Concise Bible Dictionary:

Roman Banquet Couch 1St Century B.C.

From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

1. In the heat of summer an awning is sometimes stretched across the court from one gallery to another. Reference is thought to be made to this in Psalm 104:22Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: (Psalm 104:2), and Isaiah 45:1212I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded. (Isaiah 45:12); and many writers think that the text speaks of an awning of variegated colors thrown over the courtyard of the palace. In the ruins of the palace at Khorsabad a small bronze lion was found of beautiful workmanship and fixed in a flagstone in the pavement of the court. At intervals there were similar flagstones in the pavement, where it is evident that other lions had been placed. From the fact that this lion had a ring rising from his back, resembling the rings in the animal-shaped weights which have been found (see note on Genesis 23:1616And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant. (Genesis 23:16), #26), it is supposed that these bronze images were used in the pavement to fasten the cords of the awning which was spread over the court.
Some authorities, however, suppose that the variegated hangings, instead of making an awning, were magnificent curtains suspended between the marble pillars of the court. This is the opinion of Professor Rawlinson, and also of Loftus. The latter excavated among the ruins of the great palace at Susa, which he believes to have been the very palace referred to in the book of Esther. His investigations satisfied him that “the Great Hall at Susa consisted of several magnificent groups of columns, together having a frontage of three hundred and forty-three feet nine inches, and a depth of two hundred and forty-four feet. These groups were arranged into a central phalanx of thirty-six columns, (six rows of six each,) flanked on the west, north, and east by an equal number, disposed of in double rows of six each and distant from them sixty-four feet two inches” (Travels in Chaldea and Susiana, p. 367). He thinks that the colored curtains wore hung around the central group of marble columns.
2. It is customary to spread mats and carpets on the court pavement for the accommodation of guests; Ahasuerus with kingly magnificence placed costly couches. These couches of “gold and silver,” on which the guests reclined in the palace court while they feasted, (see note on Matthew 26:77There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. (Matthew 26:7), #712) may have been covered with cloth in which these materials were interwoven, (see note on Proverbs 7:1616I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt. (Proverbs 7:16), #459) or they may have been put on frames which were ornamented with the precious metals. Layard says that “choirs and couches adorned with feet of silver and other metals were looked upon as a great object of luxury in Persia” (Nineveh and its Remains, vol. 2, p. 300). According to Herodotus, the tables, thrones, and couches in the temple of Bolus at Babylonia were of solid gold.

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