Host of Heaven

(tsebha' hashamayim): The expression is employed in the Old Testament to denote (1) the stars, frequently as objects of idolatry (De 4:19; 17:3; 2Ki 17:16; 21:3,1; 23:4 f; Jer 8:2; 19:13; Zep 1:5), but also as witnesses in their number, order and splendor, to the majesty and providential rule and care of Yahweh (Isa 34:4; 40:26, "calleth them all by name"; Isa 45:12; Jer 33:22); and (2) the angels (1Ki 22:19; 2Ch 18:18; Ne 9:6; compare Ps 103:21).

See also the McClintock and Strong Biblical Cyclopedia.

(1) Star-worship seems to have been an enticement to Israel from the first (De 4:19; 17:3; Am 5:26; compare Ac 7:42-43), but attained special prominence in the days of the later kings of Judah. The name of Manasseh is particularly connected with it. This king built altars for "all the host of heaven" in the courts of the temple (2Ki 21:3,5). Josiah destroyed these altars, and cleansed the temple from the idolatry by putting down the priests and burning the vessels associated with it (2Ki 23:4-5,12).

(2) In the other meaning of the expression, the angels are regarded as forming Yahweh's "host" or army, and He himself is the leader of them--"Yahweh of hosts" (Isa 31:4, etc.)--though this designation has a much wider reference.

See ANGEL; ASTRONOMY; LORD OF HOSTS; compare Oehler, Theol of Old Testament,II , 270 ff (ET ).

James Orr

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