698. Places of Honor

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These “chief seats” were seats of honor which were prepared for the elders of the synagogue and for the doctors of the law; and hence called, in the second verse of this chapter, “Moses’ seat.” They were placed in front of the ark, which contained the law, in the uppermost part of the synagogue, at the “Jerusalem end.” See note on Matthew 4:2323And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. (Matthew 4:23) (#636). Luke calls them “uppermost seats.” Those who occupied them sat with their faces to the people. These seats were considered positions of great honor, and were eagerly sought by the ambitious scribes and Pharisees. It is probable that James refers to this custom of honor in the Jewish synagogue when he speaks of “a good place,” where the rich man is invited to sit in the Christian “assembly” or synagogue, as it is in the original. See James 2:2-32For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: (James 2:2‑3).