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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
BAND . This spelling represents three historically distinct English words: (1) ‘Band’ in the sense of that which binds the rendering of a variety of Heb. words, some of which are also rendered by ‘bond.’ (2) ‘Band’ in the sense of ribbon ( Exodus 39:23 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘binding’), or sash ( Exodus 28:8 etc. RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘girdle’). (3) ‘Band’ in the sense of a company of soldiers, more or less organized, as the rendering of several Heb. words, some of there ranged in RV [Note: Revised Version.] into ‘companies’ ( Genesis 32:7 ) or ‘troop’ ( 1 Kings 11:24 ) or ‘hordes’ ( Ezekiel 38:6; Ezekiel 38:9 ).
In NT ‘band’ in this third sense renders speira , the Gr. equivalent of the Roman cohors (for the Roman army in NT times see Legion). In the minor provinces such as JudÃ¦a the troops were entirely auxiliaries, of which the unit was the cohort of about 500, in certain cases 1000, men. The Roman garrison in Jerusalem consisted of such a cohort of provincials, probably 1000 strong, the ‘band’ which figures prominently both in the Gospels and in the Acts ( Matthew 27:27 , Mark 15:16 , Acts 21:31 , and probably John 18:3; John 18:12 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ‘cohort’ throughout). This cohort was under the command of a Roman prefect or of a military tribune, the ‘captain’ or ‘chief captain’ (Gr. chiliarch) of our EV [Note: English Version.] .
Another auxiliary cohort is probably that named the Augustan band ( Acts 27:1 Gr. Sebaste; AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘Augustus’ band’). It has been much debated whether the name is a title of honour like our ‘King’s Own,’ or a territorial designation signifying that the cohort in question was recruited from Samaria, then named Sebaste (= Augusta). SchÃ¼rer ( GJ V 3 i. 462) curiously would combine both these views. Ramsay, on the other hand, maintains that the Augustan band was a popular, not an official, name for a body of troops detailed for some special service by the emperor ( St. Paul the Traveller , p. 315). A similar uncertainty as to its place in the military organization of the time attaches to the Italian band in which Cornelius was a centurion ( Acts 10:1 ). The name merely shows that it was a cohort of Roman citizens, probably volunteers, from Italy, as opposed to the ordinary cohorts of provincials.
A. R. S. Kennedy.
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Hastings, James. Entry for 'Band'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdb/b/band.html. 1909.