Easton’s Bible Dictionary

  1. Heb. sar (1 Samuel 22:2; 2 Samuel 23:19). Rendered "chief," Genesis 40:2; 41:9; rendered also "prince," Daniel 1:7; "ruler," Judges 9:30; "governor,' 1 Kings 22:26. This same Hebrew word denotes a military captain (Exodus 18:21; 2 Kings 1:9; Deuteronomy 1:15; 1 Samuel 18:13, etc.), the "captain of the body-guard" (Genesis 37:36; 39:1; 41:10; Jeremiah 40:1), or, as the word may be rendered, "chief of the executioners" (marg.). The officers of the king's body-guard frequently acted as executioners. Nebuzar-adan (Jeremiah 39:13) and Arioch (Daniel 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 (Heb. katsin) so translated denotes sometimes a military (Joshua 10:24; Judges 11:6,11; Isaiah 22:3 "rulers;" Daniel 11:18) and sometimes a civil command, a judge, magistrate, Arab. kady, (Isaiah 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; comp. 2 Kings 9:25). This word is used also to denote the king's body-guard (2 Kings 10:25; 1 Chronicles 12:18; 2 Chronicles 11:11) or aides-de-camp.
  4. 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. (Comp. "the ruler of the house of God," 1 Chronicles 9:11; 2 Chronicles 31:13; Nehemiah 11:11.)
  5. 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" (Joshua 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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