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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Daniel and Synagogue Worship

Another response I wrote on someone else's page, in which I pat myself on the back for ideas I stole from someone else. The question was: did Daniel participate in synagogue worship while in exile?:

There is actually no absolute proof that synagogues in full were developed during the Exile, though that’s the prevailing theory. Weekly local meetings were ordained by God much earlier (Lev. 23:3), which presumably would have been led by the Levites who dwelt everywhere throughout the land of Israel. Daniel was acting in the manner of Israel’s daily Temple worship that would have occurred were the Temple in repair and Israel back in the land. As Solomon had prayed in his prayer at the consecration of the Temple (1 Kings 8:46-50), Daniel was looking toward Israel, a ”condition” for God to hear the prayer of Israel and restore her to the land. He was acting on behalf of Israel, as their representative. And wrapped up with this, he was imitating the practice of Temple worship in his private (hardly private when sitting in a public place in front of an open window) worship. His private worship was shaped by Israel’s public, corporate worship.

While the synagogues may have been allowed to function in Babylon, I must say I have my doubts. I imagine a situation of small gatherings of believers at best, maybe not functioning fully the way a synagogue would have. At least, Daniel was carrying on his own worship as a part of the larger whole, longing for and looking to Israel’s promised return to the land and her worship.

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