The Nuttall Encyclopedia
A Jewish institution for worship and religious instruction which dates from the period of the Babylonian Captivity, specially to keep alive in the minds of the people a knowledge of the law. The decree ordaining it required the families of a district to meet twice every Sabbath for this purpose, and so religiously did the Jewish people observe it that it continues a characteristic ordinance of Judaism to this day. The study of the law became henceforth their one vocation, and the synagogue was instituted both to instruct them in it and to remind them of the purpose of their separate existence among the nations of the earth. High as the Temple and its service still stood in the esteem of every Jew, from the period of the Captivity it began to be felt of secondary importance to the synagogue and its service. With the erection and extension of the latter the people were being slowly trained into a truer sense of the nature of religious worship, and gradually made to feel that to know the will of God and do it was a more genuine act of homage to Him than the offering of sacrifices upon an altar or the observance of any religious rite. Under such training the issue between the Jew and the Samaritan became of less and less consequence, and he and not the Samaritan was on the pathway which led direct to the final worship of God in spirit and in truth (John iv. 22).
Wood, James, ed. Entry for 'Synagogue'. The Nuttall Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/nut/s/synagogue.html. Frederick Warne & Co Ltd. London. 1900.