(67) Why does the just man first plant a vineyard? (#Ge 9:20). It was very natural for it to be a subject of anxiety and doubt to him in what quarter he was to find any plants after the deluge, when everything upon the earth was destroyed. Therefore it appeared natural, as was said a little while ago, that the earth was made dry in the spring season; therefore when the spring produced the buds of trees, the roots and stems of the vine could easily be found by the just man still alive, and might thus be collected by him. But we have to consider why the first thing he did was to plant a vineyard, and why he did not rather sow wheat and barley, since the latter are necessary productions of the earth, without which life cannot be supported, but the former is only a material for superfluous pleasure. The answer is that Noah, adopting a salutary design, consecrated and offered up to God those things which are necessary to support life and which require no co-operation for the production of the fruit; but the superfluous plants he devoted to men; for the use of wine is superfluous and not necessary. As therefore God ordered fountains of water fit to drink to burst up from the earth without the cooperation of man, so he also of his own accord granted to man in a similar manner wheat and barley, in order that he himself might be the sole giver of each kind of food which serves for necessary eating and drinking. But he did not take away the power nor grudge them providing for themselves by their own industry those things which contribute to pleasure.
(68) What is the meaning of the statement, “He drank of the wine and was drunken?” (Genesis 9:21). In the first place, the just man did not drink the wine, but a portion of the wine, not the whole of it; in which case an incontinent and debauched man does not quit his means of debauchery, till he has first swallowed all the wine that there is before him; but by the religious and sober man everything necessary for food is used in a moderate degree. And the expression, “he was drunken,” is here to be taken simply as equivalent to “he used the wine.” But there are two modes of getting drunk, the one is that of an intemperate sottishness which misuses wine, and this offence is peculiar to the depraved and wicked man; the other is the use of wine, and this belongs to the wise. It is therefore in the second of these meanings that the consistent and wise Noah is here called drunken, not as having misused but as having used wine.