(Heb. kahal), the Hebrew people collectively as a holy community (Numbers 15:15). Every circumcised Hebrew from twenty years old and upward was a member of the congregation. Strangers resident in the land, if circumcised, were, with certain exceptions (Exodus 12:19; Numbers 9:14; Deuteronomy 23:1-3), admitted to the privileges of citizenship, and spoken of as members of the congregation (Exodus 12:19; Numbers 9:14; 15:15). The congregation were summonded together by the sound of two silver trumpets, and they met at the door of the tabernacle (Numbers 10:3). These assemblies were convened for the purpose of engaging in solemn religious services (Exodus 12:27; Numbers 25:6; Joel 2:15), or of receiving new commandments (Exodus 19:7,8). The elders, who were summonded by the sound of one trumpet (Numbers 10:4), represented on various occasions the whole congregation (Exodus 3:16; 12:21; 17:5; 24:1).
After the conquest of Canaan, the people were assembled only on occasions of the highest national importance (Judg. 20; 2 Chronicles 30:5; 34:29; 1 Samuel 10:17; 2Sam 5:1-5; 1 Kings 12:20; 2Kings 11:19; 21:24; 23:30). In subsequent times the congregation was represented by the Sanhedrim; and the name synagogue, applied in the Septuagint version exclusively to the congregation, came to be used to denote the places of worship established by the Jews. (See CHURCH .)
In Acts 13:43, where alone it occurs in the New Testament, it is the same word as that rendered "synagogue" (q.v.) in ver. 42, and is so rendered in ver. 43 in RSV