CHAMBERLAIN (סָרִיס, H6247, eunuch; ὀικονόμος, steward). The Heb. term has two unrelated meanings. It may be interpreted as a eunuch, a castrated male. Such persons were employed in the harem quarters of Near E rulers. A few became important functionaries in the king’s household (Esth 1:10). The same Heb. term is used to designate high government officials (Jer 34:19) and ranking military officers (Jer 52:25). The only way to judge the exact meaning of this word is to study the context in which it appears. The tr. puzzle is illustrated by the fact that the RSV accepts “chamberlain” as the correct tr. only in 2 Kings 23:11 and Esther 1:10. It rejects that tr. in all the remaining relevant passages of Esther.

In the NT the tr. “chamberlain” is accepted in Acts 12:20 by both KJV and RSV. “Chamberlain” (KJV) in Romans 16:23 (ὀικονόμος) is better tr. “city treasurer” in RSV. See also Eunuch.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(1) oikonomos, literally manager of the household, apparently the "treasurer" as in the Revised Version (British and American) "Erastus the treasurer of the city saluteth you" (Ro 16:23). Compare adapted use as applied to Christian apostles and teachers, bishops, and even to individual members; in which cases, rendered "stewards" (1Co 4:1; Tit 1:7; 1Pe 4:10).

(2) In Ac 12:20, "Blastus the king’s chamberlain" (ho epi toa koitonos tou basileos, "he who is over the king’s bed-chamber"), not treasure-chamber, as above; here praefectus cubiculo, or chief valet de chambre to the royal person, a position involving much honor and intimacy.

See also

  • Occupations and Professions