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bited by foreign and profane nations. . For this reason, none but the poorest of them live there, and such as have no where else to go. . .
Synagogues (z) are so frequently mentioned in the Of the synagogues. New
34. New Testament, that it is absolutely necessary we should give an account of them here. The Jews looked upon them as holy places, and Philo doth actually call them so. The Greek word fouraywyn') as well as the Hebrew, to which it answers, signifies in general any asembly, whether holy or profane; but it is most commonly used to denote the place where people meet to worship God (a). The Christians themielves often gave the name of synagogues, to their assemblies, as also to the places where they assembled, as is evin dent from St. James (b), from several passages in the epiftles of Ignatius. (c), and from the writings of Cleinens Alexandrinus. But our business at present is to consider the synagogues or oratories of the Jews. . . . . hoc in
Authors are not agreed about the time when the Jews first began to have synagogues; some infer from several places of the Old Testament (d), that they are as ancient as the ceremonial law. Others, on the contrary, fix their beginning to the times after the Babylonith captivity. It is cer. tain they have been long in use, since St. James faith in the Acts (e), that Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every fabbath-day. ne, in'. ; . ... The Jews erected synagogues: not only in towns and cities, but also in the country, especially near rivers ; that they might have always water ready at hand both. to wash and clean them, (which they were very careful to do) and also to..purify themselves, before they went into them. They were not allowed to build any one in a town, unless there were ten persons of leisure in it (f). What is to be understood by these ten persons of leisure, is not agreed among the learned. (g). All that can be gathered from what they have advanced upon this point, after the Thalmudists, is, That they were ren perions of learning and approved integrity, free from all worldly occupations, and disengaged from all civil affairs, who were maintained and hired by the public, i that they might always resort first to the Synagogue, that whoever should come in, might find ten persons there ; which number at least the Jews thought necessary to make a congregation. They assign them other functions, but what they say concerning them is not to be relied upon as certain. When there were ten such persons in a town or city, they called it a great city, and herc they might build a synagogue." As for other places, it was
(z) Upon this head see Buxtorf's treatise de Synagoga Judaica, and Vitringe de Synagoga vetere, where you may find a very fuli account of them. (a) Luke vii. 5.
(b) James ii. 2. (c) Ignat. ad Polyc. ad Trall. () Levit. xxiii. 3, 4. Deut, xxxi11, 12. ' Pfal. lxxiv. 4. 8. () Acts xv. 21.
if) Or Batclnim, see Dr. Prideaux Connect. P. I. B. VI. under the year 414.
. (8) Lightfoot, Rhenferd, Vitringa.
sufficient if there were the like number of persons of a mature age and free condition. These synagogues were erected upon the highest part of the town. After a synagogue was built, or fome house set apart for this use, it was consecrated by prayer, without much ceremony or formality. The which the Jews, who were in other respects superstitious enough, undoubtedly did, that they might not imitate the vain ceremonies uled by the heathens at the dedication of their temples and thapels. When a synagogue had been thus consecrated, it was looked upón as a sacred place, and particular care was taken not to profane it. It would be 100 long to mention all their precautions in this respect, and therefore we shall only observe this one, that it was unlawful to speak a word in the jynagogue (b); to which our Saviour seems to allude, Matth. xii. 36.
There might be several synagogues in the same city, and even in one quarter of it. Philo, for instance, says, there were several in every diStrict of the city of Alexandria (*). And it appears from the Acts of the Apostles (i), that there was more than one at Damascus. The Jews tell us; there were 480 in Jerusalem, but fo valt a number hath very much the air of a fable, or at least it is a very grand exaggeration (k). It is however true, that there were a great many in this large and ta. mous city, since we find 'St. Luke mentioning those of the Libertines, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Cilicians, and Afaticks (?). Some authors do in. deed fancy that these were but one and the same synagogue, where the people of these several countries were wont to assemble; but it is much more natural to understand this of so many different synagogues, as the construction of the words necessarily require, since it is well known otherwise, that there were a great many in Jerusalem. The most famous synagogue the Jews ever had, was the great synagogue of Alexandria, of which the Rabbins say, that he who hath not seen it, hath not seen the glory of Ifrael.
The chief things belonging to a synagogue, were, i. The ark or chest, wherein lay the book of the law, that is, the Pentateuch, or five books of Moses. This chest was made after the model of the ark of the covenant, and always placed in that part of the synagogue which looked towards the holy land, if the synagogue was out of it; but if it was within it, then the chest was placed towards Jerusalem ; and if the synagogue stood in this city, the chest was set towards the Holy of Holies. Cut of this ark it was they took, with a great deal of ceremony, and before the whole congregation, the book of the luw, when they were to read it. The writings of the prophets were not laid therein. Before it, there was a vail representing the vail which separated the holy place from the Holy of Hilies. 2. The pulpit with a desk" in the middle of the synagogue, in which stood up he, that was to read or expound the law. 3. The seats or pews wherein the people sate to hear the law read and expounded.
of laid therehe holy place the Synagoge seats
(b) Buxtorf Synagog. Jud. c. 2. (*) Philo Legat. ad Caium. (1) Acts ix. 2.
(k) Or elle they have expressed an uncertain large number, by a certain ; fee Dr. Prideaux, ubi fupra.
(1) Acts vi. g.
bath day: 129 at the time of which was instituteolluted by Antipherein the
Of these fome were more honourable than others. The former were for those who were called Elders, not so much upon the account of their age as of their gravity, prudence, and authority. These Elders fate with their backs towards the forementioued chelt, and their faces towards the congregation, who looked towards the ark. These feats of the Elders are those which are called in the gospel the chief seats (m); and which Jesus Christ ordered his disciples not to contend for, as the Pharafees did. It seems as if it may be inferred from St. James (n), that the places where the primitive Christians allembled themselves, were like the Jewish fynagogues, and had their uppermost feats where the rich were placed in contempt of the poor. The women did not fit among the men, but in a kind of balcony or gallery. 4. There were also fixed og the walls, or huog to the ceilings, several lamps; especially on the fab. bath day, and other festivals, which served not only for orpament, but to give light at the time of the evening service. They were chiefly used at the feast of Dedication, which was instituted in remembrance of the repairing of the temple, after it had been polluted by Antiochus. S. Lastly, there were in the fynagogue rooms or apartments, wherein the utensils belonging to it were laid ; as trumpets, horns (on and certain chefts for keepiog the alms.
To regulate and take care of all things belonging to the synagogue service, there was appointed a council or assembly of grave and wise per. sons, well versed in the law, over whom was set a president, who was called the ruler of the synagogue, This name was sometimes given to all the members of this assembly; and accordingly we find the rulers of the synagogue, mentioned in the New Testament, in the plural naniber (p). It is very probable, that these are the fame which are filed in the fucred writings, the chiefs of the Jews (), the rulers, the priests or eiders, the governors, the overseers or bifbops, the fathers of the synagogue (r). Their business was, i. To order and direct every thing belonging to the synagogue; and 2. To teach the people. We shall hereafter give on account of this last function of theirs.
The government which they exercised in the synagogue, consisted of these particulars. To punili che disobedient, either by cenfures, escommunication, or other penalties, as fines and scourging ; to take care of the alms, which the fucred writers as well as the rabbins, call by the name of righteoufness (s). The chief ruler, or one of the rulers, gave leare to have the law read and expounded, and appointed who thould do it. Of this there is an example in the xiiith chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, where it is faid, that Paul and Baraabas having entered into a synagogue at Antioch, the rulers gare chem leave to speak (t). As tor the punifo
(m) Marth. xxiii. 6.
(n) James ii. 2, 3. (0) With which a man standing at the top of the synagogue, proclaimed the time of prayer, and the hour when every festival begun.
() A:goourcy wyor. Mark v. 35. &c. Luke viii. 41.
s rebellion, any one that was rues provided the gues
srents which they inflicted on offenders, the Jews have reduced them to these three heads or degrees. 1. Private reproof. When the chief ruler of the synagogue, or any other of the directors, had admonished or rebuked a person in private, that person was obliged to stay at home in a state of humiliation, and not to appear in public for the space of feven days, except in case of necesity. If at the end of those days, the sinner Thewed no sign of repentance, then, 2. he was cut off, or separated from society; that is, he underwent that sort of excommunication, which they called niddui, or separation. While he lay under it, it was unlawful for any to come within four cubits of him (u), during the space of thirty days. At the end of which term, he was restored by the officers of the
Synagogue, if he repented; but if he did not, the excommunication lasted - thirty days longer. However, the rulers of the synagogue were at liberty
to prolong or shorten it, as they found occasion. But it is to be observed, that this sort of excommunication did not absolutely exclude the person, on whom the sentence of it paffed, from the synagogue. For it was lawful for him to go into any synagogue, provided he did not come within four cubits of any one that was in it. 3. At length, if he persisted in his rebellion, without repenting at all, they then proceeded to denounce against him the greater excommunication, called by them anathema, whereby he was separated from the aflembly of the Israelites, and banished from the synagogue. Jesus Christ did undoubtedly allude to these three sorts of punishments; in that discourse of his to his disciples, which we find in the xviiith chapter of St. Matthew's gospel (x)." Mention is likewise made in St. John, of putting out of the Synagogue (y) ; whereby whether the greater or lesser excomunication be meant, is not well known. But we may, without any scruple, understand it of both. There are also in St. Paul's epiftles several traces of these three forts of excommunication (2). It must be observed, that the Jews were always very backward in excommunicating any famous rabbi, or teacher, though his offence was great, unless he was actually guilty of idolatry. Which undoubtedly was the reason why they never went about to excommunicate our blefled Saviour Jesus Christ, though he was liable to it, for condemning and opposing the doctrines and traditions of the Scribes and Pharisees (a).
We shall not here give an account of the fines, which the guilty were fometimes wont to pay to redeem themselves from scourging, because they are no where mentioned in holy scripture. As for scourging, some are of opinion, that it was a punishment not falling under the jurisdiction of the rulers of the synagogue, but belonging to the civil courts, which they take to be meant by the synagogues, where our Saviour tells his disciples they would be scourged (6). Others, on the contrary, have fully and solidly proved from several passages of scripture, that by the word
fynagogues (6) " Except bis wife and children," Calmet differtat, on the several ways of punishing offenders. (*) Ver. 13-- 18.
(y) Joha ix. 22. xii. 42. xvi. 2. ...(z) Rom. xvi. 17. 1 Cor. v. 1, 3. 2 Cor. ii. 6, 7. 2 'Theffal, iii. 10. Titus iii. 10. And ad Epistle of John. Ver. 10. (a) Matth. xxüü.
(6) March. x, 17. VOL. III.
Synagogues in the place here quoted, we are to understand synagogues properly so called ; besides, there are several other reasons to induce one to believe that scourging was practised there. This punithment was not reckoned so ignominious as excommunication, and it was sometimes inflicted even upon a rabbi, or do&ior. Very often people submitted to this discipline, not so much by way of punishment for a fault they had committed, as by way of general penance. Such was the scourging which the Jews gave one another on the great day of expiation. As they were expressly commanded in their law not to give above forty Aripes (c), the rabbins, for fear of exceeding this number, had reduced it to thirty-nine. This limitation was fixed in St. Paul's time, fince he tells us he received five times of the Jews forty firipes save one (d): and also in that of Joiephus, who likewise reduces the forty Itripes appointed by the law to thirty-nine (e). i
The rulers of the synagogue were likewise bound to take care of the poor. . As the nature and constitution of things are such, that among the several members of every society, there will always be fome poor and indigent persons; the Divine Lawgiver had in this particular given die rections exceedingly becoming his infinite goodness, and tender regard for his creatures. And the synagogue hath always been so careful to execute the orders of the Almighty in this respect, that alms-giving was eyer accounted by the Jewish doctors (F), one of the most effential branches of their religion. Accordingly, there were in every fynagogue two treasury chests, one for poor strangers, and the other for their own poor. Those that were charitably inclined, put their alms in there chests, at their coming into the synagogue to pray. Upon extraordinary occasions, they sometimes made public collections ; in which cases, the rulers of the synagogue ordered the person, whole business it was, to collect the alms, to ask every body for their charity. And as this was done on a fabbath day, when it was not lawful for a Jew either to give or receive money; therefore every one promised such a fum, which they accordingly brought the next day. This custom of not touching money on the fabbath day, was of a long standing among the Jews, since we find it expressly mentioned by Philo (g): the which may help us to discover the true meaning of this command of the Apostle to the church of Corinth; Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in fore as God hath profpered him (1). For it is probable, that the Corinthians did ftill observe the fabbath. Every fabbath day in the evening (*), three collectors gathered the alıns, and distributed them the same evening to the poor, to defray their expences for the week laft past. Though these collectors had a great deal of power and authority, they depended however upon the ruler or council of the synagogue, who, together with the governor, or chief magistrate of one of the cities
(c) Deut. xxv. 3.
(d) 2 Cor. xi. 24. le) Jof. Antiq. I. iv. c. 8. (f) Maimon. Hilk. Zadak, c. 10. (s) Philo. Legat. ad Caium. - (b) 1 Cor. xvi. 2.
(*) After sun set, I suppose, when the next day began, according to the Jewish reckoning, (i. e. from one evening to another) and so this might be laid to be done the next day, as is said above.