The fourth curse against the Chaldean drunkards (Hab 2:15-2:17)

“Woe to you!

You make your neighbors drink!

You pour out your wrath,

Until they are drunk,

In order to gaze

On their nakedness!

You will be sated

With contempt,

Instead of glory!

Drink!

You yourself!

Stagger!

The cup

In Yahweh’s right hand

Will come around to you.

Shame will come upon

Your glory!

The violence done

To Lebanon

Will overwhelm you.

The destruction

Of the animals

Will terrify you,

Because of human bloodshed

With the violence to the earth,

To the cities,

To all who live in them.”

Habakkuk then cursed the Chaldean drunkards.  They made their neighbors drunk so that they would become naked.  They themselves would drink until they staggered around.  They used alcohol as a weapon and as a form of feasting.  Their glory would turn to shame.  They had been violent to Lebanon.  The destruction of animals would terrify them.  They had committed violence that led to bloodshed in the various cities that they had taken over.

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Make them drink wine (Jer 35:5-35:6)

“Then I set

Before the Rechabites

Pitchers full of wine,

With cups.

I said to them.

‘Have some wine!’

But they answered.

‘We will drink no wine!

Our ancestor Jonadab

The son of Rechab,

Commanded us.

‘You shall never drink wine!

Neither you!

Not your children!”

Jeremiah personally continues this story by following the orders of Yahweh. He set full pitchers of wine with drinking cups beside them. He then invited the Rechabites to drink some wine. However, they answered that they would not drink any wine because their ancestor Jonadab, the son of Rechab, had commanded them to never drink wine. Thus, they, and their children, would never drink wine. This is like the old Irish pledge not to drink alcohol.

Strong drinks (Prov 31:4-31:7)

“It is not for kings.

O Lemuel!

It is not for kings to drink wine.

Rulers should not desire strong drink.

Otherwise if they drink,

They will forget what has been decreed.

They will pervert the rights of all the afflicted.

Give strong drink to him who is perishing!

Give wine to those in bitter distress!

Let them drink!

Let them forget their poverty!

Let them remember their misery no more!”

Now we have a warning against strong drink or alcohol, which was a common prohibition among the ancient and current Arabic countries. The king should not drink wine or strong drinks because he would forget what he had decreed. He might end up perverting the rights of all the afflicted. Even in this prohibition against strong drink, there was a sense of social justice in that the king might forget about his subjects and their afflictions. However, in a strange turn of events, it was okay to give strong drink to those who were dying. My father, who was dying of throat cancer, decided to drink alcohol rather than take drugs. Anyone in great distress could have a strong drink. They were allowed to drink because it would help them forget their poverty and misery. Strong drink was allowed for the dying, the poor, and the miserable, but not for a king.