The rendering in the King James Version in Genesis 36:15; Exodus 15:15, and 1 Chronicles 1:51 of 'alluph (the American Standard Revised Version and the English Revised Version, margin "chief"), and in Joshua 13:21 of necikhim ("dukes," the Revised Version (British and American) "princes"). It occurs also, as the rendering of strategos, in 1 Macc 10:65 (the Revised Version (British and American) "captain"). Elsewhere necikhim is translated "princes" or "principal men." The fact that with two exceptions the term is applied in English Versions of the Bible only to the chiefs of Edom has led to the impression that in the family of Esau the chiefs bore a special and hereditary title. But 'alluph was a general term for tribal chief or prince (compare Zechariah 9:7; 12:5,6; the Revised Version (British and American) "chieftains," the King James Version "governors").
Moreover, at the time the King James Version was made the word "duke" was not used as a title in England:
the term had the same general force as dux, the word employed in the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A. D.) So Sir T. Elyot (died 1546) speaks of "Hannibal, duke of Carthage" ( The Governor, II, 233); Shakespeare, Henry V, III, 2, 20, "Be merciful, great duke, to men of mould" (compare Midsummer Night's Dream, I, 1, 21); Sylvester (1591) Du Bartas, "The great Duke, that in dreadful aw upon Mt. Horeb learned the eternal law." In a still earlier age Wycliff uses the word of the Messiah (Matthew 2:6); and in Select Works, III, 137, "Jesus Christ, duke of oure batel."
Yet in all probability the Hebrew word was more specific than "chief" or "duke" in the broad sense. For if 'alluph is derived from 'eleph, "thousand," "tribe," the term would mean the leader of a clan, a "chiliarch" (compare Septuagint, Zechariah 9:7; 12:5,6). the American Standard Revised Version has eliminated the word "duke." See CHIEF.
J. R. Van Pelt
These files are public domain.