For the very poor of the East, in ancient times as now, the "bed" was and is, as a rule, the bare ground; and the bedclothes, the gown, simlah, or "outer garment," worn during the day ("For that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep?" (
When one was on a journey, or watching his flock by night as a shepherd, such a "bed" was the most natural, and often a stone would serve as a pillow. (See
An advance on this custom, which came in due course of time, or under change of circumstances, was the use of a mat on the floor as a bed, with or without covering. At first it was literally laid on the floor, which was generally of one common level, in some convenient place near the wall; but later it was put on an elevation, either a raised part of the floor on one side, or a bedstead, which gave rise to the expression "going up to the bed" (compare
1.Terms for Bed, and Sleeping Customs of the Hebrews:
With a later development and civilization, "beds" came to be built upon supports and constructed in different forms, which fact is reflected in the variety of names given the "bed" in the Hebrew and related languages.
(3) We find that the poor, while sleeping for the most part in their ordinary clothing, often, in cold weather, made their beds of the skins of animals, old cloaks, or rugs, as they do still in the East. The "beds" and "bedding" now in ordinary use among Orientals are much the same, we may be sure, as they were in olden times. "Bedsteads" of any pretention were and are rare among the common people; but the richness of "beds" and "bedsteads" among Asiatics of wealth and rank was quite equal to that of the Greeks and Romans (compare
(4) As soon as any family could afford it, a special bedroom would be set apart, and the whole family would sleep in it (see
The words mishkabh and miTTah came to have a figurative meaning signifying the final resting-place; and `eres used of the "bedstead" of the King of Og (
2.Terms for Bed, Their Meaning, etc.:
(1) We find several Greek words, kline, krabbatos, and koitte, used in the New Testament somewhat indiscriminately and rendered English Versions of the Bible by "bed," "couch," etc.; but, as with the Hebrew words noted, there is little to indicate just exactly what they severally stand for, or how they are related to the Hebrew terms rendered "bed" or "couch" in the Old Testament. Of one thing we can be sure, reasoning from what we know of "the unchanging East," the "beds" and sleeping customs of the Hebrews in Christ’s time were in the main about what they were in later Old Testament times.
(4) For figurative use in the prophets (e.g.
George B. Eager