Israel Antiquities Authority/Zev Radovan

Bunches of grapes decorate a bird-and-vase mosaic at a desert monastery founded at the end of the fifth century in Maaleh Adumim, about six miles northeast of Jerusalem.

Grape and grapevine metaphors are one of four clusters of images favored by the Hebrew prophets to describe the vicissitudes of the relationship between God and the Israelites. At first, the people are like a well- tended vineyard; when they rebel, the prophets liken them to a wild vine; as God metes out their punishment, they are like a devastated vineyard; lastly, when God and his people are reconciled, the Israelites are described as a replanted vineyard: “ ‘They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,’ says the Lord your God” (Amos 9:13–15).