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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Chamberlain

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(סָרַיס, saris', 2 Kings 23:18; Esther 1:10; Esther 1:12; Esther 1:14; Esther 2:3; Esther 2:14-15; Esther 2:21; Esther 4:4-5; Esther 6:2; Esther 6:14; Sept. regularly εὐνοῦχος, twice σπάδων, all signifying castrated; in other places it is translated "eunuch," or "officer"). The term appears to have been applied to officers confidentially employed about the person of the sovereign; thus Potiphar, who was also captain of the guard, in the Egyptian court, is styled thus (Genesis 37:36; Genesis 39:1). It probably also occurs in the title Rabsaris (q.v.). The title "chamberlain" (οἰκονόμος ), in Romans 16:23, probably denotes the steward or treasurer of the city, called by the Romans the quaestor. The Vulg. renders it by arcarius, which was the title of a class of inferior magistrates, who had the charge of the public chest (area publica), and were under the authority of the senate. They kept the accounts of the public revenues. (See Reinesius, Syntagm. Inscr. p. 431; La Cerda, Advers. Sacr. cap. 56; Elsner, Obs. Sacs. 2, p. 68; and a note by Reinesius to the MAarmora Oxoniessia,' p. 515, ed. 1732.) Blastus is said in Acts 12:20, to have been "the king's (Herod's) chamberlain" ( ἐπι τοῦ κοιτῶνος τοῦ βασιλέως ), by which is probably meant his personal attendant or valet de chambre. It was a post of honor, which involved great intimacy and influence with the king. The margin of our version gives "that was over the king's bedchamber," the office thus corresponding to that of the praefectus cubiculo (Suetonius, Dom. 16). (See EUNUCH).

in a monastery, was overseer of the dormitory, and purchased clothes, bed furniture, and other necessaries. He received all considerable sums of money or other dues. He acted as treasurer, having the charge of nearly every considerable payment. At Durham his exchequer was near the abbey gates, under which was the tailors shop for making linsey-woolsey shirts and tunics for the monks and novices, and whole and half socks of white woolen cloth. At Abington his chamber was in the dormitory. He provided copes, albs, cowls, coverlets, hoods, shoes and boots, towels, combs, knives, beds, straw pelisses, stools, bed-perches, hot water, tools for the tailors and cordwainers, five lights burning in the dormitory from twilight to dawn, and baths three times a year. At Canterbury he provided mats, blankets, razors, all the monks' clothing, horseshoes for the farriers, and glass for the dormitory. The old clothing was distributed by him to the poor. Under him were the laundry folk, peltmen, or skin dressers, tailors, shoemakers, etc. In a cathedral he was often called the provost, and, like the massarius in Italy chamarier of Lyons, Strasburg, and Saragossa, was the receiver of rents and paymaster of the stipends and money for pittances, and general accountant of income and keeper of the common chest. He was annually elected, and took precedence of canons while in office. At St. Paul's he found the necessaries for divine service and posted the summonses of prebendaries to chapter on their stalls, and at York acted as punctator of the absences of the vicars. In the latter instance he might be a vicar.


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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Chamberlain'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/c/chamberlain.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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