Manners & Customs: Beds
Beds in Ancient Biblical Times
Beds in Easton's Bible Dictionary
(Heb. mittah), for rest at night (Ex. 8:3; 1 Sam. 19:13, 15,
etc.); during sickness (Gen. 47:31; 48:2; 49:33,
etc.); as a
sofa for rest (1 Sam. 28:23; Amos 3:12). Another
(er'es) so rendered denotes a canopied bed, or a bed
curtains (Deut. 3:11; Ps. 132:3), for sickness (Ps.
In the New Testament it denotes sometimes a litter
coverlet (Matt. 9:2, 6; Luke 5:18; Acts 5:15).
The Jewish bedstead was frequently merely the divan
platform along the sides of the house, sometimes a
portable frame, sometimes only a mat or one or more
only material for bed-clothes is mentioned in 1 Sam.
Sleeping in the open air was not uncommon, the
himself in his outer garment (Ex. 22:26,27; Deut.
Beds in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
The outer garment worn by day sufficed the poor for
bedstead, bed beneath, and covering above, whence it was
forbidden to keep it in pledge after sunset, lest the poor
man should be without covering (Deuteronomy 24:13). The
bolster was often of platted goat's hair (1 Samuel 19:13). A
quilt to wrap one's self in is the bed meant in the miracle
of Jesus when He said "Take up thy bed and walk" (John 5:8-
11). The cushion or seat at the stern was our Lord's
"pillow" on the lake of Galilee (Mark 4:38). Stones served
as Jacob's "pillows" (Hebrew) and afterwards as the
consecrated pillar to commemorate the divine vision granted
him (Genesis 28:11). The divan or platform at the end or
sides of a room often served as bedstead. In such a room the
master of the house and his family lay, according to the
parable (Luke 11:7), "My children are with me in bed."
The little chamber, bed, stool, table, and
candlestick of Elijah (2 Kings 4:10) were and are the usual
furniture of a sleeping room. Some bed frame is implied in
Esther 1:6; 2 Samuel 3:31, "bier," margin bed. The giant Og
had one of iron, a marvel in those days (one made of palm
sticks is common in the present day), and required by his
enormous weight and size (Deuteronomy 3:11). Og in some
expedition of his against Ammon may have left behind him his
gigantic bed, to impress his enemy with his super-human
greatness, and the Ammonites may have preserved it in
Rabbath, their capital; or Israel may have sent it to Ammon
as a pledge of their friendly intentions (Jehovah having
charged them not to disturb Ammon), and also a visible proof
of their power in having conquered so mighty a prince as Og.
Royal beds (Song of Solomon 3:9-10 margin) had
pillars of marble or silver, the bottom gold, the covering
of purple and divers colors, hangings fastened to the
pillarsupported canopy, the beds of gold upon a tesselated
pavement (Esther 1:6); compare Amos 6:4, "beds of ivory."
Often used as couches in the day (Ezekiel 23:41; Esther
7:8). Watchers of vineyards had hammocks slung from trees
(Isaiah 1:8; Isaiah 24:20). Hebrew melunah, "a lodge for the
night." Arab watchers sleep in them to be secure froth wild
beasts; translate "the earth shall wave to and fro like a
hammock," swung about by the wind.
The "bedchamber" where Joash was hidden was a
storeroom for beds, and so well fitted for concealment (2
Kings 11:2; 2 Chronicles 22:11), not the usual reclining
chamber. The bedroom was usually in the most retired part of
the house (1 Kings 22:25; Exodus 8:3; Ecclesiastes 10:20).
In Ezekiel 13:18, "Woe to the women that sew pillows to all
armholes" ("elbows") the allusion is to false prophetesses
making their dupes rest on elbow cushions in fancied
ecstasy, a symbol of the "peace" they falsely promised
(Ezekiel 13:16). Beds were placed at the end of the chamber,
on an ascent approached by steps: hence "I will not go up
into my bed" (Psalm 132:3).
Beds in Naves Topical Bible
Made of wood
-Made of iron
-Made of ivory
-Made of gold and silver
-Used at meals
-Exempt from execution for debt
Beds in Smiths Bible Dictionary
The Jewish bed consisted of the mattress, a mere mat, or one
or more quilts; the covering, a finer quilt, or sometimes the
outer garment worn by day, 1Sa 19:13 which the law provided
should not be kept in pledge after sunset, that the poor man
might not lack his needful covering, De 24:13 the pillow, 1Sa
19:13 probably formed of sheep's fleece or goat's skin with a
stuffing of cotton, etc.; the bedstead, a divan or bench along
the side or end of the room, sufficing at a support for the
bedding. Besides we have bedsteads made of ivory, wood, etc.
referred to in De 3:11; Am 6:4 The ornamental portions were
pillars and a canopy, Judith 13:9, ivory carvings, gold and
silver, and probably mosaic work, purple and fine linen. Es
1:6; So 3:9,10 The ordinary furniture of a bedchamber in
private life is given in 2Ki 4:10
Beds in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
For the very poor of the East, in ancient times as now, the
"bed" was and is, as a rule, the bare ground; and the
bedclothes, the gown, simlah, or "outer garment," worn
during the day ("For that is his only covering, it is his
garment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep?" (Ex 22:27);
compare Dt 24:13, "Thou shalt surely restore to him the
pledge when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his
When one was on a journey, or watching his flock by night as
a shepherd, such a "bed" was the most natural, and often a
stone would serve as a pillow. (See Gen 28:11, where Jacob
"took one of the stones of the place, and put it under his
head, and lay down in that place to sleep.")
An advance on this custom, which came in due course of time,
or under change of circumstances, was the use of a mat on
the floor as a bed, with or without covering. At first it
was literally laid on the floor, which was generally of one
common level, in some convenient place near the wall; but
later it was put on an elevation, either a raised part of
the floor on one side, or a bedstead, which gave rise to the
expression "going up to the bed" (compare Gen 49:33 English
Versions of the Bible, "He gathered up his feet into the
bed," and Ps 132:3, "go up into my bed").
1. Old Testament Terms for Bed, and Sleeping Customs of the
With a later development and civilization, "beds" came to be
built upon supports and constructed in different forms,
which fact is reflected in the variety of names given the
"bed" in the Hebrew and related languages.
(1) The following Hebrew words are used in the Bible for
"bed," and, though it is impossible at this remove of time
and place and custom to differentiate them sharply, they
will repay study: miTTah (Gen 48:2, "And Israel strengthened
himself and sat upon the bed"; Ex 8:3, "frogs .... shall
come into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed"); mishkabh,
compare (Gen 49:4, Jacob to Reuben: "Because thou wentest up
to thy father's bed; then defiledst thou it"); `eres (Prov
7:16, the "strange woman" says: " I have spread my couch
with carpets of tapestry"; compare Ps 41:3, "Thou makest all
his bed in his sickness"); matstsa` (once only, Isa 28:20,
"For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself
on it; and the covering narrower than that he can wrap
himself in it"); and yetsua` (Job 17:13, "I have spread my
couch in the darkness"; 1 Ch 5:1, "He defiled his father's
couch"; compare Gen 49:4 where the same "father's bed" is
mishkabh; Ps 63:6, "when I remember thee upon...
Beds Scripture - Deuteronomy 3:11
For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants;
behold, his bedstead [was] a bedstead of iron; [is] it not in
Rabbath of the children of Ammon? nine cubits [was] the length
thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of
Beds Scripture - Amos 6:4
That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their
couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves
out of the midst of the stall;
Beds Scripture - Esther 1:6
[Where were] white, green, and blue, [hangings], fastened with
cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of
marble: the beds [were of] gold and silver, upon a pavement of
red, and blue, and white, and black, marble.
Beds Scripture - Proverbs 22:27
If thou hast nothing to pay, why should he take away thy bed
from under thee?
Beds Scripture - Proverbs 7:17
I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.
Beds Scripture - Song of Solomon 3:7
Behold his bed, which [is] Solomon's; threescore valiant men
[are] about it, of the valiant of Israel.
Sleeping and Beds
The Parable of the Importunate Friend which JESUS told, if understood in the light of an Oriental one-room house, will give information about sleeping arrangements.
"And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? and he from within shall answer and say. Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee (Luke 11:5-7).
Among the common folks of the Holy Land individual beds in separate bedrooms have been unknown. Instead the arrangements for sleeping in the parable, and today in Syria and Israel among the peasants, have been thus described:
The cushion-mattresses are spread side by side in the living room, in a line as long as the members of the family, sleeping close together, require. The father sleeps at one end of the line, and the mother at the other end, "to keep the children from rolling from under the cover." So the man was absolutely truthful when he said by way of excuse, "My children are with me in bed." [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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