on Matthew 4 :23
Teaching in their synagogues - Synagogue, συναγωγη, from συν, together, and αγω, I bring, a public assembly of persons, or the place where such persons publicly assembled. Synagogues, among the Jews, were not probably older than the return from the Babylonish captivity. They were erected not only in cities and towns, but in the country, and especially by rivers, that they might have water for the convenience of their frequent washings.
Not less than ten persons of respectability composed a synagogue; as the rabbins supposed that this number of persons, of independent property, and well skilled in the law, were necessary to conduct the affairs of the place, and keep up the Divine worship. See Lightfoot. Therefore, where this number could not be found, no synagogue was built; but there might be many synagogues in one city or town, provided it were populous. Jerusalem is said to have contained 480. This need not be wondered at, when it is considered that every Jew was obliged to worship God in public, either in a synagogue or in the temple.
The chief things belonging to a synagogue were:
1st. The ark or chest, made after the mode of the ark of the covenant, containing the Pentateuch.
2dly. The pulpit and desk, in the middle of the synagogue, on which he stood who read or expounded the law.
3dly. The seats or pews for the men below, and the galleries for the women above.
4thly. The lamps to give light in the evening service, and at the feast of the dedication.
5thly. Apartments for the utensils and alms-chests.
The synagogue was governed by a council or assembly, over whom was a president, called in the Gospels, the ruler of the synagogue. These are sometimes called chiefs of the Jews, the rulers, the priests or elders, the governors, the overseers, the fathers of the synagogue. Service was performed in them three times a day - morning, afternoon, and night. Synagogue, among the Jews, had often the same meaning as congregation among us, or place of judicature, see James 2:2.
Preaching the Gospel of the kingdom - Or, proclaiming the glad tidings of the kingdom. See the preceding notes. Behold here the perfect pattern of an evangelical preacher:
1. He goes about seeking sinners on every side, that he may show them the way to heaven.
2. He proclaims the glad tidings of the kingdom, with a freedom worthy of the King whom he serves.
3. He makes his reputation and the confidence of the people subservient not to his own interest, but to the salvation of souls.
4. To his preaching he joins, as far as he has ability, all works of mercy, and temporal assistance to the bodies of men.
on Matthew 4 :23
All Galilee - See the notes at Matthew 2:22.
Synagogues - Places of worship, or places where the people assembled together to worship God. The origin of synagogues is involved in much obscurity. The sacrifices of the Jews were appointed to be held in one place, at Jerusalem. But there was nothing to forbid the other services of religion to be performed at any other place. Accordingly, the praises of God were sung in the schools of the prophets; and those who chose were assembled by the prophets and seers on the Sabbath, and the new moons, for religious worship, 2 Kings 4:23; 1 Samuel 10:5-11. The people would soon see the necessity of providing convenient places for their services, to shelter them from storms and from the heat, and this was probably the origin of synagogues. At what time they were commenced is unknown. They are mentioned by Josephus a considerable time before the coming of Christ; and in his time they were multiplied, not only in Judea, but wherever there were Jews. There were no less than 480 in Jerusalem alone before it was taken by the Romans.
Synagogues were built in any place where ten men were found who were willing to associate for the purpose, and were the regular customary places of worship. In them the law, i. e. the Old Testament, divided into suitable portions, was read, prayers were offered, and the Scriptures were expounded. The law was so divided that the five books of Moses, and portions of the prophets, could be read through each year. The Scriptures. after being read, were expounded. This was done, either by the officers of the synagogue, or by any person who might be invited by the officiating minister. Our Saviour and the apostles were in the habit of attending at those places continually, and of speaking to the people, Luke 4:15-27; Acts 13:14-15.
The synagogues were built in imitation of the temple, with a center building, supported by pillars, and a court surrounding it. See the notes at Matthew 21:12. In the center building, or chapel, was a place prepared for the reading of the law. The law was kept in a chest, or ark, near to the pulpit. The uppermost seats Matthew 23:6 were those nearest to the pulpit. The people sat around, facing the pulpit. When the law was read, the officiating person rose; when it was expounded, he was seated. Our Saviour imitated their example, and was commonly seated in addressing the people, Matthew 5:1; Matthew 13:1.
Teaching - Instructing the people, or explaining the gospel.
The gospel of the kingdom - The good news respecting the kingdom he was about to set up; or the good news respecting the coming of the Messiah and the nature of his kingdom.
Preaching - See the notes at Matthew 3:1.
All manner of sickness - All kinds of sickness.
on Matthew 4 :23
4:23 The Gospel of the kingdom - The Gospel, that is, the joyous message, is the proper name of our religion: as will be amply verified in all who earnestly and perseveringly embrace it.