Samaritanism
הדת השומרונית
السامرية
Samaritan mezzuzah
TypeEthnic
ClassificationAbrahamic
ScriptureSamaritan Torah
TheologyMonotheistic
Samaritan High PriestAabed-El V ben Asher ben Matzliach
RegionKiryat Luza (West Bank); Holon (Israel)
LanguageSamaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic
HeadquartersMount Gerizim (West Bank)
Separated fromJudaism
Membersc. 820 Increase[1]
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The Samaritan religion, also known as Samaritanism, is an Abrahamic, monotheistic, and ethnic religion[2] of the Samaritan people.[3][4][5][6][7][8] The Samaritans adhere to the Samaritan Torah, which they believe is the original, unchanged Torah,[9] as opposed to the Torah used by Jews. In addition to the Samaritan Torah, Samaritans also revere their version of the Book of Joshua and recognize some later Biblical figures such as Eli.

Samaritanism is internally described as the religion that began with Moses, unchanged over the millennia that have since passed. Samaritans believe Judaism and the Jewish Torah have been corrupted by time and no longer serve the duties God mandated on Mount Sinai. While Jews view the Temple Mount in Jerusalem as the most sacred location in their faith, Samaritans regard Mount Gerizim, near Nablus, as the holiest spot on Earth.

History

Samaritanism holds that the summit of Mount Gerizim is the true location of God's Holy Place, as opposed to the Foundation Stone on the Temple Mount as Judaism teaches. As such, Samaritans trace their history as a separate entity from the Jews back to soon after the Israelites' entry into the Promised Land. Samaritan historiography traces the schism itself to the High Priest Eli leaving Mount Gerizim, where stood the first Israelite altar in Canaan, and building a competing altar in nearby Shiloh. The dissenting group of Israelites who had followed Eli to Shiloh would be the ones who in later years would head south to conquer Jerusalem (the Jews), whereas the Israelites who stayed on Mount Gerizim, in Samaria, would become known as the Samaritans.[10]

Abu l-Fath, who in the 14th century wrote a major work of Samaritan history, comments on Samaritan origins as follows:[10]

A terrible civil war broke out between Eli son of Yafni, of the line of Ithamar, and the sons of Pincus (Phinehas), because Eli son of Yafni resolved to usurp the High Priesthood from the descendants of Pincus. He used to offer sacrifices on an altar of stones. He was 50 years old, endowed with wealth and in charge of the treasury of the Children of Israel. ...

He offered a sacrifice on the altar, but without salt, as if he were inattentive. When the Great High Priest Ozzi learned of this, and found the sacrifice was not accepted, he thoroughly disowned him; and it is (even) said that he rebuked him.

Thereupon he and the group that sympathized with him, rose in revolt and at once he and his followers and his beasts set off for Shiloh. Thus Israel split in factions. He sent to their leaders saying to them, Anyone who would like to see wonderful things, let him come to me. Then he assembled a large group around him in Shiloh, and built a Temple for himself there; he constructed a place like the Temple [on Mount Gerizim]. He built an altar, omitting no detail—it all corresponded to the original, piece by piece.

At this time the Children of Israel split into three factions. A loyal faction on Mount Gerizim; a heretical faction that followed false gods; and the faction that followed Eli son of Yafni in Shiloh.

Further, the Samaritan Chronicle Adler, or New Chronicle, believed to have been composed in the 18th century using earlier chronicles as sources, states:

And the Children of Israel in his days divided into three groups. One did according to the abominations of the Gentiles and served other gods; another followed Eli the son of Yafni, although many of them turned away from him after he had revealed his intentions; and a third remained with the High Priest Uzzi ben Bukki, the chosen place.

The traditional Jewish narrative of 2 Kings and Josephus, has it that the people of Israel were removed by the king of the Assyrians (Sargon II) to Halah, to Gozan on the Khabur River and to the towns of the Medes. The king of the Assyrians then brought people from Babylon, Kutha, Avah, Emath, and Sepharvaim to settle in Samaria. Because God sent lions among them to kill them, the king of the Assyrians sent one from the Israelite priestly family/caste from Bethel to teach the new settlers about God's ordinances. The eventual result was that the new settlers worshiped both the God of the land and their own gods from the countries from which they came.[citation needed]

Modern genetic studies (2004) suggest that Samaritans' lineages trace back to a common ancestor with Jews in the paternally-inherited Jewish high priesthood (Cohanim) temporally proximate to the period of the Assyrian conquest of the kingdom of Israel, and are probably descendants of the historical Israelite population,[11][12] albeit isolated given the people's reclusive history. This casts doubt into, if not totally disproves, this historical theory that Samaritans originated from Assyria.

Furthermore, the Dead Sea scroll 4Q372, which recounts the hope that the northern tribes will return to the land of Joseph, remarks that the current dwellers in the north are fools, an enemy people, but does not explicitly refer to them as foreigners. It goes on to say that these people, the Samaritans, mocked Jerusalem and built a temple on a high place (Gerizim) to provoke Israel.[13]

Conflicts between the Samaritans and the Jews were numerous between the end of the Assyrian diaspora and the Bar Kokhba revolt. Jewish historiography describes multiple instigations from the Samaritan population against the Jews and disparages them, and Jesus' Parable of the Good Samaritan also gives evidence of conflict. The destruction of Mount Gerizim's Samaritan temple is attributed to the High Priest John Hyrcanus.[citation needed]

Following the failed revolts, Mount Gerizim was rededicated with a new temple, which was ultimately again destroyed during the Samaritan revolts. Persecution of Samaritans was common in the following centuries.[citation needed]

Beliefs

The principal beliefs of Samaritanism are as follows:[14][15][16]

Festivals and observances

The Samaritans preserve the proto-Hebraic script, conserve the institution of a High Priesthood, and the practice of slaughtering and eating lambs on Passover eve. They celebrate Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot[17] but use a different mode from that employed in Judaism in order to determine the dates annually.[18] Yom Teru'ah (the Biblical name for "Rosh Hashanah"), at the beginning of Tishrei, is not considered a New Year as it is in Rabbinic Judaism.

Passover is particularly important in the Samaritan community, climaxing with the sacrifice of up to 40 sheep. The Counting of the Omer remains largely unchanged; however, the week before Shavuot is a unique festival celebrating the continued commitment Samaritanism has maintained since the time of Moses. Shavuot is characterized by nearly day-long services of continuous prayer, especially over the stones on Gerizim traditionally attributed to Joshua.

During Sukkot, the sukkah is built inside houses, as opposed to outdoor settings that are traditional among Jews.[19] Samaritan historian Benyamim Tsedaka traces the indoor-sukkah tradition to persecution of Samaritans during the Byzantine Empire.[19] The roof of the Samaritan sukkah is decorated with citrus fruits and the branches of palm, myrtle, and willow trees, according to the Samaritan interpretation of the four species designated in the Torah for the holiday.[19]

Religious texts

"Shema Yisrael" written in Samaritan Hebrew calligraphy
"Shema Yisrael" written in Samaritan Hebrew calligraphy

Samaritan law differs from Halakha (Rabbinic Jewish law) and other Jewish movements. The Samaritans have several groups of religious texts, which correspond to Jewish Halakha. A few examples of such texts are:

Samaritan High Priest Yaakov ben Aharon and the Abisha Scroll, 1905
Samaritan High Priest Yaakov ben Aharon and the Abisha Scroll, 1905

See also

References

  1. ^ The Samaritan Update Retrieved 28 October 2021
    "Total [sic] in 2021 - 820 souls
    Total in 2018 – 810 souls
    Total number on 1.1.2017 - 796 persons, 381 souls on Mount Gerizim and 415 in the State of Israel, of the 414 males and 382 females."
  2. ^ Shulamit Sela, The Head of the Rabbanite, Karaite and Samaritan Jews: On the History of a Title, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 57, No. 2 (1994), pp. 255–267
  3. ^ Mor, Reiterer & Winkler 2010.
  4. ^ Coggins 1975.
  5. ^ Pummer 2002, pp. 42, 123, 156.
  6. ^ Grunbaum, M.; Geiger, Rapoport (1862). "mitgetheilten ausfsatze uber die samaritaner". Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft: ZDMG. 16. Harrassowitz. pp. 389–416.
  7. ^ David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 5:941 (New York: Doubleday, 1996, c1992).
  8. ^ See also: Saint Epiphanius (Bishop of Constantia in Cyprus) (1 January 1987). The Panarion of Ephiphanius of Salamis: Book I (sects 1–46). BRILL. p. 30. ISBN 978-90-04-07926-7. Paul Keseling (1921). Die chronik des Eusebius in der syrischen ueberlieferung (auszug). Druck von A. Mecke. p. 184. Origen (1896). The Commentary of Origen on S. John's Gospel: The Text Rev. with a Critical Introd. & Indices. The University Press.
  9. ^ Tsedaka 2013.
  10. ^ a b Anderson & Giles 2002, p. 11–12.
  11. ^ Shen, P; Lavi, T; Kivisild, T; Chou, V; Sengun, D; Gefel, D; Shpirer, I; Woolf, E; Hillel, J (2004). "Reconstruction of patrilineages and matrilineages of Samaritans and other Israeli populations from Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA sequence variation" (PDF). Human Mutation. 24 (3): 248–60. doi:10.1002/humu.20077. PMID 15300852. S2CID 1571356.
  12. ^ Kiaris, Hippokratis (2012). Genes, Polymorphisms and the Making of Societies: How Genetic Behavioral Traits Influence Human Cultures. Universal Publishers (published April 1, 2012). p. 21. ISBN 978-1612330938.
  13. ^ Magnar Kartveit (2009). The Origin of the Samaritans. BRILL. pp. 168–171. ISBN 978-9004178199. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  14. ^ "Religion of the Israelite Samaritans : The Root of all Abrahamic Religions".
  15. ^ "Religion of the Israelite Samaritans".
  16. ^ "Samaritan - Encyclopedia.com". www.encyclopedia.com.
  17. ^ Anne Katrine de Hemmer Gudme, Before the God in this Place for Good Remembrance: A Comparative Analysis of the Aramaic Votive Inscriptions from Mount Gerizim, Walter de Gruyter, 2013 ISBN 978-3-110-301878- p.52
  18. ^ Sylvia Powels, ‘The Samaritan Calendar and the Roots of Samaritan Chronology,' in A.D. Crown (ed.) The Samaritans, Mohr Siebeck, 1989 ISBN 978-3-161-45237-6 pp.691-741.
  19. ^ a b c Lieber, Dov; Luzi, Iacopo. "Inside the Samaritan high priest's fruity sukkah, literally". www.timesofisrael.com. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  20. ^ James VanderKam, Peter Flint, The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance For Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity, A&C Black, 2nd ed. 2005 p.95.
  21. ^ Timothy Michael Law, When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible, Oxford University Press, USA, 2013 p.24.
  22. ^ Isac Leo Seeligmann, The Septuagint Version of Isaiah and Cognate Studies,. Mohr Siebeck 2004 pp.64ff.
  23. ^ Samaritan Documents, Relating To Their History, Religion and Life, translated and edited by John Bowman, Pittsburgh Original Texts & Translations Series Number 2, 1977.
  24. ^ זבח קרבן הפסח : הגדה של פסח, נוסח שומרוני (Samaritan Haggada & Pessah Passover / Zevaḥ ḳorban ha-Pesaḥ : Hagadah shel Pesaḥ, nusaḥ Shomroni = Samaritan Haggada & Pessah Passover), Avraham Nur Tsedaḳah, Tel Aviv, 1958

Bibliography

Reinhard Pummer (2002). Early Christian Authors on Samaritans and Samaritanism: Texts, Translations and Commentary. Mohr Siebeck. ISBN 978-3-16-147831-4.