A Visit to the Synagogue at Delos

In Mt. 23.2 Jesus refers most probably to this synagogue feature: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat”. Another first century Jewish group, the Sadducees (from Zadok) is not mentioned since they functioned as priests in the Temple service (see Ezk. 44.15). Mt. 23. 6 continues: “and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues”. Here Prof. Rasmussen shows ruins of an Hellenistic synagogue on the Island Delos which illustrates these references.

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A highlight on a visit to the sacred Greek island of Delos (it is about a 40 minute boat ride from Mykonos) was a visit to the synagogue on the remote east side of the island (see the end of this post).

DelosSynagogue-1 View of the “Moses Seat” located on the west wall of the synagogue
Note the marble benches on both sides of the seat
Click on all images for high resolution versions

DelosSynagogue-5 View to the west, southwest at the various rooms of the synagogue
Note the “Moses Seat” in the upper right part of the image
In the lower left portion of the image is one of the entrances into the synagogue

DelosSynagogue-6 View to the west of the “Moses Seat” in context
Again, note the marble benches on both side of the seat

This synagogue is said to date to the second half of the second century B.C. which…

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Author: Alex the Less

My education: BA (Bible), M.Div, BBA (HRM). Also, I have been a professional carpenter for about 25 years. Now retired, I have more time to study the bible and write about it.

2 thoughts on “A Visit to the Synagogue at Delos”

  1. Alex,
    Thank you for re-blogging this most interesting article. I had always been under the impression that “sit in Moses’ seat” had only been an idiomatic expression about the authority to interpret the Law of Moses, and never even gave it a thought that there could have been an actual “seat” in the synagogue. You opened my eyes to something new!

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