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Flagons of Raisins or Wine?

The English word "flagon" originated from a similar French word meaning a flask. It's used to translate two Hebrew words, which actually refer to two very different things. The first, pronounced ash-ee-shaw, refers to something that is pressed together, as in a cake of raisins. The other, pronounced nay-bel, refers to a flask of animal skin that was used to hold a liquid. Some translations, sometimes, but not always, incorrectly use "flagons of wine" where others correctly use "cakes of raisins."

"flagons of wine" / "cakes of raisins"

In these three examples, the King James incorrectly refers to wine, while other versions, such as the RSV, correctly refer to cakes of raisins.

In 2 Samuel 6:19, the KJV has "a flagon of wine" where the RSV correctly has "a cake of raisins." In Song of Solomon 2:5 the KJV has "stay me with flagons" where the RSV correctly has "sustain me with raisins." In Hosea 3:1, the KJV has "love flagons of wine" where the RSV correctly has "love cakes of raisins."


"So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of The Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. And as the ark of The Lord came into the city of David, Michal Saul's daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before The Lord; and she despised him in her heart. And they brought in the ark of The Lord, and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it: and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before The Lord. And as soon as David had made an end of offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of The Lord of hosts. And he dealt among all the people, even among the whole multitude of Israel, as well to the women as men, to every one a cake of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine ["a cake of raisins" in the RSV]. So all the people departed every one to his house." (2 Samuel 6:15-19 KJV)

"I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. Stay me with flagons ["Sustain me with raisins" in the RSV], comfort me with apples" (Song of Solomon 2:1-5 KJV)

"Then said The Lord unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of The Lord toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine ["love cakes of raisins" in the RSV]." (Hosea 3:1 KJV)

In this example from Isaiah 22:24, the King James correctly translates the original Hebrew as liquid-holding containers, "from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons" as also the RSV correctly has "every small vessel, from the cups to all the flagons."

"And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house. And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons ["all the flagons" in the RSV]." (Isaiah 22:22-24 KJV)

Fact Finder: Was the "wine" of the Holy Bible actually wine? Or was it merely unfermented grape juice?
See Wine or Grape Juice?

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