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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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CAPTAIN . This word occurs very frequently in the OT (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] and RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), and appears to have been favoured by the translators as a comprehensive term to denote a ruler, or a military commander of any unit, whatever its size might be. In modern military language it means especially the commander of a company of infantry, numbering about 100 to 110 men, and is quite unsuitable as a translation. It represents in OT 13 different Hebrew words. In Ezekiel it is often used for the secular head of the Messianic kingdom: ‘prince’ will there and often elsewhere do as a rendering; ‘officer’ and ‘chief’ will suit other passages. There are further places where none of these words will do as a translation. In the NT it translates four Greek words, and means: (1) John 18:12 , Acts 22:28 a Roman military officer, a tribune of the soldiers, in command of about 1000 men, constituting the garrison of Jerusalem (hence Revelation 6:15 ; Revelation 19:18 in a general sense); (2) Luke 22:4 ; Luke 22:52 , Acts 4:1 etc., the captain of the Temple, a Levite, who had under him a body of police, probably themselves also priests, whose duty it was to keep order in the Temple at Jerusalem and guard it by night; (3) Hebrews 2:10 (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘author’) leader, initiator; (4) Acts 28:16 AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘captain of the guard’ (wanting in RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), a doubtful reading and of doubtful sense. See also Army, § 2 .

A. Souter.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Captain'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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