.php lang="en"> The Ancient Synagogue (Free Bible Quotes)

Quotes About the Bible and History


James M. Freeman

The Synagogue

"Jewish writers claim for the synagogue a very remote antiquity, but its origin probably dates during the captivity. There were no fixed proportions in the building, as there were in the tabernacle and in the temple. When a synagogue was to be built the highest ground that could be found in the vicinity was selected for the site, and, if possible, the top was erected above the roofs of surrounding buildings. Where this could not be done a tall pole was placed on the summit in order to make the building conspicuous. 

Synagogues were often built without roofs. They were also so constructed that the worshipers, as they entered and prayed, faced Jerusalem. At the Jerusalem was the chest or ark which contained the book of the law. Toward the middle of the building was a raised platform, and in the center of the platform was a pulpit. A low partition five or six feet high divided the men from the women. 

The leading object of the synagogue was not worship, but instruction. The temple was "the house of prayer," the synagogue was never called by that name. Reading and expounding the law was the great business of the synagogue: and, though a liturgical service was connected with these, it was subordinate to them. 

The priests had no official standing or privileges in the synagogue, though they were always honored when present. They were the hereditary officials of the temple, but the officers of the synagogue were elected either by the congregation or by the council. 

The leader of the congregation might ask any suitable person to address the assembly. Persons who were known as learned men, or as the expounders of religious faith, were allowed to speak. Hence in the text and in the parallel passages we find Christ publicly speaking in the synagogue, also the apostles on their missionary journey addressed the people in these places of public gathering."

James M. Freeman, "Manners and Customs of the Bible" Reprint (Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1972) pp. 334-335.