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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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BAND . This spelling represents three historically distinct English words: (1) ‘Band’ in the sense of that which binds the rendering of a variety of Heb. words, some of which are also rendered by ‘bond.’ (2) ‘Band’ in the sense of ribbon ( Exodus 39:23 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘binding’), or sash ( Exodus 28:8 etc. RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘girdle’). (3) ‘Band’ in the sense of a company of soldiers, more or less organized, as the rendering of several Heb. words, some of there ranged in RV [Note: Revised Version.] into ‘companies’ ( Genesis 32:7 ) or ‘troop’ ( 1 Kings 11:24 ) or ‘hordes’ ( Ezekiel 38:6 ; Ezekiel 38:9 ).

In NT ‘band’ in this third sense renders speira , the Gr. equivalent of the Roman cohors (for the Roman army in NT times see Legion). In the minor provinces such as Judæa the troops were entirely auxiliaries, of which the unit was the cohort of about 500, in certain cases 1000, men. The Roman garrison in Jerusalem consisted of such a cohort of provincials, probably 1000 strong, the ‘band’ which figures prominently both in the Gospels and in the Acts ( Matthew 27:27 , Mark 15:16 , Acts 21:31 , and probably John 18:3 ; John 18:12 RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ‘cohort’ throughout). This cohort was under the command of a Roman prefect or of a military tribune, the ‘captain’ or ‘chief captain’ (Gr. chiliarch) of our EV [Note: English Version.] .

Another auxiliary cohort is probably that named the Augustan band ( Acts 27:1 Gr. Sebaste ; AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘Augustus’ band’). It has been much debated whether the name is a title of honour like our ‘King’s Own,’ or a territorial designation signifying that the cohort in question was recruited from Samaria, then named Sebaste (= Augusta). Schürer ( GJ V 3 i. 462) curiously would combine both these views. Ramsay, on the other hand, maintains that the Augustan band was a popular, not an official, name for a body of troops detailed for some special service by the emperor ( St. Paul the Traveller , p. 315). A similar uncertainty as to its place in the military organization of the time attaches to the Italian band in which Cornelius was a centurion ( Acts 10:1 ). The name merely shows that it was a cohort of Roman citizens, probably volunteers, from Italy, as opposed to the ordinary cohorts of provincials.

A. R. S. Kennedy.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Band'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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