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Among the Jews, special seats of importance were a part of the furniture of the synagogue. Jesus rebuked the leaders of His day for seeking the “best seats in the synagogues” (Matt 23:6; Mark 12:39; Luke 11:43; 20:46). In the synagogues of Pal., the back seats were occupied by children and unimportant people; the closer the seat was to the front, the greater the honor of the person who occupied it. The most honored seats of all were the seats of the elders, which faced the congregation. A man who sat in an elder’s seat could be seen by all, and his importance could not be missed. In Alexandria, the principal synagogue had seventy-one such seats (a testimony to the size of the Jewish community) and they were held by the members of the “Council” of that community.

Καθέδρα was used in a fig. sense, meaning simply the place that had belonged to another, even though the word literally meant a stool or a chair. Thus the Pharisees were described as sitting in Moses’ seat, considering themselves to be Moses’ successors (Matt 23:2). Jesus, on the other hand, was described as overturning “the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons” (Matt 21:12).

Most often in the NT, the word tr. “seat” is θρόνος, G2585, meaning a royal throne (Luke 1:52; Rev 2:13; 4:4; 11:16; 13:2; 16:10). Thus Satan has a throne, the four and twenty elders occupy thrones, and the dragon has a throne to give to the beast.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

Jesse L. Cotton

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