In the Old Testament KJV and NKJV, the Hebrew word “tsiyr” (or tsir, tseer), meaning “one who goes on an errand,” is translated “ambassador” (Joshua 9:4; Proverbs 13:17; Isaiah 18:2; Jeremiah 49:14; Obad. 1:1). The NIV and NRSV translate it as “envoy.”

Ambassador is also the KJV translation of the Hebrew “luwts, loots” which means to interpret, or intercede (2 Chronicles 32:31). Other translations say “envoy.”

The Hebrew word mal'ak or mal-awk' is used in other parts of the Old Testament (2 Chronicles 35:21; Isaiah 30:4; 33:7; Ezek. 17:15). The KJV also translates this as “ambassador.” Other translators use the word “messenger” or “envoy.”

In the New Testament, the Greek word presbeuo or pres-byoo'-o is used by the apostle Paul to describe those who are appointed by God to declare his will (2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 6:20). The KJV, NKJV, NIV, and NRSV all translate this as “ambassador.”

The Hebrews on various occasions and for various purposes used the services of ambassadors, for example, to contract alliances (Joshua 9:4), to solicit favors (Numbers 20:14), to remonstrate when wrong was done (Judges 11:12), to condole with a young king on the death of his father (2 Samuel 10:2), and to congratulate a king on his accession to the throne (1 Kings 5:1).

To injure an ambassador was to insult the king who sent him (2 Samuel 10:5).

Author: Paul S. Taylor and Matthew G. Easton.

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