Hollow receptacles, some having lids (Num. 19:15), used to hold liquids or dry materials. (1 Ki. 17:10; Esther 1:7; Jer. 40:10) Many were made of earthenware, wood, metal or stone. (Lev. 6:28; 15:12; Num. 7:85; 1 Ki. 10:21; Matt. 26:7) Common containers included jars and vessels “of the bowl sort” (Isa. 22:24), bags or sacks (Gen. 42:25; Hag. 1:6), baskets (Mark 8:19, 20; 2 Cor. 11:33), skin bottles (Judg. 4:19; Luke 5:37, 38) and buckets.—Num. 24:7; John 4:11; see UTENSILS.
JARS, JUGS AND FLASKS
The jar, generally a deep cylindrical vessel having one, two or even four handles, was usually made of earthenware (Isa. 30:14; Lam. 4:2) and, sometimes, of stone. (John 2:6) A common large jar in the days of the kingdoms of Judah and of Israel may have been approximately twenty-five inches (c. 63.5 centimeters) high and had a diameter of about sixteen inches (c. 40.6 centimeters). Some jars were equipped with spouts. (2 Ki. 4:2) Jars might be kept on a stand (Lev. 11:35) and were used to hold such liquids as water or oil (1 Ki. 18:33; 2 Ki. 4:2), large ones often being employed for wine. (1 Sam. 10:3; 25:18; 2 Sam. 16:1; Jer. 13:12) Also dry materials, such as flour, were stored in jars. (1 Ki. 17:12) Sometimes documents, including deeds of purchase, were placed in earthenware jars or vessels for safekeeping. (Jer. 32:13-15) A number of ancient manuscripts were thus preserved in jars in the Qumran area near the Dead Sea, among the manuscripts being the well-known Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah.
BOWLS, DISHES AND PLATTERS
Bowls were used to hold such liquids as wine (Amos 6:6), milk (Judg. 5:25) and water. (Judg. 6:38) They were made of earthenware, stone and metal. Some banquet bowls were ceramicware. The ceramic type might have four handles, as in the days of the kingdoms of Judah and of Israel, when, as indicated by finds of archaeologists, these reportedly averaged about eight inches (c. 20.3 centimeters) in height and had a diameter inside the rim of approximately sixteen inches (c. 40.6 centimeters). In comparison with bowls, dishes and platters likely were shallow.—Ex. 25:29; 37:16; Num. 4:7; 7:84, 85; Matt. 14:8, 11; Mark 6:25, 28.
The cup, a comparatively small vessel for drinking liquids, was usually made of earthenware, though sometimes of metal. (Prov. 23:31; Jer. 35:5; Mark 9:41) Some cups were molded to fit the hand. Usually they were handleless shallow bowls. Those equipped with handles could also serve as dippers.
The congregator indicated that at death “the jar at the spring is broken.” Apparently this jar is the heart, which in death ceases to receive and transmit the flow of blood throughout the body. It becomes as useless as a broken jar that can hold no water. Also the brain, possibly alluded to under the figure of a “golden bowl,” ceases to function and undergoes dissolution, “gets crushed.”—Eccl. 12:6, 7.
The Scriptures often refer to people as vessels. (Acts 9:15) Christians are frail earthen vessels entrusted with a glorious treasure, the ministry. (2 Cor. 4:7) Women are designated as the “weaker vessel.” Therefore, Christian husbands, by taking into consideration their wives’ physical and biological limitations as did Jehovah in the Law given to Israel (Lev. 18:19; 20:18), act “according to knowledge, assigning them honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one.”—1 Pet. 3:7.
An individual should keep separate from vessels “lacking honor” (persons who do not conduct themselves aright) and should pursue a course in harmony with Jehovah’s will. Thus he can be a “vessel for an honorable purpose, sanctified, useful to his owner, prepared for every good work.” (2 Tim. 2:20, 21) Jehovah’s refraining from bringing immediate destruction upon “vessels of wrath,” wicked persons, serves to spare righteously disposed ones because it gives them time to be molded as “vessels of mercy.”—Rom. 9:17-26.
The cup is often symbolic of divine retribution or of God’s anger. From such a cup wicked ones, cities or even peoples and nations might drink. (Ps. 11:6; 75:8; Isa. 51:17, 22; Jer. 25:12-29; 51:41; Lam. 4:21; Rev. 14:9, 10; 16:19; 18:5-8) Ancient Babylon, for example, was a symbolic “golden cup in the hand of Jehovah,” from which many nations had to drink the bitter potion of defeat.—Jer. 51:7.
When destruction was in store for Jerusalem, the inhabitants were told that people would not “give them the cup of consolation to drink on account of one’s father and on account of one’s mother.” This was possibly an allusion to a cup of wine given to a person mourning over his deceased parents.—Jer. 16:5-7; compare Proverbs 31:6.
The symbolic “cup” that Jehovah poured for Jesus Christ was His will for Jesus. Doubtless because of Christ’s great concern over the reproach his death as one charged with blasphemy and sedition would bring to God, Jesus prayed that this “cup” pass away from him, if possible. Nevertheless, he was willing to submit to Jehovah’s will and drink it. (Matt. 26:39, 42; John 18:10, 11) Jehovah’s assigned portion or “cup” for Jesus meant not only suffering but also Jesus’ baptism into death climaxed by his being resurrected to immortal life in heaven. (Luke 12:50; Rom. 6:4, 5; Heb. 5:7) It was, therefore, also “the cup of grand salvation” for Christ. (Ps. 116:13) According to the divine will, the “cup” that Jesus Christ was given to drink he also shares with the “little flock” of his joint heirs in the Kingdom.—Luke 12:32; Mark 10:35-40.