Is the word “Bottles” incorrect in the King James Bible?
A Christian wrote me the other day asking if the word “bottles” wasn’t wrong in the King James Bible and that the correct word should be wineskins.
As is usually the case with words like this, all we need to do to see that the word is not incorrect, is simply to learn a bit more about our own English language and compare how other English translations throughout history have used this word.
The Definitions of the word Bottle
Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary - 1. A hollow vessel of glass, wood, LEATHER or other material, with a narrow mouth, for holding and carrying liquors. The oriental nations use skins or leather for the conveyance of liquors; and of this kind are the bottles mentioned in scripture. "Put new wine into bottles."
Oh, you say, that was way back in 1828 that a bottle could refer to a leather container. So, what about more recently?
Another King James Bible believer named Rick sent me this dictionary meaning of “bottles” and how it applies to the correctness of the KJB.
Smith’s Bible Dictionary (1987 by Barbour and Company, Inc., Uhrichville, Ohio) defines bottle as:
“Bottle. One Greek and four Hebrew words are translated bottle (chemeth, nebel, bakbuk, nod and askos.) Bottles are of skins, or of earth or glass. Skins of goats and kids are used for the smaller, and of the ox for the larger. These skins bottles are mentioned in Homer, Herodotus, and Virgil, and are now used in Spain and all over the Orient. Earthen and glass bottles were also used, and are often mentioned.”
“As you can see from this definition, bottles can be made of either animal skins (leather), earthen materials or glass. If the word is only translated as “wineskins” (bottles made of animal skins) then there is only a 1 in 3 possibility (33.33%) of this translation being correct, especially if there is no additional information to indicate specifically the type of material of the container. If the word “bottles” is used instead, then it does not matter what type of material that the container was made of, this word would always be correct.” (end of comments from brother Rick)
The New Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language 1971 - bottle - A hollow vessel of glass, LEATHER, or other material, with a narrow mouth, for holding and carrying liquors.”
Merriam Webster Dictionary - 1 a : a rigid or semirigid container typically of glass or plastic having a comparatively narrow neck or mouth and usually no handle b : a usually bottle-shaped CONTAINER MADE OF SKIN for storing a liquid.
Encyclopedia Britannica - bottle - “BOTTLE a vessel for containing liquids, generally as opposed to one for drinking from, and with a narrow neck to facilitate closing and pouring. THE FIRST BOTTLES WERE PROBABLY MADE OF THE SKINS OF ANIMALS. In the Iliad (iii. 247) the attendants are represented as bearing wine for use in A BOTTLE MADE OF GOAT'S SKIN. The ancient Egyptians used skins for this purpose, and from the language employed by Herodotus (ii. 1 2 1), it appears that a bottle was formed by sewing up the skin and leaving the projection of the leg and foot to serve as a vent. SKIN BOTTLES of various forms occur on Egyptian monuments. The Greeks and Romans also were accustomed to use BOTTLES MADE OF SKINS; and in the southern parts Europe they are still used for the transport of wine. The first of explicit reference to bottles of skin in Scripture occurs in Joshua (ix. 4), where it is said that the Gibeonites took "old sacks upon their asses, and wine-bottles old and rent and bound up." The objection to putting "new wine into old bottles" (Matt. ix. 17) is that the skin, already stretched and weakened by use, is liable to burst under the pressure of the gas from new wine.”
BIBLE VERSION COMPARISON
Let’s take a look at both the older and the more modern English bible translations and see how many of them still use the word BOTTLE to refer to a leather vessel used to carry liquids.
Matthew 9:17 King James Bible - “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.“
Not only does the King James Bible use the word “bottles” to describe a wineskin but so too do the following Bible translations. I am not by any means listing ALL the verses that use the word “bottles” but am just giving an example or two from each.
Wycliffe 1395 Matthew 9:17 - “Nethir men putten newe wyne in to elde botelis, ellis the botels ben to-broke, and distried, and the wyn sched out. But men putten newe wyne in to newe botels, and bothe ben kept.”
Coverdale 1535 - Genesis 21:14 - “Then Abraham rose vp early in the mornynge, and toke bred and a botell with water, and put it vpon Agars shulders...”
The Bishops’ Bible 1568 - Judges 4:19 “And he sayd vnto her: Geue me I pray thee a litle water to drincke, for I am thirstie. And she opened a bottle of milke, and gaue him drincke, & couered him.”;
1 Samuel 1:24 - “And when she had weaned hym, she toke hym with her, with three bullockes, and an Epha of floure, and a bottle of wine, and brought hym vnto the house of the Lorde in Silo, and the child was young.”
The Geneva Bible 1599 - Genesis 21:14 - “So Abraham arose vp early in ye morning, and tooke bread, and a bottell of water, and gaue it vnto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder”
The Revised Version 1885 has bottle 13 times - Genesis 21:14 - “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar...”
American Standard Version 1901 has “bottle” 12 times - Judges 4:19 - “ And 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.”
Douay Rheims - 14 times - 1 Samuel 1:24 “And after she had weaned him, she carried him with her, with three calves, and three bushels of flour, and a bottle of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord in Silo. Now the child was as yet very young”
Darby 1890 - Psalm 119:83 “For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; I do not forget thy statutes.”
Youngs 1898 - Genesis 21:14 “And Abraham riseth early in the morning, and taketh bread, and a bottle of water, and giveth unto Hagar...”
Jewish Publication Society 1917 - 1 Samuel 16:20 - “And Jesse took an ass laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Saul.”
The RSV 1954 has “bottle” 3 times Psalm 33:7 “He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle; he put the deeps in storehouses.”
The NRSV 1989 has bottle twice - Psalm 56:8 “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your record?”
The 2016 ESV - Psalm 56:8 “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your BOTTLE. Are they not in your book? “
NASB 1995 - Judges 4:19 “He said to her, "Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty." So she opened a bottle of milk and gave him a drink; then she covered him. “ Psalm 56:8 “You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?”
NKJV 1982 - bottle 4 times - Jeremiah 13:12 -"Therefore you shall speak to them this word: "Thus says the LORD God of Israel: "Every bottle shall be filled with wine."' "And they will say to you, "Do we not certainly know that every bottle will be filled with wine?'”
Holman Standard 2009 - "Put my tears in your BOTTLE" Psalms 56:8
Habakkuk 2:15 - "Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, Pressing him to your bottle, Even to make him drunk, That you may look on his nakedness! “
The Message 2002 - Judges 4:19 - “He said to her, "Please, a little water. I'm thirsty." She opened a bottle of milk, gave him a drink, and then covered him up again.”
International Standard Version 2014 (8 times) - "Abraham took bread and A LEATHER BOTTLE of water, and gave them to Hagar" Genesis 21:14
Jubilee Bible 2010 (17 times) - "So Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a BOTTLE of water and gave it unto Hagar" Genesis 21:14
The Cranmer (Great) Bible 1540 - “Mat 9:17 Nether do men put new wyne into olde: bottels: els the bottels breake, and the wyne runneth out, and the bottels peryshe. But they putt new wyne into new bottels, and both are saued together.”
Luke 5:37 - John Wesley translation 1755 - “And no man putteth new wine into old leathern-bottles: else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles will perish.”
Whiston’s Primitive New Testament 1745 - “Mat 9:17 Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the new wine breaketh the bottles, and the wine perisheth: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.
Luke 5:37 - Websters 1833 - “And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles will perish.”
Emphatic Diaglott 1865 - “Mat 9:17 Nor do they put wine new into bottles old; if but not, burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles are destroyed; but they put wine new into bottles new, and both are preserved together.”
Translation of the N.T. from Original Greek 1902 William Godbey - “Mat 9:17 Neither do they put new wine in old bottles: lest the bottles are broken, and the wine poured out, and the bottles shall perish: but they put the new wine into the new bottles, and both are preserved.”
The New Testament Translated from the Sinaitic Manuscript, Henry Anderson 1918 - “Mat 9:17 Neither do they put new wine into old bottles; otherwise, the bottles break, and the wine runs out, and the bottles perish; but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved together.”
The New Testament in the Language of the People, Charles B. Williams 1937 - Matthew 9:17 - “Nobody pours new wine into old wine BOTTLES; or, if they do, THE BOTTLES burst, the wine runs out, and THE BOTTLES are ruined.”
The NASB 1995, R.V. 1885, ASV 1901, Young's 1898 - "she opened a bottle of milk" Judges 4:19
The Fenton Bible 1966 - "a bottle of milk" Judges 4:19
The Koster Scriptures 1998 - "a bottle of milk" Judge 4:19
The Third Millennium Bible 1998 - "a bottle of milk" Judges 4:19
God's First Truth 1999 - "a bottle of milk" Judges 4:19
The World English Bible 2000 - "she opened a bottle of milk" Judges 4:19
Sacred Scriptures Family of Yah 2001 - "a bottle of milk" Judges 4:19
The Biblos Bible 2013 - "she opened a bottle of milk" Judges 4:19
The Hebrew Names Version 2014 - "she opened a bottle of milk" Judges 4:19
Easy To Read Version 2006 - "Jael had some milk in a bottle made from animal skin." Judges 4:19
Mebust Bible 2007 - "she opened a BOTTLE of milk and she gave him a drink" Judges 4:19
The Asser Septuagint 2009 - "she opened a bottle of milk" Judges 4:19
The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011 - "she opened a bottle of milk" Judges 4:19
The Concordant Version 2012 - "she opened the skin bottle of milk" Judges 4:19
The New Brenton Translation 2012 - "she opened a bottle of milk" Judges 4:19
Other Bible translations that continue to use the perfectly good English word BOTTLES in places like Matthew 9:17 are Wycliffe 1395 - "newe wyne in to elde botelis", the Bill Bible 1671, Wesley's Version 1755 "old leathern bottles", Thomas Haweis N.T. 1795, The Clarke N.T. 1795, The Thomson Bible 1808 - "old leathern bottles", The Revised Translation 1815 - "bottles", Kneeland N.T. 1823, The Living Oracles 1835, The Pickering N.T. 1840, the Longman Version 1841, the Hussey N.T. 1845, the Morgan N.T. 1848, the Etheridge Translation of Syraic 1849, the Hewett N.T. 1850, The Commonly Received Version 1851, the Boothroyd Bible 1853, the Sawyer N.T. 1858, The Emphatic Diaglott 1865, the Anderson N.T. 1865, The Revised English Bible 1877, The the Godbey N.T. 1902, Living Bible 1971 (7 times), Good News Translation 1992, the Word of Yah 1993, The Revised Webster Bible 1995, God's Word Translation 1995 (9 times) - "My belly is like A BOTTLE of wine that has not been opened, like new wineskins that are ready to burst." (Job 32:9), Worldwide English N.T. 1998, The World English Bible 2000 (16 times), The Evidence Bible 2003, New Century Version 2005, NET version 2006 - "I will smash them like wine BOTTLES one against another" (Jeremiah 13:14), Holman Standard 2009, the Bond Slave Version 2009, the Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010, New American Bible 2010 - "though I wear out like A LEATHER BOTTLE" (Job 13:28), the Online Interlinear 2010 (André de Mol), the The Orthodox Jewish Bible 2011, The Common English Bible 2011, the NIV 2011 -"Inside I am like BOTTLED-UP wine, like new wineskins ready to burst" (Job 32:19), Names of God Version 2011 (9 times), Lexham English Bible 2012, The Voice 2012, the Modern English Version 2014 (10 times), International Reader's Version 2014 (14 times), the International Children's Bible 2015, The New Living Translation 2015, the Tree of Life Version 2015 and The Passion Translation 2017.
Wycliffe New Testament (updated) 2001 Matthew 9:17 “Neither men put new wine into old bottles, else the bottles be broken, and destroyed, and the wine shed out. But men put new wine into new bottles, and both be kept.”
Urim-Thummim Version 2001, by Dallas James Matthew 9:17 - “Neither do men put new wine into old BOTTLES: otherwise the BOTTLES break, and the wine runs out, and the BOTTLES are ruined: but they put new wine into new BOTTLES, and both are preserved.”
Wycliffe New Testament (updated) 2001 Matthew 9:17 “Neither men put new wine into old BOTTLES, else the BOTTLS be broken, and destroyed, and the wine shed out. But men put new wine into new BOTTLES, and both be kept.”
The Message 2002 - “Matthew 9:16-17 - “He went on, "No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes; you want fabrics that match. And you don't put your wine in cracked BOTTLES."
There is nothing wrong with the King James Bible’s use of the word “bottle” to describe a vessel or container made of either pottery or leather. This IS one of the meanings of the word.
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