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SCEPTER (Heb. meḥoqeq, maṭṭeḥ, sheveṭ, sharviṭ), a staff symbolic of royal authority, originally conceived as power to strike down enemies (Ezek. 19:14; Ps. 110:2). Thus the Bible calls a king "scepter" (Gen. 49:10) or "scepter-bearer" (Amos 1:5, 8), while God, as king of kings, wields a scepter (Isa. 30:31). The Persian Ahasuerus extends a golden scepter to a persona grata (Esth. 4:11). Two main types of scepters are pictured in Near Eastern sculptures and reliefs:

(a) a long staff with an ornamental head (mainly in Egypt and Iran), and

(b) a short-handled battle mace (mainly in Assyria). The latter symbolizes royal military power (cf. Num. 24:17).

[Mayer Irwin Gruber]

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