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Monday, February 24, 2014

Blemished grapes? Numbers knew

(Photo by Dragonflyir)
In Numbers 6:14, it is emphasized that sacrificial lambs must be unblemished.

A few verses before that, Numbers 6:4 exhorts that those who take Nazirite vows shall "eat nothing that is made of the grapevine, from the pressed grapes even to the grapestone."

Many have wondered about this passage because grapes and their byproducts are often thought to be quite healthy. For example, who among modern-day Americans has not seen commercialized images of California raisins dancing in the sun?

Suddenly, however, this misunderstood Torah commandment (one of 613) has been vindicated.  USA Today reports that Propionibacterium acnes type Zappae (aka P. acnes) is lurking within grapevines.  Some strains of P. acnes have been linked with human blemishes.

The Italian scientists who discovered these grapevine critters are theorizing that they originally migrated onto the vines from the skin of human agriculturists.  This migration was thought to have occurred approximately 8,000 years ago.  Therefore, by the time Numbers was written, these grapevine bacteria were all settled in.

Given the numerous Torah taboos against blemishes, it is not surprising that grapevines - and all that they yield, have been deemed to be forbidden fruits.  


Copyright February 24, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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