I have often wondered why Jesus was given vinegar and gull to drink? What would be the use of drinking it?

Also, was this a common thing to offer people hanging on a cross, or was this specific to Jesus?

Mat 27:34 they gave to him to drink vinegar mingled with gall; and having tasted it , he would not drink.

3 Answers 3


It was some sort of potion designed to dull the senses and lessen the suffering of those being executed.

Biblehub contains several commentaries on this verse. One from Ellicott’s commentary reads in part:

It was clearly something at once nauseous and narcotic, given by the merciful to dull the pain of execution, and mixed with the sour wine of the country and with myrrh to make it drinkable. It may have been hemlock, or even poppy-juice, but there are no materials for deciding. It is probable that the offer came from the more pitiful of the women mentioned by St. Luke (Luke 23:27) as following our Lord and lamenting. Such acts were among the received “works of mercy” of the time and place. The “tasting” implied a recognition of the kindly purpose of the act, but a recognition only. In the refusal to do more than taste we trace the resolute purpose to drink the cup which His Father had given Him to the last drop, and not to dull either the sense of suffering nor the clearness of His communion with His Father with the slumberous potion. The same draught was, we may believe, offered to the two criminals who were crucified with Him.

  • If someone wants to end suffering why not just offer poison?
    – user4951
    Commented Apr 14, 2018 at 18:16
  • @J.Chang there is the matter of causing death being murder. If you kill someone 2 minutes before their scheduled death sentence is to be carried out you are still charged with murder
    – Kristopher
    Commented Apr 14, 2018 at 19:10

I like the answer posted by Kris very much, but would add that the early believers also saw this verse as a prophetic foreshadowing of the vinegar and gall on the cross.

Psalm 69:21

KJ21 They gave me also gall for my meat, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

  • Good point it did fulfill prophecy
    – Kristopher
    Commented Apr 14, 2018 at 23:07

I believe that the vinegar was to cause more pain. The bible saids: (Luc 23:36) "And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar"; they doesn't wanted to diminish his sufferings.

My personal experience without any food eaten and with a heatstroke at 11am in a hot and humid day, after drinking a glass of a excesively fermented palm wine (alcohol with acetic acid --vinegard--) is one of dizziness and stomach ache.

  • Mark 15:22-23 is where Jesus was offered the drugged potion mixed with vinegar before being nailed the wood. There were 2 other occasions where he was offered a vinegar drink, one in a mocking gesture by the soldiers and another just before he expired which he apparently partook of some.
    – Kristopher
    Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 14:54
  • @kriss Luc 23:36 is the vinegar, inmediatly after in Luc 23:46: "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost."
    – djnavas
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 1:51
  • Yes that refers to the drink offered Jesus as he neared the end. The vinegar drugged with gall( that OP is asking about) which Jesus refused was earlier before he was nailed to the tree. Mark 15:22-23
    – Kristopher
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 1:56
  • 3
    All true but thus question is about the vinegar drink mixed with gall Matthew 27:34 your answer does not address this.
    – Kristopher
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 2:08
  • 1
    FWIW, in Laura Ingles Wilder's Farmer Boy, the ladies of the 1800's prairie served the men in the fields a vinegar drink after a very hard day's work they loved it.
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Apr 17, 2018 at 12:27

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