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TABLE. Translation of a number of words in the OT and NT with various meanings, including tables for ritual, eating, writing, and money-changing.


There are a number of words tr. as “table” in the Eng. Bibles:

a) לוּחַ, H4283. Most often used of tables of stone on which the law given to Moses was written (Exod 24:12, etc.); “tablet” (Prov 3:3; 7:3; Isa 30:8; Jer 17:1; Hab 2:2 RSV).

b) שֻׁלְחָן, H8947. Table for bread of the Presence (Exod 25:23, etc.); table for eating (1 Sam 20:29, etc.); other Temple tables (2 Chron 4:8; Ezek 40:39-43); table of the Lord (Mal 1:7, 12).

c) מֵסַב, H4990, (from a word meaning to go around, surround [Song of Solomon]; “couch” RSV).

d) πλάξ, G4419. “Tables of the covenant,” (Heb 9:4; 2 Cor 3:3); “tablets” RSV.

e) τράπεζα, G5544. Table for eating (Matt 15:27); table for money-changers (Mark 11:15); the Lord’s table (1 Cor 10:21); table for bread of the Presence (Heb 9:2); tr. “feast” (Rom 11:9 RSV).

f) κλίνη, G3109. A reclining couch or bed (Mark 7:4). Not found in many of best MSS, therefore relegated to footnote in RSV as “beds.”

g) πινακίδιον, G4400. “Writing tablet” RSV; “writing table” KJV (Luke 1:63).

i) פָּנָיו (lit. “his face”); “before him” KJV; “at table” RSV (Gen 43:34; 2 Kings 25:29; Jer 52:33).

j) יָשַׁב, H3782, (lit. “to sit”); “sit at meat” KJV; “sit at table” RSV (1 Sam 20:5).

Tables for ritual

Table for bread of the Presence.

Other Hebrew ritual tables.

Solomon made ten tables, which he placed in the Temple (2 Chron 4:8), from silver given him by David for this purpose (1 Chron 28:16). Ezekiel described twelve tables in his vision of the restored Temple, eight for slaying the sacrifices and four for the instruments of sacrifice and the pieces of flesh (Ezek 40:39-43).

Table of the Lord.

Malachi referred to the table of the Lord as polluted (Mal 1:7, 12); here it is the altar of burnt offering. The communion table is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 10:21.

In other religions.

There seems to be a reference to an idolatrous practice of setting a table for the god of Fortune (Isa 65:11) The “table of demons” refers to pagan sacrificial meals (1 Cor 10:21). Oxyrhynchus Papyrus CX contains the following striking parallel to Paul’s phrase: “Chairemon invites you to a meal at the table of the lord Serapis” (see also Ps 69:22).

Tables for eating.

The homes of common people in the ancient Near E were furnished with a minimum of household furnishings. The people squatted, even while eating, a custom still practiced. Only those who lived in palaces and better houses were accustomed to chairs, tables, and beds (2 Kings 4:10). The eating tables must have been very low, as rugs were spread for sitting at the table (Isa 21:5). Tables in NT times were taller, for reference is made to dogs eating crumbs under the table (Mark 7:28).

Tables of rulers.

Tables in the home.

The modern Jewish Passover (Pesach) is highlighted by the Seder service, a family banquet in the home where the family gathers around the table and participates in an elaborate ritual that essentially consists of telling the story of the Exodus.

Tables for writing

Tables of the law.

Table of the nations.

A term often applied to the genealogical account (Gen 9:18-10:32) of the descendants of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Writing tables.

Small tablets, ordinarily a small block of wood covered with wax, used for writing (Luke 1:63: “table” KJV; “tablet” RSV).

Other tables.

The Ten Commandments were prob. written on stones similar to the Egyp. stone steles, with rounded tops. The “Cultus Table of Sippar” (c. 9th cent. b.c.) contained certain provisions regarding priests. A “Table of Offerings of Massilia” (3rd cent. b.c.) contains parallels to the OT, naming the specific parts of the sacrificial animal to which the priests were entitled.

Tables of money-changers.

The stool-like tables, behind which the money-changers sat on the ground cross-legged, that Jesus overturned in indignation when He saw the commercialism in the Temple (Matt 21:12; Mark 11:15; John 2:15).

Figurative usage.

Eschatological usage.

Those faithful to the Lord are promised that they will eat and drink at His table in the kingdom (Luke 13:29; 22:30) with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matt 8:11). In one place, Ezekiel likens being filled at the table of God to judgment, as the birds and beasts are called together to feast on the enemies of God (Ezek 39:20).


Price, Sellers, and Carlson, The Monuments and the Old Testament (1958), 128, 201; M. G. Kline, Treaty of the Great King (1963), 19; M. Noth, The Old Testament World (1966), 158.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

See Tablet.

The table as an article of furniture is shulchan, in the Hebrew and trapezal, in the Greek. The only exceptions are So 1:12, mecabh, "something round," perhaps a "round table," perhaps a "cushion," perhaps a "festal procession," and Mr 7:4, the King James Version kline, "couch" (so the Revised Version (British and American)), while Joh 13:28 and Joh 12:2, the King James Version "at the table," and Tobit 7:8, the King James Version "on the table," represent only the general sense of the original. Of the two regular words, shulchan is properly "a piece of hide," and so "a leather mat," placed on the ground at meal time, but the word came to mean any "table," however elaborate (e.g. Ex 25:23-30). Trapeza means "having four feet."

2Ki 4:10 seems to indicate that a table was a necessary article in even the simpler rooms. Curiously enough, however, apart from the table of shewbread there is no reference in the Bible to the form or construction of tables, but the simpler tables in Palestine of the present day are very much lower than ours. The modern "tables of the money changers" (Mr 11:15 and parallel’s) are small square trays on stands, and they doubtless had the same form in New Testament times.

See Table of Shewbread; Money-changers.