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Of Jehoshaphat's son and successor Jehoram, it is said, that he made high places in the mountains of Judah. (2 Chron. xxi. 11.) And though Joash, one of his sons, set out well, yet in the latter part of his life he was perverted by his idolatrous courtiers, who served groves and idols, to whom it appears he gave a permission for that purpose ; for after making their obeisance we are told, that he hearkened to them, and then they left the house of God. (2 Chron. xxiv. 17, 18.) Nor was the reign of Amaziah the son of Joash any better, for still the people sacrificed and burnt incense on the high places (2 Kings xiv. 4.); and though Uzziah his son is said to have done that which was right in the sight of God, yet this exception appears against him, that the high places were not removed, but the people still sacrificed there (2 Kings xv. 3, 4.); the same observation is made of Jotham and Ahaz. (2 Chron. xxviii. 4.) But Hezekiah who succeeded him was a prince of extraordinary piety : he removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves (2 Kings xviii. 4.), which his son Manasseh again built up. (2 Kings xxi. 2.) At length good king Josiah, a prince very zealous for the true religion, utterly cleared the land from the high places and groves, and purged it from idolatry: but as the four succeeding reigns before the Babylonian captivity were very wicked, we may presume that the high places were again revived, though there is no mention of them after the reign of Josiah.
II. From the preceding facts and remarks, however, we are not to conclude, that the prohibition relating to high places and groves, which extended chiefly to the more solemn acts of sacrificing there, did on any account extend to the prohibiting of other acts of devotion, particularly prayer, in any other place besides the temple, the high places and groves of the heathen (which were ordered to be rased) only excepted. For we learn from the sacred writings, that prayers are always acceptable to God in every place, when performed with a true and sincere devotion of heart, which alone gives life and vigour to our religious addresses. And therefore it was that in many places of Judaea, both before and after the Babylonian captivity, we find mention made in the Jewish and other histories of places built purposely for prayer, and resorted to only for that end, called proseucha or oratories.
These places of worship were very common in Judæa (and it should seem in retired mountainous or elevated places) in the time of Christ; they were also numerous at Alexandria, which was at that time a large and flourishing commercial city, inhabited by vast numbers of Jews: and it appears that in heathen countries they were erected in sequestered retreats, commonly on the banks of rivers, or on the sea-shore. The proseucha or oratory at Philippi, where the Lord opened the heart of Lydia, that she attended unto the things which were spoken by Paul, was by a river side. (Acts xvi. 13, 14. 16.) And jo has preserved the decree of the city of Halicarnassus, permitting the Jews to erect oratories, part of which is in the following terms:– “We ordain, that the Jews who are willing, both men and women, do observe the sabbaths and perform sacred rites according to the Jewish law, and build proseucha by the sea-side, according to the custom of their country; and if any man, whether magistrate or private person, give them any hindrance or disturbance, he shall pay a fine to the city.”
It is a question with some learned men, whether these proseucha were the same as the synagogues (of which an account will be found in the following section), or distinct edifices from the latter. Both Josephus and Philo, to whom we may add Juvenal, appear to have considered them as synonymous; and with them agree Grotius, Ernesti, Drs. Whitby, Doddridge, and Lardner;” but Calmet, Drs. Prideaux and Hammond, and others, have distinguished between these two sorts of buildings, and have shown that though they were nearly the same, and were sometimes confounded by Philo and Josephus, yet that there was a real difference between them; the synagogues being in cities, while the proseucha were without the walls, in sequestered spots, and (particularly in heathen countries) were usually erected on the banks of rivers, or on the sea-shore (Acts xvi. 13.), without any covering but galleries or the shade of trees. Dr. Prideaux thinks the proseucha, were of greater antiquity than the synagogues, and were formed by the Jews in open courts, in ordel that those persons who dwelt at a distance from Jerusalem might offer up their private prayers in them as they were accustomed to do in the courts of the temple or of the tabernacle. In the synagogues, he further observes, the prayers were offered up in public forms, while the proseucha were appropriated to private devotions: and from the oratory, where our Saviour spent a whole night in prayer, being erected on a mountain (Luke vi. i2.), it is highly probable that these proseucha were the same as the high places, so often mentioned in the Old Testament.”
I. Nature and Origin of Synagogues.—The Synagogue of the Libertines explained.—II. Form of the S. oil. The Officers or Ministers.--IV. The Service performed in the Sy: nagogues.—V. On what Days performed—VI. Ecclesiastical Power of the Synagogues.—VII. The Shemoneh Esreh, or .Nineteen Prayers used in the Synagogue Service.
1. THE Synagogues were buildings in which the Jews assembled for prayer, reading and hearing the Sacred Scriptures, and other
1 Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. xiv. c. 10. (al. 24.)
2 Philo de Legatione ad Caiun, p. 1011. Josephus de vita sua, § 54. Juvenal, Sat. iii. 14. Grotius, Whitby, and Doddridge on Luke vi.12. Ernesti Institutio Inter pretis Novi Testamenti, pp.363,364. edit. 4to. 1792. Lardner's Credibility, book c. iii., § 3. Dr. Harwood's Introduction to the New Testament, vol. 2. pp. 171–1-0.
* Dr. Hammond on Luke vi. 12. and Acts xvi. 13–16. Calmet's Dict, vote Proseucha. Prideaux's Connection, part i. book vi sub anno 444 vol. i. pp. 3-7390 edit. 1720.
instructions. Though frequently mentioned in the historical books
| Philo, De Vita Mosis, lib. iii. p. 685. * Josephus, De Bell. Jud. lib. vii. c. 3. § 3. 3. In Tephilla, c. 11.
had been a slave, and obtained his freedom:", the Libertinus was the son of a libertus.” But this distinction in after ages was not strictly observed ; and Libertinus also came to be used for one not born but made free, in opposition to Ingenuus, or one born free.” Whether the Libertini mentioned in this passage of the Acts, were Gentiles, who had become proselytes to Judaism, or native Jews, who having been made slaves to the Romans were afterwards set at liberty,’ and in remembrance of their captivity called themselves Libertini, and formed a synagogue by themselves, is differently conjectured by the learned. It is probable, that the Jews of Cyrenia, Alexandria, &c. erected synagogues at Jerusalem at their own charge, for the use of their brethren who came from those countries, as the Danes, Swedes, &c. have built churches for the use of their own countrymen in London; and that the Italian Jews did the same ; and because the greatest number of them were Libertini, their synagogue was therefore called the synagogue of the Libertines. In support of the second opinion above noticed, viz. that the Libertines derived their name from Libertus or Libertina, a city in Africa, it is urged that Suidas in his Lexicon, on the word A3song, says, that it was ovopa savows, a national appellative; and that the Glossa interlinearis, of which Nicholas de Lyra made great use in his notes, has, over the word Libertini, e regione, denoting that they were so styled from a country. Further, in the acts of the celebrated conference with the Donatists at Carthage, anno 411, there is mentioned one Victor, bishop of the church of Libertina; and in the acts of the Lateran council, which was held in 649, there is mention of Januarius gratia Dei episcopus sanctæ ecclesia Libertmensis, Januarius, by the grace of God, bishop of the holy church of Libertina; and therefore Fabricius in his Geographical Index of Christian Bishoprics, has placed Libertina in what was called frica propria, or the proconsular province of Africa. Now, as all the other people of the several synagogues, mentioned in this passage of the Acts, are called from the places whence they came, it is probable that the Libertines were denominated in like manner; and as the Cyrenians and Alexandrians, who came from Africa, are placed next to the Libertines in that catalogue, the supporters of this opinion think it probable that they also belonged to the same country. But we have no evidence to show that there were any natives of this place at Jerusalem, at the period referred to in the Acts of the Apostles. On the contrary, as it is well known that, only about fifteen years before, great numbers of Jews, emancipated slaves, or their sons, were banished from Rome, it is most likely that the Libertines mentioned by Luke were of the latter description, especially as his account is corroborated by two Roman historians." II. It does not appear from the New Testament that the synagogues had any peculiar form. The building of them was regarded as a mark of piety (Luke vii. 5.): and they were erected within or without the city, generally in an elevated place, and were distinguished from the proseucha by being roofed. Each of them had an altar, or rather table, on which the book of the law was spread; and on the east side there was an ark or chest, in which the volume of the law was deposited. The seats were so disposed that the people always sat with their faces towards the elders, and the place where the law was kept: and the elders sat in the opposite direction, that is to say, with their backs to the ark and their faces to the people. The seats of the latter, as being placed nearer the ark, were accounted the more holy, and hence they are in the New Testament termed the chief seats in the synagogue, which the Pharisees affected; and for which our Lord inveighed against them. (Matt. xxiii. 6.) A similar precedency seems to have crept into the places of worship even of the very first Christians, and hence we may account for the indignation of the apostle James (ii. 3.) against the undue preference that was given to the rich. The women were separated from the men, and sat in a gallery enclosed with lattices, so that they could distinctly See and hear all that passed in the synagogue, without themselves being exposed to view. III. For the maintenance of good order, there were in every synagogue certain officers, whose business it was to see that all the duties of religion were decently performed therein. These were, 1: The Agxiguvayooyos, or ruler of the synagogue. (Luke xiii. 4. Mark v. 22.) It appears from Acts xiii. 15., collated with Mark v. 22. and John vi. 59., that there were several of these rulers in a synagogue. They regulated all its concerns, and gave permission to persons to preach. They were always men advanced in age, and respectable for their learning and probity. The Jews termed them Haramim, that is, sages or wise men, and they possessed considerable influence and authority. They were judges of thesis, and similar petty offences: and to them Saint Paul is supposed to allude in r. vi. 9., where he reproaches the Corinthian Christians with carrying their differences before the tribunals of the Gentiles, as if
1 Cives Romani sunt Liberti, qui vindicta, censu aut testamento, nullo jure im: pediente manumissi sunt, Ulpian. tit. I W 6. 2 This appears from the following passage of Suetonius concerning Claudius, who, he says, was ignarus temporibus Appii, et deinceps aliquamdiu Libertings dictos, non ipsos, qui manumitterentur, sed ingenuos exhis procreatos. In vita Claudii, cap. xxiv. § 4. p. 78. Pitisci. . 3 Quintilian. de Institutione Oratoria, lib. v. cap. 10. p. 246 edit. Gibson, 1693. Qui servus est, si manumittatur fit Libertinus—Justinian. Institut. lib. i. tit. v. Libertini sunt, qui ex justa servitute manumissi sunt. Tit. iv. Ingenuus estis, qui statim ut natus est, liber est; sive ex duobus ingenuis matrimonio editus est. sive exiibortins duobus, sive exaltero libertino, et altero ingenuo. -- - 4. Of these there were great numbers at Rome. Tacitus informs us (Anal, lib. ii. cap. lxxxv.) that four thousand Libertini, of the Jewish superstition, as he styles it, were banished at one time, by order of Tiberius, into Sardinia; and the rest come manded to quit Italy, if they did not abjure, by a certain day. See also Suetonius in vita Tiberii, cap.xxxvi. Josephus (Antiq.lib. xviii.cap. iii. §5, edit. Haverc.) mentions the same fact. And Philo (Legat. ad Caium, p. 785. C. edit. Colon. 1613.) speaks of a good part of the city beyond the Tiber, as inhabited by Jews, who were mostly Liberonio having been brought to Rome as captives and slaves, but being made free by "heir masters, were permitted to live according to their own rites and customs.