RPW and the Synagogue

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Puritan Board Junior
How is the existence of the synagogue in the Old Testament justified in light of the Regulative Principle of Worship? According to the RPW, one could ask, where did God command the O.T. church to worship in the synagogue? Then, there might be some questions related to the practices and customs in the synagogue. Where do we find the commandment(s) for those?


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
What were the "holy convocations" to take place every Sabbath?
Lev.23:3 "Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings."
This was a sacred assembly. It was to take place in "all your dwellings," not confined in each house, but in each place where the Israelites lived. This is the obvious origin for synagogue gatherings.

Ps.74:8 "They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them together: they have burned up all the synagogues of God in the land."
The KJV and the ASV both use the term "synagogue" here, because of its appropriateness (that rendering of מועדי mô‛êdy is unique in the OT). In the past century+, academics have adopted the idea that the synagogue (proper) only came into being through the exile. This text seems satisfactory to me to subvert the notion that prior to exile there were no "meeting places of God" throughout the land that were ravaged by invaders, and the people's loss piteously felt. It may be that "synagogue" term is a linguistic anachronism here; but otherwise it seems perfectly descriptive.

What was lawful to be done in these assemblies and places? It was a priestly duty to instruct the people in the Law, Lev.10:11; Dt.33:10; Mal.2:7. Surely, preaching was the principal labor. And whatever worship prescribed to be done in the Tabernacle/Temple (as with the teaching of the Law)--which could lawfully be done without violating the exclusive demands of the Temple--would be appropriate for such venues, as lengthy preludes for the annual called feasts at the central shrine. Obviously, sacrificial offerings were unauthorized, because there was a single altar for Israel (the occasional altars built by prophets notwithstanding). Would they have sung Psalms? I cannot think why they shouldn't; when better a time to practice such as the Psalms of Ascent for example?

It seems to me, most arguments against such thinking as I have represented here are heavily dependent on an evolutionary commitment to understanding Israelite/Jewish religion.
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