27:1 At that time the LORD will punish
with his destructive, great, and powerful sword
Leviathan the fast-moving serpent,
Leviathan the squirming serpent;
he will kill the sea monster.
27:2 When that time comes,
sing about a delightful vineyard!
A delightful vineyard – AV ‘a vineyard of red wine’; NIV ‘a fruitful vineyard’; NRSV ‘a pleasant vineyard’.
Some, arguing from the AV, suppose that this verse is referring to unfermented grape juice. But this (a) is based on a questionable reading of the underlying text; and (b) it is nevertheless perfectly consistent with the view that the vineyard was capable of producing fermented wine: the expression could simply mean, ‘a wineyard producing red wine.’
Albert Barnes (no enemy of abstention), comments: ‘Lowth proposes to read instead of this, חֶמֶר (hhēmēdh), pleasantness, beauty, or beloved. He observes that many MSS. have this meaning, and that it is followed by the LXX. and the Chaldee. The LXX. read it, Αμπελὼν καλλὸς—‘Beautiful vineyard.’ This would well suit the connection, and this slight error in transcribing might have easily occurred. But the authority in the MSS. for the change is not conclusive. The word which now occurs in the text denotes properly wine, from חָמַר, to ferment. The word חָמַר also has the signification to be red (Ps. 75:9; Job 16:16); and according to this, our translators have rendered it ‘of red wine.’ Bochart (Geog. Sac. ii. 1, 29) renders it, ‘A vineyard fertile in producing wine.’ The correct translation would be one that would not seem very congruous in our language, ‘a vineyard of wine,’ or ‘a wine-vineyard.’
The key textual problem is centred on the fact that the word for ‘wine’ and the word for ‘delight’ are very similar. The uncertainty as to translation is also expressed in modern commentaries, such as that by Watts (WBC).