Imágenes de páginas

1 Kings xviii. 19.), it is clear that most of the kings of Judah,-even such of them who were otherwise zealous for the observance of the law, are expressly recorded as blameable on this head, and but few have the commendation given them of destroying these high places. No sooner had Rehoboam the son of Solomon, after the revolt of the ten tribes from him, strengthened himself in his kingdom, but we read that Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree. (1 Kings xiv. 22, 23.)

In the reign of Asa, his grandson, things took another turn, for of him it is said, that he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves (2 Chron. xiv. 3.), even without sparing those of his mother (xv. 16.), which passage seems to be contradicted by 1 Kings xv. 14. It should, however, be recollected, that there were two kinds of high places, one frequented even by devout worshippers who lived at a distance from Jerusalem, and made use of by them in sacrificing, and for other religious purposes; and which were tolerated contrary to the divine command by such of their kings who otherwise are said to be pious princes. The other kind of high places were such as were considered as abominable from their first institution, and made the receptacle of idolatry and wickedness. These last were the high places which Asa took away; but those where God alone was worshipped, had obtained so long, and were looked upon with so sacred a veneration, that for fear of giving a general offence he did not venture to abolish them. But however well-meaning the pious intentions of good people in this respect were, yet the conduct of their kings was highly blameable in giving the least countenance to it, as being contrary to the divine command. The truth is, these high places were famous either for the apparition of angels, or some other miraculous event, had either been places of abode for the ark of the Lord, or those in which some prophet or patriarch of old had been accustomed to pray and sacrifice, and therefore they were regarded as consecrated to the service of God; nor was there strength enough in the government to overcome this inveterate prejudice, till Hezekiah and Josiah arose, who (to prevent the calamities that were coming on the nation) had the courage to effect a thorough reformation.

Towards the conclusion of Asa's reign, when he grew more infirm in body, and perhaps more remiss in the cause of God, it appears that these wicked high places began to be renewed; for it is said of Jehoshaphat his son, that he took away the high places and groves out of Judah (2 Chron. xvii. 6.), which after all we must understand, either of his having given orders only to have them taken away, or having seen it done but in part, without totally removing such as devout worshippers frequented; for afterwards, when his character comes to be summed up, there is this reservation (possibly more through the fault of his subjects than himself,) howbeit the high places were not taken away. (2 Chron. xx. 32.)

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 Judæa, 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 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 Josephus 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."1

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 order 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. 12.), it is highly probable that these proseucha were the same as the high places, so often mentioned in the Old Testament.3



I. Nature and Origin of Synagogues.-The Synagogue of the Libertines explained.-II. Form of the Synagogues.-III. The Officers or Ministers.-IV. The Service performed in the Synagogues.-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 Pho de Legatione ad Caium, p. 1011. Josephus de vita sua, § 54. Juvenal. Sat. iii. 14. Grotius, Whitby, and Doddridge on Luke vi. 12. Ernesti Institutio Interpretis Novi Testamenti, pp. 363, 364. edit. 4to. 1792. Lardner's Credibility, book i c. iii. 3. Dr. Harwood's Introduction to the New Testament, vol. 2. p - pp. 171-180.

3 Dr. Hammond on Luke vi. 12. and Acts xvi. 13-16. Calmet's Dict. voce Proseucha. Prideaux's Connection, part i. book vi. sub anno 444. vol. i. pp. 387– 390. edit. 1720.

instructions. Though frequently mentioned in the historical books. of the New Testament, their origin is not very well known; and many learned men are of opinion that they are of recent institution.

Although sacrifices could only be offered at the holy tabernacle or temple, yet it does not appear that the Jews were restricted to any particular place for the performance of other exercises of devotion. Hence, formerly, the praises of Jehovah were sung in the schools of the prophets, which the more devout Israelites seem to have frequented on sabbath days and new moons for the purpose of instruction and prayer. (1 Sam. x. 5-11. xix. 18-24. 2 Kings iv. 23.) During the Babylonish captivity, the Jews, being deprived of the solemn ordinances of divine worship, resorted to the house of some prophet, or other holy man, who was in the practice of giving religious instruction to his own family, and of reading the Scriptures. (Compare Ezek. xiv. 1. and xx. 1. with Neh. viii. 18.) At length these domestic congregations became fixed in certain places, and a regular order of conducting divine worship was introduced. Philo1 thinks these edifices were originally instituted by Moses: but as no mention is made of them during the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, their origin in Jerusalem is referred to the reigns of the Asmonæan princes, under whom they were first erected, and were soon greatly multiplied; though in Alexandria and other foreign places, where the Jews were dispersed, they were certainly of much greater antiquity.2

In the time of the Maccabees, synagogues became so frequent, that they were to be found in almost every place in Judæa. Maimonides3 says, that wherever any Jews were, they erected a synagogue Not fewer than four hundred and eighty are said to have been erected in Jerusalem, previously to its capture and destruction by the Romans. In the evangelical history we find, that wherever the Jews resided, they had one or more synagogues, constructed after those at Jerusalem. Hence we find, in Acts vi. 9. synagogues belonging to the Alexandrians, the Asiatics, the Cilicians, the Libertines, and the Cyrenians, which were erected for such Jewish inhabitants of those cities, as should happen to be at Jerusalem.

With regard to the synagogue of the Libertines, a considerable difference of opinion exists among the learned, whether these Libertines were the children of freed men (Italian Jews or proselytes), or African Jews from the city or country called Libertus, or Libertina, near Carthage. The former opinion is supported by Grotius and Vitringa; the latter (which was first hinted by Oecumenius, a commentator in the close of the tenth century), by professor Gerdes, Wetstein, Bishop Pearce, and Schleusner.

It is well known that the antient Romans made a distinction between the Liberti and the Libertini. The Libertus was one who

1 Philo, De Vita Mosis, lib. iii. p. 685.
2 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.2 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.3 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 Aßegrivos, says, that it was ovou vous, 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 ecclesiæ Libertinensis, 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 Africa 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 pro

1 Cives Romani sunt Liberti, qui vindictà, censu aut testamento, nullo jure impediente manumissi sunt. Ulpian. tit. 1 § 6.

2 This appears from the following passage of Suetonius concerning Claudius, who, he says, was ignarus temporibus Appii, et deinceps aliquamdiu Libertinos dictos, non ipsos, qui manumitterentur, sed ingenuos ex his 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 est is, qui statim ut natus est, liber est; sive ex duobus ingenuis matrimonio editus est, sive ex libertinis duobus, sive ex altero 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 commanded 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. Ĉ. edit. Colon. 1613.) speaks of a good part of the city beyond the Tiber, as inhabited by Jews, who were mostly Libertini, having been brought to Rome as captives and slaves, but being made free by their masters, were permitted to live according to their own rites and customs.

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