A) Synagogue = Sunagogue= coming together.B) Meeting point or prayer hall of Jewish people in antiquityC)Synagogues were simply gathering that took place outdoors or in peoples houses or in courtyards.
e) Literary sources suggest that In the synagogues , there held variety of activities. •Meeting places for worship services •Schools and councils of elders •Served as banks or hostels for travelers •Banquet halls •Multipurpose building-Religious purpose was one of the many and the important.
There are different versions….Temple had given them identity andstrength. Now with its destruction there was a need to find a way toworship.During that time they undertook to collect and edit the sacred writingsunder the priestly leadership of Jehozadak. (Hag.1,1). This culminated in 560,by publishing Genesis -2 Kings.
Many say that prophet Ezekiel was instrumental in establishing local houses for worship. (Ezekial:11,16). Thus it’s believed that Synagogues came to be in the 6th century BCEThere is also a belief that Moses beganthe synagogues during his time it began.During that time people used to worship YHWHin small groups. But OT doesn’t support this argument.
Now in 538BCE, Cyrus gave an option for the peopleto go back to Palestine, if they like to. Many did not choose to go back. This indicates that, in the exile their religious needs were met. This in other words indicates the existence of Synagogues.Cuneiform records and archives of that time reveal the existence of a community that retained YHWHstic identity.
By the time , 1st century, synagogues had become important andcentral institution of Jewish life.•Talmud refers to 480 of them during the time of Vespasian.•Another source says during the time of Jesus, in Jerusalem alone there were 360 synagogues.•There is also a mention about the presence of a synagoguewithin the temple during the time of Jesus.
D)In 70 AD the second temple was destroyed. Jews continued their worshipin the synagogues.(Jews met especially to pray and read scriptures)Synagogues provided the Jews to regroup and rebuild.Rabbi Yohanan Ben Zekkai promulgated the idea of creating individual housesof worship, wherever local Jews were present. This provided them with portableway of worship.E) In 132-135: after the second Jewish revolt, it was the synagoguesthat preserved their faith and worship.
Practices in the SynagogueIt’s a holy place for Jews. Thus they leave the sandals outPrinciple meeting was on Sabbath Service consisted: • Recitation of Shema ( Confession of faith in one God) • Prayers • Scripture readings of prophets and Law • Sermon
•Important people sat on the benchescalled Chief seats.•Common people sat on the floors.•Speakers and leader stand on theBemah
They are normally placed in prominent or elevated/high places.Outside the synagogue, MIKVEH(Ritual Bath) place.Worshippers symbolically cleansed their hearts before entering in.There was a special seat called Moses seat where TORAH reader sat.
There was a permanent TORAH cabinet. Torah scrolls and writings of prophetskept here.Bema: A desk from where TORAH is read.Desk for prayer leader.
Large prayer hall which had the main sanctuary- Hekhal he ark is positioned in such a way that those who face it face Jerusalem.Ark is the reminiscent of the ark of the covenant. his is the most holiest place. This ark is closed with a veil.here is also a continually lit lamp called Ner Tamid=Eternal ligh
•Jesus’ proclamation of his public ministry.( Lk 4, 16-30)•A place where his teaching and preaching received negative response.•Jesus Heals the women in the synagogue ( Lk13, 10-16)•and received the angry reaction from the ruler.•Jesus’ warning to his desciples about the persecution in the synagogue.(Mt 10,17)
St Paul and Synagogues Saul went to the Synagogues to find and Persecute the believers. This persecution forced Jewish Christians out of Synagogues After his conversion Paul immediately preached in the Synagogue of Damascus.(Acts 9,20) During his missionary journey’s he began his work customarily in the synagogues(Acts 13,5.14)
ConclusionThrough Synagogues , Jewish faith and worship survived centuries of struggle. Jesus started & continued his work in the synagogues. Peter, St Paul and others preached Christianity in the Synagogues Thus Synagogues were the seedbeds of Christianity. Let’s not forget the message of Synagogues: “Where two or three, gathered in my name, there am I.”