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COUCH:

Structure on which to rest or sleep. The Hebrew term , meaning "divan" as well as "bed," is synonymous with (Amos iii. 12) and (II Sam. xvii. 28). In olden times the Jewish bed, a plain wooden frame with feet, and a slightly raised end for the head (Gen. xlvii. 31), probably differed little from the simple Egyptian bed. The frame, covered with (Prov. vii. 16), served as a bed for the old and sick during the day (Gen. xlvii. 31; I Sam. xix. 13 et seq.), while at meals people sat on it, perhaps with crossed legs (compare Ezek. xxiii. 41; I Sam. xx. 25).

Amos, who denounces the habit of reclining at table as a foreign custom (Amos iii. 12, vi. 4), speaks also of the luxury prevailing in the furnishing ofthese couches. The frames were made of costly cedar-wood inlaid with ivory (Amos vi. 4); the feet were plated with silver, and the backs with leaf gold (Song of Solomon, iii. 10). White pillows and bolsters were put on them, also costly rugs, purple embroidered covers, Egyptian linen, etc. (compare Amos iii. 12; Prov. vii. 16; Song of Solomon, iii. 10). Two references in the El-Amarna tablets show how early this luxury obtained in Palestine, and state that even in those ancient times couches of costly wood inlaid with gold were sent as presents from Palestine to Egypt (Schrader, "K. B." v. 27, xxvii. 20, 28). Sometimes pillows were laid on the floor. Esth. i. 6 speaks of beds upon a pavement of marble, which were covered with costly materials woven of threads of gold and silver (I Esd. iii. 6).

Egyptian Couch, Showing Head-Rest and Steps.(After Wilkinson, "Ancient Egyptians.")

To-day the beds in the East are made by laying bolsters on the low divans which run along the walls, so that a room which serves as a parlor in the daytime is easily turned into a bedroom for eight or ten persons. In ancient Israel the wealthy often had separate bedrooms (, II Sam. iv. 7; compare Ex. viii. 3; II Kings vi. 17; also , II Sam. xiii. 10, or , II Kings xi. 2; II Chron. xxii. 11), while the poor, especially the herdsmen, frequently slept out-of-doors, covered only with the "simlah," and with a stone under their heads (compare Ex. xxii. 26; Gen. xxviii. 11, xxxi. 40). See Bed.

E. G. H. W. N.
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