651. Skin Bottles

Matthew 9:17; Genesis 21:14; Judges 4:19; 1 Samuel 16:20; Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37
Matthew 9:1717Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved. (Matthew 9:17). Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.
The use of bottles made from the skins of animals is very ancient, and is still practiced in the East. The skins of goats and kids are commonly taken for this purpose, and are usually so fashioned as to retain the figure of the animal. In preparing the bottle, the head and feet are cut off, and the skin stripped whole from the body. The neck of the animal sometimes makes the neck of the bottle; in other cases one of the fore-legs is used as all aperture through which the liquid may be poured out. The thighs serve as handles; by attaching straps to them the bottle can be fastened to the saddle, or slung over the shoulder of the traveler. The Arabs tan the skins with Acacia bark and leave the hairy side out. For a large party, and for long journeys across the desert, the skins of camels or of oxen are used. Two of these, when filled with water, make a good load for a camel. They are smeared with grease to prevent leakage and evaporation. These water-skins, large and small, are much better than earthen jars or bottles for the rough experiences of Oriental traveling. Earthen bottles are, however, sometimes employed in domestic use. See note on Jeremiah 19:11Thus saith the Lord, Go and get a potter's earthen bottle, and take of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the priests; (Jeremiah 19:1) (#545). The “bottle” which Hagar carried into the wilderness, and from which she gave Ishmael drink, was probably a kidskin. See Genesis 21:1414And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. (Genesis 21:14). A similar scene is represented in the engraving, from an ancient Assyrian sculpture. Skin-bottles were also used for milk (Judges 4:1919And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him. (Judges 4:19)) and for wine (1 Sam. 16:2020And Jesse took an ass laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Saul. (1 Samuel 16:20).) In the text and its parallels allusion is made to this use of skins. When the skin is green. it stretches by fermentation of the liquor and retains its integrity; but when it becomes old and dry, the fermentation of the new wine soon causes it to burst.