What is a Charger in the Bible?


The word “charger” appears several times in the Bible, primarily in the Old Testament. But what exactly is a charger, and what significance does it have? In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore the meaning of chargers in the Biblical context and examine some key passages where chargers are mentioned.

Key Takeaways:

  • A charger was a large, shallow dish or platter used for serving food and drink offerings.
  • Chargers were made of gold, silver, and other precious metals and were associated with wealth and prestige.
  • Several Biblical passages describe chargers being used in religious ceremonies and temple rituals.
  • God instructed the use of specific chargers and dishes for food offerings in the tabernacle and temple.
  • Jesus and his disciples likely used chargers or similar serving dishes during the Last Supper.
  • While no longer common in modern society, chargers held symbolic meaning in Biblical times.
What is a Charger in the Bible?

What is a Charger?

In the Bible, a charger is generally understood to be a large, shallow dish or platter used for serving and presenting food and drink. It was similar to a very large saucer or tray. Chargers came in various sizes but were often quite large – wide enough to hold a whole animal or large portions of meat and other foods. They were also relatively flat and broad without deep sides.

Chargers were commonly made of precious metals like gold and silver and decorated with engravings and etchings. Their valuable materials and ornate craftsmanship meant chargers connoted wealth, status, and dignity. Using a charger implied a special, ceremonial occasion.

The main purposes of chargers in Biblical times were serving and displaying food offerings, especially during religious rituals and important events. Chargers allowed large, impressive arrangements and presentations of meals. Their broad, flat surfaces also made it easy to move and manipulate the chargers along with the food atop them.

Chargers in the Old Testament

Let’s look at some specific Biblical passages that mention chargers and examine what role they played:

The tabernacle vessels

When God gave instructions for building the tabernacle and furnishing its sacred vessels, he included details for special chargers or plates:

“And you shall make its plates, and cups, its pitchers, and its bowls for pouring drink offerings; you shall make them of pure gold.” (Exodus 25:29 NKJV)

“On the table of showbread they shall spread a blue cloth, and put on it the dishes, the pans, the bowls, and the pitchers for pouring; there shall be the showbread.” (Numbers 4:7 NKJV)

These gold chargers or plates were to hold the showbread (sacred bread) when it was presented in the holy place of the tabernacle.

Temple rituals

Later when Solomon built the first temple in Jerusalem, various chargers and other vessels were again made of pure gold for temple ceremonies:

“And Solomon made all the vessels that were for the house of God: the altar of gold, and the tables on which was the showbread; the lampstands with their lamps of pure gold, to burn in the prescribed manner in front of the inner sanctuary, with the flowers and the lamps and the tongs of gold; the five goblets, five chargers of pure gold…” (2 Chronicles 4:19-22 NKJV)

During temple rituals, chargers were used to present grain and drink offerings:

“Then the meat offering shall be an ephah with the ram, and the grain offering with its drink offering for the ram shall be one hin of wine.” (Ezekiel 46:5,7 NKJV)

Banquet serving

Beyond religious purposes, chargers were a fixture at lavish banquets among kings and rulers in the Old Testament:

“And Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his lords, and he was drinking wine in the presence of the thousand.” (Daniel 5:1 NKJV)

“Then they brought the golden vessels that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives and his concubines drank from them.” (Daniel 5:3 NKJV)

This scene describes King Belshazzar holding a feast using the golden cups and chargers taken from God’s temple in Jerusalem. Even as common serving dishes, these gold chargers symbolized power and affluence.

Chargers in the New Testament

While not mentioned directly, chargers were likely present at certain New Testament events:

The Last Supper

Jesus and his twelve disciples shared a Passover meal together known as the Last Supper. Though the Gospel accounts don’t mention specific serving dishes, a charger would have been a typical centerpiece on formal dining tables in those times:

“In the evening he came with the twelve. And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me’” (Mark 14:17-18 NKJV)

A charger may well have been used to hold the Passover lamb, unleavened bread, wine, and other meal elements as Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper observance.

Miracle of the loaves and fish

When Jesus miraculously fed five thousand people using just five loaves and two fish, the food was likely served from chargers or similar large platters:

“Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.” (Matthew 14:18-19 NKJV)

Once again, chargers would have been a practical way to distribute portions of bread and fish to the multitude.

The Significance of Chargers

Beyond just serving dishes, chargers held symbolic value in Biblical times:

  • They were highly prized as vessels made with precious materials like gold and silver. Their monetary worth made them an emblem of wealth, status, and God’s abundant provision.
  • Their ceremonial role in religious offerings and rituals gave them spiritual meaning. Presenting sacrifices and consecrated foods on ornate chargers showed honor and reverence to God.
  • Hosting feasts with chargers demonstrated nobility, influence, and prestige. For example, King Ahasuerus displayed his power by hosting lavish banquets using royal chargers (Esther 1:7).
  • For Jesus and his disciples, using chargers at their final Passover supper emphasized the importance of this covenant meal. Even if humble, the serving dishes elevated the spiritual meaning.

So while we may not use chargers in their Biblical sense today, they still represent themes of God’s provision, religious devotion, nobility, and reverence throughout Scripture. Their special role at key ceremonies, rituals, banquets, and even Jesus’ last supper gives chargers profound symbolic significance.


In summary, the “charger” referred to a large platter or shallow dish frequently used for serving food and drink offerings in the Bible. Chargers were made of precious metals like gold and featured prominently in religious ceremonies, temple rituals, and lavish banquets of kings and rulers. Though hardly used today, chargers were more than just servingware – they held deeper spiritual and symbolic meaning related to God’s provision, devotion, reverence, and covenant relationship with his people. By studying chargers and other Biblical artifacts, we gain a fuller picture of the customs and significance surrounding God’s interactions with his people in Scripture.

About The Author

Scroll to Top