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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Host of Heaven

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( צבא השּׁמים , cebhā' ha - shāmayı̄m ): The expression is employed in the Old Testament to denote (1) The stars, frequently as objects of idolatry ( Deuteronomy 4:19; Deuteronomy 17:3; 2 Kings 17:16; 2 Kings 21:3 , 2 Kings 21:1; 2 Kings 23:4 f; Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 19:13; Zephaniah 1:5 ), but also as witnesses in their number, order and splendor, to the majesty and providential rule and care of Yahweh (Isaiah 34:4; Isaiah 40:26 , "calleth them all by name"; Isaiah 45:12; Jeremiah 33:22 ); and (2) The angels (1 Kings 22:19; 2 Chronicles 18:18; Nehemiah 9:6; compare Psalm 103:21 ).

(1) Star-worship seems to have been an enticement to Israel from the first (Deuteronomy 4:19; Deuteronomy 17:3; Amos 5:26; compare Acts 7:42 , Acts 7:43 ), but attained special prominence in the days of the later kings of Judah. The name of Manasseh is particularly connected with it. This king built altars for "all the host of heaven" in the courts of the temple (2 Kings 21:3 , 2 Kings 21:5 ). Josiah destroyed these altars, and cleansed the temple from the idolatry by putting down the priests and burning the vessels associated with it (2 Kings 23:4 , 2 Kings 23:5 , 2 Kings 23:12 ).

(2) In the other meaning of the expression, the angels are regarded as forming Yahweh's "host" or army, and He himself is the leader of them - "Yahweh of hosts" (Isaiah 31:4 , etc.) - though this designation has a much wider reference. See ANGELS; ASTRONOMY; LORD OF HOSTS; compare Oehler, Theol of Old Testament, II, 270ff (ET).

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Host of Heaven'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/h/host-of-heaven.html. 1915.

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