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Holman Bible Dictionary


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An elaborate meal, sometimes called a feast. In the Old Testament and New Testament, banquets and feasts are prominent in sealing friendships, celebrating victories, and for other joyous occasions (Daniel 5:1 ; Luke 15:22-24 ). The idea of hospitality ran deep in the thought of those in the Near East (Genesis 18:1-8 ; Luke 11:5-8 ).

Most banquets were held in the evening after the day's work. Usually only men were invited. The women served the food when no servant was present. Hosts sent invitations (Matthew 22:3-4 ) and sometimes made elaborate preparations for the guests. Those who dined reclined on bed-like seats and lay at right angles to the table. Even though our English translations usually speak of “sitting down” at a meal, the Greek actually means “recline” (Mark 6:39 ; Luke 12:37 ).

Typical foods served at banquets were fish, bread, olives, various kinds of vegetables, cheeses, honey, dates, and figs. Beef or lamb was used only by the rich or on special occasions (Mark 14:12 ; Luke 15:23 ). Wine was also an important part of the feasts, so that they were sometimes called “a house of drinking” in the Hebrew (KJV, “banqueting house,” Song of Song of Solomon 2:4 ) or “drinkings” in the Greek (KJV, “banquetings,” 1 Peter 4:3 ).

Some “seats” at the banquet table were preferred over others (Mark 10:37 ; Luke 14:7-11 ; John 13:23 ). In Luke 14:8-10 , Jesus referred to these “lowest” and “highest” places. He often used banquets and feasts to present His message to various people (Matthew 9:9-10 ; Mark 14:1-9 ; Luke 7:36-50 ; Luke 19:1-6 ; John 2:1-11 ; John 12:1-8 ).

The image of the feast as an occasion of celebrating victory is seen in Jesus' reference to the messianic banquet (Matthew 8:11 ; Luke 13:29 ). Also in the Book of Revelation, the final victory day is described in terms of a “marriage supper of the Lamb” of God (Revelation 19:9 ).

W. Thomas Sawyer

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Banquet'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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