Where did you find that the duties of the ruler of the wedding feast included discouraging drunkenness?


I have a study this evening with another young man about drinking. I was going over your answers to questions about social drinking and came across What is wrong with drinking, so long as it is done in moderation? In this question, you referenced that the governor had the duty of trying to discourage drunkenness by being the first to taste and see the alcoholic quantity of the wine. I found this really interesting, and I'd like to use it in a lesson on social drinking in the future. Do you happen to know where you found this information, so I can put a source to it? If not, that's OK, but I'd definitely like to have the source if at all possible. Please let me know, and thank you again.


Adam Clarke:

"Governor of the feast. The original word, arcitriklinov, signifies one who is chief or head over three couches, or tables. In the Asiatic countries, they take their meals sitting, or rather reclining, on small low couches. And when many people are present, so that they cannot all eat together, three of these low tables or couches are put together in form of a crescent, and some one of the guests is appointed to take charge of the persons who sit at these tables. Hence the appellation of architriclinus, the chief over three couches or tables, which in process of time became applied to the governor or steward of a feast, let the guests be many or few; and such person, having conducted the business well, had a festive crown put on his head by the guests, at the conclusion of the feast. See Ecclesiasticus, 32:1-3."

The Four-Fold Gospel by R. L. Whiteside:

"The ruler of the feast. According to the custom of that age, one of the guests was usually chosen to preside over such festivities, and he was called "the ruler." Our modern toastmaster is probably a relic of this ancient custom"

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:

"RULER OF THE FEAST - (architriklinos; the King James Version governor): The word occurs in the New Testament in the account of the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee (Jn 2:8,9). According to Ecclesiasticus (32:1) it was customary to appoint a "master of the ceremonies" from among the invited guests. It was his duty to determine the places of the guests, to see that the ordinary rules of etiquette were observed, etc., and generally to supervise the arrangements. The Revised Version margin "steward" is possible if the "governor of the feast" meant the "head waiter" (Merx renders "head servant of the feast"), and not one of the guests appointed for the purpose. But the context is in favor of the view that the person in question was one of the prominent guests--an intimate friend or relative of the host."

Westminster Dictionary of the Bible, p. 641-642

"Precautions were taken to guard all men against excess. The means employed to prevent the danger line from being crossed were:

1. The wine was weakened with water (II Macc. 15:39; cf. Herod. vi 84). That this was done further appears, for example, in connection with the kettle of warm water and the servants to mix the wine, which were employed at the passover (Mishnah, Pesahim vii. 13; x. 2,4,7); hence in the Early Christian Church it was customary to mix the sacramental wine with water (Justin Martyr Apol. i:65).

2. There was a governor of the feast (Ecclus. 32:1, 2; John 2:9, 10), one of whose duties, at least where Greek customs were observed, was to fix the proportion in which the wine and water should be mixed and to determine how much wine each guest might drink . . .

3. 'Warnings against the danger of lingering over the wine, of tampering with the cup when it delights the eye, and of making strong intoxicants were urgently given, and the degradation of the drunkard was pointed out by sad example (Gen. 9:21; Prov. 23:29-35; Isa. 5:22).

4. The folly of excess even from a worldly standpoint was emphasized and expressed in proverbs, and put on record in the religious literature of the people (Prov. 20:1; 21:17; 23:20, 21; Hab. 2:5; Ecclus. 31:25-31).

5. The sinfulness of drunkenness was earnestly taught and the condemnation of the drunkard by God the Judge was fully known (I Sam. 1:14-16; Isa. 5:11-17; I Cor: 5:11; 6:10; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:18; I Pet. 4:3).