STAFF. In the OT a number of terms are so tr. in all VSS, the most common being Heb. בַּד, H963, “a portion,” “part” and by extension a “staff,” “stave” and so it appears in the directions for the construction of the various articles for the Tabernacle in Exodus and Numbers, et al.

Another word so tr. is Heb. מִשְׁעֶ֫נֶת, H5475, which means particularly a “support,” “crutch” as for the aged or infirm. A form of this term appears in Isaiah 3:1 where it is contrasted with the masc. form of the same word, thus signifying all types of crutches or supports. In a few passages, 2 Samuel 21:19; 23:7 and 1 Chronicles 20:5, the KJV trs. “staff” while RSV and most other VSS tr. “shaft.” The word in the text is the common Sem. word for “wood.”

There are a number of less common terms, most of which are minor orthographic or morphologic variations of those mentioned. In the NT, two words are so tr.; the one appears only in the narrative of the passion and signifies a weapon like the Eng. quarterstaff. It is the common Gr. term for wood, ξυλον. The other Gr. word, ῥαβδος, means “staff” of a hiker or wanderer (Matt 10:10). It is this term which appears most frequently in the LXX to represent the many Heb. terms and so in Hebrews 11:21.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

See also SCEPTRE.