Captain is the rendering, in the Auth. Vers., of numerous Hebrews and several Greek words, of which the following only require special elucidation. For the כָּרַי, kari´, rendered "captains," 2Ki 11:4,19, SEE CHERETHITES.
(1.) As a purely military title, captain answers to שִׂר, sar, in the Hebrew army, and χιλίαρχος (tribunus) in the Roman. SEE ARMY. The "captain of the guard" (στρατοπεδάρχης) spoken of in Ac 28:16 was the Praetorian praefect. SEE CHRONOLOGY, p. 312, b.
(2.) קָצַין, ikatsin', which is occasionally rendered captain, applies sometimes to a military (Jos 10:24; Jg 11:6,11; Isa 22:3; Da 11:18), sometimes to a civil command (e.g. Isa 1:10; Isa 3:6): its radical sense is division, and hence decision without reference to the means employed: the term illustrates the double office of the שֹׁפֵט, shophet', or dictator ("judge"). SEE JUDGE.
(3.) שָׁלַישׁ, shalish' (Ex 14:7; Ex 15:4; 2Sa 23:8; 1Ki 9:22; 2Ki 9:25; 2Ki 10:25; 2Ki 15:25; 1Ch 11:11; 1Ch 12:18; 2Ch 8:9; "lord," 2Ki 7:2,17,19; Eze 23:23; "prince," Eze 23:15), prop. a third man, i.e. one of three, Gr. τριστάτης, a higher order of soldiers, who fought from chariots, chariot-warriors (Ex 14:7; Ex 15:4; 1Ki 9:22; ἀναβάται, παραβάται, Homr. Iliad, 23:32; Eurip. Supplic. 679); employed also for the body-guard of kings (1Ki 9:22; 2Ki 10:25; 1Ch 11:11; 1Ch 12:18). The Sept. has rptararatm, i.e. according to Origen and Gregory of Nyssa (in the Catenae), "soldiers fighting from chariots," and so called because each chariot contained three soldiers, one of whom managed the horses, while the other two fought (comp. Ewald, Gesch. Isr. 2:81). For although on the Egyptian monuments usually but one, or at most two appear in the war-chariots, yet occasionally, as certainly in the Assyrian bas-reliefs, in addition to the driver and the warrior, an armor-bearer or umbrella-bearer is depicted as standing in the chariot, who might properly be termed ternarius, or a third man. SEE CHARIOT. It is true the Hebrew army did not originally consist of cavalry, although chariots were in use among the Canaanites, and the first occurrences of the term שָׁלַישׁ are in connection with the Egyptians; but at alater date a chariot-squadron was organized (1Ki 10:26; comp. 9:9; 5:6; 2Sa 8:4). Consequently, it is not strange that among the battalions of David and Solomon (2Sa 23:8) there should be named as a prominent hero the leader of these shalishim (ראשׁ הִשָּׁלַשַׁי, or, rather, הִשָּׁלַשַׁים; comp. Gesenius, Lehrgeb. p. 525; Bötticher, Spec. p. 38 sq.; Ewald, Gramm. Hebrews 5th ed. § 152, c. 177 a). Solomon's chariot-men (שָׁלַשָׁיו) are mentioned (1Ki 9:22; 2Ch 8:9) as next to the priefects of his chariot-force (שָׂרֵי רַכבּוֹ). After the times of Solomon there certainly were chariot- combatants (essedarii) as royal officers in the northern kingdom, and in the reign of Jehu runners and charioteers (והִשָּׁלַשַׁים הָרָצַים) formed, as it were, the king's Praetorian cohort (2Ki 10:25); and the chief of these Praetorians (called by eminence הִשָּׁלַישׁ or שָׁלַשׁ הִמֶּלֶך) was among the most noble of the regal attendants (q. d. adjutant-general). Accordingly, Joram had an officer of this title, "on whose hand the king leaned" (2Ki 7:2,17,19); Jehu's charioteer was Bidkar (2Ki 9:26); and Pekah held this eminent office under Pekahiah (2Ki 15:25). Others, however (after Drusius), hold that the שָׁלַישׁ was merely the third officer in rank after the king, or commanded a third part of the army (comp. the Roman tertiarii). So the Greek glossarists (ap. Drusius ad Ezech. and in Fragm. Vet. interpr. Gr. p. 145; Schleusner, Nov. Thesaur. s.v. τριστάτης; Dufresne, Glossar. s.v.; see Rosenmüller, Scholia ad Ex 14:7). SEE CHIEF OF THREE.
(4.) The " captain of the Temple" (στρατηγὸς τοῦ ἱεροῦ), mentioned by Luke (Ac 4:1; Ac 5:24) in connection, with the priests, was not a military officer, but superintended the guard of priests and Levites who kept watch by night in the Temple. The "captains" mentioned Lu 22:4, were probably his subalterns. The office appears to have existed from an early date the "priests that kept the door". (2Ki 12:9; 2Ki 25:18) are described by Josephus (Ant. 10:8, 5) as "the officers guarding the Temple" (τοὺς φυλάσσοντας τὸ ἱερὸν ἡγεμόνας): a notice occurs in 2 Macc. 3:4, of a praefect of the Temple (προστάτης τοῦ ἱεροῦ); this officer is styled στρατηγός or captain by Josephus (Ant. 20:6, 2; War, 6:5, 3); and in the Mishna (Middoth, 1, § 2) thאיש הר ה, "the captain of the mountain of the Temple;" his duty, as described in the place last quoted, was to visit the posts during the night, and see that the sentries were doing their duty (comp. 1Ch 9:11; 2Ch 31:13; 2Ch 35:8-9; Jer 20:1). SEE TEMPLE.
The rank or power of an Israelitish captain was designated by the number of men under his command, as captain of fifty, or captain of a thousand, SEE CENTURION; and the commander or chief of the whole army was called the captain of the host (q.v.). The divisions of the army were regulated in some measure by the division of families, as the heads of families were usually officers. Captains of hundreds, or larger companies, were probably what would be called in modern phrase staff-officers, and formed the councils of war. SEE WAR. Sometimes distinguished men who were not Hebrews were promoted to high stations in the army (De 1:15; 1Ch 13:1; 2Ch 25:5; 2Sa 23:39). SEE OFFICER.
God is called Captain ("Prince") of the Host (הִצָּבָאשִׁר, Da 8:11), not as equivalent to "Lord of Hosts," but because he is the head and protector of his people. So in the N.T. our Lord is called Captain of his people's salvation (ἀρχηγὸς τῆς σωτηρίας αὐτῶν, Heb 2:10), because he is the beginner, source, and author of their salvation, the head of his Church, which he conducts, with and in himself, to blessedness (comp. Jos 5:14). SEE JEHOVAH.