Satrap

SATRAP (sā'trăp). The official title of the viceroy who in the Persian Empire ruled several small provinces combined as one government. Each province had its own governor. Where NIV has “satrap,” KJV consistently has “princes” for the Aramaic term (nine verses) and “lieutenants” for the Hebrew term (four verses).


SATRAP sā trăp (אֲחַשְׁדַּרְפְּנַיָּ֡א; σατράπης, viceroy, lieutenant, prince; prob. derived from a Pers. word meaning protector of the realm).

A satrap was a ruling official in the far-flung Pers. empire. His jurisdiction extended over several provinces. The term occurs in Lat. lit. as early as Terence (159 b.c.) and Herodotus has given the standard list of the twenty Pers. satrapies.

The office, designated that of lieutenant (Esth 3:12) and prince (Dan 3:2; 6:1 KJV) was virtually that of a vassal king. The satrap held extensive power but was checked by the presence of a royal scribe who had regularly to render a report to the sovereign of the realm, and by the fact that the military forces were under command of a general who held independent status.

The term occurs also in Ezra 8:36, where it is used loosely. It seems to pertain to the extended scope of Ezra’s commission, since the only satrap whom it would really concern was ruler W of the Euphrates, designated in Ezra 5:3 as the “governor of the province Beyond the River.”