International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
sep'-ter (shebheT, sharbhiT, expanded form in Esther 4:11; Esther 5:2; Esther 8:4; rhabdos (Additions to Esther 15:11; Hebrews 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 Samuel 7:14), of the shepherd's crook (Psalm 23:4), scribe's baton or marshal's staff (Judges 5:14), as well as of the symbol of royalty. Its symbolism may be connected with the use of the shebheT for protection (2 Samuel 23:21 Psalm 23:4) or for punishment (Isaiah 10:24; Isaiah 30:31). It is used with reference to the royal line descended from Judah (Genesis 49:10), and figuratively of sovereignty in general and possibly of conquest (Numbers 24:17, in Israel; Isaiah 14:5, in Babylonia; Amos 1:5, 8, in Syria, among Philistines; Zechariah 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 (Psalm 45:6 (Hebrew verse 7) quoted in Hebrews 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" (Esther 5:2), but it is probable that scepters were ordinarily made of straight branches (maTeh) of certain kinds of vines (Ezekiel 19:11, 14).