ChristianAnswers.Net WebBible Encyclopedia
Used now only of royal dwellings, although originally meaning simply (as the Latin word palatium, from which it is derived, shows) a building surrounded by a fence or a paling. In the King James Version there are many different words so rendered, presenting different ideas, such as that of citadel or lofty fortress or royal residence (Neh. 1:1; Dan. 8:2). It is the name given to the temple fortress (Neh. 2:8) and to the temple itself (1 Chronicles 29:1). It denotes also a spacious building or a great house (Dan. 1:4; 4:4, 29; Esther 1:5; 7:7), and a fortified place or an enclosure (Ezek. 25:4). Solomon's palace is described in 1 Kings 7:1-12 as a series of buildings rather than a single great structure. Thirteen years were spent in their erection. This palace stood on the eastern hill, adjoining the temple on the south.
In the New Testament it designates the official residence of Pilate or that of the high priest (Matthew 26:3, 58, 69; Mark 14:54, 66; John 18:15). In Philippians 1:13 this word is the rendering of the Greek praitorion, meaning the praetorian cohorts at Rome (the life-guard [bodyguard] of the Caesars). Paul was continually chained to a soldier of that corps (Acts 28:16), and hence his name and sufferings became known in all the Praetorium. The “soldiers that kept” him would, on relieving one another on guard, naturally spread the tidings regarding him among their comrades. Some, however, regard the praetroium as the barrack within the palace (the palatium) of the Caesars in Rome where a detachment of these praetorian guards was stationed, or as the camp of the guards placed outside the eastern walls of Rome.