There are 4 thoughts on “The Role and Purpose of Synagogues in the Days of Jesus and Paul”.

  1. In reading the Old Testament in the last few years it has impressed on me how frequently the gates are mentioned. It appears to be a place of judgment, of contracts, of making vows and covenants and other important matters of the community.

    It may have been spacious enough for many of the common people to meet with the leaders, judges and authorities. Gates could be entrances of towns, in front of the temple complex or next to palaces. It may have provided platforms on which they could stand so they can be seen by the multitude.

    I wonder if captives of the Babylonian empire were the first to set up the synagogue in order to continue with the traditions of counseling with the elders? Has a study been done exploring this aspect? Here are a few of the references to gates:

    2 Sam 18:4 And the king said unto them, What seemeth you best I will do. And the king stood by the gate side, and all the people came out by hundreds and by thousands.
    24 And David sat between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate unto the wall, and lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold a man running alone.
    33 ¶ And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!

    Esther 5:1 Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house.
    9 ¶ Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai.
    13 Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.

    Ruth 4:1 Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him down there: and, behold, the kinsman of whom Boaz spake came by; unto whom he said, Ho, such a one! turn aside, sit down here. And he turned aside, and sat down.
    10 Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the aname of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day.
    11 And all the people that were in the gate, and the elders, said, We are witnesses. The Lord make the woman that is come into thine house like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel: and do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be famous in Beth-lehem:

    Gen 34:20 ¶ And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the agate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying,
    24 And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all that went out of the gate of his city; and every male was circumcised, all that went out of the gate of his city.

    Jeremiah 17:27 But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the Apalaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.

    Amos 5:10 They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.
    12 For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right.
    15 Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the Lord God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.

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