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(In Hebrew, plural form of "host" or "army"). The word is used almost exclusively in conjunction with the Divine name as a title of majesty: "the Lord of Hosts", or "the Lord God of Hosts". The origins and precise signification of the title are matters of more or less plausible conjecture. According to some scholars the "hosts" represent, at least primitively, the armies of Israel over whom Jehovah exercised a protecting influence. Others opine that the word refers to the hosts of heaven, the angels, and by metaphor to the stars and entire universe (cf. Genesis 2:1). In favour of the latter view is the fact that the title does not occur in the Pentateuch or Josue though the armies of Israel are often mentioned, while it is quite common in the prophetic writings where it would naturally have the more exalted and universal meaning.

James F. Driscoll.