Luke 18:10

Luke 18:10

Two men went up into the temple to pray,
Which is called an house of prayer, ( Isaiah 56:7 ) the Jews had a mighty notion of praying in a place of religious worship, as in the temple, or in a synagogue; imagining that their prayers were more acceptable to God, and sooner heard by him in such a place than in private:

``the prayers of the congregation, they say F21, are heard always; and though there are sinners among them, the holy; blessed God, does not despise the prayer of many; wherefore, a man ought to join himself with the congregation, and not pray alone, whenever he can pray with that: and let a man go always, morning and evening, to the synagogue; for there is no prayer heard at all times but in the synagogue; and whoever has a synagogue in his city, and does not pray in it with the congregation, is called an ill neighbour. ---A divinity school is greater than a synagogue; and the great wise men, though they had many synagogues in their cities, did not pray but where they studied in the law.''

And they say F23, that

``he that prays (in the synagogue) is as if he offered a pure offering. ---Says R. Abhu, in the name of R. Abhu, "seek the Lard where he may be found"; where is he to be found? in the synagogues, and in the schools.''

These two men had, doubtless, both of them a notion of the sanctity of the place, and acted according to the prevailing sense of the people. They went up hither, not by consultation, agreement, and appointment; for they were of a different cast from each other; but so it happened. Had they went by consent, there was a rule for them {x}:

``two men that go to a synagogue to pray, and one has finished his prayer before his neighbour, if he stays for him, his reward is double; and if he does not stay for him, his prayer is not heard.''

And they had rules also for the manner of their going to, and from the place of prayer: when they went thither, they were to go nimbly, in haste, and even run; but when they came back, they were to go very slowly and gently F25.

``The commandment (they say F26) is to run to a synagogue; for it is said, ( Hosea 6:3 ) "we shall know, we shall follow on to know the Lord": but when a man comes out of the synagogue, let him not take large steps; but let him walk, little by little, or take short steps.''

How far these rules were complied with by these men, is of no great moment to know; who they were follows:

the one a Pharisee;
one of those that trusted in themselves, as righteous, and despised all others, especially publicans and sinners; of these (See Gill on Matthew 3:7). This was the strictest sect among the Jews; they were men that prayed, and fasted much, and were great sticklers for the ceremonies of the law, and the traditions of the elders, and did all they did to be seen of men:

and the other a publican;
a gatherer of the Roman tax, though by nation a Jew; and therefore such were had in great contempt by the Jews in general; nor would they eat and drink and converse with them; (See Gill on Matthew 9:10) and (See Gill on Matthew 9:11)


FOOTNOTES:

F21 Maimon. Hilch. Tephilla, c. 8. sect. 1, 3. Piske Harosh Beracot, c. 1. art. 7.
F23 T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 8. 4.
F24 Piske Harosh, ib.
F25 Piske Harosh, & T. Hieros. Beracot, fol. 9. 1.
F26 Maimon. ib. sect. 2.
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