Digging Deeper Blog
Jairus, a ruler of a synagogue, is mentioned in this week’s Bible Lesson on Life, in Section 4, in the story of the Raising of Jairus’s Daughter: Luke 8:41, 42, 49-55 (to:) (see below for citations).
What is a ruler of a synagogue (according to www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/pharisees-sadducees-and-essenes)? – CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON BELOW TO LISTEN! (scroll down to read along)
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Biblos Foundation has a new blog format for 2018. We will continue to share Bible Lesson topics each week. On occasion, we will add music, current topics, parallel Scripture insights, and/or other selected readings to our blog.
Luke 8:41, 42, 49-55 (to:)
41 And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought him that he would come into his house:
42 For he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a-dying. But as he went the people thronged him.
49 While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master.
50 But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.
51 And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden.
52 And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.
53 And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.
54 And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise.
55 And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway:
Below is the text of the above audio transcript, read by Kristy L. Christian:
“Synagogue,” basically “a gathering together,” “an assembly,” refers to the local Jewish congregation. The ruler or rulers of the synagogue were laymen, who came next in rank after the scribes, and were entrusted with the duty of preserving order (as suggested in Luke 13:14), while they also arranged who should conduct the services (compare Acts 13:15). They were Pharisees.
The elders of the congregation would appoint one or two individuals — “rulers of the synagogue”—to supervise the conduct of worship. Goodspeed suggests the rendering: “And a man named Jairus came up—he was leader of the synagogue.” Some scholars have supposed that the name “Jairus” might carry the sense in Hebrew “he [God] will awaken,” but World Biblical Commentary notes that it is just as likely “that the name is historical reminiscence.”
The below is sourced from: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/pharisees-sadducees-and-essenes
The Pharisees are the spiritual fathers of modern Judaism. Their main distinguishing characteristic was a belief in an Oral Law that God gave to Moses at Sinai along with the Torah. The Torah, or Written Law, was akin to the U.S. Constitution in the sense that it set down a series of laws that were open to interpretation. The Pharisees believed that God also gave Moses the knowledge of what these laws meant and how they should be applied. This oral tradition was codified and written down roughly three centuries later in what is known as the Talmud.
The Pharisees also maintained that an after-life existed and that God punished the wicked and rewarded the righteous in the world to come. They also believed in a messiah who would herald an era of world peace.
The synagogue is the center of the Jewish religious community: a place of prayer, study and education, social and charitable work, as well as a social center.
What’s in a Name?
Throughout this site, I have used the word “synagogue,” but there are actually several different terms for a Jewish “House of Worship,” and you can tell a lot about people by the terms they use.
The Hebrew term is beit k’nesset (literally, House of Assembly), although you will rarely hear this term used in conversation in English.
Conservative Jews usually use the word “synagogue,” which is actually a Greek translation of Beit K’nesset and means “place of assembly” (it’s related to the word “synod”).
The use of the word “temple” to describe modern houses of prayer offends some traditional Jews, because it trivializes the importance of The Temple. The word “shul,” on the other hand, is unfamiliar to many modern Jews. When in doubt, the word “synagogue” is the best bet, because everyone knows what it means, and I’ve never known anyone to be offended by it.
Functions of a Synagogue
At a minimum, a synagogue is a beit tefilah, a house of prayer. It is the place where Jews come together for community prayer services. Jews can satisfy the obligations of daily prayer by praying anywhere; however, there are certain prayers that can only be said in the presence of a minyan (a quorum of 10 adult men), and tradition teaches that there is more merit to praying with a group than there is in praying alone. The sanctity of the synagogue for this purpose is second only to The Temple. In fact, in rabbinical literature, the synagogue is sometimes referred to as the “little Temple.”
A synagogue is usually also a beit midrash, a house of study. Contrary to popular belief, Jewish education does not end at the age of bar mitzvah. For the observant Jew, the study of sacred texts is a life-long task. Thus, a synagogue normally has a well-stocked library of sacred Jewish texts for members of the community to study. It is also the place where children receive their basic religious education.
Most synagogues also have a social hall for religious and non-religious activities. The synagogue often functions as a sort of town hall where matters of importance to the community can be discussed.
In addition, the synagogue functions as a social welfare agency, collecting and dispensing money and other items for the aid of the poor and needy within the community.
Synagogues are generally run by a board of directors composed of lay people. They manage and maintain the synagogue and its activities, and hire a rabbi for the community. It is worth noting that a synagogue can exist without a rabbi: religious services can be, and often are, conducted by lay people in whole or in part. It is not unusual for a synagogue to be without a rabbi, at least temporarily. However, the rabbi is a valuable member of the community, providing leadership, guidance and education.
Synagogues do not pass around collection plates during services, as many churches do. This is largely because Jews are not permitted to carry money on holidays and sabbaths. Instead, synagogues are financed through membership dues paid annually, through voluntary donations, and through the purchase of reserved seats for services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (the holidays when the synagogue is most crowded). It is important to note, however, that you do not have to be a member of a synagogue in order to worship there.
Ritual Items in the Synagogue
The portion of the synagogue where prayer services are performed is commonly called the sanctuary. Synagogues in the United States are generally designed so that the front of the sanctuary is on the side towards Jerusalem, which is the direction that we are supposed to face when reciting certain prayers.
Probably the most important feature of the sanctuary is the Ark. The name “Ark” is an acrostic of the Hebrew words Aron Kodesh, which means “holy cabinet.” The word has no relation to Noah’s Ark, which is the word “teyvat” in Hebrew. The Ark is a cabinet or recession in the wall, which holds the Torah scrolls. The Ark is generally placed in the front of the room; that is, on the side towards Jerusalem.
The Ark has doors as well as an inner curtain called a parokhet. This curtain is in imitation of the curtain in the Sanctuary in The Temple, and is named for it. During certain prayers, the doors and/or curtain of the Ark may be opened or closed. Opening or closing the doors or curtain is performed by a member of the congregation, and is considered an honor.
In front of and slightly above the Ark, you will find the ner tamid, the Eternal Lamp. This lamp symbolizes the commandment to keep a light burning in the Tabernacle outside of the curtain surrounding the Ark of the Covenant. (Ex. 27:20-21).
In addition to the ner tamid, you may find a menorah (candelabrum) in many synagogues, symbolizing the menorah in the Temple. The menorah in the synagogue will generally have six or eight branches instead of the Temple menorah’s seven, because exact duplication of the Temple’s ritual items is improper.
In the center of the room or in the front you will find a pedestal called the bimah. The Torah scrolls are placed on the bimah when they are read. The bimah is also sometimes used as a podium for leading services. There is an additional, lower lectern in some synagogues called an amud.
In Orthodox synagogues, you will also find a separate section where the women sit. This may be on an upper floor balcony, or in the back of the room, or on the side of the room, separated from the men’s section by a wall or curtain called a mechitzah. Men are not permitted to pray in the presence of women.
As he went the people thronged him (Luke 8:42)
Weymouth New Testament suggests, “So He went, and the dense throng crowded on Him”; and Phillips, “As he went, the crowds nearly suffocated him.”
Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master…Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole….Weep not; she is not dead (Luke 8:49-52)
According to the laws of Judaism, contact with a dead body resulted in ceremonial uncleanness. It was avoided by priests especially, but also by other Jews. Note the literal force of the Greek tenses, which as usual tend to show the aspect, not just the time, of an action. “Your daughter has died; don’t trouble the Master anymore,” says the messenger to the ruler of the synagogue. “Don’t be afraid,” says Jesus, and demands a positive act of faith. Not just “retain the faith you have had so far,” Maximilian Zerwick suggests in discussing this tense, but even “conceive faith greater than you had before hearing of the girl’s death.” Finally, as Alfred Marshall observes, Jesus declares to the weeping people at the ruler’s house, “She did not die.”
Fear not: believe only (Luke 8:50)
The two commands are differentiated in the original text by their tenses. The first refers to a continuing state, the second to a positive action. Goodspeed renders this, “Do not be afraid; just have faith, and she will get well.” The Greek “only” is literally “singly.” The faith called for here demands a total focus.
He suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden (Luke 8:51)
These three disciples present at the raising of Jairus’ daughter are mentioned in the same order as those who witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration (Mark 9:2) and his struggle at Gethsemane (14:33).
All wept, and bewailed her (Luke 8:52)
The reference is in all probability to professional mourners. They arrived upon the scene of a decease and took over, “commencing a series of ritually prescribed activities with magical and superstitious overtones.” They guarded their prerogatives jealously, and did not welcome the intrusion of Jesus, who had no patience with their practices or the beliefs they represented.
They laughed him to scorn (Luke 8:53)
In Greek the verb indicates more than incredulity on the part of the onlookers. It denotes ridicule.
He commanded to give her meat (Luke 8:55)
More literally, “He commanded that [something] be given her to eat,” for “meat” was often used in its somewhat archaic sense of “any kind of food,” not necessarily animal flesh. Moffatt has, “He ordered them to give her something to eat.”