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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia


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The officer who served the cup to the king. Like the Cup , the cupbearer is first mentioned in the Old Testament in connection with the story of Joseph in Egypt (Genesis 40:21 ), where the title "chief of cupbearers" () would show that such a functionary existed at the Egyptian court. In Jewish history this officer is mentioned in the description of Solomon's court (IKings 10:5 2Chronicles 9:4 ), and, later, at the court of Herod I. (Josephus, "Ant." 16:8, § 1). Nehemiah was cupbearer to the Persian king Artaxerxes Longimanus (465-425 B.C. Nehemiah 1:11 , 2:1 ). Cupbearers are frequently represented on the Assyrian monuments (compare also Tobit 1:22 ). The Assyrian Rab-shakeh (, 2 Kings 18:17 Isaiah 36:2 ), formerly supposed to have been the captain of the cupbearers, is now known to have held a different office.

The Egyptian cupbearers were eunuchs (, Genesis 40:2 ), as were those of Herod and those in Assyria and it may be assumed that this was generally the case throughout the Orient. The office of cupbearer at the Median-Persian courts was, according to Herodotus (iii:34) and Xenophon ("Cyropæ dia," 1:3,8), one of great honor. The cupbearer had in some cases to taste of the cup before presenting it (Xenophon, ib. ).

Bibliography :A. H. Layard, Nineveh and Its Remains , 2:253 Joseph Bonomi, Nineveh and Its Palaces , pp. 250,284 Tavernier, Reisen , iii., part 2, pp. 6 et seq. Klemm, Morgenland , pp. 206et seq. A. I. M. C.

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Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Cupbearer'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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