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People's Dictionary of the Bible


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Synagogue. A place of public worship for Jews. Greek term means a congregation. Synagogues were instituted after the exile by Ezra and Nehemiah. See Acts 15:21 : "For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day." In the later periods of Jewish history synagogues were not only found in all the chief cities and lesser towns in Syria, but in the principal cities of the Roman empire. Mark 1:21; Acts 6:9; Acts 9:2-20; Luke 7:5. The establishment of these synagogues providentially prepared the way for the preaching of the gospel. As any one who happened to be present was at liberty to read and expound the sacred books, Acts 13:14-15; Acts 15:21, this privilege afforded our Lord and his disciples many opportunities for preaching the gospel of the kingdom in the various synagogues. Isaiah 61:4; Luke 4:16; Luke 4:28; Matthew 13:54; Mark 6:2; John 18:20; Acts 13:5-44; Acts 14:1; Acts 17:2; Acts 17:17; Acts 18:4; Acts 18:26; Acts 19:8. The "ruler of the synagogue" granted permission to read or speak. Luke 8:49; Luke 13:14; Mark 5:35; Acts 18:8. The "minister," answering nearly to the modern sexton of the synagogue, was the attendant who handed the books to the reader, and opened and closed the synagogue. Luke 4:20. The "elders" of the synagogue preserved order in the assembly, Luke 7:3; Mark 5:22; Acts 13:15, and appear also to have constituted the lowest tribunal, which took cognizance mainly of religious matters, and sometimes inflicted the punishment. Matthew 10:17; Matthew 23:34; Mark 13:9; Luke 12:11; Luke 21:12; John 16:2; Acts 22:19; Acts 26:11. Ruins of synagogues, in several places in Palestine, have been found.

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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Synagogue'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. 1893.

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