The accompanying engraving shows the form and nature of an ancient goatskin bottle, out of which a water-carrier is offering to sell a draught of water. After the skin has been stripped off from an animal, and properly dressed, the places where the legs had been are closed up; and where the neck was, is the opening left for receiving and discharging the contents of the bottle. These were readily borne upon the shoulder, Genesis 21:14. See also Joshua 9:4,13 Psalms 119:83 Jeremiah 13:12.
By receiving the liquor poured into it, a skin bottle must be greatly swelled and distended; and still more, if the liquor be wine, by its fermentation while advancing to ripeness; so that if no vent be given to it, the liquor may overpower the strength of the bottle, or if it find any defect, it may ooze out by that. Hence the propriety of putting new wine into new bottles, which being in the prime of their strength, may resist the expansion of their contents, and preserve the wine to maturity; while old bottles may, without danger, contain old wine, whose fermentation is already past, Matthew 9:17 Luke 5:38 Job 32:19.
Such bottles, or skins, are still universally employed in travelling in the East, as well as by the public water-carriers, and for domestic uses. They were made, for storage in wine cellars, of the hides of oxen or camels. But the smaller ones of goatskins were more generally used for water as well as wine. The ancients, however, were acquainted with the art of making earthenware, and had a variety of elegant small bottles and vases for toilet purposes, made of the precious metals, of stone, glass, porcelain, and alabaster, Jeremiah 19:1,10,11. See CRUSE, VINE, TEARS.