely compared to the contrariety or colluctation between vinegar and nitre; untimely mirth to one in anxiety serves only to exasperate, and as it were put into a ferment by the intrusion.

The Emperor Pescennius Niger gave orders that his soldiers should drink nothing but vinegar on their marches. That which the Roman soldiers offered to our Saviour at his crucifixion, was, probably, the vinegar they made use of for their own drinking. Constantine the Great allowed them wine and vinegar alternately, every day. This vinegar was not of that sort which we use for salads and sauces, but it was a tart wine called pesca, or sera. They make great use of it in Spain and Italy, in harvest time. They use it also in Holland and on shipboard, to correct the ill taste of the water.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [3]

1: Ὄξος (Strong'S #3690 — Noun Neuter — oxos — ox'-os )

akin to oxus, "sharp," denotes "sour wine," the ordinary drink of laborers and common soldiers; it is used in the four Gospels of the "vinegar" offered to the Lord at His crucifixion. In  Matthew 27:34 the best texts have oinos, "wine" (RV). Some have oxos (AV, "vinegar"), but   Mark 15:23 (AV and RV) confirms the RV in the passage in Matthew. This which the soldiers offered before crucifying, was refused by Him, as it was designed to alleviate His sufferings; the "vinegar" is mentioned in   Mark 15:36; so  Luke 23:36;  John 19:29,30 . In the Sept.,  Numbers 6:3;  Ruth 2:14;  Psalm 69:21;  Proverbs 25:20 .

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [4]

Hebrew Chomets , Greek Oxos . Wine soured. Acid and unpalatable ( Proverbs 10:26), yet to thirsty labourors the acid relieved thirst ( Ruth 2:14). So it was used by Roman soldiers, pure, or mixed with water and called posca. Pourer on nitre or potash it causes effervescence ( Proverbs 25:20). Instead of cordials, Christ's enemies gave Him on the cross first vinegar mixed with gall ( Matthew 27:34), and myrrh ( Mark 15:23); which after tasting He declined, for He would not encounter sufferings in a state of stupefaction by the myrrh; to criminals it would have been a kindness, to the Sinbearer it was meant as an insult ( Luke 33:36). Toward the close of His crucifixion, to fulfill Scripture He cried "I thirst," and vinegar was brought which He received ( John 19:28;  Matthew 27:48).

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [5]

VINEGAR . The light wine of Bible times, in consequence of the primitive methods of manufacture then in vogue (for which see Wine and Strono Drink), turned sour much more rapidly than modern wines. In this condition it was termed chômets (lit. ‘sour [stuff]’), and was used, mixed with water, as a drink by the peasants (  Ruth 2:14 ). The Nazirite’s vow of abstinence included also ‘vinegar of wine’ and ‘vinegar of strong drink,’ i.e. of all intoxicating liquor other than grape-wine (  Numbers 6:3 ). The Jewish chômets corresponded to the Roman posca , the favourite drink of the soldiers, which those charged with our Lord’s crucifixion offered Him on the cross EV [Note: English Version.] ‘vinegar’ (  John 19:29 f., but not   Matthew 27:34 , see RV [Note: Revised Version.] ).

A. R. S. Kennedy.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [6]

This was a thin sour wine, that might be called either wine or vinegar, there being other words for wine of a better quality. It was the drink of the reapers and of the Roman soldiers. It is represented as intoxicating, and as irritating to the teeth. "As vinegar upon nitre [natron, an alkali], so is he that singeth songs to a heavy heart."  Proverbs 25:20 . Its acidity is referred to in  Proverbs 10:26 .

Vinegar was offered to the Lord mingled with myrrh or gall, and He refused it; but He received the vinegar when He had said, 'I thirst,' according to the prophecy "In my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink."  Numbers 6:3;  Ruth 2:14;  Psalm 69:21;  Matthew 27:34,48 , etc.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [7]

Vinegar. The Hebrew word translated "vinegar" was applied to a beverage consisting generally of wine or strong drink turned sour, but sometimes artificially made by an admixture of barley and wine, and thus liable to fermentation. It was acid even to a proverb,  Proverbs 10:26, and by itself formed an unpleasant draught,  Psalms 49:21, but was used by laborers.  Ruth 2:14. Similar was the acetum of the Romans - a thin, sour wine, consumed by soldiers. This was the beverage of which the Saviour partook in his dying moments.  Matthew 27:48;  Mark 15:36;  John 19:29-30.

Holman Bible Dictionary [8]

 Numbers 6:3 Numbers 6:3 Proverbs 10:26 Proverbs 25:20 Psalm 69:21 Ruth 2:14 chimmuts

Vinegar was most commonly used as a seasoning for food or as a condiment on bread ( Ruth 2:14 ). Solomon figuratively used vinegar to describe the irritation caused by a lazy man's attitude. See Wine .

C. Dale Hill

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [9]

Poor or sour wine, the produce of the second or acetous fermentation of vinous liquors. The term sometimes designates a thin, sour wine, much used by laborers and by the Roman soldiers,  Numbers 6:3   Ruth 2:14   2 Chronicles 2:10   John 19:29 . See  Proverbs 10:26   25:20 .

Webster's Dictionary [10]

(1): ( v. t.) To convert into vinegar; to make like vinegar; to render sour or sharp.

(2): ( a.) Hence, anything sour; - used also metaphorically.

(3): ( a.) A sour liquid used as a condiment, or as a preservative, and obtained by the spontaneous (acetous) fermentation, or by the artificial oxidation, of wine, cider, beer, or the like.

King James Dictionary [11]


1. Vegetable acid an acid liquor obtained from wine, cider, beer or other liquors, by the second or acetous fermentation. Vinegar may differ indefinitely in the degree of its acidity. When highly concentrated, it is called radical vinegar. 2. Any thing really or metaphorically sour. Not in use.

Vinegar of lead, a liquor formed by digesting ceruse or litharge with a sufficient quantity of vinegar to dissolve it.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [12]

 Psalm 69:21 Matthew 27:34 Proverbs 10:26

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [13]

( חֹמֵוֹ ; Sept. and N.T. Ὄξος ; Vulg. Acetun ) . The Hebrew term Chomets was applied to a beverage; consisting generally of wine or strong drink turned sour (whence its use was proscribed to the Nazarite,  Numbers 6:3), but sometimes artificially made by an admixture of barley and wine, and thus liable to fermentation (Mishna, Pesach. 3, 1). It was acid even to a proverb ( Proverbs 10:26), and by itself formed a nauseous draught ( Psalms 69:21), but was serviceable for the purpose of sopping bread, as used by laborers ( Ruth 2:14), being refreshing in the heat (Pliny, 23:26; comp. 2, 49). The degree of its acidity may be inferred from  Proverbs 25:20, where its effect on niter is noticed. (See Wine). Similar to the Chomets of the Hebrews was the Acetum of the Romans a thin, sour wine, consumed by soldiers (Veget. De Re Mil. 4 :7) either in a pure state or, more usually, mixed with water, when it was termed Posca (Pliny, 19:29; Spartian. Hadr. 10). This was the beverage of which the Savior partook in his dying moments ( Matthew 27:48;  Mark 15:36;  John 19:29-30), and doubtless it was refreshing to his exhausted frame, though offered in derision either on that occasion or previously ( Luke 23:36). The same liquid, mingled with gall (as Matthew states, probably with the view of marking the fulfillment of the prediction in  Psalms 69:21), or with myrrh (as Mark states, with an eye to the exact historical fact), was offered to the Savior at an earlier stage of his sufferings, in order to deaden the perception of pain ( Matthew 27:34;  Mark 15:23). See Grabner, De Posca (Misen. 1701; Pfaff, De Felle Esca (Tub. 1755); Bynieus, De Morte Jesu Chr. 3, 265. (See Crucifixion).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [14]

vin´ḗ - gẽr ( חמץ , ḥōmec  ; ὄξος , óxos ): Vinegar, whose use as a condiment (Rth 2:14) needs no comment, is formed when a saccharine fluid passes through a fermentation that produces acetic acid. In the ancient world vinegar was usually made of wine, although any fruit juice can be utilized in its manufacture, and "vinegar of strong drink" (palm juice?) is mentioned in   Numbers 6:3 . Undiluted vinegar is of course undrinkable, and to offer it to a thirsty man is mockery ( Psalm 69:21 ), but a mixture of water and vinegar makes a beverage that was very popular among the poor (Greek oxos , oxúkraton , Latin posca - names applied also to diluted sour wine). It is mentioned in   Numbers 6:3 (forbidden to the Nazirite) and again in the Gospels in the account of the Crucifixion. The executioners had brought it in a vessel (  John 19:29 ) for their own use and at first "offered" it to Christ, while keeping it out of reach ( Luke 23:36 ). But at the end the drink was given Him on a sponge ( Mark 15:36;  Matthew 27:48;  John 19:29 ,  John 19:30 ). In addition, the King James Version, following Textus Receptus of the New Testament, has "vinegar ... mingled with gall" in  Matthew 27:34 , but this rests on a false reading, probably due to  Psalm 69:21 , and the Revised Version (British and American) rightly has "wine." Vinegar, like all acids, is injurious to the teeth ( Proverbs 10:26 ); and when it is combined with niter an effervescence is produced ( Proverbs 25:20 ). The appropriateness of the last figure, however, is obscure, and Septuagint reads "as vinegar on a wound ," causing pain.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [15]