ChristianAnswers.Net WebBible Encyclopedia

captain

This word is the translation of three different Hebrew words.

  1. Hebrew: sar (1 Sam. 22:2; 2 Sam. 23:19)—Rendered “chief,” Genesis 40:2; 41:9; rendered also “prince,” Dan. 1:7; “ruler,” Judg. 9:30; “governor,” 1 Kings 22:26.

    This same Hebrew word denotes a military captain (Exodus 18:21; 2 Kings 1:9; Deut. 1:15; 1 Sam. 18:13, etc.), the “captain of the bodyguard” (Genesis 37:36; 39:1; 41:10; Jer. 40:1), or, as the word may be rendered, “chief of the executioners” (marginal note). The officers of the king’s bodyguard frequently acted as executioners. Nebuzar-adan (Jer. 39:13) and Arioch (Dan. 2:14) held this office in Babylon.

    The “captain of the guard” mentioned in Acts 28:16 was the Praetorian prefect, the commander of the Praetorian troops.

  2. Another word (Hebrew: katsin) so translated denotes sometimes a military (Josh. 10:24; Judg. 11:6, 11; Isa. 22:3 “rulers;” Dan. 11:18) and sometimes a civil command, a judge, magistrate, Arabic kady, (Isa. 1:10; 3:6; Micah 3:1, 9).

  3. It is also the rendering of a Hebrew word (shalish) meaning “a third man,” or “one of three.” The LXX render in plural by tristatai; i.e., “soldiers fighting from chariots,” so called because each war-chariot contained three men, one of whom acted as charioteer while the other two fought (Exodus 14:7; 15:4; 1 Kings 9:22; compare 2 Kings 9:25). This word is used also to denote the king’s bodyguard (2 Kings 10:25; 1 Chr. 12:18; 2 Chr. 11:11) or aides-de-camp.

THE “CAPTAIN OF THE TEMPLE” mentioned in Acts 4:1 and 5:24 was not a military officer, but superintendent of the guard of priests and Levites who kept watch in the temple by night. (Compare “the ruler of the house of God,” 1 Chr. 9:11; 2 Chr. 31:13; Neh. 11:11.)

THE CAPTAIN OF OUR SALVATION is a name given to our Lord (Hebrews 2:10), because he is the author and source of our salvation, the head of his people, whom he is conducting to glory.

THE “CAPTAIN OF THE LORD’S HOST” (Josh. 5:14-15) is the name given to that mysterious person who manifested himself to Abraham (Genesis 12:7), and to Moses in the bush (Exodus 3:2, 6, etc.) the Angel of the covenant. (See ANGEL.)

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