When reading the King James translation of the New Testament, there are many words that were commonplace in the early 17th century but which are now somewhat more obscure due to lack of widespread use. The word firkin in the Book of John is one of those words.
And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. (John 2:6-8)
Without knowing how much liquid is contained in a firkin, it’s hard to visualise exactly how much water Jesus turned into wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. According to various Bible dictionaries, one firkin is the equivalent of nine imperial gallons. Assuming this is accurate, here’s the calculation:
1 firkin = 9 gallons or 72 pints or 41 litres
2 firkins = 18 gallons or 144 pints or 82 litres
3 firkins = 27 gallons or 216 pints 123 litres
6 waterpots x 2 firkins = 108 gallons or 864 pints or 492 litres
6 waterpots x 3 firkins = 162 gallons or 1,296 pints or 738 litres
Thus, the amount of water that Jesus turned into wine was somewhere in the region of 108 and 162 gallons, 864 and 1,296 pints or 492 and 738 litres. When converted to regular bottles of wine, this is at least 369 bottles and as much as 553 bottles.
That’s a LOT of wine!
Praise God that to those of us who have faith as a grain of mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible (Matthew 17:20).