Excerpt from greg Price’s paper on alcohol in the bible:
a. Yayin (wine)
(1) The same wine (yayin) that intoxicated Noah (Gen. 9:21), Lot (Gen. 19:32-35), Nabal (1 Sam. 25:36-37), and others (Is. 28:1,7) was given as a gift to others by godly men. For example, Melchizedek, a type of Christ and the priest of the Most High God, gave yayin to Abraham (Gen. 14:18; Heb. 7:3).
(2) Yayin is commanded by God to be brought to Him as an offering in worship (Ex. 29:38,40; Lev. 23:13; Num. 15:5,7,10).
(3) Yayin is a gracious blessing from God to be enjoyed by His people (Deut. 14:26; Ps. 104:14-15; Eccl. 9:7; Is. 55:1; Amos 9:13-15).
(4) Yayin in plenty is a sign of God’s blessing, while the lack of it is a sign of God’s cursing (Deut. 28:39).
(5) Yayin is one of the delicacies that Divine Wisdom prepares for all who seek her (Prov. 9:1-5).
b. Tirosh (new wine)
(1) The same tirosh (new wine) that could enslave the heart when abused (Hos. 4:11) is a blessing from God (Gen. 27:28,37; Deut. 7:13; Prov. 3:10).
(2) The removal of tirosh is a sign of God’s curse (Deut. 28:51).
c. ‘asis (sweet wine)
(1) The same‘asis (sweet wine) that intoxicates when abused (Is. 49:26; Joel 1:5) is also used as a sign of the Messianic blessings to come for God’s people (Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13).
d. Shekar (strong drink, from the root shakar, to be drunk or intoxicated)
(1) The same shekar (strong drink) that makes drunk (Prov. 20:1; Is. 5:11) is yet commanded to be offered as a drink offering to the Lord in worship (Num. 28:7), and is to be joyfully consumed as a part of the “rejoicing tithe” unto the Lord (Deut. 14:26).
e. Hamer (wine in the Chaldean language, from hamar which means to ferment)
(1) The same hamer abused by Belshazzar (Dan. 5:1-4) is a blessing God gives to His people (Deut. 32:14). In Deuteronomy 32:14 hamer (fermented wine) parallels the phrase “the blood of the grapes” and yet it is this same hamer that has the capacity to intoxicate in Daniel 5:1-4.
f. Sobe (translated as wine, liquor, and drunken)
(1) This word only occurs three times in the Old Testament (Is. 1:22; Hos. 4:18; Nahum 1:10).
(2) God condemns Jerusalem because “the faithful city has become a harlot” (Is. 1:21) and because “your silver has become dross, your wine mixed with water” (Is. 1:22). The point being that all that was good in Jerusalem had become corrupted. Just as good silver is corrupted by dross, so good wine (sobe) is corrupted (not helped) by water. Thus, from this text it appears that the argument used by many today that the wine used in biblical times was diluted with water to such an extent as to render the alocoholic content of no effect is contradicted by Isaiah 1:22. For God says that the diluting of wine with water is a symbol of corrupting or adulterating that which is good.
g. Mesek (wine mixed with spices)
(1) The same mesek that produces an intoxicating drink (Is. 5:22) is used for one part of the banquet which Divine Wisdom prepares for those who seek her (Prov. 9:2,5).
(2) Mesek describes the mingling of spices with wine (yayin) as in Proverbs 9:2,5 or the mingling of spices with strong drink (shekar) as in Isaiah 5:22.
h. Mishrah (the juice of grapes)
(1) There is a word in the Hebrew language that means “grape juice.” The only time it is used in the Old Testament is in Numbers 6:3 where the Nazarite is not only forbidden from drinking yayin (wine) and shekar (strong drink), but is also prohibited from drinking mishrah (grape juice).
(2) Those who would argue from silence that there was an unfermented yayin (wine) used in the Old Testament must produce an example to demonstrate that such is the case. Simply to make an assertion is no argument. Otherwise, I can equally assert that such was not the case and my argument must stand.
(3) In interpreting the meaning of the various words used for alcoholic beverages in the Old Testament, one should assume these words refer to fermented beverages wherever they appear (since there are clear biblical references to establish the fact that they could intoxicate when abused) unless the context clearly states otherwise and cannot be understood using the stndard meaning of the word found elsewhere in Scripture. In other words, God must define these words–we must not impose our own definition upon them (i.e. Scripture must interpret Scripture).
(4) Finally, since God does use a word in the Old Testament that unambiguously means grape juice (mishrah), why is it used only once? Why is mishrah (grape juice) not used instead of yayin (wine) throughout the Old Testament if it was essentially grape juice that was being used as a common beverage. To the contrary, God demonstrates that yayin (wine) and mishrah (grape juice) are two different types of beverages by using two different words in Numbers 6:3–one being alcoholic (yayin), the other being nonalcoholic (mishrah). Thus, wine (yayin) must be understood throughout the Old Testament to be a fermented beverage unless God speaking in Scripture specifically alters the meaning.”