Prince


Of princesses far less is said. Solomon had seven hundred princesses or women “of royal birth” as wives, in contrast with three hundred concubines (1Kgs.11.3). Jerusalem is called a princess or queen (Lam.1.1). A king’s daughter (Ps.45.9-Ps.45.13), a prince’s daughter (Song.7.1), and daughter of a leader of Midian (Num.25.18) are mentioned. The new name of Abraham’s wife, Sarah, means “princess” (Gen.17.15).


PRINCE, PRINCESS. Whereas the word “princess” trs. only one word in Heb. (שָׂרָה, H8576) the word “prince” is the tr. of a considerable variety of Heb., Aram. and Gr. words, which express different shades of meaning other than the direct male heir to a throne or the physical male descendant of a king. Among the more frequent meanings are “chieftain,” “ruler,” “noble,” “governor,” “deputy.” The tr. of these words as “prince” is very common in the KJV because the trs. took the LXX ἄρχων, G807, as their guide, although this is not followed consistently. The ASV and RSV contain more discerning trs.

The OT.


The feminine form, שָׂרוֹת, is used of Solomon’s wives (1 Kings 11:3) and of Jerusalem as the “princess of cities” (Lam 1:1), although the Heb. word is tr. otherwise elsewhere; e.g. “ladies” (Judg 5:29; Esth 1:18); or “queens” (Isa 49:23).




5. נָסִיכְ, H5817, “anointed,” tr. “prince” in KJV (Ps 83:11; Ezek 32:30; cf. Dan 11:8).



8. רַבְרְבָנִין, H10652, “lords” (Dan 5:2, 3).

9. שָׁלִישׁ, H8957, (either Hitt. šalliš, or “third man in a chariot”) Ezekiel 23:15; elsewhere equivalent to adjutant (2 Kings 9:25).

10. קָצִין, H7903, (Dan 11:8; Prov 25:15; Mic 3:1, 9), strictly “judge,” “leader” (Jephthah) cf. Arab. Qadi.

11. חַשְׁמַנִּים (Ps 68:31), possibly “ambassadors,” or it may be a loan-word from Egyp. ḥsmn, plated bronze. RSV renders it “bronze.”


13. כֹּהֵן, H3913, (Job 12:19), “priest.” RSV “priests.”


In the NT.

Three Gr. terms occur in the NT: 1. ἀρχηγός, G795, “leader,” “one who goes before to blaze a trail,” applied to Christ (Acts 3:15, RSV “author”); 5:31, RSV “leader.” Translated “author” (Heb 2:10; 12:3; RSV “pioneer”).


3. Χγεμών. In Matthew 2:6 it denotes Bethlehem (cf. Mic 5:2). Elsewhere used of the Rom. authority, legate, procurator, proconsul, or governor.

The Messiah is Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6), Prince of princes (Dan 8:25), Prince of the kings (Rev 1:5) and Prince of life (Acts 3:15). Beelzebub is the prince of demons (Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15) and the leader of those who reject God’s sovereignty (John 12:31; 16:11).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

prins: This word occurs quite frequently in our English Bible, mostly in the Old Testament. While it is never used to denote royal parentage (compare 1Ch 29:24), it often indicates actual royal or ruling power, together with royal dignity and authority. As a rule, the name is given to human beings; in a few instances it is applied to God and Christ, the angels and the devil.


In Ac 3:15; 5:31, the word archegos, "leader," is employed referring to Christ as the author of life and salvation (compare Heb 12:2, where the term archegos is rendered "author" (Revised Version) or "captain" (Revised Version margin)).

The Old Testament contains a number of different words mostly rendered "prince" or "princes" in the English Versions of the Bible.


(a) to men exercising royal or ruling power: Pr 8:16: "By me princes (margin "or rulers") rule" Isa 32:1: "Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in justice." Judicial power is included (compare Ex 2:14: "Who made thee a prince and a judge over us?" and Ps 148:11: "princes and all judges of the earth"). In some passages the word sar, having been rendered "prince," stands for "chief"; so Jud 7:25: "They took the two princes of Midian" (compare Jud 8:14; 1Sa 29:4; 2Sa 10:3, etc.).


(c) To the priesthood: 1Ch 24:5: "princes of the sanctuary, and princes of God" (of Isa 43:28).

(d) On account of great achievements: 2Sa 3:38: "Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?"--an honorary title. Generally speaking, a prince is a wealthy man (compare Job 34:19: "That respecteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor"), and he is a prominent man embodying true, although mortal, manhood (compare Ps 82:7: "Nevertheless ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes).

(2) nasi’: usually derived from nasa’, "to lift," hence, "exalted"; otherwise: a "speaker."

(a) An honorary title (compare Ge 23:6: "Thou art a prince of God among us." The distinction is conferred upon Abraham by the children of Heth).

(b) A name given to the heads of the Israelite tribes, families and fathers’ houses: Nu 3:24: "the prince of the fathers’ house of the Gershonites" (compare 3:30,35); 3:32: "Eleazar .... shall be prince of the princes of the Levites, and have the oversight of them that keep the charge of the sanctuary"; Nu 4:34: "the princes of the congregation." They seem to be identical with the "rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens" (compare Ex 18:21; Nu 16:2). Nu 7:2: "the princes of Israel, the heads of their fathers’ houses .... the princes of the tribes" (compare 17:2,6; 34:18; Jos 22:14; 1Ch 4:38).

(c) Equivalent to chief or king: Ge 17:20: "Twelve princes shall he beget" (compare 25:16); Ge 34:2: "Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land"; Nu 25:18: "Cozbi, the daughter of the prince of Midian" (compare Jos 13:21); 1Ki 11:34: "I will make him prince all the days of his life." This was said of Solomon, which shows the term equivalent to king. Of special interest is the use of the word nasi’ in Ezekiel. The name is given to the Jewish king (compare 12:10: "This burden concerneth the prince in Jerusalem"). Then, again, it is applied to the future theocratic king (compare 34:24; 37:25, etc., and especially chapters 45; 46). It is also used of foreign potentates and high officers (compare 26:16: "the princes of the sea"; 28:2: "the prince of Tyre"; 30:13: "a prince from the land of Egypt"); 32:29: "Edom, her kings and all her princes"; and, likewise, of high Jewish officers (21:12).

(d) A title bestowed upon Sheshbazzar (Ezr 1:8).



(5), (6) razon, and rozen, "a high official," "a prince," usually associated with the word "king" or "judge." Pr 14:28: "In the multitude of people is the king’s glory; but in the want of people is the destruction of the prince" (razon); Jud 5:3: "Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes" (rozenim); Pr 8:15: "By me kings reign, and princes (rozenim) decree justice" (compare 31:4; Hab 1:10); Isa 40:23: "that bringeth princes (rozenim) to nothing; that maketh the judges of the earth as vanity."

(7) nacikh, derived from nacakh, "to install a king" (compare Ps 2:6); hence, a prince: Jos 13:21: "the princes of Sihon" (compare Ps 83:11); Eze 32:30: "the princes of the north"; Mic 5:5: the Revised Version (British and American) "principal men," the Revised Version margin "princes among men"; Da 11:8: the Revised Version (British and American) "molten images," the Revised Version margin "princes."

(8) qatsin, "a judge," "a military leader," "a prince"; Da 11:18: "A prince (the Revised Version margin "captain") shall cause the reproach .... to cease" (probably a Roman consul; a Roman general?).

(9) shalish: The usual explanation, "one of the three men on a war-chariot" is highly improbable; Gesenius suggests that it is a loan-word, and renders it "hero." Eze 23:15: "All of them princes to look upon" ("picked men," Gesenius).

(10) chashmannim: Ps 68:31: "Princes shall come out of Egypt." Septuagint renders it presbeis, "ambassadors," Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) legati. But the meaning is uncertain.

See also GOVERNOR, 1, (8).