The sockets of the lamps of the golden candlestick of the tabernacle are called bowls (Ex. 25:31, 33, 34; 37:17, 19, 20); the same word so rendered being elsewhere rendered "cup" (Gen. 44:2, 12, 16), and wine "pot" (Jer. 35:5). The reservoir for oil, from which pipes led to each lamp in Zechariah's vision of the candlestick, is called also by this name (Zech. 4:2, 3); so also are the vessels used for libations (Ex. 25:29; 37:16).
(1) The primitive Hebrews, like the wandering Bedouin of today, probably used bowls of wood, as less breakable than earthenware. Some hollow dish of the sort would be indispensable, even in the lowest stage of nomad life, to receive the milk of the flock, and as the common dish in which to serve the family meal. We have abundant proof, however, that vessels of earthenware of various sorts were in use by the settled peoples of Canaan in the earliest times. Many interesting specimens, characteristic of different peoples and ages, have been found by excavators of the PEF, especially recently by Flinders Petrie and Fred. Bliss at Tell el-Hesy (see Tell el-Hesy (Lachish), by Petrie, and A Mound of Many Cities, by Bliss) and by Macalister and others at Gezer, Taanach, Megiddo, etc. (see PEFS).
It was probably in some such dish--"a bowl fit for lords" (English Versions, "a lordly dish")--that Jael offered. Sisera a draught of sour milk (Jdg 5:25; compare Arabic leben), and the bowl into which Gideon wrung the water from his fleece (Jdg 6:38) is denoted by the same word (cephel; Septuagint lekane), though this may have been of earthenware instead of wood. Certainly the cephel was a dish of goodly size.
(2) Another word rendered sometimes "bowl" and sometimes "basin" is mizraq. It is used of the large silver bowls presented by "the princes of the congregation" (Nu 7:13 f). See BASIN. It is also applied by Amos (6:6) to the costly bowls used by the nobles of Samaria in their debaucheries.
(3) A still larger bowl is mentioned by Jer (35:5), the King James Version "pot" (gabhia`). This same word is used of Joseph's cup (Gen 44:2 f): "Put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack's mouth." As used at banquets it corresponds to the crater, from which the drinking cups (kocoth) were replenished. The material seems to have been uniformly silver. But see (4).
(4) Bowl is used in the King James Version to translation gabhia`, "the bowls made like almonds" (Ex 25:33 the King James Version), as applied to the "cups" (Revised Version), or calyxes, used to ornament the golden candlestick (see TABERNACLE). It seems to have been an elastic term.
(5) The bowl of Zec 4:3 (gullah, found also in 5:2 correct text), is represented as the receptacle for oil in the candlestick of the prophet's vision. It is likewise used of "the lamp of life" (Eccl 12:6) and to designate the bowl-shaped capitals of Jachin and Boaz (1 Ki 7:41,42; 2 Ch 4:12,13).
(6) Bowl is found in Isa 51:17,22 the Revised Version (British and American), "bowl of the cup" (the King James Version "dregs of the cup"). Some think the second word here (qubba`ath koc) is a gloss to explain the unusual preceding word.
(7) In Rev where the King James Version has "vial" (phiale) the Revised Version (British and American) has "bowl."
George B. Eager