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What is a Synagogue?
        (an assemblage). There is no conclusive evidence that stated meetings of the people for social religious services, or meetings for receiving public instruction, were known among the Jews before the Captivity. After that event such meetings became common, and were called synagogues. They were probably held at first in private houses or in the open air. After a time buildings were erected expressly for their use, and these were also called "synagogues," signifying properly the collection of worshippers, but figuratively the place of meeting. Tradition says there were no less than four hundred and eighty of these buildings in the city of Jerusalem before it was subdued by the Romans. Probably this is an exaggeration. To build a synagogue was considered a deed of piety and public usefulness. Luke 7:5. They might be built in any place where there were worshippers enough to associate for the purpose. Ruins of ancient synagogues are found at Tell Hum, Meiron, Safed, Arbela, and Kefr-Bereim. There was some resemblance between the construction of these synagogues and that of the temple. The centre building. which was called the temple, was furnished with an ark or chest containing the copy of the Law which was read. A low desk or pulpit was erected about the middle of the synagogue. Some of the seats were higher than others, and were assigned to the elders. They were called chief or uppermost seats. Matt 23:6. The officers of each synagogue were: 1. The archisynagogus, "the chief ruler of the synagogue." Mark 5:35; Acts 18:8. 2. The council, composed of aged and influential men, presided over by the chief ruler, Mark 6:22; Acts 13:15, who had authority to scourge and to excommunicate. Matt 10:17; John 16:2. 3. "The minister." Luke 4:20, who got the building ready for service and taught the school connected with the synagogue. 4. At least two alms-collectors, and at least three distributers. 5. One who was not a permanent officer, but who offered prayer and read the Scriptures as the "delegate of the congregation." Some erroneously connect this office with that of "the angel of the congregation." Rev 1:20. 6. Three of the council, the "delegate," the three deacons for alms, the interpreter, who read the Hebrew and translated it into the vernacular, the theological schoolmaster and his interpreter; these constituted the so-called "men of leisure," permanently on duty, who constituted a congregation (ten being the minimum number), "so that there might be no delay in beginning the service at the proper hour, and that no single worshipper might go away disappointed." The service of the synagogue was as follows: The people being seated, the minister, or angel of the synagogue, ascended the pulpit and offered up the public prayers, the people rising from their seats and standing in a posture of deep devotion. Matt 6:5; Mark 11:25; Luke 18:11, 2 Kgs 11:13. The prayers were nineteen in number, and were closed by reading Deut 6:4-9; Deut 11:13-21; Num 15:37-41. The next thing was the repetition of their phylacteries, after which came the reading of the Law and the Prophets. The former was divided into fifty-four sections, with which were united corresponding portions from the prophets, see Acts 13:15, Gen 1:27; Acts 15:21, and these were read through once in the course of the year. After the return from the Captivity an interpreter was employed in reading the Law and the Prophets, Neh 8:2-8, who interpreted them into the Syro-Chaldaic dialect, which was then spoken by the people. The last part of the service was the expounding of the Scriptures and preaching from them to the people. This was done either by one of the officers or by some distinguished person who happened to be present. This happened with our Synagogue at Meiron. (After Photograph of Palestine Fund.) Saviour, Luke 4:17-20, and there are several other instances recorded of himself and his disciples teaching in the synagogues. Matt 13:54; Mark 6:2; John 18:20; Acts 13:5, 2 Sam 20:15, Jer 48:44; Eze 14:1; Acts 17:2-4, John 17:10, Acts 17:17; Deut 18:4, Josh 18:26; Josh 19:8. The whole service concluded with a short prayer or benediction. The days of public worship were the second, fifth, and seventh; the hours, the third, sixth, and ninth.

Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip, Dr. "Biblical Definition for 'synagogue' in Schaffs Bible Dictionary". - Schaff's

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