Over at Maggie’s Farm, an interesting post about balsamic vinegar:
The good Balsamic Vinegar comes from Modena (home of Ferrari, Maserati, and Lamborghini), where they have been making it for a thousand years.
It’s called “balsamic” because it was thought to be a good balsam, or balm, for pain and disease. Our North American Balsam Fir was thought to be good for diseases too. The Romans viewed vinegar as a balm and a medicine – hence the Roman soldier kindly offering Jesus vinegar on the cross.
They make it from boiled-down Trebbiano grape juice. Balsamic Vinegar is not a wine vinegar.
The first commenter, Rick, wrote:
When I was younger and attending Catholic School, we were always taught that the Roman soldier offered Jesus the vinegar because he was MEAN. In other words, Jesus was thirsty and shouldn’t get water, so give him vinegar (we were also taught that Jesus accepted the vinegar, which showed how forgiving He was).
The detail about the vinegar, which Jesus accepted, is from the Gospel of John. In Matthew we read of a offering of wine mixed with gall, which Jesus refused. I had been taught that Jesus refused the wine with gall because the gall was likely a poison, meant to hasten his death, and thus diminish the voluntary suffering he had undertaken, which would have, in turn, diminished the gift freely given. On the other hand, he accepted the vinegar (as I understood it) because it was a kindness received, and not spurned.
Hey, this is just what I remember, and I haven’t thought of this stuff for years. But now that I’m considering it, it is interesting that Jesus did not accept the wine with gall, if he understood it to be poison. From a pro-life perspective, he did not end his suffering early by assisting in euthanasia. He simply died when he could no longer sustain life.
Something to ponder.
UPDATE: In the comments, cminor writes “…an acidic liquid like vinegar in small amounts would be better received by a severely dehydrated person than would water.” In writing this piece, I was going to add a vague memory of someone telling me that vinegar would soothe Jesus’ extreme dehydration, but it was all so nebulously remembered that I thought I’d leave it out. If this is correct, though, it sort of adds to the pro-life witness at the crucifixion that we’re considering, here. If the wine with gall was a poison Jesus refused, because it would hasten death, and the vinegar was accepted because it would bring a small measure of consolation, but not healing, it’s all of a piece.