In the pre-Christian Scriptures the word “guard” is drawn, in many instances, from Hebrew words having the basic meaning of “watch” and “keep.” Cherubs were posted by Jehovah at the E of the garden of Eden to guard (keep) the way of the tree of life. (Gen. 3:24) The workmen rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall under Nehemiah’s direction served also as guards at night. (Neh. 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. (2 Sam. 15:1; 1 Ki. 1:5) Runners served under King Rehoboam as watchmen at the palace doors and kept guard over valued copper shields. (1 Ki. 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.—2 Ki. 11:4-21; see CARIAN BODYGUARD; RUNNERS.
The Hebrew word tab·bahhʹ, translated “cook” at 1 Samuel 9:23, meant, basically, “slayer” or “butcher” and gained the meaning of executioner; it is elsewhere used with reference to the bodyguard of Pharaoh of Egypt and of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. (Gen. 37:36; 2 Ki. 25:8, 11, 20; Dan. 2:14) The Hebrew word mish·maʹʽath, meaning, basically, “hearers” or “[obedient] subjects,” is used to refer to David’s bodyguard (2 Sam. 23:23; 1 Chron. 11:25) and to the bodyguard of Saul, over which David had been chief.—1 Sam. 22:14.
It was the practice in Roman prisons to chain a prisoner to a soldier guard or, for maximum security, to two guards. (Acts 12:4, 6) However, during the apostle Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome he was accorded the respect of being free from this form of restraint, having only a soldier guard living with him in his own hired house. (Acts 28:16, 30) During his second imprisonment he was likely chained to a guard.
The chief priests and Pharisees had their own guards whom Pilate allowed to be posted at Christ’s tomb. To prevent the people from learning about Jesus’ resurrection the chief priests bribed these guards to circulate the lie that Jesus’ followers had stolen his body.—Matt. 27:62-66; 28:11-15.
The Roman Praetorian Guard was formed by Caesar Augustus in 13 B.C.E. to serve as imperial bodyguards. (Phil. 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.