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June 28    Scripture

Manners & Customs: Synagogues
Synagogues in ancient Biblical times

Education at Ancient Synagogues THE SYNAGOGUE SCHOOLS WHEN JESUS WAS A BOY When JESUS grew up as a boy in the village of Nazareth, he no doubt attended the synagogue school. The Jewish child was sent to school in the fifth or sixth year of his life. The pupils either "stood, teacher and pupils alike, or else sat on the ground in a semicircle, facing a teacher." Until the children were ten years of age, the Bible was the one text book. From ten to fifteen the traditional law was the main subject dealt with, and a study of theology as taught in the Talmud was taken up with those over fifteen years of age. The study of the Bible began with the Book of Leviticus, continued with other parts of the Pentateuch, and then went on with the Prophets, and lastly, the Writings. Because of the remarkable familiarity of JESUS with the Holy Scriptures, we may be fairly certain that His home in Nazareth had in it a copy of the Sacred Book as a whole. Doubtless He loved to ponder its pages at home after having studied its teachings in the school. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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Synagogue in Easton's Bible Dictionary (Gr. sunagoge, i.e., "an assembly"), found only once in the Authorized Version of Ps. 74:8, where the margin of Revised Version has "places of assembly," which is probably correct; for while the origin of synagogues is unknown, it may well be supposed that buildings or tents for the accommodation of worshippers may have existed in the land from an early time, and thus the system of synagogues would be gradually developed. Some, however, are of opinion that it was specially during the Babylonian captivity that the system of synagogue worship, if not actually introduced, was at least reorganized on a systematic plan (Ezek. 8:1; 14:1). The exiles gathered together for the reading of the law and the prophets as they had opportunity, and after their return synagogues were established all over the land (Ezra 8:15; Neh. 8:2). In after years, when the Jews were dispersed abroad, wherever they went they erected synagogues and kept up the stated services of worship (Acts 9:20; 13:5; 17:1; 17:17; 18:4). The form and internal arrangements of the synagogue would greatly depend on the wealth of the Jews who erected it, and on the place where it was built. "Yet there are certain traditional pecularities which have doubtless united together by a common resemblance the Jewish synagogues of all ages and countries. The arrangements for the women's place in a separate gallery or behind a partition of lattice-work; the desk in the centre, where the reader, like Ezra in ancient days, from his 'pulpit of wood,' may 'open the book in the sight of all of people and read in the book of the law of God distinctly, and give the sense, and cause them to understand the reading' (Neh. 8:4, 8); the carefully closed ark on the side of the building nearest to Jerusalem, for the preservation of the rolls or manuscripts of the law; the seats all round the building, whence 'the eyes of all them that are in the synagogue' may 'be fastened' on him who speaks (Luke 4:20); the 'chief seats' (Matt. 23:6) which were appropriated to the 'ruler' or 'rulers' of the synagogue, according as its organization may have been more or less complete;", these were features common to all the synagogues. Where perfected into a system, the services of the synagogue, which were at the same hours as those of the temple, consisted, (1) of prayer, which formed a kind of liturgy, there were in all eighteen prayers; (2) the reading of the Scriptures in certain definite portions; and (3) the exposition of the portions read. (See Luke 4:15, 22; Acts 13:14.) The synagogue was also sometimes used as a court of judicature, in which the rulers presided (Matt. 10:17; Mark 5:22; Luke 12:11; 21:12; Acts 13:15; 22:19); also as public schools. The establishment of synagogues wherever the Jews were found in sufficient numbers helped greatly to keep alive Israel's hope of the coming of the Messiah, and to prepare the way for the spread of the gospel in other lands. The worship of the Christian Church was afterwards modelled after that of the synagogue. Christ and his disciples frequently taught in the synagogues (Matt. 13:54; Mark 6:2; John 18:20; Acts 13:5, 15, 44; 14:1; 17:2-4, 10, 17; 18:4, 26; 19:8). To be "put out of the synagogue," a phrase used by John (9:22; 12:42; 16:2), means to be excommunicated.
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Synagogue in Fausset's Bible Dictionary Hebrew eedah, "a congregation" or "appointed solemn meeting," in the Pentateuch; qaahaal, "a meeting called", represents ekklesia the "Church". (See CHURCH.) In the New Testament synagogue (Greek) is used of the Christian assembly only by the most Judaic apostle (James 2:2). The Jews' malice against Christianity caused Christians to leave the term "synagogue" to the Jews (Revelation 2:9). The first hints of religions meetings appear in the phrases "before the Lord," "the calling of assemblies" (Isaiah 1:13). The Sabbaths were observed from an early time by gatherings for prayer, whether at or apart from the tabernacle or temple (1 Samuel 20:5; 2 Kings 4:23). Jehoshaphat's mission of priests and Levites (2 Chronicles 17:7-9) implies there was no provision for regular instruction except the septennial reading of the law at the feast of tabernacles (Deuteronomy 31:10-13). In Psalm 74:4; Psalm 74:8 (compare Jeremiah 52:13; Jeremiah 52:17, which shows that the psalm refers to the Chaldaean destruction of the sanctuary) the "congregations" and "synagogues "refer to the tabernacle or temple meeting place between God and His people; "mo'eed mo'adee" in the psalm is the same word as expresses "the tabernacle of congregation," or meeting between God and His people, in Exodus 33:7, compare Exodus 29:42-43. So in Lamentations 2:6, "He (the Lord) hath destroyed His places of assembly." But the other places of devotional meetings of the people besides the temple are probably included. So Psalm 107:32, "the congregation of the people ... the assembly of the elders" (Ezra 3:1). The prophets' assemblies for psalmody and worship led the way (1 Samuel 9:12; 1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Samuel 19:20-24). Synagogues in the strict and later sense are not mentioned until after the desecration of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes. The want of the temple in the Babylonian captivity familiarized the exiles with the idea of spiritual worship independent of locality. The elders often met and sat before the prophet, Ezekiel to hear Jehovah's word (Ezekiel 8:1; Ezekiel 11:15-16; Ezekiel 14:1; Ezekiel 20:1); in Ezekiel 33:31 the people also sit before him to hear. Periodic meetings for hearing the law and the prophets read were customary thenceforth on the return (Ezra 8:15; Nehemiah 8:2; Nehemiah 9:1; Zechariah 7:5; Acts 15:21). When the Jews could not afford to build a synagogue they built "an oratory" (proseuchee) by a running stream or the seashore (Acts 16:13). The synagogue was the means of rekindling the Jewish devotion and patriotism which shone so brightly in the Maccabean struggle with Antiochus. The synagogue required no priest to minister; this and the reading of the Old Testament prepared the way for the gospel. Sometimes a wealthy Jew or a proselyte built the synagogue (Luke 7:5). The kibleh or "direction" was toward Jerusalem. The structure, though essentially different from the temple (for it had neither altar nor sacrifice), resembled in some degree that of the temple: the ark at the far end contained the law in both; the lid was called the kopereth or "mercy-seat"; a veil hung before it. Here were "the chief seats" sought by the Pharisees and the rich (Matthew 23:6; James 2:2-3). In the middle was a raised platform on which several could be together, with a pulpit in the middle for the reader to stand in when reading and to sit when teaching. A low partition separated men on one side from women on the other. Besides the ark for "the law" (torah) there was a chest for the haphtaroth or "roll of the prophets". In the synagogue a college of elders was presided over by the chief or ruler of the synagogue (Luke 7:3; Luke 8:41; Luke 8:49). The elders were called parnasiym, "pastors," "shepherds" (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Peter 5:1), ruling
http://www.bible-history.com/faussets/S/Synagogue/


Synagogue in Naves Topical Bible 1. Primarily an assembly of Jews and God-fearers Ac 13:43 R. V.) Jas 2:2 Constitutes a court of justice Lu 12:11; Ac 9:2 Had powers Of criminal courts Mt 10:17; 23:34; Ac 22:19; 26:11 Of religious courts Joh 9:22,34; 12:42; 16:2 -2. A phycial place of assembly for Jews and other God- fearers. The Scriptures were read and expounded in Ne 8:1-8; 9:3,5; Mt 4:23; 9:35; 13:54; Mr 1:39; Lu 4:15-33; 13:10; Joh 18:20; Ac 9:20; 13:5-44; 14:1; 15:21; 17:2,10; 18:4,19,26 In Jerusalem Ac 6:9 In Damascus Ac 9:2,20 In other cities Ac 14:1; 17:1,10; 18:4 One was erected by Jairus Lu 7:5 Jesus performed healing in Mt 12:9-13; Lu 13:11-14 Alms (charity) were given in Mt 6:2 Of Satan Re 2:9; 3:9 See CHURCH
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Synagogue in Smiths Bible Dictionary 1. History. --The word synagogue (sunagoge), which means a "congregation," is used in the New Testament to signify a recognized place of worship. A knowledge of the history and worship of the synagogues is of great importance, since they are the characteristic institution of the later phase of Judaism. They appear to have arisen during the exile, in the abeyance of the temple-worship, and to have received their full development on the return of the Jews from captivity. The whole history of Ezra presupposes the habit of solemn, probably of periodic, meetings. Ezr 8:15; Ne 8:2; 9:1; Zec 7:5 After the Maccabaean struggle for independence, we find almost every town or village had its one or more synagogues. Where the Jews were not in sufficient numbers to be able to erect and fill a building, there was the proseucha (proseuche), or place of prayer, sometimes open, sometimes covered in, commonly by a running stream or on the seashore, in which devout Jews and proselytes met to worship, and perhaps to read. Ac 16:13 Juven. Sat. iii. 296. It is hardly possible to overestimate the influence of the system thus developed. To it we may ascribe the tenacity with which, after the Maccabaean struggle, the Jews adhered to the religion of their fathers, and never again relapsed into idolatry. 2. Structure. --The size of a synagogue varied with the population. Its position was, however, determinate. If stood, if possible, on the highest ground, in or near the city to which it belonged. And its direction too was fixed. Jerusalem was the Kibleh of Jewish devotion. The synagogue was so constructed that the worshippers, as they entered and as they prayed, looked toward it. The building was commonly erected at the cost of the district. Sometimes it was built by a rich Jew, or even, as in Lu 7:5 by a friend or proselyte. In the internal arrangement of the synagogue we trace an obvious analogy to the type of the tabernacle. At the upper or Jerusalem end stood the ark, the chest which, like the older and more sacred ark contained the Book of the Law. It gave to that end the name and character of a sanctuary. This part of the synagogue was naturally the place of honor. Here were the "chief seats," for which Pharisees and scribes strove so eagerly, Mt 23:6 and to which the wealthy and honored worshipper was invited. Jas 2:2,3 Here too, in front of the ark, still reproducing the type of the tabernacle, was the eight-branched lamp, lighted only on the greater festivals. Besides this there was one lamp kept burning perpetually. More toward the middle of the building was a raised platform, on which several persons could stand at once, and in the middle of this rose a pulpit, in which the reader stood to read the lesson or sat down to teach. The congregation were divided, men on one side, women on the other a low partition, five or six feet high, running between them. The arrangements of modern synagogues, for many centuries, have made the separation more complete by placing the women in low side-galleries, screened off a lattice-work. 3. Officers. --In smaller towns there was often but one rabbi. Where a fuller organization was possible, there was a college of elders, Lu 7:3 presided over by one who was "the chief of the synagogue." Lu 8:41,49; 13:14; Ac 18:8,17 The most prominent functionary in a large synagogue was known as the sheliach (= legatus), the officiating minister who acted as the delegate of the congregation and was therefore the chief...
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Synagogue in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE sin'-a-gog: 1. Name 2. Origin 3. Spread of Synagogues 4. The Building (1) The Site (2) The Structure (3) The Furniture 5. The Officials (1) The Elders (2) The Ruler (3) The Servant (or Servants) (4) Delegate of the Congregation (5) The Interpreter (6) The Almoners 6. The Service (1) Recitation of the "Shema`" (2) Prayers (3) Reading of the Law and the Prophets (4) The Sermon (5) The Benediction LITERATURE 1. Name: Synagogue, Greek sunagoge, "gathering" (Acts 13:43), "gathering-place" (Lk 7:5), was the name applied to the Jewish place of worship in later Judaism in and outside of Israel Proseuche, "a place of prayer" (Acts 16:13), was probably more of the nature of an enclosure, marking off the sacred spot from the profane foot, than of a roofed building like a synagogue. Sabbateion in Ant, XV, i, 6, 2, most probably also meant synagogue. In the Mishna we find for synagogue beth ha-keneceth, in the Targums and Talmud be- khenishta', or simply kenishta'. The oldest Christian meetings and meeting-places were modeled on the pattern of the synagogues, and, in Christian-Palestinian Aramaic the word kenishta' is used for the Christian church (compare Zahn, Tatian's Diatessaron, 335). 2. Origin: That the synagogue was, in the time of our Lord, one of the most important religious institutions of the Jews is clear from the fact that it was thought to have been instituted by Moses (Apion, ii, 17; Philo, De Vita Moses, iii.27; compare Targum Jer to Ex 18:20). It must have come into being during the Babylonian exile. At that time the more devout Jews, far from their native land, having no sanctuary or altar, no doubt felt drawn from time to time, especially on Sabbath and feast days, to gather round those who were specially pious and God-fearing, in order to listen to the word of God and engage in some kind of worship. That such meetings were not uncommon is made probable by Ezek 14:1; 20:1. This would furnish a basis for the institution of the synagogue. After the exile the synagogue remained and even developed as a counterpoise to the absolute sacerdotalism of the temple, and must have been felt absolutely necessary for the Jews of the Dispersion. Though at first it was meant only for the exposition of the Law, it was natural that in the course of time prayers and preaching should be added to the service. Thus these meetings, which at first were only held on Sabbaths and feast days, came also to be held on other days, and at the same hours with the services in the temple. The essential aim, however, of the synagogue was not prayer, but instruction in the Law for all classes of the people. Philo calls the synagogues "houses of instruction, where the philosophy of the fathers and all manner of virtues were taught" (compare Mt 4:23; Mk 1:21; 6:2; Lk 4:15,33; 6:6; 13:10; Jn 6:59; 18:20; CAp, ii, 17). 3. Spread of Synagogues: In Israel the synagogues were scattered all over the country, all the larger...
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Synagogue Scripture - Acts 14:1 And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.
http://www.bible-history.com/kjv/Acts/14/


Synagogue Scripture - Acts 18:17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat [him] before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things.
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Synagogue Scripture - Acts 18:7 And he departed thence, and entered into a certain [man's] house, named Justus, [one] that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue.
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Synagogue Scripture - Acts 18:8 And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.
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Synagogue Scripture - John 18:20 Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.
http://www.bible-history.com/kjv/John/18/


Synagogue Scripture - John 9:22 These [words] spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.
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Synagogue Scripture - Luke 13:14 And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.
http://www.bible-history.com/kjv/Luke/13/


Synagogue Scripture - Luke 4:38 And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon's house. And Simon's wife's mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her.
http://www.bible-history.com/kjv/Luke/4/


Synagogue Scripture - Mark 6:2 And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing [him] were astonished, saying, From whence hath this [man] these things? and what wisdom [is] this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?
http://www.bible-history.com/kjv/Mark/6/


Synagogue Scripture - Revelation 3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
http://www.bible-history.com/kjv/Revelation/3/


The Torah in Ancient Jewish Life THE BIBLE IN THE JEWISH HOME OF CHRIST'S TIME In the days when JESUS grew up as a boy in his Nazareth home, whatever else of the Hebrew Scriptures the youth may have been acquainted with, they grew up to hear recited a prayer called "The Shema." This prayer was in reality the quotation of three passages from the Pentateuch. It was repeated morning and evening by the men. And Jewish boys when they became twelve years of age had to be able to repeat this prayer. The three Scriptures that made up the Shema were: Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Deuteronomy 11:13-21; and Numbers 15:37-41. It is quite likely that after JESUS returned from that pilgrimage to Jerusalem, He would borrow the manuscript from the synagogue of Nazareth (if He did not have a copy of the Scriptures in His own home) and study in it, especially the books of Moses and the prophets. In His teachings He often referred to these writers, and was especially fond of Isaiah and Jeremiah.8 The widespread use of the Shema in CHRIST's time became with many a mere form with little or no meaning. It was possible for this prayer to become as vain as a heathen prayer. Doubtless CHRIST was protesting such use of it when He said, "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen [Gentiles] do" (Matthew 6:7). The practice of the phylactery, which the Pharisees made such wide use of, was based on some of the Scripture in the Shema, and as used by them, was condemned by JESUS. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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