|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
Exodus 25:30 (R.V. marg., "presence bread"); 1 Chronicles 9:32 (marg., "bread of ordering"); Numbers 4:7: called "hallowed bread" (R.V., "holy bread") in 1 Samuel 21:1-6.
This bread consisted of twelve loaves made of the finest flour. They were flat and thin, and were placed in two rows of six each on a table in the holy place before the Lord. They were renewed every Sabbath (Leviticus 24:5-9), and those that were removed to give place to the new ones were to be eaten by the priests only in the holy place (see 1 Samuel 21:3-6; Comp. Matthew 12:3, 4).
The number of the loaves represented the twelve tribes of Israel, and also the entire spiritual Israel, "the true Israel;" and the placing of them on the table symbolized the entire consecration of Israel to the Lord, and their acceptance of God as their God. The table for the bread was made of acacia wood, 3 feet long, 18 inches broad, and 2 feet 3 inches high. It was plated with pure gold. Two staves, plated with gold, passed through golden rings, were used for carrying it.
Noah Webster's Dictionary
(n.) See Showbread.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
SHEWBREAD, TABLE OF
(shulchan (Exodus 25:25-30, etc.); he trapeza kai he prothesis ton arton (Hebrews 9:2)): For construction, see TABERNACLE; TEMPLE. A rude representation of the table is given on the Arch of Titus in Rome. The bas-relief was measured by Professor Boni in 1905, and the height and width of the represented tables were found to be 48 centimeters, or nearly 19 inches. The table represented is, of course, that of Herod's temple, taken at the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. See the author's article on "The Temple Spoils" in PEFS, 1906, 306;.
The table of shewbread is to be distinguished from the altar of incense. It has become the fashion of the newer criticism to deny the existence of the altar of incense in preexilic times, and to explain the allusion to it in 1 Kings 6:20 as the table of shewbread (so in Ezekiel 41:22). The other references (1 Kings 6:22; 1 Kings 7:48; 1 Kings 9:25) are dismissed as interpolations. The procedure is radically vicious. The table of shewbread is not an "altar," though the altar is once spoken of as a "table" (Ezekiel 41:22). There was only one altar of incense (1 Kings 6:20), but (in 2 Chronicles 4:8) ten tables of shewbread.
W. Shaw Caldecott
sho'-bred lechem ha-panim, "bread of the presence"; he prothesis ton arton (Hebrews 9:2); the American Standard Revised Version "showbread").
1. The Term:
The marginal reading of Exodus 25:30; Exodus 35:13, the Revised Version (British and American) "Presence-bread," exactly gives the meaning of the Hebrew. In 2 Chronicles 2:4 it is spoken of as the "continual showbread," because it was to be before Yahweh "alway" (Exodus 25:30).
2. Mosaic Regulations:
Later Judaism has much to say as to the number and size of the loaves, more properly thin cakes, which bore this name, together with many minute regulations as to the placing of the loaves, the covering of them with frankincense, and other ritualistic vapidities. All that the Mosaic legislation required was that, once in every week, there should be twelve cakes of unleavened bread, each containing about four-fifths of a peck of fine flour, placed in two piles upon a pure table with frankincense beside each pile and changed every Sabbath day (Leviticus 24:5-9). From the description of the table upon which the fiat cakes were to lie (Exodus 25:23-30; Exodus 37:10-16), it held a series of golden vessels comprising dishes, spoons, flagons and bowls. As it is unlikely that empty cups were set before Yahweh-they being described as "the vessels which were upon the table"-we may conclude that the table held presentation offerings of "grain and wine and oil," the three chief products of the land (Deuteronomy 7:13). The "dishes" were probably the salvers on which the thin cakes were piled, six on each. The "flagons" would contain wine, and the bowls (made with spouts, "to pour withal"), the oil; while the "spoons" held the frankincense, which was burned as a memorial, "even an offering made by fire unto Yahweh." The cakes themselves were eaten by the priests on every Sabbath day, as being among the "most holy" sacrifices. Each of the synoptists refers to the incident of David and his companions having eaten of the shewbread (hoi artoi tes protheseos), as told in 1 Samuel 21:4-6 (Matthew 12:4 Mark 2:26 Luke 6:4).
3. On Journeyings:
At such times as the removal of the tabernacle took place, the separate appointments of the table of incense were not parted from it, but were carried with it-dishes, spoons, bowls, and cups (Numbers 4:7). These, like the other furniture, were borne by the Kohathite Levites, but a few articles of lighter weight were in the personal care of the high priest. These comprised the oil for the candlestick, the sweet incense, the holy oil of consecration, and the meal for the continual bread offering (Numbers 4:7, 8, 16). Small quantities of these alone would be borne from place to place, such as would be needed with the least delay to refurbish the vessels of the sanctuary on every reerection of the tent of meeting.
With this view of the nature, we have a natural and adequate sense of the meanings and importance of the shewbread, in the economy of the temple ritual and service. It was a continual reminder to the worshippers of the truth that man does not live by bread alone, emphasized by the fact that these most holy offerings were afterward eaten. It was the Old Testament version of the prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread"; and in the fact that the holy table was never for a moment left without some loaves lying on it, we have the symbol of man's continued and unbroken dependence upon God. Even during the travels of the table of shewbread with the tabernacle, the "continual bread" was required to be in its place thereon (Numbers 4:7).
It has been usual to say that "frankincense in golden urns stood beside the twelve loaves" (EB, IV, col. 4212). But this is a mere repetition of a Jewish legend, as spoons were the recognized holders of the frankincense to be burned (compare Numbers 7:14;). Such spoons formed a part of the equipment of the shewbread table, and on the removal of the week-old cakes the spoons were carried forth and the frankincense in them burned on the great altar on the Sabbath day. If this were done while the grain and wine and oil were being consumed, it would derive additional significance, as betokening the gratitude and adoration of the representative recipients of the bounties of Nature, just as the daily burning of incense in the holy place betokened the worship and adoration of the praying multitudes without the temple (Luke 1:10).
See SHEWBREAD, TABLE OF.
W. Shaw Caldecott
Shewbread (16 Occurrences)
Matthew 12:4 How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? (KJV DBY)
Mark 2:26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? (KJV)
Luke 6:4 How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone? (KJV DBY)
Hebrews 9:2 For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. (KJV)
Exodus 25:30 And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me continually. (DBY)
Exodus 35:13 the table and its staves, and all its utensils, and the shewbread; (DBY)
Exodus 39:36 the table, all its utensils, and the shewbread; (DBY)
Numbers 4:7 And upon the table of shewbread they shall spread a cloth of blue; and put thereon the dishes, and the cups, and the bowls, and goblets of the drink-offering; and the continual bread shall be thereon. (DBY)
1 Kings 7:48 And Solomon made all the vessels that pertained unto the house of the LORD: the altar of gold, and the table of gold, whereupon the shewbread was, (KJV DBY)
1 Chronicles 9:32 And other of their brethren, of the sons of the Kohathites, were over the shewbread, to prepare it every sabbath. (KJV)
1 Chronicles 23:29 Both for the shewbread, and for the fine flour for meat offering, and for the unleavened cakes, and for that which is baked in the pan, and for that which is fried, and for all manner of measure and size; (KJV)
1 Chronicles 28:16 And by weight he gave gold for the tables of shewbread, for every table; and likewise silver for the tables of silver: (KJV)
2 Chronicles 4:19 And Solomon made all the vessels that were for the house of God, the golden altar also, and the tables whereon the shewbread was set; (KJV DBY)
2 Chronicles 13:11 And they burn unto the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shewbread also set they in order upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the LORD our God; but ye have forsaken him. (KJV)
2 Chronicles 29:18 Then they went in to Hezekiah the king, and said, We have cleansed all the house of the LORD, and the altar of burnt offering, with all the vessels thereof, and the shewbread table, with all the vessels thereof. (KJV)
Nehemiah 10:33 For the shewbread, and for the continual meat offering, and for the continual burnt offering, of the sabbaths, of the new moons, for the set feasts, and for the holy things, and for the sin offerings to make an atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God. (KJV)