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Holman Bible Dictionary [1]

Abir   1 Samuel 21:7 Ayil   Exodus 15:15 2 Kings 24:15 Ezekiel 17:13 Ezekiel 32:21 Aluph   Genesis 36:15-43 Zechariah 12:5-6 Gibbor   1 Chronicles 9:26 Gadol   Leviticus 21:10 Leviticus 21:4 Kohen   2 Samuel 8:18 Nagid   1 Chronicles 23:22 2 Chronicles 11:11 Isaiah 55:4 Jeremiah 20:1 Ezekiel 28:2 Nitstsab   1 Kings 9:23 Menatstseach   Psalm 4:1 Nasi'   Numbers 25:18 Joshua 22:14 Pinnah   Judges 20:2 1 Samuel 14:38 Zechariah 10:4 Attud   Isaiah 14:9 Zechariah 10:3 Qatsin   Joshua 10:24 Judges 11:6 Proverbs 6:7 Isaiah 1:10 Micah 3:1 Ro'sh   Numbers 25:4 2 Samuel 23:8 2 Samuel 25:18 Job 29:25 Ri'shon   Daniel 10:13 Re'shith  Daniel 11:41 Sar   Genesis 40:2 1 Samuel 17:18 1 Kings 4:2 1 Kings 5:16 1 Chronicles 24:5 Daniel 10:20 Rab   2 Kings 18:17 Jeremiah 39:13 Daniel 5:11

In the New Testament the Greek word arche means beginning or chief and is used in several compound words to represent the chief priest or ruler (  Matthew 2:4;  Matthew 16:21;  Luke 11:15;  Luke 19:2;  John 12:42;  Acts 18:8;  Acts 19:31;  1 Peter 5:4 ). Hegeomai means to lead to command with official authority (  Luke 22:26;  Acts 14:12 ). Protos means first or foremost (  Matthew 20:27;  Luke 19:47;  Acts 13:50;  Acts 16:12;  Acts 25:2;  Acts 28:7 ). Chiliarchos is the commander of a military unit supposed to have 1,000 members (  Acts 21:31;  Acts 25:23;  Revelation 6:15 ).

King James Dictionary [2]

Chief a.

1. Highest in office or rank principal as a chief priest the chief butler.  Genesis 40:9 .

Among the chief rulers, many believed on him.  John 12 .

2. Principal or most eminent, in any quality or action most distinguished having most influence commanding most respect taking the lead most valuable most important a word of extensive use as a country chief in arms.

The hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.  Ezra 9 .

Agriculture is the chief employment of men.

3. First in affection most dear and familiar.

A whisperer separateth chief friends.  Proverbs 16 .


1. A commander particularly a military commander the person who heads an army equivalent to the modern terms, commander or general in chief, captain general, or generalissimo.  1 Chronicles 11 . 2. The principal person of a tribe, family, or congregation, &c.

 Numbers 3 .  Job 29 . Math. 20.

3. In chief, in English law, in capite. To hold land in chief is to hold it directly from the king by honorable personal services. 4. In heraldry, chief signifies the head or upper part of the escutcheon, from side to side, representing a mans head. In chief, imports something borne in this part. 5. In Spenser, it seems to signify something like achievement, a mark of distinction as, chaplets wrought with a chief. 6. This word is often used, in the singular number, to express a plurality.

I took the chief of your tribes, wise men and known, and made them heads over you.  Deuteronomy 1:15 .

These were the chief of the officers, that were over Solomons work.  1 Kings 9 .

In these phrases, chief may have been primarily an adjective, that is, chief men, chief persons.

7. The principal part the most or largest part, of one thing or of many.

The people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed.  1 Samuel 15 .

He smote the chief of their strength.  Psalms 68 .

The chief of the debt remains unpaid.

CHIEF, adv. Chiefly.

Webster's Dictionary [3]

(1): (a.) Principal or most eminent in any quality or action; most distinguished; having most influence; taking the lead; most important; as, the chief topic of conversation; the chief interest of man.

(2): (a.) Highest in office or rank; principal; head.

(3): (n.) The upper third part of the field. It is supposed to be composed of the dexter, sinister, and middle chiefs.

(4): (n.) The principal part; the most valuable portion.

(5): (a.) Very intimate, near, or close.

(6): (n.) The head or leader of any body of men; a commander, as of an army; a head man, as of a tribe, clan, or family; a person in authority who directs the work of others; the principal actor or agent.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [4]

chēf  : The English word is in the King James Version of Old Testament the translation of some 17 different Hebrew words, most frequently of rō'sh , "head," sar , "prince," and rē'shı̄th , "beginning." The principal changes made by the Revised Version (British and American) are: (1) Hebrew bēth'ābh , "house of a father," being recognized as a technical term denoting a subdivision of a tribe, rō'sh is rendered literally "head," when it occurs in connection with this phrase, so that "chief fathers" ( Numbers 31:26 ) and "chief of the fathers" ( Ezra 1:5 ) become "heads of fathers' houses"; (2) Hebrew nāghı̄dh and nāsı̄' are more accurately translated "prince" in such passages as  1 Chronicles 5:2;  Numbers 3:32; (3) The misinterpretations which brought about the translation "chief" for 'acı̄lı̄m , "corners,"  Isaiah 41:9 , and for ma‛ăleh , "ascent," in  2 Chronicles 32:33 , are corrected.

In the New Testament "chief" is in most of its appearances the translation of Greek prō̇tos , "first"; the Revised Version (British and American) reads "first" for the King James Version "chief," "chiefest," in  Matthew 20:27;  Mark 10:44;  Acts 16:12 . The reading in the latter passage is a difficult one, but the King James Version "Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia," seems to imply a political authority which Philippi did not possess; the Revised Version (British and American) "a city of Macedonia, the first of the district." Greek árchōn , "prince," "ruler," is rendered by the King James Version "chief," by the Revised Version (British and American) "prince," in  Luke 11:15; the King James Version "chief Pharisees," the Revised Version (British and American) "rulers of the Pharisees," in  Luke 14:1 .

The original meaning of "chief" having been weakened, the comparative and superlative were admitted into English, the latter only appearing in the King James Version or the Revised Version:  1 Samuel 2:29;  Song of Solomon 5:10;  2 Corinthians 11:5 , etc. On "chief of Asia" ( Acts 19:31 the King James Version) see Asiarch .

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [5]

The upper part of an escutcheon cut off by a horizontal line.