The Scripture terms used in this connection mostly have reference to the special duties which the body-guard of a monarch had to perform. SEE KING.
1. Tabbach', טִבָּח, originally signified a "cook;" and as butchering fell to the lot of the cook in Eastern countries, it gained the secondary sense of "executioner," and is applied to the body-guard of the kings of Egypt (Ge 37:36) and Babylon (2Ki 25:8; Jer 39:9; Jer 40:1; Da 2:14). So Potiphar, the master of Joseph, was captain of Pharaoh's body-guard, i.e. chief executioner (Ge 39:1; Ge 41:10,12). In Egypt he had a public prison in his house (Ge 9:3-4). It is evident from Herodotus (ii, 165 sq.) that the kings of Egypt had a guard who, in addition to the regular income of the soldier, also received a separate salary. In the paintings of marches and battles on the monuments, these royal guards are commonly seen to be employed in protecting the person of the king, and are distinguished by peculiar dresses and weapons (Wilkinson, i, 337, 406). During the reign of the Ptolemies, who in general adhered to the usages of the ancient Egyptians, the office of the commander of the body-guard was a very important one. They possessed the confidence of the king, and were often employed in the most important business transactions. Finally, the super. intendence of the executions belonged to the most distinguished caste. In Babylon, Nebuzaradan, who held this office, commanded also a part of the royal army (Jer 39:13; Jer 52:15). SEE EXECUTIONER.
2. Rats, רָוֹ, properly means a courier, and is the ordinary term employed for the attendants of the Jewish kings, whose office it was to run before the chariot (2Sa 15:1; 1Ki 1:5), like the cursores of the Roman emperors (Seneca, Epist. 87, 126). That the Jewish "runners" superadded the ordinary duties of a military guard appears from several passages (1Sa 22:17; 2Ki 10:25; 2Ki 11:6; 2Ch 12:10). It was their office also to carry dispatches (2Ch 30:6). They had a guard- room set apart for their use in the king's palace, in which their arms were kept ready for use (1Ki 14:28; 2Ch 12:11). SEE FOOTMAN. They were perhaps the same who, under David, were called Pelethites (1Ki 1:5; 1Ki 14:27; 2Sa 15:l). SEE PELETHITE.
3. The terms mishm'reth, מִשׁמֶרֶת, and mishmair' מִשׁמָר, express properly the act of watching, or else a watch-station, but are occasionally transferred to the persons who kept watch (Ne 4:9,22; Ne 7:3; Ne 12:9; Job 7:12). The A.V. is probably correct in substituting mishmarto' מִשׁמִרתּוֹ for the present reading in 2Sa 23:23, Benaiah being appointed "captain of the guard," as Josephus (Ant. 7:14, 4) relates, and not privy councillor: the same error has crept into the text in 1Sa 22:14, where the words "which goeth at thy bidding" may originally have been "captain of the body-guard." SEE CAPTAIN.
In New-Test. times we find the σπεκουλάτερ, for the Latin spiculator (rendered "executioner," margin guard, Mark 6:27), properly a pike- man, halberdier, a kind of soldiers forming the body-guard of kings and princes, who also, according to Oriental custom, acted as executioners. The term κουστωδία, for the Latin custodia, i.e. custody, a "watch" or guard, is spoken of the Roman soldiers at the sepulchre of Jesus (Mt 27:65-66; Mt 28:11). The ordinary Roman guard consisted of four soldiers (τετράδιον, "quaternion"), of which there were four, corresponding to the four watches of the night, who relieved each other every three hours (Ac 12:4; comp. Joh 19:23; Polyb. 6:33, 7). When in charge of a prisoner, two watched outside of the cell while the other two were inside (Ac 12:6). The officer mentioned in Ac 28:16 στρατοπεδάρχης, "captain of the guard") was perhaps the commander of the Praetorian troops, to whose care prisoners from the provinces were usually consigned (Pliny, Ep.x, 65). SEE WATCH.