An official of the royal court who served wine or other drinks to the king. (Ge 40:1, 2, 11; Ne 1:11; 2:1) The duties of the chief cupbearer sometimes included testing wine by tasting it before giving it to the king. This was because the possibility always existed that an attempt might be made on the king’s life by poisoning his wine.
Thorough trustworthiness was a chief qualification for the office, since the life of the king was at stake. The position was one of the most honorable in the court. The chief cupbearer was often present at royal conferences and discussions. Being in a close and usually confidential relationship with the king, he often had considerable influence with the monarch. It was Pharaoh’s cupbearer who recommended Joseph. (Ge 41:9-13) King Artaxerxes of Persia had a high regard for his cupbearer, Nehemiah. (Ne 2:6-8) When Nehemiah traveled to Jerusalem, Artaxerxes provided him with a military escort.—Ne 2:9.
The fact that cupbearers are often present in ancient illustrations indicates the importance of their position. The queen of Sheba was greatly impressed by Solomon’s “drinking service and their attire.”—2Ch 9:4.