temple’s rededication on Chislev 25, 165 B.C.E.; John 10:22, 23). Additionally, there were three annual “seasonal festivals of Jehovah”: the festival of unfermented cakes, the festival of weeks (later called Pentecost) and the festival of booths (Lev. chap. 23), respecting which festivals God decreed: “On three occasions in the year every male of yours will appear before the face of the Lord Jehovah.” (Ex. 23:14-17) Recognizing the high spiritual value of these festivals, many men saw to it that their entire family attended. (Luke 2:41-45) Also, Moses expressly stated that every seven years, during the festival of booths, the men, women, children and alien residents of Israel should be congregated in the place Jehovah chose “in order that they may listen and in order that they may learn, as they must fear Jehovah your God and take care to carry out all the words of this law.” (Deut. 31:10-12) Hence, provision was made for the Israelites to assemble very frequently to consider Jehovah’s word and purposes.—See FESTIVAL.
Following the completion of the temple, Solomon convened a grand assembly in Jerusalem in connection with the dedication of that splendid religious structure. That assembly lasted for many days, and when the people were sent home they were “joyful and feeling good at heart over the goodness that Jehovah had performed toward David and toward Solomon and toward Israel his people.”—2 Chron. 5:1–7:10.
Doubtless throngs assembling at the temple during the annual festivals experienced great delight and spiritual benefit, as at the passover celebration of King Hezekiah’s time, when “there came to be great rejoicing in Jerusalem.” (2 Chron. 30:26) In Nehemiah’s day an assembly was called that proved to be an occasion of “very great rejoicing.” (Neh. 8:17) To the people assembled in Jerusalem, Ezra read from the book of the law of Moses, doing so before “all intelligent enough to listen,” and they were attentive. (Neh. 8:2, 3) As a result of the instruction then imparted by Ezra and other Levites, all the people rejoiced, “for they had understood the words that had been made known to them.” (Neh. 8:12) They thereafter commemorated the festival of booths, and on the eighth day “there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule.”—Neh. 8:18; Lev. 23:33-36.
DEVELOPMENT OF SYNAGOGUES AS ASSEMBLY PLACES
While the Jews were exiles in Babylon, or shortly thereafter, synagogues or buildings that were Jewish places of assembly came into use. Eventually these were established in various places, large cities having more than one. Primarily, synagogues were schools where the Scriptures were read and taught. They were also places of prayer and the giving of praise to God. It was customary for Jesus Christ and his disciples to go to them to instruct and encourage persons present. (Matt. 4:23; Luke 4:16; Acts 13:14, 15; 17:1, 2; 18:4) Because the Scriptures were regularly read in the synagogues, James was able to say to the Christian governing body in Jerusalem: “From ancient times Moses has had in city after city those who preach him, because he is read aloud in the synagogues on every sabbath.” (Acts 15:21) The basic features of worship in the synagogue were carried over into Christian assembly places (though not with ritualistic accretions that had developed in time), where Scripture reading and exposition, encouragement, praise-giving and prayer were to be found.—1 Cor. 14:26-33, 40; Col. 4:16; see SYNAGOGUE.
On various occasions, large crowds assembled before Jesus Christ, realizing many benefits, as in the case of the Sermon on the Mount. (Matt. 5:1–7:29) While these were not like specially arranged assemblies, at times they lasted long enough to make necessary the feeding of the congregated multitudes, a circumstance that Jesus met with miraculous multiplication of food. (Matt. 14:14-21; 15:29-38) Often Christ gathered his disciples and gave them spiritual instruction, and after his death his followers met together, as on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., when the holy spirit was bestowed upon such assembled ones.—Acts 2:1-4.
It was the custom of early Christians to meet together, generally in small groups. However, sometimes at their gatherings “quite a crowd” would assemble. (Acts 11:26) Jesus’ half-brother James found it appropriate to give spiritual Israelites of the Christian congregation counsel against showing favoritism toward the rich at their “public assembly” (Gr., sy·na·go·geʹ).—Jas. 2:1-9.
IMPORTANCE OF ASSEMBLING
The importance of taking full advantage of Jehovah’s provisions for assembling to gain spiritual benefits is emphasized in connection with the annual passover observance. Any male who was clean and was not on a journey but neglected to keep the passover was to be cut off in death. (Num. 9:9-14) When King Hezekiah called inhabitants of Judah and Israel to Jerusalem for a passover celebration, his message was, in part: “You sons of Israel, return to Jehovah . . . do not stiffen your neck as your forefathers did. Give place to Jehovah and come to his sanctuary that he has sanctified to time indefinite and serve Jehovah your God, that his burning anger may turn back from you. . . . Jehovah your God is gracious and merciful, and he will not turn away the face from you if you return to him.” (2 Chron. 30:6-9) Willful failure to attend would certainly have indicated a forsaking of God. And, while such festivals as the Passover are not observed by Christians, Paul fittingly urged them not to abandon regular assemblies of God’s people, stating: “Let us consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.”—Heb. 10:24, 25; see CONGREGATION.
(Asʹshur) [perhaps, prosperous, strengthened].
1. A son of Shem, named second at Genesis 10:22 and 1 Chronicles 1:17. He was the forefather of the Assyrians, and the same Hebrew word is rendered both “Asshur” and “Assyria(n).” Either their nation or one of its main cities, Asshur (modern Qalʽat Sherqat), is meant at Ezekiel 27:23.
2. The foremost divinity of the Assyrians, their god of military prowess, to whom this warlike people prayed for aid. Asshur was a sort of “deifled patriarch,” and in venerating him the Assyrians may actually have worshiped their ancestor, Asshur, the son of Shem. The name Asshur is incorporated in such Assyrian names as those of Esar-haddon (“Asshur has given brothers[s]”) (2 Ki. 19:37; Isa. 37:38; Ezra 4:2) and Ashurbanipal (“Asshur is the creator of the heir”), who appears to be the one called Asenappar at Ezra 4:10.
The false god Asshur was believed to be the chief protector of the Assyrians, being represented in their art by the winged sun disk. It was in their god Asshur’s name and with his approval (indicated by favorable omens) that Assyrian troops entered battle, carrying his sacred symbol into the fray. Their kings ascribed victories “to the help of Asshur.”
Asshur’s temple in the city of Asshur was named E-khar-sag-gal-kur-kurra, meaning “house of the great mountain of the lands.” A similar concept of religious buildings seems to have existed in Babylonia, where Bel’s temple at Nippur was named E-kur (“mountain house”), and E-sagila (“lofty house”) was the name applied to the temple of Marduk at Babylon and that of Ea at Eridu.—See ASSYRIA.
(As·shuʹrim) [mighty ones].
Descendants of Dedan, son of Jokshan, one of Abraham’s sons by Keturah. (Gen. 25:1-3) The use in the