Ancient Synagogue Inscriptions from Delos, Greece 250 BC

Synagogue Inscriptions from the Oldest Synagogues in the world


Delos, Greece #2: 250 BC

(Samaritan Synagogue)



 A. Delos Synagogue Inscription #2: (One of two inscriptions from Delos)

1.       Inscription text: “The Israelites on Delos who make first-fruit offerings to the temple1 on holy Mt. Gerizim honour Menippos, son of Artemidorus, of Herakleion2, both himself and his descendants, for constructing and dedicating, his own funds, for the synaogue3 of God, the ... and crown him with a gold crown...”

2.       Glyptic artifact: Greek Synagogue inscription on marble

3.       Provenance: Both Delos inscriptions #1 and #2 were found together on the seashore 100 meters from the Synagogue on Delos Island, Greece 1979 AD.

4.       Current location: Delos Museum, Greece

5.       Delos Synagogue Occupation Date (SOD) = Excavation date + Inscriptional date + Literary date = 250 BC

a.         SOD computation system details

b.        Excavation date: Delos excavation top plan 250 BC

c.         Inscriptional date: 250 BC and Delos #1 synagogue inscription

d.        Literary date: none

6.       References:

a.         Les Israélites de Délos et la juiverie délienne, Philippe Bruneau, BCH, p465, 1982 AD

b.        IJO: Inscriptiones Judaicae Orientis, David Noy, vol 1, Arc66, 2004 AD

7.       Related Bible verses:

a.         Woman at the well, “Spirit and Truth” John 4:7-45

b.        Freewill “first fruit offerings” sent to needy Christians in Jerusalem by early Christians: 1 Cor 16:1-2

8.       Further documentation:

a.         Delos inscription: 250 BC

b.        Delos excavation top plan 250 BC


B. Discussion about inscription:

1.      This is one of two Delos inscriptions found together on the shore near the synagogue. See the other Delos inscription #2: 250 BC

2.      “Bruneau dates the inscription to 150-50 BCE on palaeographic grounds. For the significance of oi, iv MIXT for dating, cf. #Ach66. If the dating is correct, it shows striking continuity with #Ach66 in the way the Samaritans of Delos designated themselves, and in the form of wreath used on the stones (unless the wreaths survive from earlier use). The two inscriptions may be closer to each other in time than Bruneau believes.” (IJO: Inscriptiones Judaicae Orientis, David Noy, vol 1, Arc67, p233, 2004 AD)

3.      Bruneau wrongly dated this inscription to 150 BC because quasi-citizenship for foreigners wasn’t granted until the beginning of Athenian control in 166 BC. Bruneau also takes the extreme view that this is not even a synagogue but a prayer.

4.      “The two inscriptions may be closer to each other in time than Bruneau believes” (IJO, Noy, vol 1, p233, 2004)

5.      John Hycranus destroyed the Samaritan temple on Mt Gerizim in 128 BC: Jos. Ant 13:254

6.      Knossos is the capital of Crete Island.


C. Inscription footnotes:

1.      John Hycranus destroyed the Samaritan temple on Mt Gerizim in 128 BC: Josephus Antiquities 13:254-256

2.      His hometown was Herakleion, the port city of Knossos on Island of Crete.

3.      Lit. proseuche = prayer hall. Must be a Samaritan synagogue as opposed to Jewish because Jews would donate to Jerusalem and hated the Samaritans.


D. See also: The Samaritans: Full outline and their history.


E. For full discussion on the Delos Synagogue see: Delos excavation top plan 250 BC



By Steve Rudd 2017: Contact the author for comments, input or corrections


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Providence: God’s eternal plan: The providential transition from Temple to Synagogue to Church

Origin: Synagogues originated at Alexandria Egypt in 280 BC spawned by the Septuagint

Jesus the Messiah of the Tanakh:

1.       First Century Jewish Messianic Expectation: As witnessed in the Dead Sea scrolls.

2.       Looking for the wrong thing: Mistaken Jewish ideas of the Messiah in 30 AD.

3.       Jesus fulfilled Prophecy: Master list of fulfilled messianic prophecies

4.       Jesus fulfilled Prophecy: "He shall be called a Nazarene (branch)" Matthew 2:23

5.       Jesus fulfilled Prophecy: “Jesus would rise the third day” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

Synagogue Architectural Prototypes in the Church:

1.         Standard architectural synagogue typology: Introduction, Master Chart

2.         Mikveh for Ritual Purity: The Christian Maker

3.         Ritual purity stone Vessels: Stoneware cups and wash basins

4.         Freestanding Columns: Antitype of Christians

5.         Artwork: Heart-Shaped Columns

6.         The bema: Prototype of the Church Pulpit

7.         Synagogue Benches: Metaphor of Equality in Christ

8.         Women Seating in Synagogues: Not segregated from men

9.         The Moses’ Seat: Metaphor of Pride

10.    Niches & Ark of The Scrolls: Prototype of Church Apse

11.    Table of the Scrolls: Prototype of Communion Table

12.    Byzantine Church Architecture: Octagonal and Basilica

13.    Orientation: Early Synagogues did not Point to Jerusalem

14.    The Church replaced the Temple: Replacement theology is pure Christianity

Synagogue Worship Prototypes in the Church:

15.    Worship prototypes: Introduction and Master Summary Chart

16.    Collective Names of Synagogues: House of Prayer, Temple, Church

17.    Organization of Synagogues: Elders, officials, attendants, Independent, autonomous

18.    Attendance: Weekly Sabbath Assemblies in Synagogues absent from Tanakh

19.    Public Bible readings: Preaching and Teaching In Synagogues

20.    Greek Septuagint: The Standard Tanakh of every ancient synagogue

21.    Greek Septuagint scroll of the Twelve Minor Prophets written in 50 BC

22.    Prayer in Synagogues: “House of prayer” Proseuche

23.    Food: Sacred Passover Meals, No Common Meals In Synagogues

24.    Sermon Topics in Synagogues: How Christians used the Tanakh to convert Jews

25.    Singing in Synagogues: Non-Instrumental Acapella Responsive Singing

26.    Benevolence Money: Freewill Weekly First fruits Collections for poor in Synagogues

27.    Education: Schools and Literacy of Jews In Synagogues

28.    Role of Women in Synagogues: Never leaders, preachers but never segregated

29.    Sanctuary Status: Refugees seeking Asylum in Synagogues

30.    Appendages: Hostels, Housing and Food Banks in Synagogues

31.    Civil Court: Judgements, beatings and scourging in Synagogues

32.    Civic Meetings: Political Town Hall assemblies in Synagogues

33.    Christians replaced Jews: Replacement theology is pure Christianity

Synagogue Occupation Date (SOD)= Excavation date + Inscriptional date + Literary date 

Allusions: Synagogue worship allusions and imagery in the New Testament

Master builder Stonemason Jesus: “Upon this Rock I will build My church

Everyday life: Archeology of Everyday Life and Homes at the time of Jesus

Master List: Master list of First Temple Period, Pre-70 AD Synagogues

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