Hebrew Scriptures In Synagogues

To open and shut up the roll or book of the law, to hold it, and to raise and show it to the people, are three offices, which are sold, and bring in a great deal of money. The skins on which the law is written are fastened to two rollers, whose ends jut out at the sides, beyond the skins, and are usually adorned with silver; and it is by them that they hold the book when they lift it up, and exhibit it to the congregation; because they are forbidden to touch the book itself with their hands. All who are in the synagogue kiss it, and they who are not near enough to reach it with their mouths, touch the silken cover of it, and then kiss their hands, and put the two fingers with which they touched it upon their eyes, which they think preserves the sight. They keep it in a cupboard, which supplies the place of the ark of the covenant, and they therefore call this cupboard Aaron, which is the Hebrew name for the ark; and this is always placed in the east end of the synagogue. He who presides chooses any one whom he pleases to read and explain the scripture, which was a mark of distinction; as we see in the thirteenth chapter of the Acts, where we find the rulers of the synagogue desiring the apostles, when they were in the synagogue, to make a discourse to the people. Ordinarily speaking, a priest began, a Levite read on, and at last one of the people, whom the president chose, concluded. He who reads stands upright, and is not suffered so much us to lean against a wall. Before he begins, he says with a loud voice, “Bless ye God;” and the congregation answer, “Blessed be thou, O my God, blessed be thou for ever;” and when the lesson is ended, the book is rolled up, and wrapped in a piece of silk.

An Illustrated History Of The Holy Bible;
Being a Connected Account of theRemarkable Events and Distinguished CharactersContained inThe Old and New Testaments,
- by John Kitto