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Lord of Sabaoth

What does “Lord of Sabaoth” mean?

In the Bible God is called by many names and titles, each one revealing something about who He is. One of these titles is the “Lord of Hosts.” As a matter of fact, this name of God is one of the more popular ones in the Bible as it is used over 250 times. It first occurs in 1 Samuel 1:3 and its last occurrence is in James 1:4. And all but two of the 250+ occurrences are in the Old Testament. And the majority of the Old Testament occurrences are found in the prophets where they combine for a total of over 230 times. Jeremiah uses it most frequently at around 80 times followed by Isaiah at 60 and then Zechariah at about 45. However, Zechariah holds the record for most occurrences in a single chapter as this title is used eighteen times in Zechariah 8. That’s why some scholars refer to it as the “Lord of Hosts” chapter.[1]

“The compound Hebrew word behind this name is Yahweh-sabaoth…[2] And sabaoth shouldn’t be confused with sabbath. While they look and sound similar in English, and while Jesus does refer to Himself as the “Lord of the Sabbath” in the New Testament (Matt. 12:8, Mark 2:28, Luke 6:5), in Hebrew these are two totally different words.[3] While sabbath refers to a time of rest, “sabaoth means ‘armies’ or ‘hosts.’”[4] Interestingly, while most modern versions of the Bible translate this Hebrew word into English so that it is rendered “Lord of Hosts”, the King James and New King James translations in two passages retain the Hebrew here so that it is rendered “Lord of Sabaoth.” The first passage is Romans 9:29 and the second is James 5:4. Interestingly enough, these are also the only two places in the New Testament where God is called the “Lord of Hosts” or “Lord of Sabaoth.”

Fun Fact: Martin Luther used the title ‘Lord of Sabaoth’ in his famous hymn “How Great Thou Art.”

Obviously, with over 250 occurrences of this divine title throughout the Bible, it’s important. So what is the message behind the name? Since Sabaoth means “armies” or “hosts” the title “Lord of Sabaoth” tells us that God is superior to any human or angelic/demonic army, no matter its number. Many times, the Lord led His people to victory over a superior military force. This title also tells us that God exercises control over all the hosts of heaven which include the angels and demons and even the heavenly bodies such as the sun, moon, and stars. As the Psalmist proclaims in Psalm 148:2-3: “Praise ye him, all his hosts. Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light.”[5] In short, this title—like King of Kings and Lord of Lords—indicates God’s total dominion over all of creation whether in heaven or on earth.

Ryan Hembree is a daily co-host, speaker, and writer of Bible Discovery. He also hosts a YouTube channel that shows the unity of the Bible and how science and Scripture fit together. Ryan also has an honorary Masters of Ministry in Creation Science from Phoenix University of Theology.

[1] See George W. Knight, The Names of God, P.48-49.
[2] Ibid.
[3] In Hebrew sabaoth is צָבָא (ṣāḇā’) but sabbath is שַׁבָּת (šabāṯ). To compare these words and their meanings see and
[4] George W. Knight, The Names of God, P.48.
[5] Ibid., P.48-49.

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