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CUPBEARER():

The officer who served the cup to the king. Like the Cup, the cupbearer is first mentioned in the Old Testament in connection with the story of Joseph in Egypt (Gen. xl. 21), where the title "chief of cupbearers" () would show that such a functionary existed at the Egyptian court. In Jewish history this officer is mentioned in the description of Solomon's court (I Kings x. 5; II Chron. ix. 4), and, later, at the court of Herod I. (Josephus, "Ant." xvi. 8, § 1). Nehemiah was cupbearer to the Persian king Artaxerxes Longimanus (465-425 B.C.; Neh. i. 11, ii. 1). Cupbearers are frequently represented on the Assyrian monuments (compare also Tobit i. 22). The Assyrian Rab-shakeh (, II Kings xviii. 17; Isa. xxxvi. 2), formerly supposed to have been the captain of the cupbearers, is now known to have held a different office.

The Egyptian cupbearers were eunuchs (, Gen. xl. 2), as were those of Herod and those in Assyria; and it may be assumed that this was generally the case throughout the Orient. The office of cupbearer at the Median-Persian courts was, according to Herodotus (iii. 34) and Xenophon ("Cyropædia," i. 3, 8), one of great honor. The cupbearer had in some cases to taste of the cup before presenting it (Xenophon, ib.).

Bibliography:
  • A. H. Layard, Nineveh and Its Remains, ii. 253;
  • Joseph Bonomi, Nineveh and Its Palaces, pp. 250, 284;
  • Tavernier, Reisen, iii., part 2, pp. 6 et seq.;
  • Klemm, Morgenland, pp. 206et seq.
A.I. M. C.
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