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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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[some Saba'oth] (σαβαώθ, a Graecized form of the Heb. tsebaoth',

צְבָאוֹת, armies), a word occurring in this form only in the A.V. in Romans 9:29; James 5:4; but in the Heb. of frequent occurrence in the phrase "Jehovah of hosts," or "Jehovah, God of hosts." "It is familiar through its occurrence in the Sanctus of the Te Deum, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth.' It is often considered to be a synonym of, or to have some connection with, Sabbath, and to express the idea of rest, and this not only popularly, but in some of our most classical writers. Thus Spenser, Faery Queene, canto 8, 2.

But thenceforth all shall rest eternally

With him that is the God of Sabaoth hight:

O that great Sabaoth God, grant ire that Sabaoth's sight;'

also Bacon, Advancement of Learning, 2, 24: ... sacred and inspired divinity, the Sabaoth and port of all men's labors and peregrinations;' Johnson, in the first edition of whose Dictionary (1755) Sabaoth and Sabbath are treated as the same word; Walter Scott, Ivanhoe, vol. 1, ch. 11 (1st ed.): a week, aye the space between two Sabaoths.' But this connection is quite fictitious. The two words are not only entirely different, but have nothing in common." The Heb. term tsaba, צִבָא, signifies an army (see Deuteronomy 24:5; Exodus 6:26). The plural is used in the sense of armies (Exodus 7:4, and often). The singular is sometimes applied to the company of angels which surround the throne of Jehovah, who are called צָבָא הִשָּׁמִיַ ם, tsaba hash-shamayim, "the host of heaven." The same phrase is also applied to the stars, for the most part as objects of idolatrous worship; indeed, the expression appears to include everything in heaven, both angels and heavenly bodies. Isaiah uses the phrase צָבָאהִמָּרוֹ, tsaba ham-marom, "the Host on High, "in opposition to the kings of the earth. God is called אֶלֹהֵי צְבָאוֹת יְהוָֹה, Jehovah elohey' tsebaoth, "Jehovah God of hosts," which most commentators regard as synonymous with "God of heaven" (see Zenkei De Synonymis צְבָאוֹת et עֶלְיוֹן, Lips. 1763), though others assert that it should be taken in a military sense, as the God of armies or wars. "It designates him as the supreme head and commander of all the heavenly forces; so that the host of Jehovah is all one with the host of heaven (1 Kings 22:19), and must be understood strictly of the angels, who are ever represented as the Lord's immediate and fitting agents, ready on all occasions to execute his will (Psalms 103:21; Psalms 148:2). It is never applied to God with reference to the army of Israel. Once, indeed, the companies composing this are called the hosts of the Lord' (Exodus 12:41), because they were under his direction and guardianship; but when employed with the view of heightening the idea of God's greatness and majesty, as the term hosts' is in the phrases in question, the hosts can only be those of the angelic or heavenly world" (see Gesenius, Thesaur. s.v.)' (See HOST).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Sabaoth'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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