Sup (δειπνέω). Our information on this subject is but scanty. The early Hebrews do not seem to have given special names to their several meals, for the terms rendered "dine" and " dinner" in the A.V. (Ge 43:1-6; Pr 15:17) are in reality general expressions, which might more correctly be rendered "eat" and "portion of food." In the New Test. we have the Greek terms ἄριστον, and δεῖπνον, which the A. V. renders respectively "dinner" and "supper" (Lu 14:12; Joh 21:12), but which are more properly "breakfast" and, dinner." There is some uncertainty as to the hours at which the meals were taken. The Egyptians undoubtedly took their principal meal at noon (Ge 43:16); laborers took a light meal at that time (Ru 2:14; comp. ver. 17); and occasionally that early hour: was devoted to excess and reveling (1Ki 20:16). It has been inferred from those passages (somewhat too hastily, we think) that the principal meal generally took place hat noon. The Egyptians do, indeed, still make a substantial meal at that time (Lane, Mod. Egypt. 1, 189), but there: are indications that the Jews rather followed the custom that prevails among the Bedawin, and made their principal meal after sunset, and a lighter meal at about 9 or 10 A.M. (Burckhardt, Notes, 1, 64). For instance, "Lot prepared a feast for the two angels at even" (Ge 19:1-3); Boaz evidently took his meal late in the evening (Ru 3:7); the Israelites ate flesh in the evening, and bread only, or manna, in the morning (Ex 16:12); the context seems to imply that Jethro's feast was in the evening (18, 12, 14). But, above all, the institution of the Paschal feast in the evening seems to imply that the principal meal was usually taken then: it appears highly improbable that the Jews would have been ordered to eat meat at an unusual time. In the later Biblical period we have clearer notices to the same effect. Breakfast took place in the morning (Joh 21:4,12), on ordinary days not before 9 o'clock, which was the first hour of prayer (Ac 2:15), and on the Sabbath not before 12, when the service of the synagogue was completed (Josephus, Life, § 54); the more prolonged and substantial meal took place in the evening (ibid. § 44; War, 1, 17, 4). The general tenor of the parable of the great supper certainly implies that the feast took place in the working- hours of the day (Lu 14:15-24); but we may regard this, perhaps, as part of the imagery of the parable rather than as a picture of real life. SEE SUPPER.
The posture at meals varied at different periods. There is sufficient evidence that the old Hebrews were in the habit of sitting (Ge 27:19; Jg 19:6; 1Sa 20:5,24; 1Ki 13:20), but it does not hence follow that they sat on chairs; they may have squatted on the ground, as was the occasional, though not perhaps the general, custom of the ancient Egyptians (Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt. 1, 58, 181). The table was in this case but slightly elevated above the ground as is still the case in Egypt. At the same time, the chair was not unknown to the Hebrews, but seems to have been regarded as a token of dignity. The Hebrew term is kisse (כּסֵּא). There is only one instance of its being mentioned as an article of ordinary furniture viz. in 2Ki 4:10, where the A.V. incorrectly renders it "stool." Even there it seems probable that it was placed more as a mark of special honor to the prophet than for common use. As luxury increased, the practice of sitting was exchanged for that of reclining. The first intimation of this occurs in the prophecies of Amos, who reprobates those "that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches" (Am 6:4); and it appears that the couches themselves were of a costly character-the "corners" or edges (3, 12: the word is pedh, פֵּאָה, which will apply to the edge as well as to the angle of a couch. That the seats and couches of the Assyrians were handsomely ornamented appears from the specimens given by Layard [Nineveh, 2, 300302]), being finished with ivory, and the seat covered with silk or damask coverlets; (The A. V. has "in Damascus in a couch;" but there can be no doubt that the name of the town was transferred to the silk stuffs manufactured there, which are still known by the name of "damask.") Ezekiel, again, inveighs against one who sat on a stately bed with a table prepared before it" (Eze 23:41). The custom may have been borrowed, in the first instance, from the Babylonians and Syrians, among whom it prevailed at an early period (Esti. 1, 6; 7:8). A similar-change took place in the habits of the Greeks, who are represented in the Heroic Age as sitting (Il. 10, 578; Od. 1, 145), but who afterwards adopted the habit of reclining, women and children excepted. Sitting appears to have been the posture usual among the Assyrians on the occasion of great festivals. A bas-relief on the walls of Khorsabad represents the guests seated on high chairs (Layard. Nineveh, 2, 411). In the time of our Savior reclining was the universal custom, as is implied in the terms (ἀνακεῖσθαι, κατακεῖσθαι, ἀνακλίνεσθαι, κατακλίνεσθαι) used for "sitting at meat," as the A..V. incorrectly has it. The couch itself (κλίνη) is only once mentioned (Mr 7:4; A. V. "tables"), but there can be little doubt that the Roman triclinium had been introduced, and that the arrangements of the table resembled those described by classical writers. Generally speaking, only three persons reclined on each couch, but occasionally four, or even five. The couches were provided with cushions, on which the left elbow rested in support of the upper part of the body, while the right arm remained free. A room provided with these was described as ἐστρωμένον, lit. "spread" (14, 15; AV. "furnished"). As several guests reclined on the same couch, each overlapped his neighbor, as it were, and rested his head on or near the breast of the one who lay behind him; he was then said to "lean on the bosom" of his neighbor (ἀνακεῖσθαι ἐν τῷ κόλπῳ, Joh 13:23; Joh 21:20; comp. Pliny, Epist. 4:22). The close proximity into which persons were thus brought rendered it more than usually agreeable that friend should be next to friend, and it gave the opportunity of making confidential communications (Joh 13:25). The ordinary arrangement of the couches was in three sides of a square, the fourth being left open for the servants to bring up the dishes. The couches were denominated respectively the highest, the middle, and the lowest couch; the three guests on each couch were also denominated highest, middle, and lowest-the terms being suggested by the circumstance of the guest who reclined on another's bosom always appearing to be below him. The protokisic (πρωτοκλισία, Mt 23:6), which the Pharisees so much coveted, was not, as the A. V. represents it, "the uppermost room," but the highest seat in the highest couch-the seat numbered 1 in the annexed diagram. SEE ACCUBATION.
Some doubt attends the question whether the females took their meals along with the males. The present state of society in the East throws no. light upon this subject, as the customs of the harem date from the time of Mohammed. The cases of Ruth amid the reapers (Ru 2:14), of Elkanah with his wives (1Sa 1:4), of Job's sons and daughters (Job 1:4), and the general intermixture of the sexes in daily life, make it more than probable that they did so join, at the same time, as the duty of attending upon the guests devolved upon them (Lu 10:40), they probably took a somewhat irregular and briefer repast. SEE DINE.
Before commencing the meal, the guests washed their hands. This custom was founded on: natural decorum; not only was the hand the substitute for our knife and fork, but the hands of all the guests were dipped into one and the same dish; uncleanliness in such a case would be intolerable. Hence not only the Jews, but the Greeks (Od. 1, 136), the modern Egyptians (Lane, 1, 190), and many other nations have been distinguished by this practice; the Bedawin, in particular, are careful to wash their hands before, but are indifferent about doing so after their meals (Burckhardt, Notes, 1, 63). The Pharisees transformed this conventional usage into a ritual observance, and' overlaid it with burdensome regulations a willful perversion which our Lord reprobates in the strongest terms (Mr 7:1-13). Another preliminary step was the grace or blessing, of which we have but one instance in the Old Test. (1Sa 9:13), and more than one pronounced by our Lord himself in the New Test. (Mt 15:36; Lu 9:16; Joh 6:11); it consisted, as far as we may judge from the words applied to it, partly of a blessing upon the food, partly of thanks to the Giver of it. The Rabbinical writers have, as usual, laid down most minute regulations respecting it, which may be found in the treatise of the Mishna entitled Berachoth, ch. 6-8. SEE WASH.
The mode of taking the food differed in no material point from the modern usages of the East; generally there was a single dish, into which each guest dipped his hand (Mt 26:23); occasionally separate portions were served out to each (Ge 43:34; Ru 2:14; 1Sa 1:4). A piece of bread was held between the thumb and two fingers of the right hand, and was dipped either into a bowl of melted grease (in which case it was termed ψωμίον, "a sop," Joh 13:26) or into the dish of meat, whence a piece was conveyed to the mouth between the layers of bread (Lane, 1, 193, 194; Burckhardt, Notes, 1, 63). It is esteemed an act of politeness to hand over to a friend a delicate morsel (Joh 13:26; Lane 1, 194). In allusion to the above method of eating, Solomon makes it a characteristic of the: sluggard that "he hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again" (Pr 19:24; Pr 26:15). At the conclusion of the, meal grace was again said, in: conformity with De 8:10, and the hands were again washed. SEE MEAL. Thus far we have described the ordinary meal. On state occasions more ceremony was used, and the meal was enlivened in various ways. Such occasions were numerous, in connection partly with public, partly with private events. In the-first class we may place the great festivals of the Jews (Deuteronomy 16; Tob. 2, 1); public sacrifices (De 12:7; De 27:7; 1Sa 9:13,22; 1Ki 1; 1Ki 9; 1Ki 3; 1Ki 15; Zephaniah 1, 7); the ratification of treaties (Ge 26:30; Ge 31:54); the offering of the tithes (De 14:26), particularly at the end of each third year (De 14:28). In the second class, marriages (Ge 29:22; Jg 14:10; Es 2:18; Tob. 8:19; Mt 22:2; Joh 2; Joh 1); birthdays (Ge 11:20; Job 1:4; Mt 14:6,9); burials (2 Samuel 3, 35; Jer 16:7; Ho 9:4; Tob. 4:17); sheep-shearing (1Sa 25:2,36; 2Sa 13:23); the vintage (Jg 9:27); laying the foundation-stone of a house (Pr 9:1-5); the reception of visitors (Ge 18:6-19:3; 2Sa 3:20; 2Sa 12:4; 2Ki 6:23; Tob. 7:9; 1 Macc. 16:15; 2 Macc. 2, 27; Lu 5:29; Lu 15:23; Joh 12:2); or any event connected with the sovereign (Ho 7:5). "The day of the king," in this passage, has been variously understood as his birthday or his coronation; it may, however, be equally applied to any other event of similar importance. On each of the above- mentioned occasions a sumptuous repast was prepared; the guests were previously invited (Es 5:8; Mt 22:3), and on the day of the feast a second invitation was issued to those that were bidden (Es 6:14; Pr 9:3; Mt 22:3). The visitors were received with a kiss (Tob. 7:6; Lu 7:45); water was produced for them to wash their feet with (Lu 7:44); the head, the beard, the feet, and sometimes the clothes were perfumed with ointment (Ps 23:5; Am 6:6; Luke.7, 38; Joh 12:3); on special occasions robes were provided (Mt 22:11; comp. Trench, On Parables, p. 230); and the head was decorated with wreaths (Isa 28:1; Wisd. 2, 7, 8; Josephus. Anf. 19:9,1). This custom prevailed extensively among the Greeks and Romans. Not only were chaplets worn on the head, but festoons of flowers were hung over the neck and breast (Plutarch, Symp. 3, 1, 3; Martial, 10:19; Ovid, Fas. 2, 739). They were generally introduced after the first part of the entertainment was- completed. They are noticed in several familiar passages of the Latin poets (Horace, Carm. 2, 7, 24; Sat. 2, 3, 256; Juven. 5, 36). The regulation of the feast was under the superintendence of a special officer, named ἀρχιτρίκλινος (Joh 2; Joh 8; A.V. "governor of the feast"), whose business it was to taste the food and the liquors before they were placed on the table, and to settle about the toasts and amusements; he was generally one' of the guests (Ecclus. 32:1, 2), and might therefore take part in the conversation. The classical designation of this officer among the Greeks was συμποσίαρχος; among the Romans magister or rex convivii. He was chosen by lot out of the guests (Smith, Dict. of Antiq. p. 925). SEE ARCHITRICLINUS. The places of the guests were settled according to their respective rank (Ge 43:33; 1Sa 9:22; Mr 12:39; Lu 14:8; Joh 13:23); portions of food were placed before each (1Sa 1; 1Sa 4; 2Sa 6:19; 1Ch 16:3), the most honored guests receiving either larger (Ge 43:34; comp. Herod. 6:57) or more choice (1Sa 9:24; comp. II. 7:321) portions than the rest. The importance of the feast was marked by the number of the guests (Ge 29:22; 1Sa 9:22; 1 Kings 1, 9, 25; Lu 5:29; Lu 14:16), by the splendor of the vessels (Es 1:7), and by the profusion or the excellence of the viands (Ge 18:6; Ge 27:9'; Jg 6:19; 1Sa 9; 1Sa 24; Isa 25:6; Am 6:4). The meal was enlivened with music, singing; and dancing (2Sa 19:35; Ps 69:12; Isa 5:12; Am 6:5; Ecclus. 32:3-6; Mt 14:6; Lu 15:25), or with riddles (Jg 14:12); and amid these entertainments the festival was prolonged for several days (Es 1:3-4); entertainments designed almost exclusively for drinking were known by the special name of mishteh (מַשׁתֶּה). This resembled the comissatio of the Romans, which took place after the supper, and was a mere drinking revel, with only so much food as served to whet: the palate for wine (Smith, Dict.
of Antiq. p. 271). —Smith. SEE BANQUET. Instances of such drinking- bouts are noticed in 1Sa 25:36; 2Sa 13:28; Es 1:7; Da 5:1; they are reprobated by the prophets (Isa 5:11; Am 6:6). Somewhat akin to the mishteh of the Hebrews was also the komos (κῶμος) of the apostolic age in which gross licentiousness was added to drinking, and which is frequently made the subject of warning in the Epistles (Ro 13:13; Ga 5:21; Eph 5:18; 1Pe 4:3). SEE DRINK.