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From The Talmud And Hebraica by John Lightfoot

Chapter 36 Synagogues in the City; and Schools.

|R. Phinehas, in the name of R. Hoshaia, saith, There were four hundred and sixty synagogues in Jerusalem: every one of which had a house of the book, and a house of doctrine,| |A house of the book for the Scripture,| that is, where the Scripture might be read: |and a house of doctrine for traditions,| that is, the Beth Midrash, where traditions might be taught. These things are recited elsewhere, and there the number ariseth to four hundred and eighty. |R. Phinehas, in the name of R. Hoshaia, saith, There were four hundred and eighty synagogues in Jerusalem,| &c. We do not make inquiry here concerning the numbers being varied: the latter is more received: and it is made out by gematry, as they call it, out of the word 'full,' Isaiah 1:21. |We find in Pesikta: R. Menahem, from R. Hoshaia, saith, Four hundred and eighty synagogues were in Jerusalem, according to the arithmetical value of the word full| [mem, lamed, aleph, tav, yod]. Note, that the letter aleph is not computed. [men=40, lamed=30, tav=400, yod=10]

|The synagogue of the Alexandrians,| is mentioned by the Talmudists: concerning which also the Holy Scripture speaks, Acts 6:9.

|Eleazar Ben R. Zadok received (for a price) the synagogue of the Alexandrians, and did his necessary works in it. The Alexandrians had built it at their own charge.| This story is recited by the Babylonian Talmudists, and they for Alexandrians have The Braziers. For so they write: |The synagogue of the Braziers, which was at Jerusalem, they themselves sold to R. Eleazar,| &c. The Gloss renders 'the braziers' by 'workmen by brass.' -- The reason why the Alexandrians were so called, you may fetch, perhaps, from this story: |There was a brass cymbal in the Temple; and there being a crack in it, the wise men brought artificers from Alexandria to mend it, &c. There was also a brass mortar in the Temple, in which they beat their spices; and there being a crack in it, the wise men brought artificers in brass from Alexandria to mend it,| &c.

Consider well, what |The language of Tursi,| means in that legend. |Bigthan and Teresh (perhaps) were two Tarsians|: or, if you will, 'two artificers': |and they talked together in the language of Tursi| (where the Gloss, 'Tursi is the name of a place'); |and they knew not that Mordecai was one of the elders in the chamber Gazith, and that he understood seventy languages,| &c.

In the place noted in the margin, these words are related concerning the sending away the goat Azazel, or the scape-goat: |The chief priests permitted not an Israelite to lead away the scape-goat into the wilderness: but once, one Arsela, who was an Israelite, led him away: and they made him a footstool because of the Babylonians, who used to pull off his hair, and to say, Take it, and go.| The Gemara thus; |Rabba Bar Bar Channah saith, They were not Babylonians, but Alexandrians; but, because they hated the Babylonians, therefore they called them by their name. Take it, and go. Why does this goat tarry, when the sins of this generation are so many?| Where the Gloss thus; |They made him a footstool, or something to put under his feet, that he might be higher: and upon this he went out of the court, and out of the city: and this, lest the Babylonians should touch the goat: for they used to pull of his hair, and to say, Go, make haste, begone, delay not, our sins are yet upon us.| And after; |The inhabitants of the land of Israel hated the Babylonians; every one, therefore, carrying himself irreverently and indecently, they called by their name.|

'The synagogue of the Libertines,' Acts 6:9: |The synagogue of those, that are made free|: of whom the Talmudists speak infinitely.

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