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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

Drinking-Vessels

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Less is known of the form and material of the drinking-vessels of the Hebrews than of those of the Greeks and the Romans. The water-skin ("hemet," Genesis 21:15,19; "ob," Job 32:19; and "nod," Judges 4:19), made of the hide of the goat and the kid, and still used among the Bedouins, certainly dates from very early times. It served both as a receptacle for water and for milk and as a drinking-vessel. The Israelites probably first saw earthen drinking-vessels in Palestine, where they were used by the common people. The wealthy had metal—usually silver—ones (Genesis 44:2), while those of the kings were of gold (1 Kings 10:21; 2 Chronicles 9:21 [A. V. 20]) or probably of bronze. It may be safely assumed that these metal vessels were first imported by the Phenicians, and that the Israelites learned from them how to work the metals (compare 1 Kings 7:12 et seq. [A. V. 13]); hence it is probable that the drinking-vessels of the Israelites resembled very closely those in use among the Phenicians.

In regard to form the vessels may be divided into two groups; viz., (1) cups and (2) bowls. A cup was usually called "kos," a designation applied both to the cup of the poor man (2 Samuel 12:3) and to that of the king (Gen. 11, 13, 21). 1 Kings 7:26 shows that the rim was often bent, and Isaiah 51:17,22 indicates that the sides were bulging. In Genesis 44:2,12,16 et seq. the term "gabi'a" is used to designate "Joseph's cup," which, according to Jeremiah 35:5, seems to have been larger than a kos, and was probably a chalice or a goblet. The same applies perhaps to "ḳubba'at" (Isaiah 51:17), to which the accompanying word "kos" is probably a gloss. "Kefor" (1 Chronicles 28:17; Ezra 1:10, 8:27) means "cup," as is evident from the Assyrian "kapru," and from the Neo-Hebraic and Judæo-Aramaic "kefor" (compare Euting's combination with = "bulging," in Nabatæan Inscription No. 27).

The bowl, which was called "sefel," was used for holding milk (Judges 5:25) and for drawing water (Judges 6:38). Judges 5:25 shows that in addition to the bowls of ordinary size there were larger ones, evidently designed for guests of honor, who were served with double portions (Genesis 43:34; 1 Samuel 9:23 et seq.), not only of meat, but also of drink; hence the use of the phrase "sefel addirim" (lordly dish).

The word "saf" mentioned in 1 Kings 7:50; 2 Kings 12:14; and Jeremiah 52:19 probably refers to a bowl also. In Exodus 12:22 and Zechariah 12:2 a saf is used at the sacrifice. The "aggan" mentioned in Song of Solomon 7:3 is not a bowl for drinking, but rather for mixing wine with spices; hence κρατήρ in Septuagint. The "kad"—mentioned in Genesis 24:14 et seq., which was carried on the shoulder, and from which Rebekah gave Eliezer water (Genesis 24:18)—was used for drawing water (comp. Ecclesiastes 12:6) rather than as a drinking-vessel (comp. "deli," Isa. 15). Jugs were also used as drinking-vessels; in 1 Samuel 26:12,16 a "ẓappaḥat" (cruse) is mentioned, probably a bulging jug carried on journeys as a drinking-vessel. "Nehel," which has a similar meaning, may have originally designated a waterskin (1 Samuel 1:24, 10:3, etc.), but later it undoubtedly signified an earthen vessel (Isaiah 30:14; Lamentations 4:2). "Baḳbuḳ" (Jeremiah 19:1,10; 1 Kings 14:3), also meaning an earthen vessel, was perhaps used for drinking purposes.

E. G. H.
W. N.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Drinking-Vessels'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tje/d/drinking-vessels.html. 1901.

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