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congregation

Hebrew: kahal

the Hebrew people collectively as a holy community (Num. 15:15)

Every circumcised Hebrew from twenty years old and upward was a member of the congregation. Strangers resident in the land, if circumcised, were, with certain exceptions (Ex. 12:19; Num. 9:14; Deut. 23:1-3), admitted to the privileges of citizenship, and spoken of as members of the congregation (Ex. 12:19; Num. 9:14; 15:15).

The congregation were summonded together by the sound of two silver trumpets, and they met at the door of the tabernacle (Num. 10:3). These assemblies were convened for the purpose of engaging in solemn religious services (Ex. 12:27; Num. 25:6; Joel 2:15), or of receiving new commandments (Ex. 19:7-8). The elders, who were summonded by the sound of one trumpet (Num. 10:4), represented on various occasions the whole congregation (Ex. 3:16; 12:21; 17:5; 24:1).

After the conquest of Canaan, the people were assembled only on occasions of the highest national importance (Judg. 20; 2 Chr. 30:5; 34:29; 1 Sam. 10:17; 2 Sam. 5:1-5; 1 Kings 12:20; 2 Kings 11:19; 21:24; 23:30).

In subsequent times the congregation was represented by the Sanhedrim; and the name synagogue, applied in the Septuagint version exclusively to the congregation, came to be used to denote the places of worship established by the Jews.

In Acts 13:43, where alone it occurs in the New Testament, it is the same word as that rendered “synagogue” (q.v.) in ver. 42, and is so rendered in ver. 43 in Revised Version

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