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Scripture by the Name of Synagogues ; which Word signifies Congregations. Synagogues therefore, were Places, where the Jews of such a certain District or Quality, us'd to assemble and meet together to hear the Law expounded.
The first Mention we find of them, is in one of the Psalms, to which the Name Psal. of Afaph is prefix'd ; tho’ it is reasonable to conclude, from the Contents of it, that it could not be compos'd by chat Musician; nor any one else so old as the Time of David: but by some inspired Person after the Captivity; when their Temple and City, and all that belong'd to them were destroy'd and burnt by the Babylonians: when this Psalmist might well say, They have burnt up all the synagogues of God in the land.
Whoever was the Author, it is pretty plain from hence, that these Synagogues were in use before the Babylonish Captivity; and probably from the very Time of Moses himself. St. James says, Moses A&s xv. of old time bath, in every city, them that 21. preach him, being read in the synagogues every fabbath day. They were scatter'd
up and down in the Countreys of Judæa, Galilee, and that Neighbourhood. In whatever City as competent Number of Jews sojourn'd, they had a Synagogue,
onc 'or more, if the Government would AQs ix. permit them. We read of several in Daib. vi. 9. mafcus: and of one in Jerusalem it felf;
for the Benefit of those of the Jewish Religion who were Foreigners the Citizens themselves resorting to the Temple upon all religious Occasions.
The Scribes (of whom we shall speak more particularly hereafter) us'd to officiate in these Synagogues, as the Priests did in the Temple: and some of them were callid Rulers of the Synagogue ; who had the ordering of Matters there. But they all affected to appear considerable, and were remarkably ambitious of fitting in
the chief Seats there, for which our Mark. LORD rebukes them.
Those who had been guilty of torious Crime, or were otherwise thought unworthy, were cast out of these Synagogues; that is, excommunicated; reckon'd as mere Heathens; shut out from all Benefits of the Jewish Religion. They came
to a Resolution, that whoever confess's John ix* that Jesus was the CHRIST, he should be put out of the Synagogue. And therefore, when the blind Man who had been re
stor'd to Sight, persisted in confessing that į he believ'd the Person who had been able
to work such a Miracle, could not have .: done it if he were not of God, they caft I bim out. These Synagogues are in uso o among them to this Day.
E have done with the Places us'd
for religious Worship by the Jews; we come next to treat of the Days that were accounted facred among them. The more effectually to do which, it may be proper to take notice of their Manner
of dividing and computing Time in ge1 peral; and to see what Account we have
of their Years, Months; and Weeks; by
vantageous View of such Days, as were
S E C T. II.
It is agreed on all Hands, that the Jewish
ordain’d partly for this Purpose, at their Gen. i. Creation. God said, Let there be lights in
the firmament of the heaven, to divide the day from the night: and let them be for higns, and
for seasons, and for days and years. However their Year was of two kinds, natural and legitimate; or common and sacred. Their natural or common Year began with the Autumnal Æquinox; that being the Time when they suppos’d the World was first created. The legal or sacred took its Beginning, by God's special Direction, from the Time of their Emigration out of Egypt; which was about the vernal Æquinox. This was just before their Harvest began; that, after they had gather'd
all in : One, answering to our March; the Other to September.
Of the natural Year's beginning with the latter, we have Proofs from these two Ordinances; by which the feast of in-gathering is appointed to be kept, at the
End of the Year: The feast of in-gathering, Exod. * which is in the end of the year, when thou
bast gather'd in thy labours out of the field.
Again, thou shalt observe the feast of in- gathering at the year's end
Concerning the Beginning of the sacred or legal Year, we find the following Direction, at the Institution of the Passover in Egypt; This month shall be unto you the Exod. beginning of months, it shall be the first month of the year to you. And accordingly
this Month is most commonly call’d the | Month of Abib, from the Earing of the
Corn, and the Blooming of the first Fruits Į about that Season: which is another Rea,
* Exod. xxxiv. 22. The Chaldee Paraphraft upon 2 Kings 8. 2. says, The Month Ethanim, now the seventh Month, but formerly the first. And Jose
phus, in his Antiquities, tells us that Noah's Flood i began in the second Month of the Year, which the
Macedonians call Dios, the Hebrews Mareshuan, and the Romans O&tober.