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Bible Dictionaries

Smith's Bible Dictionary


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Governor. In the Authorized Version, this one English word is the representative of no less than ten Hebrew and four Greek words.

1. The chief of a tribe or family.

2. A ruler in his capacity of lawgiver and dispenser of justice.

3. A ruler considered especially as having power over the property and persons of his subjects. Genesis 24:2; Joshua 12:2; Psalms 100:20. The "governors of the people," in 2 Chronicles 23:20 appear to have been the king's body-guard; compare 2 Kings 11:19.

4. A prominent personage, whatever his capacity. It is applied to a king as the military and civil chief of his people, 2 Samuel 5:2; 2 Samuel 6:21; 1 Chronicles 29:22, to the general of an army, 2 Chronicles 32:21. And to the head of a tribe. 2 Chronicles 19:11. It denotes an officer of high rank in the palace, the lord high chamberlain. 2 Chronicles 28:7. It is applied in 1 Kings 10:15 to the petty chieftains who were tributary to Solomon, 2 Chronicles 9:14, to the military commander of the Syrians, 1 Kings 20:24, the Assyrians, 2 Kings 18:24; 2 Kings 23:8, the Chaldeans, Jeremiah 51:23, and the Medes. Jeremiah 51:38.

Under the Persian viceroys, during the Babylonian captivity, the land of the Hebrews appears to have been portioned out among "governors" (pachoth) inferior in rank to the satraps, Ezra 8:30, like the other provinces which were under the dominion of the Persian king. Nehemiah 2:7; Nehemiah 2:9. It is impossible to determine the precise limits of their authority or the functions which they had to perform.

It appears from Ezra 6:8 that these governors were intrusted with the collection of the king's taxes; and from Nehemiah 5:18; Nehemiah 12:26, that they were supported by a contribution levied upon the people, which was technically termed "the bread of the governor". Compare Ezra 4:14.

They were probably assisted in discharging their official duties by a council. Ezra 4:7; Ezra 6:6. The "governor" beyond the river had a judgment-seat beyond Jerusalem, from which probably he administered justice when making a progress through his province. Nehemiah 3:7. At the time of Christ, Judea was a Roman province, governed by a procurator (governor) appointed by Rome.

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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Smith, William, Dr. Entry for 'overnor'. Smith's Bible Dictionary. 1901.

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