Manners & Customs
Chairs. With such an Oriental table in general use, it would follow that Occidental chairs would be largely missing. In regard to making use of chairs in ancient Bible days it has been said: "On ordinary occasions they probably sat or squatted on the floor around a low table, while at meals of more ceremony they sat on chairs or stools.
The scriptural instances of chairs or stools used at mealtime, include Joseph's brothers sitting on seats at a banquet in Egypt (Genesis 43:33); and David's having a seat at the table of King Saul (I Samuel 20:5, 18). Both of these cases are connected with royalty or high position. On ordinary occasions the "chair" used by the vast majority of Israelites was the ground or floor on which would be spread a carpet or a mat.
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Dishes. At an Oriental meal the only dishes are those in which the food is placed on the table; there are no dishes given to each one having a part in the meal. Often there is only one dish for the food, and it is usually a tray of basketwork, or a copper dish.
JESUS spoke of His betrayer as "he that dippeth his hand with me in the dish" (Matthew 26:23; Mark 14:20). In entertaining his guest, Gideon put the meat in a basket, and the broth in a pot (Judges 6:19).
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
FURNISHINGS OF THE HOUSE
The furnishings of a one-room Palestinian house were and still are very simple. Mats and cushions are in use to sit on by day. and carpets or mats are slept on at night. There will be vessels of clay for household needs, with perhaps some cooking utensils of metal. There will be a chest for storing bedding, a lamp either placed on a lampstand or a bushel, a broom for house cleaning, and a handmill for grinding the grain, and the goatskin bottles in which liquids are kept. The fireplace would be on the floor often in the middle of the room. This gives a general picture of the furnishings of the average Palestinian home.
More details regarding some of these items will be given as the study proceeds.
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Furniture in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
fur'ni-tur (kar, kelim; skeue): In Gen 31:34 kar is
translated "furniture" in the King James Version, but
"saddle" in the American Standard Revised Version. The
latter is decidedly preferable. It was the "camel-basket,"
or the basket-saddle of the camel, which was a sort of
palanquin bound upon the saddle. Upon this saddle-basket
Rachel sat with the teraphim hidden beneath, and her wily
father did not suspect the presence of his gods in such a
place. In other places the word kelim is used, and is
generally rendered "vessels," though sometimes "furniture."
It may have many other renderings also (see BDB). Ex 31:7;
39:33 mention the furniture of the Tent, which is specified
in other places. Moses is instructed (25:9) to make a
sanctuary or tabernacle and the furniture thereof according
to the pattern showed him in the Mount. The furniture of the
Court consisted of the brazen altar and laver (40:29,30);
that of the Holy Place, of the table of showbread, the
golden lampstand and altar of incense (39:36; 40:22-26; Heb
9:2); that of the Holy of Holies, of the ark and mercy-seat
overshadowed by the cherubim. The tribe of Levi was set
apart by Yahweh to "keep all the furniture of the tent of
meeting" (Nu 3:8). When David organized the tabernacle-
worship in Jerusalem and assigned the Levites their separate
duties, certain men "were appointed over the furniture, and
over all the vessels of the sanctuary" (1 Ch 9:29). In Nah
2:9 the singular form of the word keli is used, and is
rendered "furniture." The prophet refers to the abundant,
costly, luxurious furniture and raiment, largely the results
of their conquests and plunder in many countries.
In Acts 27:19 the word skeue is translated in the King James
Version and the Revised Version (British and American)
"tackling," with "furniture" in the Revised Version, margin.
By way of information regarding the general furniture of the
house little is said directly in the Scriptures. The chamber
built for Elisha upon the wall contained a bed, a table, a
seat, and lampstand. This was doubtless the furnishing of
most bedrooms when it could be afforded. The prophet Amos
had a supreme contempt for the luxurious furniture of the
grandees of Samaria (3:12; 6:4). For full particulars see
HOUSE; TABERNACLE; TEMPLE.
Furniture Scripture - Exodus 31:7
The tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the
testimony, and the mercy seat that [is] thereupon, and all the
furniture of the tabernacle,
Furniture Scripture - Exodus 31:8
And the table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with
all his furniture, and the altar of incense,
Furniture Scripture - Exodus 31:9
And the altar of burnt offering with all his furniture, and
the laver and his foot,
Furniture Scripture - Exodus 35:14
The candlestick also for the light, and his furniture, and his
lamps, with the oil for the light,
Furniture Scripture - Exodus 39:33
And they brought the tabernacle unto Moses, the tent, and all
his furniture, his taches, his boards, his bars, and his
pillars, and his sockets,
Furniture Scripture - Genesis 31:34
Now Rachel had taken the images, and put them in the camel's
furniture, and sat upon them. And Laban searched all the tent,
but found [them] not.
Furniture Scripture - Nahum 2:9
Take ye the spoil of silver, take the spoil of gold: for
[there is] none end of the store [and] glory out of all the
Table in Naves Topical Bible
1. An article of furniture
Jud 1:7; 1Sa 20:29,34; 2Ki 4:10; Joh 2:15
Made of silver
Pr 3:3; Jer 17:1; 2Co 3:3
Of the altar
Of the Lord's supper
Of idolatrous feasts
-2. Of shewbread
See SHEWBREAD, TABLE OF
-3. Of testimony
Ex 31:18; 32:15; 34:29
The commandments engraved upon
Ex 20:3-17; 24:12; De 4:13; 5:4-22; 9:10; Ho 8:12
Ex 24:12; 31:18; 32:15-19; De 4:13; 9:9-11,17
A second set engraved
Ex 34:1; De 10:1-4
Were placed in the ark of the covenant
De 10:5; 1Ki 8:9; Heb 9:4
-4. A slab upon which inscriptions were made
Isa 30:8; Hab 2:2; Lu 1:63
Table in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
"Table" is derived from the Latin tabula, meaning primarily
"a board," but with a great variety of other significances,
of which "writing-tablet" is the most important for the
Biblical use of "table." So in English "table" meant at
first "any surface" and, in particular, "a surface for
writing," and further specialization was needed before
"table" became the name of the familiar article of furniture
("object with a horizontal surface"), a meaning not
possessed by tabula in Latin. After this specialization
"table" in the sense of "a surface for writing" was replaced
in later English by the diminutive form "tablet." But
"surface for writing" was still a common meaning of "table,"
and in this sense it represents luach (Ex 24:12, etc.), a
word of uncertain origin, plax, "something flat" (2 Cor 3:3;
Heb 9:4), deltos, "a writing tablet" (1 Macc 8:22;
14:18,27,48), or pinakidion "writing tablet" (Lk 1:63--a
rather unusual word). the American Standard Revised Version
has kept the word in the familiar combination "tables of
stone" (Ex 24:12, etc.), but elsewhere (Prov 3:3; 7:3; Isa
30:8; Jer 17:1; Hab 2:2; Lk 1:63) has replaced "table" by
"tablet," a change made by the English Revised Version only
in Isa 30:8; Lk 1:63.
The table as an article of furniture is shulchan, in the
Hebrew and trapezal, in the Greek. The only exceptions are
Song 1:12, mecabh, "something round," perhaps a "round
table," perhaps a "cushion," perhaps a "festal procession,"
and Mk 7:4, the King James Version kline, "couch" (so the
Revised Version (British and American)), while Jn 13:28 and
Jn 12:2, the King James Version "at the table," and Tobit
7:8, the King James Version "on the table," represent only
the general sense of the original. Of the two regular words,
shulchan is properly "a piece of hide," and so "a leather
mat," placed on the ground at meal time, but the word came
to mean any "table," however elaborate (e.g. Ex 25:23-30).
Trapeza means "having four feet."
2 Ki 4:10 seems to indicate that a table was a necessary
article in even the simpler rooms. Curiously enough,
however, apart from the table of shewbread there is no
reference in the Bible to the form or construction of
tables, but the simpler tables in Israel of the present day
are very much lower than ours. The modern "tables of the
money changers" (Mk 11:15 and parallel's) are small square
trays on stands, and they doubtless had the same form in New
See SHEWBREAD, TABLE OF; MONEY-CHANGERS.
To eat at a king's table (2 Sam 9:7, etc.) is naturally to
enjoy a position of great honor, and the privilege is made
by Christ typical of the highest reward (Lk 22:30). Usually
"to eat at one's table" is meant quite literally, but in 1
Ki 18:19; Neh 5:17 (compare 1 Ki 10:5) it probably means "be
fed at one's expense." On the other hand, the misery of
eating the leavings of a table (Jdg 1:7; Mk 7:28; Lk 16:21)
needs no comment. The phrase "table of the Lord (Yahweh)" in
Mal 1:7,12 the King James Version (compare Ezek 41:22;
44:16--Ezek 39:20 is quite different) means "the table
(altar) set before the Lord," but the same phrase in 1 Cor
10:21 is used in a different sense and the origin of its use
by Paul is obscure. Doubtless the language, if not the
meaning, of Malachi had its influence and may very well have
been suggested to Paul as he wrote 1 Cor 10:18. On the other
hand, light may be thrown on the passage by such a papyrus
fragment as "Chareimon invites you to dine at the table
(kline) of the lord Serapis," a formal invitation to an
idol-banquet (1 Cor 8:10; Pap. Oxyr. i.110; compare
iii.523). This would explain Paul's "table of demons"--a
phrase familiar to the Corinthians--and he wrote "table of
the Lord" to correspond (compare, however, Pirqe 'Abhoth,
iii.4). "Table at which the Lord is Host," at any rate, is
the meaning of the phrase. On the whole passage see the
comms., especially that of Lietzmann (fullest references).
Probably Lk 22:30 has no bearing on 1 Cor 10:21. The meaning
of Ps 69:22 (quoted in Rom 11:9), "Let their table before
them become a snare," is very obscure ("let them be attacked
while deadened in revelings"?), and perhaps was left
Table. In many cases the Arab custom would seem to indicate to the Westerner that they use no table at all when serving a meal. Actually, a mat spread upon the ground serves the purpose of a table. This is especially true of the tent Arab.
This was the early Semitic table of Old Testament times, for the Hebrew word "Shool-khawn," usually translated "table," has as its root meaning, "a skin or leather mat spread on the ground.
With this sort of a table in view, the Psalmist can be understood when he said concerning his enemies, "Let their table become a snare before them." David's meaning would be, "Let their feet become entangled in it, as it is spread on the ground."
If the Arabs use more of a table than this mat, then it is likely to be a polygon stool, no higher than about fourteen inches, and those eating would sit on the floor around this stool. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Tables in Easton's Bible Dictionary
(Mark 7:4) means banqueting-couches or benches, on which the
Jews reclined when at meals. This custom, along with
the use of
raised tables like ours, was introduced among the Jews
Captivity. Before this they had, properly speaking, no
That which served the purpose was a skin or piece of
spread out on the carpeted floor. Sometimes a stool
in the middle of this skin. (See ABRAHAM'S BOSOM
BANQUET -T0000434; MEALS -T0002451.)
Tables Scripture - Deuteronomy 10:4
And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing,
the ten commandments, which the LORD spake unto you in the
mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly:
and the LORD gave them unto me.
Tables Scripture - Deuteronomy 5:22
These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount
out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick
darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he
wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.
Tables Scripture - Deuteronomy 9:10
And the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written
with the finger of God; and on them [was written] according to
all the words, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out
of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.
Tables Scripture - Deuteronomy 9:15
So I turned and came down from the mount, and the mount burned
with fire: and the two tables of the covenant [were] in my two
Tables Scripture - Exodus 34:28
And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he
did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the
tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
Tables Scripture - Exodus 34:29
And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai
with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came
down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his
face shone while he talked with him.
Tables Scripture - Ezekiel 40:42
And the four tables [were] of hewn stone for the burnt
offering, of a cubit and an half long, and a cubit and an half
broad, and one cubit high: whereupon also they laid the
instruments wherewith they slew the burnt offering and the
Tables Scripture - Hebrews 9:4
Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant
overlaid round about with gold, wherein [was] the golden pot
that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of
Tables Scripture - Mark 11:15
And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple,
and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple,
and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats
of them that sold doves;
Tables Scripture - Matthew 21:12
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them
that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables
of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
MORE ELABORATE FURNISHINGS
The simple furnishings of a one-room house, where the common people lived, have already been described.
Houses of more than one room were inhabited by those in a better situation. The wealthy usually had upper rooms as well as lower rooms, and of course, the furnishings were more elaborate. The divan or raised seat was located around the borders of the room. The rich adorned these and floored them. They were used for seats during the daytime, and beds were put on them at night. Amos speaks of the luxury of ivory beds in his day (Amos 6:4). The bed customarily in use was a mattress and pillow that could be placed where desired. In wealthy homes, carpets, curtains, and awnings were present in abundance. The Oriental custom was to sit on the divan with the lower limbs of the body crossed. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]