Absinthe and the Apostle Paul

 

In one of Paul’s letters we have the curious advice offered to Timothy that he should take a little wine for his stomach to help him heal because of his frequent illness (1 Tim. 5:23).  It would seem odd that such a recommendation is offered by the apostle Paul of all people.

However, I came across an interesting parallel employing the same idea with a surprising substance, Absinthe.  Apparently, the French Army distributed Absinthe to its soldiers to put in their canteen water to prevent them from getting sick or developing malaria or dysentery from the substandard water supplies they had to make use of in the campaign of the African battalions into Algeria.  This is in fact what popularized the drink in France.

Water supplies in biblical times often times were sub-par and carried similar problematic microorganisms which meant much of the water was diluted with wine to kill those same said bacterial bad guys.  Fast forward to today with hiking kits, one can use a type of iodine in water to accomplish a similar task.  This points out the practice is one which has been practiced for millenia and the Bible no less mentions an example as an aside in the occasional writing of Paul to his faithful disciple Timothy.