Synagogues

In the previous installment we talked about the origin and development of the temples in the Book of Mormon. To cover the rest of the sacred buildings used in the worship of the Nephites, it is our turn to speak about synagogues and sanctuaries.

The Book of Mormon clarifies the origin of the synagogues

With this passage is that the Book of Mormon he mentions the synagogues for the first time. It is an interesting passage because many of the scholars have believed that the synagogues arose from the deportation to Babylon. The reasoning of these scholars is more or less like this: "When the Jews were deported they did not have the temple at hand, so they began to gather in sacred buildings that had a certain resemblance to the temple and thus the synagogue arose. When they returned to Israel the custom of continuing to build these buildings was brought and that is why they existed in the time of Jesus. "

This is how scholars think, based on the fact that there are no archeological traces of synagogues before the exile in Babylon. And on this starting point they elaborate some beautiful theories. But this passage from Book of Mormon It shows that Nephi already knew the synagogues! Both Nephi and Lehi left Jerusalem before of exile. Therefore, this passage shows us that the synagogues already existed before the captivity in Babylon.

This is not the only passage in the Book of Mormon that talks about synagogues. Alma 16: 13 is also very significant.

What is relevant about this passage is that it tells us where the architectural model of the synagogue had come from. They were built "in the manner of the Jews." That is, they had to be Lehi and Nephi, who are the ones who knew this model "of the Jews" who contributed it. This is an indication of the existence of synagogues in America since the time of Nephi.

What was the synagogue originally

Ok, fine, but what were the synagogues? Elder Bruce R. McConkie He wrote about this in the first volume of the "Deadly Messiah" collection. "The word synagogue is of Greek origin and means to gather or summon; [the word] is used in the Septuagint to refer to the Assembly of Israel. "(McConkie, pp. Free translation by Juan Pablo Marichal Catalan)

As it is used first, then, the word synagogue It was far from referring to a building. He was referring, rather, to the union of all the people of God, to the "Assembly of Israel" or "congregation." Or, as we call it today, the whole Church. But, similarly to the word "Church" which, in reality, designates the entire body of believers but also now a building (people, by use, say "we go to church", believing that the church is a building); the word "synagogue" ended up referring also to the place where the people of God met.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie compared the term synagogue with the term Zion, in the sense that both terms represent all the members of the people of God, but also the place where they worship. (McConkie)

This multiple use of terms is not really that bad, unless you end up losing the original meaning entirely. He Elder McConkie comment on this:

"When the people of Zion lose purity in their hearts and when the congregation that is the true synagogue departs from the faith, all that remains is the house or place where they previously had communion with their Maker. It may be that the Spirit has been lost, but the building remains. It is known as the synagogue, and so those who see it consider it. Such were the synagogues to which the New Testament refers. " (McConkie, pp. Free translation by Juan Pablo Marichal)

How old are the synagogues

Actually, we do not know how old the synagogues were, or what variations there were in the architecture of the old meetinghouses. But the people of God always had the commandment to assemble or assemble, from the time of Adam until the present. From this fact it is derived that there were always meeting centers of some kind. More or less by the time of the captivity of Babylon, even a little earlier, as we have seen, the people gathered in the synagogues, in addition to having ceremonies in the temple.

Similarities between the temple and the synagogue

The synagogues had much in common with the temple regarding the format of their worship services. The main entrance, for example, always pointed to the east, like that of the temple, while the Torah and the scriptures were placed on the wall facing Jerusalem and towards the temple. The way of sitting, the function of the vestibule, the schedule of the meetings, the form of the songs and other similar aspects, were carried out in the synagogue in a similar way to how it was done in the temple.

The synagogue worked, then, as a small temple, but only for some aspects. The Jews anyway had to go to the temple for the celebration of Easter or for the Day of Atonement, to perform the sacred ordinances linked to those special days. The temple was still the main place of worship and the only place where the most special ordinances could be made. But the regular worship and learning of the Jews could be done in the synagogue ("I have a Question: Was John's baptism a new ordinance or were the people already familiar with it?", Ensign, September of 1974).

Synagogues in the Book of Mormon

The inhabitants of the towns of Book of Mormon they built synagogues. Nephi's statement in 2 Nefi 26: 26 seems to indicate that from that time they began to build them, and then we found Alma and Amulek preaching to the Nephites in them.

Among the Lamanites, perhaps because of Nephite influence, synagogues were also built. Perhaps the first to build them in Lamanite territory were the Amalekites, who were Nephite dissenters. However, when Ammon and his brothers successfully preached to King Lamoni, he had them build synagogues for the preaching of the word.

The Zoramites also had synagogues, in which they performed an apostate and strange cult and from which they expelled the poor people. Alma taught those who wished to hear him the true meaning of the synagogue, that is, that true worship of God is not the building. Jesus would teach something similar in the Sermon on the Mount and on other occasions, such as showing the Samaritan woman that God should be worshiped "in spirit and in truth."

In their migrations, the Nephites built synagogues where they arrived. The same happened with Hagot, when they migrated north. Jesus repeated the Sermon on the Mount in America (called "the Sermon in the Temple") and in his preaching he admonished the people against hypocrisy in the synagogues. He even spoke about being considerate of those who were going through the discipline of the Church, commanding that they continue to watch over them and not be expelled from the synagogues.

Other sacred places.

In the book of Alma (Alma 16: 13) we speak of "sanctuaries", built, as well as synagogues and temples, following the model of the Jews.

In the Old Testament the word "santuario"It is used many times to refer to the temple, as a sacred place. But it is also used seven times in the plural, so it can refer to other sacred buildings.

Until now you have already imagined the synagogues as buildings with functions similar to our chapels. But Nephi, in 2 Nefi 26: 26 not only speaks of synagogues, but of other "houses of worship". From where we inferred that there were more types of buildings where the community of believers met regularly. Today, looking at it well, we also have a variety of buildings that have been dedicated to God for worship, in addition to the chapels. Each of these buildings can also be considered as a santuario.

I hope you have enjoyed this biblicomentario and, as always, I invite you to leave settled, here below, your impressions on the subject that we have been developing.

To learn more:

Form T: The synagogues in the Book of Mormon

Synagogues in the Old Testament
Your enemies have roared in the midst of your synagogues Salmo 74: 4
They have burned all the synagogues of God on earth Salmo 74: 8
The use of synagogues in the Book of Mormon
God has not commanded anyone to leave the synagogues or houses of worship 2 Nefi 26: 26
Alma and Amulek preached in temples, shrines and synagogues Alma 16: 13
The Amalekites had built synagogues Alma 21: 4-5
King Lamoni had synagogues built to preach the word Alma 21: 19-20
The king of the Lamanites forbade the dismissal of the missionaries from the synagogues Alma 23: 2
Ammon and his brothers taught in the temples and synagogues of the Lamanites Alma 26: 29
The Zoramites had built synagogues Alma 31: 12
The poor were expelled from the synagogues of the Zoramites Alma 32: 1-5
Alma taught that true worship does not occur only in the building Alma 32: 9-12
Alma reiterated that true worship is independent of the building Alma 33: 2-3
Those who migrated to the north built temples, synagogues and shrines Helaman 3: 9, 14
Jesus taught against hypocrisy in the synagogues 3 Nefi 13: 1-5
You will not throw it out of your synagogues 3 Nefi 18: 32

 

Literature

Originally posted 2015-04-09 00: 22: 21.