Synagogues are mentioned as existing in Old Testament times, Ps. 74:4, 8.  The Heb. here is mo'ed, and in v. 8 it is rendered "synagogues" in the A.V. and R.V. (margin, "places of assembly").  AQUILA also, a reviser of the Septuagint (about A.D. 130), renders it sunagoge.

Synagogues were in use from the earliest times, and Dr. John Lightfoot (Works, vol. v., p. 112) identifies them with "the high places" so often mentioned in Scripture in a commendable sense, as 1Sam. 9:19;  10:5.  1Kings 3:4, &c."  These are to be distinguished from the 'high places' connected with idolatry and false worship (as 1Kings 11:7 and 12:31.  Jer. 7:31 and 19:5, &c.).  How else could the "holy convocations" be held in accordance with Lev. 23:3, 4, &c.?

On the return from the captivity, laws were made to regulate their erection, constitution, and use.  The days of assembly were three :  the Sabbath, the second day of the week (our Sunday sunset to Monday sunset), and the fifth day (our Wednesday sunset, &c.).  The expression in Acts 13:42, which in the Greek = the Sabbath between, may therefore refer to one of these intervening days.

The officers of the Synagogue were : -

  1. The Archisunagogos = the ruler of the Synagogue, having charge of its affairs, regulating the service, &c.

  2. The Sheliach (or mal'ak) hazzibbor = the angel of the ekklesia, who was the constant minister of the Synagogue, to pray, preach, have charge of the law and appoint its readers.  Hence he was called episkopos, or overseer.  See notes on 1Cor. 11:10.  Rev. 1:20.


  1. The word PHARISEE is the Hebrew for one who was separated by special beliefs and practices, which were very strict as to tithing and eating, &c. (see Matt. 23:23.  Luke 18:12).  It was for this reason that the Lord was upbraided by the Pharisees (Matt. 9:9-11; 11:19.  Mark 2:16.  Luke 5:30; 7:34).  Doctrinally, they held that the oral law was necessary to complete and explain the written law; hence, the strong denunciations of the Lord.  Moreover, they held the natural immortality of man; and, JOSEPHUS says the transmigration of souls.

    [The ESSENES cultivated an intensified form of Pharisaism.]

  2. The word SADDUCEE is the Greek form of the Heb. zaddukim, which is derived form one Zadok, said to be the founder of the sect, who was a disciple of ANTIGONUS of SOCOH (200-170 B.C.).  They were the aristocratic and conservative party politically; and, doctrinally (generally speaking) they negatived the teaching of the Pharisees, even denying the doctrine of the resurrection.

    Neither of these sects had any existence, as such, till the return from Babylon.

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