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Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Banquets

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Both social and religious. At the three great religious feasts, when all the males appeared before Jehovah, the family had its feast, of which the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow had their share (Deuteronomy 16:11). Sacrifices were accompanied by a feast (Exodus 34:15; Judges 16:23-25). The "lovefeasts" of the early Christians sprung from these sacrificial feasts; as the Lord's supper came from the Passover. The tithes and firstlings were to be eaten at the sanctuary, if not too far off (Deuteronomy 12:17-18; Deuteronomy 14:22-23). Males and females met together at feasts of old (John 2:1). Vashti's separate Women's banquet was a Persian, not Jewish, custom (Esther 1:9). In magnificent feasts, as at royal weddings, a general invitation was given; the accepters were summoned by a second message at the time of the feast (Proverbs 9:1-3; Luke 14:17; Matthew 22).

The entertainer provided robes for the guests, to be worn in his honor and as a token of his regard, in Old Testament times the Israelites sat at table (1 Samuel 16:11); and in the order of their dignity or seniority (Genesis 43:33); which explains the point of Jesus' exhortation to take the lowest place (Luke 14:7-10; Matthew 23:6). The Persians reclined on couches (Esther 7:8). So the Romans. From these the Jews adopted reclining. Thus, the sinful woman could come behind the conch where Jesus lay, and anoint His feet (Luke 7:37-38); and Mary, sister of Lazarus (John 12:2-3); and "John leaned on the Lord's bosom" at the last supper (John 13:23; John 13:25). Amos reprobates the luxury (Amos 6:4-6). Perfumes were freely used at rich feasts (Psalms 23:5; Ecclesiastes 9:7-8). A "governor of the feast" was appointed (John 2:8-9).

The usual time was evening, to begin earlier was a mark of excess (Isaiah 5:11; Ecclesiastes 10:16). "Spiced wine" was often used (Song of Solomon 8:2). Garlands or crowns of flowers on the head (Isaiah 28:1). Music, vocal and instrumental (Isaiah 5:12), and dancing (Luke 15:25). Wedding feasts often lasted seven days (Judges 14:12). Portions were sent from the entertainer to each guest, and a double or fivefold portion, or special part, to a distinguished guest (1 Samuel 1:5; 1 Samuel 9:23-24; compare 2 Samuel 11:8; Genesis 43:34). Portions direct from table were sent to poorer friends (Nehemiah 8:10; compare Luke 14:13; Esther 9:19; Esther 9:22). A kiss was the proper courtesy wherewith the heat received each guest; to omit it was to be wanting in kindliness (Luke 7:4-5).

In the absence of modern knives, forks and spoons, they dipped their hands together in the same dish (Mark 14:20; Proverbs 19:24; Proverbs 26:15, for "bosom" translate dish). After dinner the hands were wiped in a cloth, after a servant had poured water on them (compare Elisha's office for Elijah, 2 Kings 3:11), or were wiped on pieces of bread, which were then thrown to the household dogs (which illustrates Matthew 15:27). A banquet is a frequent emblem of heavenly happiness (Isaiah 25:6; Luke 14:15; Revelation 19:9).

"To eat bread" includes drinking. So in the case of the Lord's supper (Acts 20:7). So the cup is not expressly mentioned in the Passover supper in the Old Testament but Deuteronomy 14:26; Isaiah 25:6 imply the use of wine at it. In Eli's days drinking to excess even at the Lord's feasts was not uncommon (1 Samuel 1:14-15). Four cups of wine were mixed with water, blessed and passed round by the master of the feast at the Passover. In Song of Solomon 2:4 the heavenly Bridegroom's "banqueting house" (house of wine) is the church in its public ordinances for refreshing the soul, the ministry of the word, joint prayer, and the Lord's supper (compare Psalms 36:8).


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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Banquets'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/fbd/b/banquets.html. 1949.

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