The cup was a drinking vessel made of pottery or various metals such as gold, silver, or bronze. During biblical times cups came in two different forms. Some resembled their modern counterparts. However most ancient cups were shallow bowls which were produced in a multitude of sizes. They also could be used in divination (Genesis 44:5). In addition, the term cup was used to designate the receptacles for holding lamps on the lampstand of the tabernacle (Exodus 25:31-35 NAS).
In the Bible the word “cup” frequently is used in a figurative sense. The contents of the cup are accentuated, since symbolically God serves the drink. Thus the cup might represent blessings or prosperity for a righteous person (Psalms 16:5;
Psalms 116:13). Likewise, it portrayed the totality of divine judgment on the wicked (Psalms 11:6;
Isaiah 51:17,Isaiah 51:22;
Revelation 18:6). Jesus voluntarily drank the cup of suffering (Matthew 20:22;
Matthew 26:39,Matthew 26:42;
John 18:11). For Jesus that cup was His death and everything that it involved.
The cup had a prominent place in the liturgy of the Jewish Passover meal, and so, subsequently, in the Lord's Supper. In the Christian ordinance the cup is a symbolic reminder of the atoning death of Jesus (Matthew 26:27-28;
1 Corinthians 11:25-26). See Divination; Lampstand; Lord's Supper; Passover; Pottery.