is the rendering in the A.V. usually of שֻׁלחָן, shulchân (New Test. τράπεζα, likewise invariably so translated, except Lu 19:23 ["bank"]'; Ac 16:34 ["meat"]), so called from being extended (שָׁלִח; comp. Homer, Od. 10:37; and see Ps 69:23), and denoting especially a table spread with food (Jg 1:7; 1Sa 20:29,34; 1Ki 5:7; 1Ki 10:5; Job 36:16; Ne 5:17); but spoken likewise of the table of shew-bread (see below), and likewise of the lectisternia prepared before idols (Isa 45:11; see. Schumann, De Lectisferniis in Sacro Cod. [Lips. 1739]). For the "tables" of stone on which the Decalogue was engraved, see below. The word. מֵסֵב, mesâb, a divan (q.v.), is once rendered "at table" (Song of Solomon 1, 12). SEE SITTING.
Little is known as to the form of tables among the Hebrews; but, as in other Oriental nations, they were probably not high. In Ex 25:23, indeed, the table for the shew-bread is described as a cubit and a half in height; but the table of Herod's temple, as depicted on the arch of Titus at Rome, is only half a cubit high. Probably the table of the ancient Hebrews differed little from that of the modern Arabs, namely, a piece of skin or leather spread upon the ground (hence the figure of entanglement in it, Ps 69:23). In Palestine, at the present day, the general custom, even of the better classes, is to bring a polygonal stool (kursi), about fourteen inches high, into the common sitting-room for meals. Upon this is placed a tray (seniyeh) of basketwork or of metal, generally copper, on which the food is arranged. 'These two pieces of furniture together compose the table (sûfrah). The bread lies upon the mat beneath the tray, and a cruse of water stands near by, from which all drink as they have need. On formal occasions, this is held in the hand by a servant, who waits upon the guests. Around this stool and tray the guests gather, sitting on the floor (Thomson, Land and Book, 1, 180). SEE EATING.
Among the ancient Egyptians, the table was much the same as that of the present day in Egypt, a small stool, supporting a round tray, on which the dishes are placed (see Lane, Mod. Eg. 1, 190); but it differed from this in having its circular summit fixed on a pillar, or leg, which was often in the form of a man, generally a captive, who supported the slab upon his head, the whole being of stone or some hard wood. On this the dishes were placed together with loaves of bread, some of which were not unlike those of the present day in Egypt, flat and round, as our crumpets. Others had the form of rolls or cakes, sprinkled with seeds. The table was not generally covered with any linen, but, like the Greek table, was washed with a sponge, or napkin, after the dishes were removed, and polished by the servants, when the company had retired; though an instance sometimes occurs of a napkin spread on it, at least on those which bore offerings in honor of the dead. One or two guests generally sat at a table, though, from the mention of persons seated in rows according to rank, it has been supposed the tables were occasionally of a long shape; as may have been the case when the brethren of Joseph "sat before him, the first-born according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth," Joseph eating alone at another table where "they set on for him by himself." But even if round, they might still sit according to rank, one place being always the post of honor, even at the present day, at the round table of Egypt (Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt. 1. 179). SEE DINE.
The tables of the ancient Assyrians, as delineated upon the monuments, were often of a highly ornamental character (Layard, Nineveh, 2, 236; Botta, Nineveh, p. 188). SEE BANQUET. For the triclinium of the Roman period, SEE ACCUBATION; SEE SUP. Other Greek words than τράπεζα above (which likewise denotes occasionally a broker's counter, SEE MONEY-CHANGER, not to mention ἀνακεῖμαι etc., often rendered 'sit' at table), which are translated "table" in the A. V. in a different sense, are: κλίνη (Mr 7:4), a bed (as elsewhere rendered), or couch used for eating, i.e. the triclinium above noticed; and πλάξ (2Co 3:3; Heb 9:4),a tablet for inscription; more fully πινακίδιον, a writing-table (Lu 1:63). SEE TABLE OF THE LAW.