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Holman Bible Dictionary


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Flat surface supported by legs.

1. Dinner tables The earliest “tables” were simply skins spread on the ground (Compare the expressions “spread a table” and “a fine spread.”) Representations of tables are rare in Egyptian art before the New Kingdom (1300-1100 B.C.). The earliest scriptural mention (Judges 1:7 ) falls within this same time frame. Most references concern a sovereign's table (Judges 1:7; 2 Samuel 9:7; 1 Kings 2:7; 1 Kings 4:27; 1 Kings 10:5; 1 Kings 18:19; but see 1 Kings 13:20 ). Tables generally sat on short legs, allowing one to eat sitting or reclined on a rug (Isaiah 21:5 ). Judges 1:7 , however, reflects a table high enough for kings to rummage underneath (compare Mark 7:28 ). In New Testament times guests ate while reclining on couches, supporting their heads with their left hands and eating from a common bowl with their right. This practice explains a woman's standing at Jesus' feet (Luke 7:38 ) and the beloved disciple's position at Jesus' breast (John 13:23 ) during meals. See Furniture .

2. Ritual tables A table for the bread of the presence formed part of the furnishings for both the tabernacle (Exodus 25:23-30; Exodus 26:35; Leviticus 24:5-7 ) and Temple (1 Kings 7:48 ). Other tables were used in the sacrificial cult (1 Chronicles 28:14-16; 2 Chronicles 4:7-8; Ezekiel 40:38-43 ). Malachi 1:7 ,Malachi 1:7,1:12 describes the altar itself as a table. To share in a god's table was an act of worship. Isaiah 65:11 and 1 Corinthians 10:21 refer to idolatrous worship. The “Lord's table” ( 1 Corinthians 10:21 ) refers to the observance of the Lord's Supper.

3. Money tables The money changers' tables were likely small trays on stands (Matthew 21:12; Mark 11:15; John 2:15 ).

4. Tables of law Some translations use table in the sense of a tablet (Exodus 24:12; Exodus 31:18; Deuteronomy 9:9 ). See Tablet .

Chris Church

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Table'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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