Pasha a title used in the Ottoman empire, and applied to governors of provinces, or military and naval commanders of high rank. The name is said to be derived from two Persian words — pa, "foot," or support, and shall, "ruler" — and signifies "the support of the ruler." The title was limited in the early period of the Ottoman empire to the princes of the blood, but was subsequently extended to the grand-vizier, the members of the divan, the seraskier, capitan-pasha, the begler-begs, and other civil and military authorities. The distinctive badge of a pasha is a horse's tail waving from the end of a staff crowned with a gilt ball; in war this badge is always carried before him when he goes abroad, and is at other times planted in front of. his tent. The three grades of pashas are distinguished by the number of horse-tails on their standards; those of the highest rank are pashas of three tails, and include in general the highest functionaries, civil and military. All pashas of this class have the title of vizier; and the grandvizier is, par excellence, a pasha of three tails. The pashas of two tails are the governors of provinces, who are generally called by the simple title of "pasha." The lowest rank of pasha is the pasha of one tail; the sanjaks, or lowest class of provincial governors, are of this rank. The pasha of a province has authority over the military force; the revenue, and the administration of justice. His authority was formerly absolute, but recently a check was imposed on him by the appointment of local councils. The pasha is in his own person the military leader and administrator of justice for the province under his charge, and holds office during the pleasure of the sultan — a most precarious tenure, as the sultan can at any moment, in the exercise of his despotic power, exile, imprison, or put him to death; and this has frequently been done in cases where the pasha's power has exdited the apprehension, or his wealth the avarice, of his royal master.
The word pasha does not occur in the A.V. of the Bible, but in the original the identical term פֶּחָה, pechh (rendered "captain," "deputy," "governor"), is applied in 1Ki 10:15 to the petty chieftains who were tributary to Solomon (2Ch 9:14); to the military commander of the Syrians (1Ki 20:24), the Assyrians (2Ki 18:24; 2Ki 23:6), the Chaldaeans (Jer 51:23), and the Medes (Jer 51:38). Under the Persian viceroys, during the Babylonian captivity, the land of the Hebrews appears to have been portioned out among "governors"' (פִּחוֹת, pachoSth) inferior in rank to the satraps (Ezr 8:36), like the other provinces which were under the dominion of the Persian king (Ne 2:7,9). It is impossible to determine the precise limits of their authority, or the functions which they had to perform. They formed a part of the Babylonian system of government, and are expressly distinguished from the סגָנַים, seganim (Jer 51:23,28), to whom, as well as to the satraps, they seem to have been inferior (Da 3:2-3,27); as also from the שָׂרַים, sarim (Es 3:12; Es 8:9), who, on the other hand, had a subordinate jurisdiction. Sheshbazhzar, the "prince" (נָשַׂיא, Ezr 1:8) of Judah, was appointed by Cyrus "governor" of Jerusalem (Ezr 5:14), or "governor of the Jews," as he is elsewhere designated (Ezr 6:7), an office to which Nehemiah afterwards succeeded (Ne 5:14) under the title of Tirshatha (Ezr 2:63; Ne 8:9). Zerubbabel, the representative of the royal family of Judah, is also called the "governor" of Judah (Hag 1:1), but whether in consequence of his position in the tribe or from his official rank is not quite clear. Tatnai, the "governor" beyond the river, is spoken of by Josephus (Ant. 11:4, 4) under the name of Sisines, as ἔπαρχος of Syria and Phoenicia (comp. 1 Esdras 6:3), the same term being employed to denote the Roman proconsul or proprietor as well as the procurator (Josephus, Ant. 20:8, 1). It appears from Ezr 6:8 that these governors were entrusted with the collection of the king's taxes; and from Ne 5:18; Ne 12:26, that they were supported by a contribution levied upon the people, which was technically termed "the bread of the governor" (comp. Ezr 4:14). They were probably assisted in discharging their official duties by a council (Ezr 4:7; Ezr 6:6). In the Peshito version of Ne 3:11, Pahath Moab is not taken as a proper name, but is rendered "chief of Moab;" and a similar translation is given in other passages where the words occur, as in Ezr 2:6; Ne 7:11; Ne 10:14. The "governor" beyond the river had a judgment-seat at Jerusalem, from which probably he administered justice when making a progress through his province (Ne 3:7). SEE GOVERNOR.