Servant (usually עֶבֶד, ebed, δοῦλος, which are invariably rendered thus in the A.V. or else "bondman;" but "servant" is occasionally the rendering of נִעִר,na'ar, properly a lad or "young man;" or משָׁרֵת, meshareth [Ex 33:11; Nu 11:28; 2Sa 13:17-18; Pr 29:12], a minister, as elsewhere rendered; Gr. in like manner sometimes παῖς, διάκονος, etc.). SEE EBED. The Hebrew terms na'ar and meshareth, which alone answer to our "servant," in so far as this implies the notions of liberty and voluntariness, are of comparatively rare occurrence. On the other hand, ebed, which is common in the A.V., properly means a slave. In many passages the correct reading would add considerable force to the meaning — e.g. in Ge 9:25, "Cursed be Canaan; a slave of slaves shall he be unto his brethren;" in De 5:15, "Remember that thou wast a slave in the land of Egypt;" in Job 3:19, "The slave is free from his master;" and particularly in passages where the speaker uses the term of himself, as in Ge 18:3, "Pass not away, I pray thee, from thy slave." Slavery was, in point of fact, the normal condition of the underling in the Hebrew commonwealth, while the terms above given refer to the exceptional cases of young or confidential attendants. Joshua, for instance, is described as at once the na'ar and meshareth of Moses (Ex 33:11); Elisha's servant sometimes as the former (2Ki 4:12; 2Ki 5; 2Ki 20), sometimes as the latter (4:43; 6:15). Amnon's servant was a meshareth (2Sa 13:17-18), while young Joseph was a na'ar to the sons of Bilhah (Ge 37:2, where instead of "the lad was with," we should read "he was the servant boy to" the sons of Bilhah). The confidential designation mesharath is applied to the priests and Levites in their relation to Jehovah (Ezr 8:17; Isa 61:6;
Eze 44:11), and the cognate verb to Joseph after he found favor with Potiphar (Ge 39:4), and to the nephews of Ahaziah (2Ch 22:8). In 1Ki 20:14-15, we should substitute "servants" (na'ar) for "young men." SEE HIRELING; SEE SLAVE.