By: Kaufmann Kohler
- 1. An assembly convoked for a certain time and purpose ( = ἐκκλησία, I Kings viii. 65; Joel ii. 16; Ps. xl. 10. For and in Ps. xxvi. 12, lxviii. 26, "assemblies" would be more correct than "congregations" [A.V.]; and in Ps. lxxiv. 4 should be rendered " synagogues," not "congregations," as in A. V.).
- 2. A single community ( = συναγωγή, Num. xxxv. 23 et seq.).
- 3. The whole body of Israel, called ("the congregation of the Lord," Deut. xxiii. 1 et seq.; R. V. "assembly is incorrect); Num. xxvii. 17; "the congregation of Israel," Ex. xii. 3; "the congregation of the children of Israel, Ex. xvi. 1; "the assembly of the congregation of Israel," Ex. xii. 6 and Num. xiv. 5; or simply and used indifferently, Lev. iv. 13 et seq.; Prov. v. 14, where is preferably translated by LXX. συναγωγή, and ἐκκλησία. To this must be added "the congregation of Jacob," Deut. xxxiii. 4 (R. V. "assembly"; LXX. συναγωγαίς, plural; so also Ecclus. [Sirach] xxiv. 23).From the Apocryphal and other Hellenistic writings (see Ecclus. xxiv. 2, xliv. 15, 1. 13 et seq.; I Macc. ii. 56, iii. 13, etc.), and the inscriptions in Schurer ("Gesch. des Jüdischen Volkes," ii. 432 et seq., iii. 40-46), it appears that "synagogue" = συναγωγή was the name, corresponding to , Aramean , given to the Jewish congregation as a community, as well as to the place of worship; while the name ἐκκλησία (τοῦ Ωεοῦ, or Κυρίου= "assembly of the Lord"; hence κυριακή [οἰκία] "church") was chosen to designate the assembly of worshipers.It was owing to the influence of Paul that ἐκκλησία (= "church") became the distinctive name of the Christian communities, while "synagogue" became that of the Jewish congregation, and for some time, also, of the Judæo-Christian congregations (compare Schürer, l.c.). See Community, Organization of; Minyan; Synagogue.