For he loves our nation, and he has built us a synagogue.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)He hath built us a synagogue.—Literally, the synagogue, a well-known and conspicuous building, probably the only one in Capernaum, and so identical with that of which the ruins have been lately discovered by the Palestine Exploration Society. (See Note on Matthew 4:13.)
built, &c.—His love took this practical and appropriate form.See Poole on "Luke 7:1" John 18:35. This they mention as an argument to induce him to have a regard to the centurion, though he was a Gentile; since he was a friend of the Jews, and well affected and disposed to them, which was very rare: it was not common for the Gentiles to love the Jews, any more than the Jews the Gentiles; there was an hatred, yea, an enmity between them; but this man, very likely, was a proselyte to their religion, as the following instance seems to show:
and he hath built us a synagogue; at his own private charge, and by the assistance of his soldiers under him, whom he might employ in this work: sometimes a single person built a synagogue at his own expense, and gave it to the citizens; of which the Jews say, (o).
"if a man builds an house, and afterwards devotes it to a synagogue, it is as a synagogue.''For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Luke 7:5. ἀγαπᾷ γὰρ, etc., he loveth our race; a philo-Jewish Pagan, whose affection for the people among whom he lived took the form of building a synagogue. Quite a credible fact, which could easily be ascertained. Herod built the temple. Vide Lightfoot on this.5. he loveth our nation] This shews that the centurion was a Gentile,—probably a proselyte of the gate (though the term was invented later), i.e. one of those who embraced Judaism on the whole, but without becoming a ‘proselyte of righteousness’ by accepting circumcision. It is not impossible that he may have been a Roman, though there is no direct proof that Romans ever held such offices under Herod Antipas. More probably he was some Greek or Syrian, holding a commission under the tetrarch.
he hath built us a synagogue] Rather, our Synagogue he himself built for us. The expression, “the synagogue,” does not necessarily imply that there was only one synagogue in Capernaum, but only that he had built the one from which this deputation came, which was probably the chief synagogue of Capernaum. If Capernaum be Tel Hum (as I became convinced on the spot itself), then the ruins of it shew that it probably possessed two synagogues; and this we should have conjectured beforehand, seeing that Jerusalem is said to have had 400. The walls of one of these, built of white marble, are of the age of the Herods, and stand just above the lake. It may be the very building here referred to. This liberality on the part of the Gentiles was by no means unfrequent. Wealthy Gentile proselytes not seldom sent splendid gifts to the Temple itself. The Ptolemies, Jos. Antt. xii. 2, § 5; Sosius, id. xiv. 16, § 4; Fulvia, id. xviii. 3, § 5, &c. See on Luke 21:5.Luke 7:5. Ἀγαπᾷ, he loveth) A feeling which is rare in a Roman soldier.—γὰρ, for) It was in a different thing that his chief worthiness lay, namely, in his faith; Luke 7:9.—αὐτὸς) himself, of himself, of his own accord. This act, viz. his building a synagogue, was something greater and more rare than his loving their nation.—ᾠκοδόμησεν, he has built) at his own expense, or by his command: not merely did he not (as others) profane and violate a synagogue.
He is emphatic; himself, at his own expense.
A synagogue (τὴν συναγωγὴν)
The article, "the synagogue," marks the particular synagogue which these elders represented. Hence Rev., rightly, "our synagogue." "He did not merely avoid profaning the synagogue" (Bengel).
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