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RULER (See Occupations and Professions: Prince, Princess)

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


1. In the Old Testament:

(3) nasi, "prince" (so Nu 13:2, the King James Version "ruler"); generally speaking, the nasi’ is one of the public authorities (Ex 22:28); the rulers of the congregation (Ex 16:22; compare 34:31); "The rulers brought the onyx stones" (Ex 35:27), as it was to be expected from men of their social standing and financial ability: "when a ruler (the head of a tribe or tribal division) sinneth" (Le 4:22).

(5) qatsin, "a judge" or "magistrate" (Isa 1:10; 3:6,7; 22:3; Mic 3:1,9); "a military chief" (Jos 10:24).

(6) rodheh, one having dominion: "There is little Benjamin their ruler" (Ps 68:27); the meaning is obscure; still we may point to the facts that Saul, the first one to conquer the heathen (1Sa 14:47 f), came of this the smallest of all the tribes, and that within its boundaries the temple of Yahweh was erected.

(7) rozen, a "dignitary," a "prince." "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against Yahweh" (Ps 2:2); in the New Testament the word is rendered archontes (Ac 4:26).

(9), (10) shilTon, "a commander," "an officer": "the rulers of the provinces" (Da 3:2 f); shalliT, "a person in power," "a potentate" (Da 2:10); there seems to be little doubt that the Aramaic term is used as an adjective (compare the Revised Version margin); in Da 5:7 occurs the verb shelaT, "to have dominion," "he shall rule as the third in rank" (compare 5:16,29).

(11) maghen, "shield": "Her rulers (shields) dearly love shame" (Ho 4:18). Perhaps we ought to read (with Septuagint) migge’onam, "their glory," and to translate it "they love shame more than their glory"; they would rather have a good (!) time than a good name.

2. In the Apocrypha:

(1) archon, used of the "rulers" of the Spartans (1 Macc 14:20) and, in a general sense, of the priest Mattathias (1 Macc 2:17). the King James Version has the word also in a general sense in Sirach 41:18 (the Revised Version (British and American) "mighty man").

(2) hegoumenos, "one leading the way." A quite general term, Sirach 10:2 (ruler of a city); 17:17 (of Gentile nations); 46:18 (of the Tyrians). Also 2:17 the King James Version (the Revised Version (British and American) "he that ruleth"), and Sirach 32:1 the Revised Version (British and American) ("ruler of a feast," the King James Version "master").

(3) hoi megistanes, a rare word found only in the plural, for "rulers of the congregation" (Sirach 33:18). The same word in Mr 6:21 is translated "lords."

(4) 2 Macc 4:27 the King James Version for eparchos (the Revised Version (British and American) "governor").

(5) The King James Version inserts the word without Greek equivalent in 1 Macc 6:14; 11:57; 2 Macc 13:2.

3. In the New Testament:

(3) architriklinos, the ruler ("steward," the Revised Version margin) of the feast (Joh 2:8,9). See separate article.

(4) kosmokrator, a "world-ruler" (Eph 6:12). The angels of the devil (Mt 25:41; 12:45) or Satan, the prince of this world (Joh 12:31), participate in his power; they are his tools, their sphere of action being "this darkness," i.e. the morally corrupt state of our present existence.

(5) politarches; the prefect of a city (Ac 17:6,8). Luke being the only one of the Biblical authors to hand down to us this word, it is a noteworthy fact that, in relatively modern times, a Greek inscription Was discovered containing this very word and, moreover, having reference to the city of Thessalonica (AJT, 1898, II, 598-643). Here it was where Paul and Silas preached the gospel so successfully that the Jews, "being moved with jealousy," caused Jason and certain brethren to be dragged before the rulers of the city (epi tous politarchas). These magistrates suffered themselves to be made the tools of the unscrupulous Jews by demanding and getting security from Jason and the rest.