Chapter 40 - MIXED-UP DRINKS

Continued from Chapter 39 (Psalms 69:22) The Gospel authors often employed scriptural verses out of context in order to support their claim that Jesus is the central theme of the Bible. Sometimes there are subtle contradictions in their respective narrations that show the fictive origins of their assumptions. For example, Psalms 69:22 (verse 21 in some versions) states: “They put poison into my food; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” Ignoring context and word meanings Matthew writes that while Jesus was being crucified, “They gave him wine to drink mingled with gall, and after tasting it, he was unwilling to drink” (Matthew 27:34). This author used the Greek word khole (“gall”), the same term employed by the Septuagint version of Psalms 69:22. Mark reports this alleged scriptural fulfillment as follows: “And they tried to give him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it” (Mark 15:23). This account differs from that found in Matthew in that it mentions myrrh not gall. Some Christians attempt to harmonize these two contradictory versions by maintaining that the “poison” or “gall” referred to was myrrh. But, the psalmist was not randomly using a word but was precise in his terminology. The psalmist choice of words is ro’sh, “poison” or “gall,” and not the word mor, “myrrh.” Ro’sh, is usually rendered as “poison” or “gall,” but more precisely may have referred to hemlock, colocynth, or the poppy (opium). The exact identification of this poisonous plant has been lost. Ro’sh is employed in several ways in the Bible: as a poisonous plant (Lamentations 3:5, 19); poison or venom (Deuteronomy 32:33, Job 20:16); or poisonous water (Jeremiah 8:14, 9:14, 23:15). It is also used in a figurative sense for the perversion of justice (Hosea 10:4, Amos 6:12) and for describing apostasy (Deuteronomy 29:17). In order to reconcile the two Gospel texts listing “gall” or “myrrh” respectively, some Christians propose the solution that the drink contained both gall and myrrh. Nevertheless, there is no denying that ro’sh and mor are simply not the same substances. In fact, myrrh, although bitter tasting, is not poisonous and is even used as an ingredient in medication. Was verse 22 fulfilled in an episode involving Jesus? When was poison (gall) put into Jesus’ food? Does the “wine mingled with gall” or the “wine mixed with myrrh” qualify as the poison put into “my food” or the “vinegar [given] to drink” spoken of by the psalmist? Was Jesus given food at his execution? The simple truth is that there is no comparison between the psalmist’s words and the Gospel claims of fulfillment of Scripture during the crucifixion of Jesus. © Gerald Sigal Continued