A state that is almost always viewed in a negative way. Wisdom literature associates intoxication with foolish, impractical acts (Prov. 20.1; 26.9), and the impropriety that emerges as a consequence is exemplified in the well‐known stories of Noah (Gen. 9:20–27; see Ham/Canaan, Cursing of) and Lot (Gen. 19.30–38). Kings are sometimes portrayed as being undone by their drunkenness, as is the case with Elah (1 Kings 16.9) and Ben‐hadad (1 Kings 20.16).
Drunkenness, frequently in a figurative sense, is a theme that recurs in the prophetic literature of Israel. On the one hand, the leaders of Israel (including prophets, priests, and kings) are portrayed as being drunk because their acts are viewed as irresponsible (Isa. 28.1, 3; 29.9). On the other hand, those who experience the wrath of Yahweh are depicted as staggering and dazed as a drunkard. This image is applied to Israel (Isa. 51.21; Jer. 13.13; Ezek. 23.33; Lam. 4.21), to the nations generally (Isa. 24.20; 49.26; Ezek. 39.19), and to specific nations such as Babylon (Jer. 51.39, 57), Nineveh (Nah. 3.11), Egypt (Isa. 19.24), and Moab (Jer. 48.26). Those drunk with Yahweh's judgment are sometimes pictured as having drunk from the cup or bowl of his wrath (Isa. 51.22; Jer. 25.27; Lam. 4.21; Ezek. 23.33) and sometimes as being drunk with their own blood (Isa. 49.26; cf. Ezek. 39.19). Jeremiah 23.9 represents a unique image in the prophetic literature: Jeremiah likens himself, as a prophet of Yahweh overcome with the power of Yahweh's words, to a drunken man overcome with wine; note the daring application of the same image to Yahweh himself in Psalm 78.65.
In the New Testament references to drunkenness and drunkards often occur in lists of vices (see Ethical Lists), and, as in the Hebrew Bible, drunken behavior is viewed negatively (Luke 21.34; Rom. 13.13; 1 Cor. 6.10; 1 Pet. 4.3). Those awaiting the second coming of Christ should not be drunk (1 Thess. 5.7; Luke 12.45; Matt. 24.49). Paul admonishes the Corinthians not to be drunk at the Lord's supper (1 Cor. 11.12). In Revelation 17.2, 6 “to be drunk” is used in a figurative sense of Babylon.
See also Wine.
Edgar W. Conrad