In the pre-Christian Scriptures the noun “guard” is drawn, in many instances, from the Hebrew verb sha·marʹ, meaning “guard; keep; observe; watch.” (Ge 3:24; 17:9; 37:11; 1Sa 26:15) The workmen rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall under Nehemiah’s direction served also as guards at night. (Ne 4:22, 23) Kings had runners accompanying their chariots as guards, as did Absalom and Adonijah when each tried to take the throne of Israel. (2Sa 15:1; 1Ki 1:5) Runners served under King Rehoboam as watchmen at the palace doors and kept guard over valued copper shields. (1Ki 14:27, 28) High Priest Jehoiada used runners at the temple, along with the Carian bodyguard, to protect young King Jehoash and to execute Athaliah.—2Ki 11:4-21; see CARIAN BODYGUARD; RUNNERS.
The Hebrew word tab·bachʹ, translated “cook” at 1 Samuel 9:23, meant, basically, “slaughterer” and gained the meaning “executioner”; it is elsewhere used with reference to the bodyguard of Pharaoh of Egypt and of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. (Ge 37:36; 2Ki 25:8, 11, 20; Da 2:14) The Hebrew word mish·maʹʽath, meaning, basically, “hearers” and rendered “subjects” in Isaiah 11:14, is used to refer to David’s bodyguard (2Sa 23:23; 1Ch 11:25) and to the bodyguard of Saul, over which David had been chief.—1Sa 22:14.
It was the practice in Roman prisons to chain a prisoner to a soldier guard or, for maximum security, to two guards, as Peter was. (Ac 12:4, 6) During the apostle Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome, he was accorded the respect of living in his own hired house, with one soldier guarding him. (Ac 28:16, 30) His second imprisonment was no doubt more restrictive.
To prevent the people from learning about Jesus’ resurrection, the chief priests bribed Roman guards to circulate the lie that Jesus’ followers had stolen his body.—Mt 27:62-66; 28:11-15; see SOLDIER.
The Roman Praetorian Guard was formed by Caesar Augustus in 13 B.C.E. to serve as imperial bodyguards. (Php 1:12, 13) Emperor Tiberius had this guard encamped permanently near the walls of Rome and by means of them held in check any unruliness of the people. This attached great importance to the commander of the guard, whose force came to amount to about 10,000 men. In time the Praetorian Guard became so powerful that it was able both to put emperors into office and to dethrone them.
Priests and Levites were organized under captains to guard the temple in Jerusalem.—See CAPTAIN OF THE TEMPLE.