Banquets in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
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 (Psalm 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
"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 Psalm 36:8).
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