International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
sep'-ter (shebheT, sharbhiT, expanded form in Est 4:11; 5:2; 8:4; rhabdos (Additions to Esther 15:11; Heb 1:8), skeptros): A rod or mace used by a sovereign as a symbol of royal authority. The Hebrew shebheT is the ordinary word for rod or club, and is used of an ordinary rod (compare 2 Sam 7:14), of the shepherd's crook (Ps 23:4), scribe's baton or marshal's staff (Jdg 5:14), as well as of the symbol of royalty. Its symbolism may be connected with the use of the shebheT for protection (2 Sam 23:21; Ps 23:4) or for punishment (Isa 10:24; 30:31). It is used with reference to the royal line descended from Judah (Gen 49:10), and figuratively of sovereignty in general and possibly of conquest (Nu 24:17, in Israel; Isa 14:5, in Babylonia; Am 1:5,8, in Syria, among Philistines; Zec 10:11, in Egypt), the disappearance or cutting off of him that holdeth the scepter being tantamount to loss of national independence. The kingship of Yahweh is spoken of as a scepter (Ps 45:6 (Hebrew verse 7) quoted in Heb 1:8). The manner of using the scepter by an oriental monarch is suggested in the act of Ahasuerus, who holds it out to Esther as a mark of favor. The subject touches the top of it, perhaps simply as an act of homage or possibly to indicate a desire to be heard. The scepter of Ahasuerus is spoken of as "golden" (Est 5:2), but it is probable that scepters were ordinarily made of straight branches (maTeh) of certain kinds of vines (Ezek 19:11,14).
It is sometimes difficult to determine whether the word shebheT is used in figurative passages in the sense of scepter or merely in the ordinary sense of staff (e.g. Ps 125:3, the King James Version "rod," the Revised Version (British and American) and the American Standard Revised Version "sceptre" (of the wicked); Ps 2:9, "rod of iron"; Prov 22:8, "rod of his wrath"). Another word, mechoqeq, literally, "prescribing" (person or thing), formerly translated uniformly "lawgiver," is now generally taken, on the basis of parallelism, to mean "sceptre" in four poetic passages (Gen 49:10, "ruler's staff" to avoid repetition; Nu 21:18; Ps 60:7; 108:8).
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'SCEPTRE; SCEPTER'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE
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