Less is known of the form and material of the drinking-vessels of the Hebrews than of those of the Greeks and the Romans. The water-skin ("hemet," Gen. xxi. 15, 19; "ob," Job xxxii. 19; and "nod," Judges iv. 19), made of the hide of the goat and the kid, and still used among the Bedouins, certainly dates from very early times. It served both as a receptacle for water and for milk and as a drinking-vessel. The Israelites probably first saw earthen drinking-vessels in Palestine, where they were used by the common people. The wealthy had metal—usually silver—ones (Gen. xliv. 2), while those of the kings were of gold (I Kings x. 21; II Chron. ix. 21 [A. V. 20]) or probably of bronze. It may be safely assumed that these metal vessels were first imported by the Phenicians, and that the Israelites learned from them how to work the metals (compare I Kings vii. 12 et seq. [A. V. 13]); hence it is probable that the drinking-vessels of the Israelites resembled very closely those in use among the Phenicians.
In regard to form the vessels may be divided into two groups; viz., (1) cups and (2) bowls. A cup was usually called "kos," a designation applied both to the cup of the poor man (II Sam. xii. 3) and to that of the king (Gen. xl. 11, 13, 21). I Kings vii. 26 shows that the rim was often bent, and Isa. li. 17, 22 indicates that the sides were bulging. In Gen. xliv. 2, 12, 16 et seq. the term "gabi'a" is used to designate "Joseph's cup," which, according to Jer. xxxv. 5, seems to have been larger than a kos, and was probably a chalice or a goblet. The same applies perhaps to "ḳubba'at" (Isa. li. 17), to which the accompanying word "kos" is probably a gloss. "Kefor" (I Chron. xxviii. 17; Ezra i. 10, viii. 27) means "cup," as is evident from the Assyrian "kapru," and from the Neo-Hebraic and Judæo-Aramaic "kefor" (compare Euting's combination with = "bulging," in Nabatæan Inscription No. 27).
The bowl, which was called "sefel," was used for holding milk (Judges v. 25) and for drawing water (Judges vi. 38). Judges v. 25 shows that in addition to the bowls of ordinary size there were larger ones, evidently designed for guests of honor, who were served with double portions (Gen. xliii. 34; I Sam. ix. 23 et seq.), not only of meat, but also of drink; hence the use of the phrase "sefel addirim" (lordly dish).
The word "saf" mentioned in I Kings vii. 50; II Kings xii. 14; and Jer. lii. 19 probably refers to a bowl also. In Ex. xii. 22 and Zech. xii. 2 a saf is used at the sacrifice. The "aggan" mentioned in Cant. vii. 3 is not a bowl for drinking, but rather for mixing wine with spices; hence κρατήρ in Septuagint. The "kad"—mentioned in Gen. xxiv. 14 et seq., which was carried on the shoulder, and from which Rebekah gave Eliezer water (Gen. xxiv. 18)—was used for drawing water (comp. Eccl. xii. 6) rather than as a drinking-vessel (comp. "deli," Isa. xl. 15). Jugs were also used as drinking-vessels; in I Sam. xxvi. 12, 16 a "ẓappaḥat" (cruse) is mentioned, probably a bulging jug carried on journeys as a drinking-vessel. "Nehel," which has a similar meaning, may have originally designated a waterskin (I Sam. i. 24, x. 3, etc.), but later it undoubtedly signified an earthen vessel (Isa. xxx. 14; Lam. iv. 2). "Baḳbuḳ" (Jer. xix. 1, 10; I Kings xiv. 3), also meaning an earthen vessel, was perhaps used for drinking purposes.