tri-klin'-ti-um (Latin from Greek triklinion, from tri and kline, "a couch"): A couch for reclining at meals among the ancient Romans, arranged along three sides of a square, the fourth side being left open for bringing in food or tables, when these were used. In the larger Roman houses the dining-rooms consisted of small alcoves in the atrium arranged to receive triclinia. In early Old Testament times people sat at their meals (Ge 27:19; Jud 19:6; 1Sa 20:5; 1Ki 13:20). Reclining was a luxurious habit imported from foreign countries by the degenerate aristocracy in the days of the later prophets (Am 2:8; 6:4). Still, we find it common in New Testament times (Mt 9:10; 26:7; Mr 6:22,39; 14:3,18; Lu 5:29; 7:36,37; 14:10; 17:7; Joh 12:2; in these passages, though English Versions of the Bible read "sat," the Greek words are anakeimai, sunanakeimai, anapipto, katakeimai and anaklino, all indicating "reclining"; compare Joh 13:23; 21:20; here the King James Version translates these words "lean," probably with reference to the Jewish custom of leaning at the Passover feast). In Joh 2:8,9 the ruler or governor of the feast is called architriklinos, that is, the master of the triclinium.


Nathan Isaacs

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