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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

Two different words for ‘basket’ are used in connexion with St. Paul’s escape from Damascus, one, σφυρίς or σπυρίς ( Acts 9:25), being the same as is found in the miracle of feeding the 4000 ( Matthew 15:37,  Mark 8:8), the other, σαργάνη, being peculiar to the Apostle’s own version of the incident ( 2 Corinthians 11:33). The former kind of basket plays an important part in relation to the miracles of feeding, and the argument for its larger size as compared with κόφινος is supported by a reference to its use in facilitating St. Paul’s escape (but see Dict. of Christ and the Gospels , article‘Basket’). The latter calls for detailed treatment here. It has been thought of: (1) as flexible, coming near the idea of reticule or net; (2) as rigid: either braid-work (used especially of fish-baskets [ Encyclopaedia Biblica ]), or wicker-work. This last seems to be nearest the truth. In Jewish usage the root סרנ (סרר) attaches to weaving in the rigid form ( e.g. basket-making) as opposed to the flexible ( e.g. spinning). One species of work-stool is called סרנין. The basket-making industry was located in the neighbourhood of the Sea of Galilee, with headquarters at Scythopolis, and a ready outlet for the manufactured article was found in Damascus (see S. Krauss, Talmud. Archäologie , ii. [Leipzig, 1911] 269f., where many kinds are specified).

In the absence of knowledge as to the nature and size of the window (θυρίς), and other details of St. Paul’s escape, we cannot hope to attain to a precise result regarding the structure of the σαργάνη. It need not be said that present-day tradition’s in Damascus are of little value. Only the lower half of the wall dates possibly from NT times (see Encyclopaedia Biblica , article‘Damascus’). For the device of letting a person down through a window, see  Joshua 2:15 and  1 Samuel 19:12; cf. also Josephus, Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) i. xvi. 4.

W. Cruickshank.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

Basket . The names of a round score of baskets in use in NT times are known from the Mishna (see Krengel, Das Hausgerät in der Mishnah , pp. 39 45). They were made of willow, rush, palm-leaf, and other materials, and used in an endless variety of ways, for purely domestic purposes, in agriculture, in gathering and serving fruit, and for collecting the alms in kind for the poor, etc. Some had handles, others lids, some had both, others had neither. In OT times the commonest basket was the sal , made, at least in later times, of peeled willows or palm-leaves. It was large and flat like the Roman canistrum , and, like it, was used for carrying bread (  Genesis 40:16 ff.) and other articles of food (  Judges 6:19 ), and for presenting the meal-offerings at the sanctuary (  Exodus 29:3 ). Another ( dûd ), also of wicker-work, probably resembled the calathus , which tapered towards the bottom, and was used in fruit-gathering (  Jeremiah 24:1 ). In what respect it differed from Amos’ ‘basket of summer fruit’ (  Amos 8:1 ) is unknown. A fourth and larger variety was employed for carrying home the produce of the fields (  Deuteronomy 28:5 ‘blessed shall be thy basket and thy kneading-trough,’ RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), and for presenting the first-fruits (  Deuteronomy 26:2 ).

In NT interest centres in the two varieties of basket distinguished consistently by the Evangelists in their accounts of the feeding of the 5000 and the 4000 respectively, the kophinos and the sphyris . The kophinos (  Matthew 14:20 ) is probably to be identified with the exceedingly popular kûphâ of the Mishna, which ‘was provided with a cord for a handle by means of which it was usually carried on the back’ (Krengel), with provisions, etc., and which, therefore, the disciples would naturally have with them. The Jews of Juvenal’s day carried such a provision basket ( cophinus ). The sphyris or spyris (  Matthew 15:37 ,   Mark 8:8 ), from its use in St. Paul’s case (  Acts 9:25 ), must have been considerably larger than the other, and might for distinction be rendered ‘hamper.’

A. R. S. Kennedy.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

 Genesis 40:16; "I had three white (margin 'full of holes,' i.e. of open work, or rather 'baskets of white bread') baskets on my head." The Bible accurately represents Egyptian custom (Herodotus, 2:35), whereby men carried burdens on the head, women on the shoulders. In the distinct miracles of feeding the 5,000 and the 4,000 the KJV uses the stone term "baskets" for distinct Greek words. In  Matthew 14:20;  Mark 6:43;  Luke 9:17;  John 6:13, the disciples took up twelve Kophinoi of fragments at the feeding of the 5,000. In feeding the 4,000 with seven loaves recorded by two evangelists, the disciples took up seven Spurides ( Matthew 15:37;  Mark 8:8). Now Kofinoi is always used by the evangelists when the miracle of the 5,000 is spoken of, Spurides when that of the 4,000 is spoken of.

Thus also in referring back to the miracle ( Matthew 16:9-10) Jesus says: "Do ye not ... remember the five loaves of the 5,000, and how many Kofinoi) ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the 4,000, and how many Spurides) ye took up?" That the Spurides) were of large size appears from Paul's having been let down in one from the wall ( Acts 9:25). The Kofinoi being twelve probably answers to the twelve disciples, a provision basket for each, and so are likely to have been smaller. The accurate distinction in the use of the terms so invariably made in the record of the miracles marks both events as real and distinct, not, as rationalists have guessed, different versions of one miracle.

The coincidence is so undesigned that it escaped our translators altogether; it therefore can only be the result of genuineness and truth in the different evangelists' accounts. In traveling through Samaria or Gentile regions the Jews used Kofinoi , not to be defiled by eating Gentile unclean foods. Smith's Bible Dictionary wrongly makes the Kofinos larger than the Spuris .

Smith's Bible Dictionary [4]

Basket. The Hebrew terms, used in the description of this article, are as follows:

(1) Sal , so called from the Twigs of which it was originally made, specially used for holding bread.  Genesis 40:16 ff.  Exodus 29:3;  Exodus 29:23;  Leviticus 8:2;  Leviticus 8:26;  Leviticus 8:31;  Numbers 6:15;  Numbers 6:17;  Numbers 6:19.

(2) Salsilloth , a word of kindred origin, applied to the basket used in gathering grapes.  Jeremiah 6:9.

(3) Tene , in which the first-fruits of the harvest were presented.  Deuteronomy 26:2;  Deuteronomy 26:4.

(4) Celub , so called from its similarity to a bird-cage.

(5) Dud , used for carrying fruit,  Jeremiah 24:1-2, as well as, on a larger scale, for carrying clay to the brick-yard,  Psalms 81:6, (Pots , Authorized Version), or for holding bulky articles.  2 Kings 10:7. In the New Testament, baskets are described under three different terms.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [5]

  • A basket (Heb. dud) for carrying figs ( Jeremiah 24:2 ), also clay to the brick-yard (RSV,  Psalm 81:6 ), and bulky articles ( 2 Kings 10:7 ). This word is also rendered in the Authorized Version "kettle" ( 1 Samuel 2:14 ), "caldron" ( 2 Chronicles 35:13 ), "seething-pot" ( Job 41:20 ).

    In the New Testament mention is made of the basket (Gr. kophinos, small "wicker-basket") for the "fragments" in the miracle recorded  Mark 6:43 , and in that recorded  Matthew 15:37 (Gr. spuris, large "rope-basket"); also of the basket in which Paul escaped (  Acts 9:25 , Gr. spuris;  2 Corinthians 11 ::  33 , Gr. sargane, "basket of plaited cords").

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Basket'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

  • Morrish Bible Dictionary [6]

    Various Hebrew words are translated 'basket,' and doubtless the size, shape and strength varied according to the purpose for which they were intended. In the N.T. there are three Greek words used: συργάνη, 'a hamper,' in which Paul was let down by the wall,  2 Corinthians 11:33 , though for the same occurrence another word is used in  Acts 9:25 , σπυρίς,which also signifies 'a hamper,' and is used for the seven baskets of fragments remaining after the four thousand were fed.  Matthew 15:37;  Matthew 16:10;  Mark 8:8,20 . When the five thousand were fed there were twelve baskets of fragments, but it was then the κόφινος,'a hand basket.'  Matthew 14:20;  Matthew 16:9;  Mark 6:43;  Mark 8:19;  Luke 9:17;  John 6:13 . The two perfect numbers seven and twelve show the inexhaustible supply the Lord furnishes when His purpose is to bless His own.

    Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [7]

     Deuteronomy 28:5 (c) Moses is telling us that GOD will give abundant increase for us to take home to ourselves and enjoy for ourselves if we let the Lord GOD command us, and if we give obedient service.

     Deuteronomy 28:17 (c) Here we find the opposite truth expressed, for if we refuse to listen to GOD, and to walk with Him, we shall find that GOD withholds the blessing, and leaves us with empty hands and desolate hearts.

     Jeremiah 6:9 (b) The figure here is that of the enemy who invades the land and gathers into his own possession the persons and the properties of disobedient Israel.

    Holman Bible Dictionary [8]

     Genesis 40:16-18 Amos 8:1-2 Deuteronomy 26:2 Deuteronomy 28:5 2 Kings 10:7 Exodus 2:3 2:5 Genesis 6:14-16 Matthew 14:20 Matthew 15:37 Acts 9:25Ark

    C. Dale Hill

    King James Dictionary [9]

    B'ASKET, n.

    1. A domestic vessel made of twigs, rushes,splinters or other 52

    flexible things interwoven. The forms and sizes of baskets are very various, as well as the uses to which they are applied as corn-baskets, clothes-baskets, fruit-baskets, and work-baskets.

    2. The contents of a basket as much as a basket will contain as, a basket of medlars is two bushels. But in general, this quantity is indefinite.

    In military affairs, baskets of earth sometimes are used on the parapet of a trench, between which the soldiers fire. They serve for defense against small shot.

    B'ASKET, To put in a basket.

    Webster's Dictionary [10]

    (1): (n.) The two back seats facing one another on the outside of a stagecoach.

    (2): (v. t.) To put into a basket.

    (3): (n.) The contents of a basket; as much as a basket contains; as, a basket of peaches.

    (4): (n.) The bell or vase of the Corinthian capital.

    (5): (n.) A vessel made of osiers or other twigs, cane, rushes, splints, or other flexible material, interwoven.

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [11]

    There are several words in the Hebrew Scriptures by which different kinds of baskets appear to be indicated:—

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [12]

    the rendering in the Auth. Vers. of the following words:

    1. SAL, סִל (Sept. usually Κόφινος or Σπυρίς , as in the N.T.), the most general term, so called from the Twigs of which it was originally made; specially used, as the Greek Κανοῦν (Hom. Od. 3 , 442) and the Latin Canistrum (Virg. En. 1:701), for holding bread ( Genesis 40:16 sq.;  Exodus 29:3;  Exodus 29:23;  Leviticus 8:2;  Leviticus 8:26;  Leviticus 8:31;  Numbers 6:15;  Numbers 6:17;  Numbers 6:19). The form of the Egyptian breadbasket is delineated in Wilkinson's Anc. Egypt. 3 , 226, after the specimens represented in the tomb of Rameses III. These were made of gold (comp. Hom. Od. 10:355), and we must assume that the term Sal passed from its strict etymological meaning to any vessel applied to the purpose. In  Judges 6:19, meat is served up in a Sal, which could hardly have been of wicker-work. The expression "white baskets," הֹרַי סלֵּי ( Genesis 40:16), is sometimes referred to the material of which the baskets were made (Symmachus, Κανᾶ Βαϊνά ) , or the white color of the peeled sticks, or lastly to their being "full of holes" (A. V. margin), i.e. Open-Work baskets. The name Sallai ( Nehemiah 11:8;  Nehemiah 12:20) seems to indicate that the manufacture of baskets was a recognised trade among the Hebrews.

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [13]

    bas´ket  : Four kinds of "baskets" come to view in the Old Testament under the Hebrew names, dūdh , ṭene' , ṣal and kelūbh ). There is little, however, in these names, or in the narratives where they are found, to indicate definitely what the differences of size and shape and use were. The Mishna renders us some help in our uncertainty, giving numerous names and descriptions of "baskets" in use among the ancient Hebrews (see Kreugel, Dasse Hausgerat in der Mishna , 39-45). They were variously m ade of willow, rush, palm-leaf, etc., and were used for various purposes, domestic and agricultural, for instance, in gathering and serving fruit, collecting alms in kind for the poor, etc. Some had handles, others lids, some both, others neither.

    1. Meaning of Old Testament Terms

    (1) Dūdh was probably a generic term for various kinds of baskets. It was probably the "basket" in which the Israelites in Egypt carried the clay for bricks (compare  Psalm 81:6 , where it is used as a symbol of Egyptian bondage), and such as the Egyptians themselves used for that purpose (Wilkinson, Ancient Egyptians , I, 379), probably a large, shallow basket, made of wicker-work. It stood for a basket that was used in fruit-gathering (see  Jeremiah 24:1 ), but how it differed from Amos' "basket of summer fruit" ( Amos 8:1 ) we do not know. Dūdh is used for the "pot" in which meat was boiled ( 1 Samuel 2:14 ), showing probably that a pot-shaped "basket" was known by this name. Then it seems to have stood for a basket tapering toward the bottom like the calathus of the Romans. So we seem forced to conclude that the term was generic, not specific.

    (2) The commonest basket in use in Old Testament times was the ṣal . It was the "basket" in which the court-baker of Egypt carried about his confectionery on his head ( Genesis 40:16 ). It was made in later times at least of peeled willows, or palm leaves, and was sometimes at least large and flat like the canistrum of the Romans, and, like it, was used for carrying bread and other articles of food (  Genesis 40:16;  Judges 6:19 ). Meat for the meat offerings and the unleavened bread, were placed in it ( Exodus 29:3;  Leviticus 8:2;  Numbers 6:15 ). It is expressly required that the unleavened cakes be placed and offered in such a "basket." While a "basket," it was dish-shaped, larger or smaller in size, it would seem, according to demand, and perhaps of finer texture than the dūdh ̌ .

    (3) The ṭene' was a large, deep basket, in which grain and other products of garden or field were carried home, and kept ( Deuteronomy 28:5 ,  Deuteronomy 28:17 ), in which the first-fruits were preserved ( Deuteronomy 26:2 ), and the tithes transported to the sanctuary ( Deuteronomy 26:2 f). It has been thought probable that the ḥabya , the basket of clay and straw of the Palestine peasantry of today, is a sort of survival or counterpart of it. It has the general shape of a jar, and is used for storing and keeping wheat, barley, oats, etc. At the top is the mouth into which the grain is poured, and at the bottom is an orifice through which it can be taken out as needed, when the opening is again closed with a rag. The Septuagint translates ṭene' by kártallos , which denotes a basket of the shape of an inverted cone.

    (4) The term kelubh , found in  Amos 8:1 for a "fruit-basket," is used in   Jeremiah 5:27 (the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) "cage") for a bird-cage. But it is not at all unreasonable to suppose that a coarsely woven basket with a cover would be used by a fowler to carry home his feathered captives.

    2. Meaning of New Testament Terms

    In the New Testament interest centers in two kinds of "basket," distinguished by the evangelists in their accounts of the feeding of the 5,000 and of the 4,000, called in Greek kóphinos and spurı́s (Westcott-Hort sphurı́s ).

    (1) The kophinos ( Matthew 14:20;  Mark 6:43;  Luke 9:17;  John 6:13 ) may be confidently identified with the kūphtā' of the Mishna which was provided with a cord for a handle by means of which it could be carried on the back with such provisions as the disciples on the occasions under consideration would naturally have with them (of Kreugel, and Broadus, Commentary in the place cited.). The Jews of Juvenal's day carried such a specific "provision-basket" with them on their journeys regularly, and the Latin for it is a transliteration of this Greek word, cophinus (compare Juvenal iii.14, and Jastrow, Dictionary , article "Basket"). Some idea of its size may be drawn from the fact that in CIG , 1625, 46, the word denotes a Beotian measure of about two gallons.

    (2) The sphuris or spuris ( Matthew 15:37;  Mark 8:8 ) we may be sure, from its being used in letting Paul down from the wall at Damascus ( Acts 9:25 , etc.), was considerably larger than the kophinos and quite different in shape and uses. It might for distinction fitly be rendered "hamper," as Professor Kennedy suggests. Certainly neither the Greek nor ancient usage justifies any confusion.

    (3) The sargánē ( 2 Corinthians 11:33 ) means anything plaited, or sometimes more specifically a fish-basket.