the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
Click to donate today!
Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
1. The name.-The name ‘synagogue’ (συναγωγή, Aram. כְּנִישְׁהָּא, Heb. כְּנָסֶת, ‘assembly,’ like ἐκκλησία, Septuagint for either עֵדִה or קָהָל, ‘congregation’) denotes primarily the religious community of Jews (Sirach 24:23, Luke 12:11, Acts 9:2; Acts 26:11; also used by the Judaeo-Christians [Epiphan. Haer. xxx. 18; Harnack, ad Hermas Mand. xi. 9]) but became afterwards the regular term for the Jewish place of worship. Aram. בֵּכְּנִישְׁתָּא (see E. Levy, Neuhebr. und chald. Wörterbuch über die Talmud-im und Midraschim, Leipzig, 1876-89, s.v.) = Heb. בֵּית חַכְּנֶסֶת, ‘the house of the congregation’ (Mishna throughout); so Philo, ed. Mangey, ii. 458; Jos. Ant. XIX. vi. 3, Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) II. xiv. 4-5, VII. iii. 3; Cod. Theodos. xvi. 8. Often προσευχή is used for οἶκος προσευχῆς, ‘house of prayer’ (Septuagint to Isaiah 56:7; Isaiah 60:7; Philo, ed. Mangey, ii. 523, 535, 568, 596, 600; Jos. Vita, 54; Acts 16:13), for προσευκτήριον (Philo, ed. Mangey, ii. 168), and for σαββατεῖον = ‘Sabbath place’ in an edict of Augustus (Jos. Ant. XVI. vi. 2). Through the Pauline writings ἐκκλησία (Fr. église) became the exclusive name for the Christian Church in the double sense of congregation and house of worship (Schürer, GJV [Note: JV Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes (Schürer).] ii.3 [Leipzig, 1898] 433, 443; but cf. F. Spitta, Zur Geschichte und Litteratur des Urchristentums, ii. [Göttingen, 1896] 343).
2. Origin.-Like the beginnings of all great movements in history, the origin of the institution is wrapped in obscurity. The ancients ascribed it to Moses (Philo, ed. Mangey, ii. 168; Jos. c. Apion. ii. 17; Acts 15:21, Targ. [Note: Targum.] Exodus 18:20; cf. Targ. [Note: Targum.] Judges 5:2, 1 Chronicles 16:39, Isaiah 1:13, Amos 5:12). But the Mosaic system of sacrifices had no provision made for regular prayers; and so the identification of ‘the house of the people’ (Jeremiah 39:8 [see Rashi and Ḳimḥi]) with the synagogue is without foundation. The synagogue is a new creation for which the Exile alone offered the conditions (see Wellhausen, Isr. und jüd. Gesch.6, pp. 149, 194). As the prescribed sacrifices could not be offered on foreign soil, which was regarded as ‘unclean’ (Amos 7:17, Ezekiel 4:13), another organized form of worship became an imperative necessity. In place of the priesthood, whose exclusive domain was the Temple with its sacrificial cult, a new class of men in the Exile voiced the needs of the people, accentuating the significance of prayer and song as the more spiritual elements of the Divine service, and at the same time appealed to the people, like the prophets of old, by words of warning and consolation, offering public instruction through the Word of God, whether spoken or read. Such a class of men were the ’anâvîm, ‘the meek ones,’ ḥasîdîm, ‘the godly ones,’ or kedôshîm, ‘the holy ones,’ of the Psalms; they had devotional assemblies of their own (Psalms 1:5; Psalms 26:12; Psalms 89:7; Psalms 107:32; Psalms 111:1; Psalms 149:1). To them, in fact, the Psalm literature owes in the main its origin, and they coined the language of prayer (see I. Lceb, La Littérature des pauvres dans la Bible, Paris, 1892); hence the abundance of prayers in the post-Exilic literature (1 Chronicles 17:16-27; 1 Chronicles 29:10-19, 2 Chronicles 6:14-42; 2 Chronicles 14:11; 2 Chronicles 20:6-12, Ezra 9:6-15, Nehemiah 9:6-38, Daniel 2:20-23; Daniel 9:4-19, also Isaiah 36:15-20), not to mention the apocryphal books such as the Maccabees, Enoch, Judith, etc. Music and song likewise occupy a prominent place in the Chronicles and the Psalms, while they are ignored in the Priestly Code. The very fact that the Exilic seer speaks of ‘an house of prayer for all peoples’ (Isaiah 56:7; cf. Septuagint to Isaiah 60:7) indicates the existence of places for devotional assemblies of the people in the Exile. King Solomon’s dedication prayer, which was composed in the Exile (1 Kings 8:46 ff.), also shows that the exiled Jews prayed ‘in the land of the enemy’ with their faces turned towards Jerusalem, exactly as did Daniel (Daniel 6:10). Such devotional assemblies were held on the banks of rivers (Psalms 137:1; cf. Ezekiel 1:3, Daniel 8:2), the Sabbath, which assumed a higher meaning in the Exile (see Wellhausen, loc. cit.), as well as the feast and fast days offering the incentives to the same (Isaiah 58:4; Isaiah 58:13, Zechariah 7:5; cf. 2 Kings 4:23). To such assemblies the writings of Deutero-Isaiah were in all likelihood addressed (cf. L. Herzfeld, Geschichte des Volkes Israel, Leipzig, 1871, i. 132); and the composition of the prophetical books in their present shape, with the message of comfort at the end of each portion or book, if not also that of the Pentateuch (cf., for instance, Leviticus 27:34 as the conclusion of the Holiness Code), seems to have been made with such devotional assemblies in view. Whether the new religious spirit which emanated from Persia under Cyrus exerted a re-awakening influence on Judaism, as E. Meyer (Geschichte des Alterthums, Stuttgart, 1884-1901, iii. 122-200) asserts, or not, it is certain that Parsiism had a large share in the shaping of the synagogal liturgy, as pointed out by Graetz (Geschichte der Juden, ii.  409-418, note 14) and J. H. Schorr (He-Ḥâlûẓ, vii. , viii. ).
3. History.-The words of Ezekiel 11:16 (see Targ. [Note: Targum.] Meg. 29a), ‘To Israel scattered among the nations I shall be a little sanctuary,’ were actually verified through the synagogue, as Bacher (see article ‘Synagogue’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) ) states. It is noteworthy that the synagogue at Shâf Yâthîb near Nahardea in Babylonia was in the 2nd cent. taken to be the work of King Jehoiachin, who was said to have had the stones and the earth brought from Jerusalem; and it was claimed to be the seat of the Shekinah like the Temple of yore, the statue erected there (against the Jewish Law) being probably a Persian symbol of the Divine Presence (Meg. 29a; Rôsh hash. 24b; Kohler, MGWJ [Note: GWJ Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums.] xxxviii.  442). The claim of being the seat of the Shekinah was also raised for another old synagogue at Hûzâl (Meg. 29a). Another one was ascribed to Daniel (‛Erûb. 21a).
The earliest testimony for the existence of the synagogue in Palestine is found in Psalms 74:6 : ‘They have burned up all the synagogues of God in the land’ (so Symmachus and Aquila for מֹוֹעֲדַי־אַל). Most commentators refer the psalm to the Maccabaean time, though it seems strange that the destruction of the synagogues should not have been mentioned in the Maccabaean books. H. L. Strack (PRE [Note: RE Realencyklopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche.] 3 xix. 224) refers the psalm to the war of Artaxerxes Ochus (359-333 b.c.). Wellhausen (loc. cit.) thinks that the synagogue took the place of the ancient bâmôth (‘high places’)-a view which seems to be confirmed by Targ. [Note: Targum.] on 1 Chronicles 16:39 and 1 Maccabees 3:46; cf. Ḳimḥi on Judges 20:1. Possibly the rule to have the synagogue in the heights of the city (Tôs. Meg. iv. 23; cf. Tanḥ. Beḥuḳḳothai, ed. S. Buber, Wilna, 1885, p. 4; Shabb. 11a; Epiphan. Haer. lxxx. 1) has some connexion with this ancient practice. On the other hand, the site of the synagogue was, on account of the necessary ablutions, preferably chosen near some flowing water or at the seaside, as is shown by the Halicarnassus decree (Jos. Ant. XIV. x. 23: ‘They may make their proseuches at the seaside, following the customs of their fathers’; cf. Acts 16:13). Hence also the interpretation of ‘the well in the field’ (Genesis 29:2), that is the synagogue (Ber. R. lxx. 8). Owing to this, the synagogue was frequently outside the city (Ḳid. 73b, Shab. 24b, Rashi; Tanḥ. Ḥayç Sârâh, ed. Buber, p. 7; Ṭûr. Ô. Ḥ. 236; cf. Mekilta Bô, 1; Shemôṭh R. on Exodus 9:29; Philo, ed. Mangey, ii. 298). There being no special provision made for a synagogue within the Temple, the Hall of the Hewn Stones was used for the daily prayer (Tâmîd iv-v), but Rabbi Joshua of the 1st cent. (Tôs. Suk. iv. 5) speaks of a synagogue and a school-house on the Temple hill near by. The term מְלֵאֲתִי (= 481, being the numerical value of the letters) in Isaiah 1:21 causes the Haggâdist to speak of 480 synagogues which Jerusalem had besides the Temple (Jer. Meg. 73d, Keth B. 35c, ‛Çkâh R. Introd. 12; Babl. Keth. has erroneously 394). It is certain that the number was quite large, as may be seen from Acts 6:9 (cf. 2:5-11), according to which each settlement of foreign Jews had a synagogue of its own-Alexandrians (cf. Tôs. Meg. iii. 6, iv. 13), Cyrenians, Cilicians, and Asiatics. Epiphanius (de Mensuris, 14) speaks of seven on Zion. Josephus (Vita, 54) mentions the Great Synagogue at Tiberias, where during the Roman war political meetings took place (see also ‛Çrûb. x. 10). In the 5th cent. Tiberias had thirteen synagogues (Ber. 8a), one in the village of Tiberias (Pesîḳ. R. 196b). The synagogue at Caesarea, where the revolt against Rome was started (Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) II. xiv. 4-5), continued its existence under the name of the synagogue of the revolution to the 4th cent. (Jer. Bik. iii. 65d), and was probably the one in which Rabbi Abbahu had his frequent disputes with the Church Fathers (H. Graetz, Geschichte der Juden, iv.3  288). The Gospels mention the synagogues of Capernaum (Mark 1:21 and ||s) and Nazareth (Luke 4:16 and ||) wherein Jesus taught. The former was built for the Jews by the Roman centurion, a proselyte (Luke 7:5-6). About the interesting ruins discovered in recent times of many synagogues in Galilee from the 1st and 2nd centuries, possibly even that of Capernaum, see Schürer, GJV [Note: JV Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes (Schürer).] ii.4  517, note 59. At Sepphoris, the seat of the academy of Rabbi Judah, the prince, of the 2nd cent., one synagogue was called ‘the great Synagogue’ (Pesîḳ. 136b); another one, probably after an engraved symbol, ‘the Synagogue of the Vine’ (Jer. Nâzîr, vii. 56a). The wealth spent on the synagogue at Lydda gave the Rabbis cause for complaint (Jer. Shekâlîm, v. 49b). As Philo (ed. Mangey, ii. 168) says, each city inhabited by Jews had its synagogue ‘for instruction in virtue and piety’ (cf. Tôs. B.M. xi. 23 and Sanh. 17b).
The oldest synagogue on record is that built in Alexandria under Ptolemy III. (247-221 b.c.) and dedicated to him and his sister Berenice according to the inscription discovered in 1902 (Schürer, GJV [Note: JV Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes (Schürer).] ii.4, 497, iii.4  41). The large Jewish population had many synagogues in the different quarters of the city (Philo, ed. Mangey, ii. 568), the largest and most famous of which was the one built in the shape of a basilica and described in glowing colours (Tôs. Suk. iv. 6, Jer. Suk. v. 55a, Babl. Suk. 51a); it was totally destroyed under Trajan (Graetz, Gesch. der Juden, iv.3 117). The legendary narrative 3 Maccabees 7:17-20 tells of the founding of a synagogue at Ptolemais in Southern Egypt under Ptolemy IV. In Syria the most famous was the Great Synagogue at Antioch, to which the brazen vessels carried off from the Temple at Jerusalem by Antiochus Epiphanes were presented by his successors (Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) VII. iii. 3). Damascus also had a number of synagogues; in these Paul the Apostle preached (Acts 9:2-20). Throughout Asia Minor, Macedonia, Greece and its islands, in cities such as Ephesus, Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens, and Corinth, the synagogues, being the gathering-places for Jews and ‘God-fearing’ half-proselytes (Acts 13:16; Acts 13:26; Acts 13:43; Acts 17:17), offered a sphere of activity to St. Paul and his fellow-workers (Acts 13:5; Acts 13:14; Acts 14:1; Acts 16:13; Acts 17:1; Acts 17:10; Acts 17:17; Acts 18:4; Acts 18:7). In Rome there were quite a number of synagogues at the time of Augustus (Philo, ed. Mangey, ii. 569), and the inscriptions discovered in recent times mention nine different ones named either after persons, such as Augustus, Agrippa, and Volumnus, or after places, such as Campus (Martius) and the Subura, or after the language of the members, Hebraic or the vernacular, one after the trade ‘lime burners,’ and another after an engraved symbol ‘the Synagogue of the Olive Tree.’ A synagogue of Severus is mentioned in Ber. R. ix. 5 quoted by Ḳimḥi on Genesis 1:3 (Schürer, GJV [Note: JV Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes (Schürer).] iii.4, 83g). On disputes held there by Palestinian masters with Romans and Christians under Domitian see H. Vogelstein and P. Rieger, Geschichte der Juden in Rom, i. [Berlin, 1896] 29.
4. Form and furniture of the synagogue.-Like the Alexandrian Great Synagogue and the Hall of Hewn Stones in the Temple (Yômâ, 25a), the synagogue at Tiberias had the form of a basilica with a double row of pillars (Midr. Tehillîm on Psalms 93 [end]). As to the style of the synagogue, as shown by the ruins in Galilee see Schürer, GJV [Note: JV Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes (Schürer).] ii.4 446; their orientation, however, does not conform to the rule that they should be directed towards the East, corresponding with the tabernacle (Numbers 3:38). However, the same was also the rule for the Church (Apost. Const. ii. 57, 3, 14; cf. Tylor, PC [Note: C Primitive Culture (E. B. Tylor).] 3, London, 1891, ii. 426 ff.).
The chief furniture was the תֵּבָה, ‘ark’ (Meg. iii. 1, Ta‛an. ii. 1), in which the scrolls were kept covered with cloth or put in a case, over which was spread a baldachin (kilah) or curtain (pârôketh, Exodus 26:31; Jer. Meg. 73d, 75b). It was placed near the upper end of the synagogue, and in front of it stood the ‘delegate of the congregation,’ who offered the prayer (Ber. v. 3, 4 and elsewhere). In the centre was the bçmâh (= βῆμα, ‘platform’) made of wood (Sôṭâ, vii. 8; Suk. 51b; cf. Nehemiah 8:4 Authorized Version , ‘the pulpit of wood’), called in more modern times almemar, the Muhammadan al-minbar (Jewish Encyclopedia , s.v. ‘Almemar’); upon it stood or sat in a chair called ‘the seat of Moses’ (Matthew 23:2; cf. article ‘China’ in Jewish Encyclopedia iv. 37a) those who read from the scroll of the Law or other sacred books, which were placed upon the lectern, called after the Greek ἀναλογεῖον (see Levy, Wörterbuch, s.vv. אנלנין and בּימה), or the tablets. There were also chairs set for the elders and the scribes (Tôs. Suk. iv. 6, Matthew 23:6 and ||). For the candelabra (menôrâh) see Tôs. Meg. iii. 3, Jer. Meg. 74a.
5. Organization of the synagogue.-The members of a religious community having a synagogue for its centre-and there were, as shown above, often many in the larger cities-were called bene hakkeneseth, ‘sons of the synagogue’ (Meg. ii. 5, iii. 1). The number required for the formation of a synagogue community was ten (Bekôr. v. 5, Zâbîm, iii. 2, Tôs. Meg. iv. 3, Sanh. i. 6). At the head was a ruler, rôsh hak-keneseth (Yômâ, vii. 1, Sôṭâ, vii. 7) = ἀρχισυνάγωγος (Mark 5:22, Luke 13:14, Acts 13:15; cf. Luke 8:41), whose function was to maintain order in the synagogue and to decide who should conduct the service. The subaltern officer, who had to carry out the orders of the former, assisting him in keeping order, hand the sacred scroll to the reader and return it to its place (Sôṭâ, vii. 7, Luke 4:20), take charge of the palm branches of the Sukkôth feast (Suk. iv. 4), and give the signal for the service (Tôs. Suk. iv. 6, Sifrç Nu 39) and for the suspension from work on Sabbath and Holy-day Eve (Tôs. Suk. iv. 12), was called ḥazzan hak-keneseth = ὑπηρέτης (Epiph. Haer. xxx. 11). He also assisted in the instruction of the school children by showing the passage that was to be read (Shab. 13) and acted as lictor of the synagogue court in scourging offenders (Mak. iii. 12, Tôs. Mak. v. 12). In the course of time, however, he rose in rank while officiating in smaller congregations as leader in prayer and as instructor (Jer. Yeb. xii. 13a, Jer. Ber. ix. 12, Bablî Meg. 23h, Mas. Sôferîm x. 8, xiv. 1; Pirḳç de R.E. xii. [end]). For the various functions of the service itself no permanent official existed in the ancient time, and he who was to lead in prayer was selected by the congregation-mostly through its ruler-as the representative, or ‘the delegate of the community,’ shelîaḥ zîbbûr, and upon being invited in the usual formula-at least in the Talmudic period-‘Come and bring for us the offering,’ he stepped in front of the ark to offer the prayer (Ber. v. 3-5, Jer. Ber. iv. 8b). In Mishnaic times it seems that the functions of reciting the Shemâ’ (the proclamation of the Unity of God, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and its corollaries Deuteronomy 11:13-21 and Numbers 15:37-41), with its accompanying benedictions, of reading from the Prophets, and of offering the Priestly Blessing at the close of the service were all preferably assigned to one person (Meg. iv. 5); but this was by no means the case originally (see below). For the reading from the Pentateuch different members of the congregation were called up, on Sabbath seven, on the Day of Atonement six, on festival days five, on New Moon and semi-festivals four, and on the second and fifth weekdays and Sabbath afternoons three (Meg. iv. 1-2), and as a rule Aaronites first and Levites afterwards (Giṭṭîn, v. 5). The one who was to translate the text into the vernacular (Aramaic), called metûrgemân (Meg. iv. 4), was, however, permanently engaged. The more learned men of the congregation, and especially learned guests, were as a rule invited to read the last portion and some portion from the Prophets, which they afterwards expounded in a sermon. This prophetic portion was called in Aramaic aphṭartâ (Heb. haphthârâh-word of dismissal; whence the name of the last reader, maphṭîr [see Levy, Wörterbuch, s.v. אפטרתא], Tanḥ. Terûmâh, 1; Luke 4:16 f.).
It was principally on Sabbath and festival days, when the people were at leisure, that the service was well attended, and accordingly the weekly lesson from the Torah was read in full (cf. Philo, ed. Mangey, ii. 282, 630, 458); wherefore the synagogue was called the ‘Sabbath place’ par excellence (Jos. Ant. XVI. vi. 2; cf. Bacher’s quotation from Payne Smith, article ‘Synagogue,’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) iv. 636b). On Monday and Thursday the villagers coming to the cities for the court or the market attended the synagogue in sufficient numbers to have a portion of the Torah read (Tôs. Ta‛an. ii. 4). On week days only larger cities had the required ‘ten men of leisure’ (baṭlânîm || Meg. i. 3, Sanh. 17b; see Jewish Encyclopedia , article ‘Baṭlanim’) for the daily service; later it became a fixed custom to engage ‘ten men of leisure’ for the holding of the daily service where the attendance was too small.
6. The service: its elements and its development.-The Divine service assumed at the very outset a two-fold character: it was to offer common devotion and public instruction. But the devotional part, again, consisted at the very beginning, as far as we can trace it, of two elements: (a) the confession of faith, (b) the real prayer (tefillâh).
(a) The confession of faith, termed in the Mishna ‘the acceptance of the yoke of sovereignty of God,’ Ḳabbâlath ‛ôl Malkût Shâmayim (Ber. ii. 2), by the recital of the Shema‛ (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Deuteronomy 11:13; Deuteronomy 11:21, Numbers 15:37-41), was preceded by two benedictions, one containing the praise of the Lord as the Giver of light in view of the rising sun each morning, and of the Withdrawer of the light of day each evening, and another containing the praise of the Lord as Giver of the Law to Israel, His chosen people, and followed by one benediction beginning with a solemn attestation of the monotheistic truth proclaimed in the Shemâ‛, and ending with the praise of God as the Redeemer of Israel with reference to the deliverance from Egypt mentioned in the closing verse of the Shemâ‛ chapters (Numbers 15:41). That this part is very old is shown, not merely by the discussion of the oldest Rabbinical schools concerning the details of observing the commandment found in Deuteronomy 6:7 : ‘When thou liest down, and when thou risest up,’ but by Josephus’ source (Ant. IV. viii. 13), which ascribes to Moses the recital of the Shemâ’ and of the benediction for Israel’s redemption. But what Philo tells of the Therapeutes, that ‘they prayed each morning and evening for the light of heaven’ (ed. Mangey, ii. 475), and Josephus of the Essenes, that ‘they offer prayers handed down from their fathers towards the rising sun as if supplicating for its rising,’ that is to say, with hands outstretched towards the streaks of light coming forth (Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) II. viii. 5; cf. Enoch lxxxiii. 11, Wisdom of Solomon 16:28, Sib. Orac. iii. 591f.), which corresponds with what the Talmud says (Ber. 9b, Jer. Ber. i. 3a) of the Vethîḳîm, ‘the enduring, conscientiously pious’ (another name for the Essenes), that ‘they recited the Shemâ‛ at the time of the radiance of the morning sun,’ points almost with certainty to Zoroastrian influence (see, besides Graetz, Schorr, and Kohler, also T. K. Cheyne, The Origin and Religious Contents of the Psalter [BL [Note: L Bampton Lecture.] ], London, 1891, pp. 283, 448), and thus indicates a time when these prayers were offered under the open sky.
(b) The real prayer (tefillâh) consisted of either eighteen benedictions or seven benedictions on Sabbath and festival days. In both cases the three opening and three concluding benedictions were the same. On week days, however, twelve specific prayers are offered between these, six concerning human life in general and five concerning the national life of the Jewish people, the twelfth containing the supplication that all the prayers offered either collectively or individually be heard, whereas on Sabbaths and festivals only one specific prayer with reference to the day is offered.
The three opening benedictions are: (1) Birkath Âbôth, ‘the praise of the God of the fathers,’ dwelling on the merits of the patriarchs and closing with the words ‘Shield of Abraham’; (2) Gebûrôth, ‘the praise of the Divine Omnipotence,’ as manifested in cosmic life and in the future resurrection: it closes, ‘Blessed be Thou who revivest the dead’; (3) Ḳedûshâh, ‘the sanctification of the Lord by the heavenly hosts’: it closes with, ‘Blessed be Thou, the holy God.’ The three concluding benedictions are: (1) ‛Abôdâh, prayer for the favourable acceptance of the Divine service in the Temple, which, since the destruction of the Temple, has been changed into a prayer for the restoration of the sacrificial cult: it now closes, ‘Blessed be Thou who restorest Thy Shekinah to Zion’; (2) Hôdââh, thanksgiving for all the bounties of life and the wondrous doings of Providence; (3) Birkath Kôhanîm, the benediction connected with the Priestly Blessing (Numbers 6:24-27), which formed the conclusion of the service.
The twelve week-day benedictions are: (1) prayer for knowledge and wisdom; (2) for spiritual regeneration; (3) for Divine forgiveness; (4) for the redemption of those in bondage; (5) for the healing of the sick; (6) for the produce of the year; (7) for the gathering of the dispersed of Israel; (8) for the restoration of a reign of righteousness; (9) originally for the destruction of the kingdom of arrogancy (= the heathen powers): after the Bar Cochba war, however, it was changed into a curse of the heretics and (Christian) informers in the service of Rome; (10) prayer for the leading authorities, the Zaddîḳîm, the Ḥasîdîm, the elders, the remnant of the Sôferîm, and the proselytes; (11) originally a prayer for the restoration of the Davidic dynasty in Jerusalem, afterwards divided into a prayer for Jerusalem’s restoration as the city of God and another for the Branch of David-hence arose nineteen instead of eighteen week-day prayers (cf. Tôs. Ber. ii. 25, Jer. Ber. ii. 4d-5d, iv. 8ac, Rôsh hash. iv. 49c; Lekaḥ Tob Waëthḥanan; Yalḳûṭ on 1 Samuel 2; Ber. 28bf.); (12) prayer for the acceptance of all petitions (see Schürer, GJV [Note: JV Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes (Schürer).] ii.4 540). As to the age of these prayers in their original form, the mention of the Sanhedrin, elders, and the remnant of the Sôferîm in the 10th (resp. 13th) prayer indicates the Maccabaean, if not the pre-Maccabaean, time (cf. also Sirach 51:12 and Schürer, GJV [Note: JV Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes (Schürer).] ii.4 542 n. [Note: . note.] , 156). The three opening and three concluding benedictions have been preserved in a more elaborate and original form in the ancient Church liturgy that came down under the name of Clement (Apost. Const. vii. 33-35, 37-38, viii. 37), the opening and concluding formulas being almost identical (see article ‘Didascalia’ in Jewish Encyclopedia iv. 593 ff.). The Sabbath and Holy-day benediction (Apost. Const. vii. 36) has also the original Jewish character. All these prayers evidently originated in Hasidaean circles, and were only afterwards reduced in length to suit the people at large, as the synagogue became a common institution (see also L. Zunz, Göttesdienstliche Vorträge der Juden2, Frankfort a.M., 1892, pp. 379-383, and G. Dalman, Die Worte Jesu, Leipzig, 1898, p. 299 ff.). As a matter of fact, the entire angelology of the first Shema’ benediction and of the third of the eighteen benedictions is, like those in the ancient Church liturgy, altogether Essene in character, intended only for the initiated into the ‘higher wisdom,’ and the popularization of these prayers was as much the work of the synagogue as was the propagation of religious knowledge among the people-a work begun by the Levites (Nehemiah 8:7; Nehemiah 9:5, 2 Chronicles 19:8; 2 Chronicles 31:2; 2 Chronicles 35:3; Test. Levi, viii. 7; Yômâ, 26a; Tanḥ. Waëra, 4; Num. R., i., iii., v.) and achieved in the course of centuries through the synagogue by the Pharisees (see R. T. Herford, Pharisaism, London, 1912, pp. 80-83).
The reading from the Law introduced by Ezra (Nehemiah 8:5) became soon afterwards a fixed custom for each Sabbath, and so the Pentateuch was completed at first in triennial (possibly originally septennial [cf. Deuteronomy 31:10]) and later in annual cycles (Zunz, op. cit., p. 3 f.), it having been divided at first into 154 and afterwards into 54 sections accordingly. The seven men called up for public reading seem to have been originally identical with the seven leading men of each community (Meg. 26a; Jos. Ant. IV. viii. 14, Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) II. xx. 5), probably the Ḥeber‛Îr (Tôs. Bik. iii. 12, Ber. iv. 7, and elsewhere), but were afterwards chosen from among all the members of the synagogue. The reading from the Prophets which followed that from the Pentateuch (Acts 13:15) is probably of an older origin than the latter; its selection was left to the preacher of the day (Luke 4:17), but afterwards the selection for each Sabbath and Holy-day was fixed so as to correspond with the character of the day or the Pentateuch section.
7. Women in the synagogue.-Women could not be members of the synagogue, though they seem to have performed synagogal functions of their own, and so prominent women were elected as mothers of the synagogue (‘Mater Synagogae’ [Schürer, GJV [Note: JV Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes (Schürer).] iii.4 88]). They attended the service (Acts 16:13, Ab. Zârâ 38b, Sôṭâ 22a), but could take no part in the common service (Tôs. Meg. iv. 11, Bab [Note: ab Babylonian.] . Meg. 23a). They were without doubt at all times (Tôs. Suk. iv. 11, Bab. [Note: Babylonian.] Suk. 51b; cf. Philo, ad. Mangey, ii. 482; Ḳid. 81a; Chrysos. Hom. 74 in Matt., quoted by Lcew) separated from the men by some sort of wall or barrier (against Lcew, Gesammelte Schriften, iv. 62 f., and Bacher, loc. cit.). See also Schürer, GJV [Note: JV Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes (Schürer).] ii.4 521, 527, where the emporium found in the ruins of the ancient synagogue is correctly assigned by him to the women.
8. Schoolhouse.-The synagogue was at the outset the place for public instruction (Philo, ed. Mangey, ii. 168: ‘Their houses of worship are nothing but schools of wisdom and virtue’; and Jos. c. Apion. ii. 17-18), and at an early time elementary schools for the young were established therein, or near by (Jer. Keth. xiii. 35c; M.K. iii. 31d; Bab. [Note: Babylonian.] Ḳid. 30a; Ber. 17a; Meg. 28b; B.B. 21; Giṭṭ. 58a).
9. Other uses of the synagogue.-To eat, drink, or sleep in the synagogue was regarded as profanation, but it was used for funeral addresses (Tôs. Meg. iii. 7; Bab [Note: ab Babylonian.] . Meg. 28b), for public announcement, especially of charity donations (Lev. R. xxxii. 6; Schürer’s quotation of Matthew 6:2 refers to the Temple [see articles ‘Alms’ in Jewish Encyclopedia i. and ‘Didascalia,’ ib. iv. 591d-592a]). The ancient Ḥasîdîm or Essenes seem to have had their meals in, or near, the synagogue, and the poor were housed and fed in rooms adjoining it (Pes. 101a; Kohler, MGWJ [Note: GWJ Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums.] xxxvii. 494). Punishment by scourging was inflicted in the synagogue (Matthew 10:17; Matthew 23:34, Acts 26:11).
10. The synagogue discipline.-The maintenance of the synagogue community required certain disciplinary measures to keep obnoxious or hostile elements out. The following were the different forms of exclusion or excommunication used against unsubmissive members.
(1) Ḥerem, anathema-a term used since 2 Esdras 10:8 (see articles ‘Anathema’ and ‘Ban’ in Jewish Encyclopedia ) in the sense of absolute exclusion from the congregation (M.Ḳ. 16a; 1 Corinthians 16:22, where the Greek ἀνάθεμα is followed by the Aramaic formula Mârân athâ [‘thou art accursed’] Galatians 1:8), for which also the term ἀποσυνάγωγος is used (John 9:22; John 12:42; John 16:2; Apost. Const. II. xliii. 1, III. viii. 3, IV. viii. 3; the Syrian Didascalia is less exact).
(2) Niddûy, conditional or temporary exclusion-a term used chiefly in Mishna (Ta’an. iii. 8, M.Ḳ. iii. 1-2; ‛Çdûy. v. c; Midd. 112; Jer. M.Ḳ. 81a; Bab [Note: ab Babylonian.] . Ber. 19a; M.Ḳ 16-17; B.Ḳ. 112b ff.; Ned. 7b, and elsewhere). It corresponds with ἀφορίζειν (Luke 6:22; Apost. Const. II. xvi. 3, 4; xxi. 3, 7; xxviii. 2, 4; xl. 2; xlvi., xlvii. 3; xlviii. 1; III. viii. 2; VI. xliii. and VII. ii. 8; also in the later ecclesiastical rules [VIII. xxviii. 3, 7, 8; xxxii. 5; xlvii. 5, 8ff.]); probably also with ἐκβάλλειν ἐκ τῆς ἐκκλησίας, 3 John 1:10.
(3) Nezîphâh, severe public reprimand implying a seven days’ seclusion in accord with Numbers 12:14 (cf. Sifrç, ad loc.; M.Ḳ. 16a; Shab. 115a), found as early as the 1st cent. b.c. in Apost. Const. II. xvi. 3-4; cf. article ‘Didascalia’ in Jewish Encyclopedia iv. 589d, against Hamburger, article ‘Bann,’ p. 150.
(4) Shammatâ, handing over to desolation (from shammâinion with another lady called Euodiaemâmâh = παραδοῦναι τῷ Σατανᾷ, 1 Corinthians 5:5; cf. Jos. Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) II. viii. 8 and Jewish Encyclopedia i. 561-562; M.Ḳ. 17a).
(5) Lûṭ, execration-a milder form of shammatâ resorted to by the Talmudic leader in Babylonia (see article לוט in Levy, Wörterbuch; M.K. 16d; cf. Judges 5:23, Deuteronomy 27:15-26).
(6) Corporal punishments such as the thirty-nine stripes for transgression of Mosaic commandments (Deuteronomy 25:3, 2 Corinthians 11:24) or beating for rebelliousness against the Rabbinical authorities-Makkath Mardûth (Nâzîr iv. 3, 2 Corinthians 11:25, Acts 16:22). The entire disciplinary system, which in the course of time became rather less severe in the same measure as heresy and antagonism ceased within the synagogue (M.Ḳ. 16ab), was no longer clearly understood in Talmudic times; it receives better light, however, from the Essene Church rules preserved in the Apost. Const. II. xl. 2-43 and 47, as shown above. It is from the ancient Hasidaean synagogue that the Christian Church adopted her own disciplinary system.
Literature.-E. Schürer, GJV [Note: JV Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes (Schürer).] ii.4 [Leipzig, 1907] 497-541, where the entire literature is given; W. Bacher, article ‘Synagogue,’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) . Especially to be mentioned are L. Lcew, Der synagogale Ritus (= Gesammelte Schriften, Szegedin, 1889-1900, iv. 1-71, v. 21-33); K. Kohler, ‘Ueber die Ursprünge und Grundformen der synagogalen Liturgie,’ in MGWJ [Note: GWJ Monatsschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums.] xxxvii.  441-451, 489-497; W. O. E. Cesterley and G. H. Box, The Religion and Worship of the Synagogue, London, 1907; W. Bousset, Religion des Judentums2, Berlin. 1906, pp. 83, 197f., 197 ff.; J. Wellhausen, Israelitische und jüdische Geschichte6, do., 1907, pp. 193 f., 199f.; I. Elbogen, Der jüdische Gottesdienst in seiner geschichtlichen Entwicklung, Leipzig, 1913.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Synagogue'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdn/​s/synagogue.html. 1906-1918.