Version 3.2

August 20, 2005

The Origin and Nature of the Samaritans and their Relationship to Second Temple Jewish Sects

 

By David Steinberg

david@adath-shalom.ca

Home page http://www.houseofdavid.ca/

 

 

1. Setting the Stage – From Israelite Religion to Judaism

1.1 Origin of Ancient Israel before the Deuteronomic Reform (c. 1000 - 620 BCE)

1.2 The Deuteronomic Reform  (c. 620-609 BCE) see 2 Kings chapters 22-23; 2 Chronicles chapters 34-35 

1.3 The Finalization, Promulgation and Acceptance of the Torah as THE word of God and Basis of Israel's Relationship with God  

2. Who Are the Samaritans?

3. Origin of the Samaritans

3.1 Jewish Version (from which springs the myth of the 10 Lost Tribes)

3.2 Samaritan Version

3.3 Critique

3.4 What Really Happened?

4 Contact Between Jews and Samaritans

5 Samaritan Studies (see also my Introduction to James A Montgomery’s Samaritans, the earliest Jewish sect: their history, theology, and literature)

5.1 What We Cannot Learn

5.2 What We Can Learn

5.3 Problems in Samaritan Studies

 

Annex 1 - Some Thoughts of the Differing Fates of Samaritans and Jews

Annex 2 - Samaritans In the New Testament

Maps

Select Bibliography and Links

 

  

1. Setting the Stage – From Israelite Religion to Judaism

1.1 Origin of Ancient Israel before the Deuteronomic Reform (c. 1000 - 620 BCE)

 

1.2 The Deuteronomic Reform  (c. 620-609 BCE) see 2 Kings chapters 22-23; 2 Chronicles chapters 34-35 

1.3 The Finalization, Promulgation and Acceptance of the Torah as THE word of God and Basis of Israel's Relationship with God

 

2. Who Are the Samaritans?

The Samaritans are an ancient Jewish sect, surviving to the present, which accepts the Torah as its only canonical scripture.  I call them Jewish because their religion is totally based on the Torah which, though compounded of northern (Kingdom of Israel) and southern (Kingdom of Judah) material, was given its shape and final form by Judean (priestly?) authors in Jerusalem or Babylonia.  Ethnically, the Samaritans would seem to be descendants of the Joseph Tribes plus Levitical, Zadokite and, perhaps, other Israelite priestly elements.  In addition, there was a small foreign, pagan upper class, settled in Samaria by the Assyrians in the 7th and 8th centuries BCE, which would seem to have been rapidly assimilated by the Israelite population.

 

The earliest extant Samaritan literature (Torah, Targum, Memar Marqa, and the earliest layer of their liturgy) shows them to have an uncompromising monotheism based strictly on the Torah.  Noja in Crown p. 808 passes on Macuch’s description of Marqa’s article’s of belief as “… one God, one Prophet, one holy Book, one holy Place…”  Their creed in recent centuries is belief in:

§         One God

§         Moses as the one prophet (At times this belief is almost Christological (Marqa (4th century CE) “He who believes in him believes in the Lord.)

§         The Torah

§         Mount Girizim

§         The Day of Judgement and Recompense (accepted as doctrine some time after 200 CE)

 

To relate this to the basics of Rabbinic Judaism, probably Maimonides would only object to the sanctity of Mount Girizim.  Putting the boot on the other foot, of Maimonides’ 13 Principles of Faith, the Samaritans would have trouble with #6 i.e. that there were prophets after Moses.  They also do not accept the legitimacy of the Oral Law.  In this they are at one with the Sadducees and Kariates.

 

 The Samaritans maintain, to the present, the Pascal sacrifice and the ancient functions of priests in teaching and interpreting the law.  Priests continue to provide overall leadership.  In the past, some Samaritan groups, (see Fossum in Crown) did establish lay leaderships alongside that of the priests but ultimately the Priests returned to sole leadership.

 

3. Origin of the Samaritans

 

3.1 Jewish Version (from which springs the myth of the 10 Lost Tribes)

 

The Israelites in the former Kingdom of Israel

 

2 Kings, chapter 15:29

 

In the days of Pekah king of Israel Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came and captured Ijon, Abel-beth-maacah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried the people captive to Assyria.

 

2 Kings, chapter 17:5-6

 

5: Then the king of Assyria invaded all the land and came to Samaria, and for three years he besieged it.

6: In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

 

2 Kings, chapter 17:22-34

 

22: The people of Israel walked in all the sins which Jeroboam did …

23: until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had spoken by all his servants the prophets. So Israel was exiled from their own land to Assyria until this day.

24: And the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sephar-va'im, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the people of Israel; and they took possession of Samaria, and dwelt in its cities.

25: And at the beginning of their dwelling there, they did not fear the LORD; therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which killed some of them.

26: So the king of Assyria was told, "The nations which you have carried away and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the law of the god of the land; therefore he has sent lions among them, and behold, they are killing them, because they do not know the law of the god of the land."

27: Then the king of Assyria commanded, "Send there one of the priests whom you carried away thence; and let him go and dwell there, and teach them the law of the god of the land."

28: So one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the LORD.

29: But every nation still made gods of its own, and put them in the shrines of the high places which the Samarians had made, every nation in the cities in which they dwelt;

30: the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, the men of Cuth (also spelled Cuthah, Kuth, Kuthah) made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima,

31: and the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.

32: They also feared the LORD, and appointed from among themselves all sorts of people as priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places.

33: So they feared the LORD but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away.

34: To this day they do according to the former manner. They do not fear the LORD, and they do not follow the statutes or the ordinances or the law or the commandment which the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel.

 

Basically the view of our text is that all the Israelites of the Kingdom of Israel were carried off into exile and replaced by foreigners who developed a syncretistic Israelite-Pagan religion. Josephus tells a similar story -

 

Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews Book IX CHAPTER 148) states –

 

1. WHEN Shalmaneser, the king of Assyria, had it told him, that [Hoshea] the king of Israel had sent privately to So, the king of Egypt, desiring his assistance against him, he was very angry, and made an expedition against Samaria, in the seventh year of the reign of Hoshea; but when he was not admitted [into the city] by the king, (24) he besieged Samaria three years, and took it by force in the ninth year of the reign of Hoshea, and in the seventh year of Hezekiah, king of Jerusalem, and quite demolished the government of the Israelites, and transplanted all the people into Media and Persia among whom he took king Hoshea alive; and when he had removed these people out of this their land he transplanted other nations out of Cuthah, a place so called, (for there is [still] a river of that name in Persia,) into Samaria, and into the country of the Israelites. So the ten tribes of the Israelites were removed out of Judea nine hundred and forty-seven years after their forefathers were come out of the land of Egypt, and possessed themselves of the country, but eight hundred years after Joshua had been their leader, and, as I have already observed, two hundred and forty years, seven months, and seven days after they had revolted from Rehoboam, the grandson of David, and had given the kingdom to Jeroboam. And such a conclusion overtook the Israelites, when they had transgressed the laws, and would not hearken to the prophets, who foretold that this calamity would come upon them, if they would not leave off their evil doings. What gave birth to these evil doings, was that sedition which they raised against Rehoboam, the grandson of David, when they set up Jeroboam his servant to be their king, when, by sinning against God, and bringing them to imitate his bad example, made God to be their enemy, while Jeroboam underwent that punishment which he justly deserved….

 

3. But now the Cutheans, who removed into Samaria, (for that is the name they have been called by to this time, because they were brought out of the country called Cuthah, which is a country of Persia, and there is a river of the same name in it,) each of them, according to their nations, which were in number five, brought their own gods into Samaria, and by worshipping them, as was the custom of their own countries, they provoked Almighty God to be angry and displeased at them, for a plague seized upon them, by which they were destroyed; and when they found no cure for their miseries, they learned by the oracle that they ought to worship Almighty God, as the method for their deliverance. So they sent ambassadors to the king of Assyria, and desired him to send them some of those priests of the Israelites whom he had taken captive. And when he thereupon sent them, and the people were by them taught the laws, and the holy worship of God, they worshipped him in a respectful manner, and the plague ceased immediately; and indeed they continue to make use of the very same customs to this very time, and are called in the Hebrew tongue Cutlans (sic), but in the Greek tongue Samaritans. And when they see the Jews in prosperity, they pretend that they are changed, and allied to them, and call them kinsmen, as though they were derived from Joseph, and had by that means an original alliance with them; but when they see them falling into a low condition, they say they are no way related to them, and that the Jews have no right to expect any kindness or marks of kindred from them, but they declare that they are sojourners, that come from other countries.

 

In Rabbinic literature, as in the passage from Josephus quoted above, the Samaritans are mostly called Kuthim - i.e. people from Kuth/Cuthah.  They are frequently discussed in the Talmud, sometimes being treated as Jews, sometimes as gentiles but mostly as a separate category in between.  There is a Minor Tractate (Kuthim) just about them. This tractate ends with –

 

“When may they be received into the Jewish community?  When they have renounced Har Girizim and acknowledged Jerusalem and the resurrection of the dead.”

 

3.2 Samaritan Version

 

All Israel was united until the reign of the High Priest Uzzi of the line of Aaron.  At that time the false High Priest Eli usurped Uzzi’s position and moved the religious center from Sechem to Shiloh.  From that time until the present the Samaritans claim to have maintained an unbroken priestly succession and, though a minority within Israel, to be the True Israel untainted by the paganism and quasi-paganism later rife in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.  In time, they claim the Israelite community split into 4 parts:

 

·  The True Israel i.e. the Samaritans, with Sechem as their cultic center.  This group consisted of parts of the Joseph tribes, Benjamin, Levi and the Uzzi priesthood;

·  The Jews, consisting of the Judeans and some Benjaminites with Jerusalem as their cultic center;

·  Israelites who became idolaters centred in Pirathon in Ephraim.

·  Followers of Jeroboam with Samaria as their center. 

·  With the Assyrian conquest the True Israel (i.e. the Samaritans) were exiled and then allowed to return and re-established sacrificial worship on Mt. Gerizim.

 

3.3 Critique

 

The Samaritan version is critically unacceptable because:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Jewish version is critically unacceptable because:

 

There are no historically reliable records of even vestiges of paganism in Samaritanism;

 

The Jewish version, based on 2 Kings chapters 15 and 17, pictures a complete exile of the population of the former Kingdom of Israel including Samaria.  We know that this is a false picture because:

 

 

 

 

2 Chronicles chapter 30:1-31:6

 

30:1: Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover to the LORD the God of Israel….

 

5: So they decreed to make a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beer-sheba to Dan, that the people should come and keep the Passover to the LORD the God of Israel, at Jerusalem; for they had not kept it in great numbers as prescribed.

6: So couriers went throughout all Israel and Judah with letters from the king and his princes, as the king had commanded, saying, "O people of Israel, return to the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, that he may turn again to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria.

7: Do not be like your fathers and your brethren, who were faithless to the LORD God of their fathers, so that he made them desolation, as you see.

8: Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD, and come to his sanctuary, which he has sanctified for ever, and serve the LORD your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you.

9: For if you return to the LORD, your brethren and your children will find compassion with their captors, and return to this land. For the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him."

10: So the couriers went from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun; but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them.

11: Only a few men of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem.

 

25: The whole assembly of Judah, and the priests and the Levites, and the whole assembly that came out of Israel, and the sojourners who came out of the land of Israel, and the sojourners who dwelt in Judah, rejoiced.

26: So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem….

 

31:1: Now when all this was finished, all Israel who were present went out to the cities of Judah and broke in pieces the pillars and hewed down the Asherim and broke down the high places and the altars throughout all Judah and Benjamin, and in Ephraim and Manasseh, until they had destroyed them all. Then all the people of Israel returned to their cities, every man to his possession….

 

5: As soon as the command was spread abroad, the people of Israel gave in abundance the first fruits of grain, wine, oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything.

6: And the people of Israel and Judah who lived in the cities of Judah also brought in the tithe of cattle and sheep, and the dedicated things which had been consecrated to the LORD their God, and laid them in heaps.

 

2 Kings, chapter 23:1-20

 

1: Then the king sent, and all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem were gathered to him.

2: And the king went up to the house of the LORD, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great; and he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant which had been found in the house of the LORD.

3: And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book; and all the people joined in the covenant.

4: And the king commanded Hilkiah, the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the threshold, to bring out of the temple of the LORD all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven; he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel.

5: And he deposed the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places at the cities of Judah and round about Jerusalem; those also who burned incense to Baal, to the sun, and the moon, and the constellations, and all the host of the heavens.

6: And he brought out the Asherah from the house of the LORD, outside Jerusalem, to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and beat it to dust and cast the dust of it upon the graves of the common people.

7: And he broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes which were in the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the Asherah.

8: And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beer-sheba; and he broke down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on one's left at the gate of the city.

9: However, the priests of the high places did not come up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they ate unleavened bread among their brethren.

10: And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the sons of Hinnom, that no one might burn his son or his daughter as an offering to Molech....

 

15: Moreover the altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, that altar with the high place he pulled down and he broke in pieces its stones, crushing them to dust; also he burned the Asherah.

16: And as Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount; and he sent and took the bones out of the tombs, and burned them upon the altar, and defiled it, according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who had predicted these things. …

 

19: And all the shrines also of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which kings of Israel had made, provoking the LORD to anger, Josiah removed; he did to them according to all that he had done at Bethel.

20: And he slew all the priests of the high places who were there, upon the altars, and burned the bones of men upon them. Then he returned to Jerusalem.

 

 

2 Chronicles, chapter 35:16-18

 

16: So all the service of the LORD was prepared that day, to keep the passover and to offer burnt offerings on the altar of the LORD, according to the command of King Josiah.

17: And the people of Israel who were present kept the passover at that time, and the feast of unleavened bread seven days.

18: No passover like it had been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet; none of the kings of Israel had kept such a passover as was kept by Josiah, and the priests and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

 

Jeremiah, chapter 41:3-5

 

3: Ishmael also slew all the Jews who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah, and the Chaldean soldiers who happened to be there.

4: On the day after the murder of Gedaliah, before any one knew of it,

5: eighty men arrived from Shechem and Shiloh and Samaria, with their beards shaved and their clothes torn, and their bodies gashed, bringing cereal offerings and incense to present at the temple of the LORD

 

 

It is noteworthy that the main object of Josiah’s attack in the north was Beth El which is interesting from three points of view:

 

 

 

 

22: The people of Israel walked in all the sins which Jeroboam did; they did not depart from them,

23: until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as he had spoken by all his servants the prophets. So Israel was exiled from their own land to Assyria until this day.

24: And the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sephar-va'im, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the people of Israel; and they took possession of Samaria, and dwelt in its cities.

25: And at the beginning of their dwelling there, they did not fear the LORD; therefore the LORD sent lions among them, which killed some of them.

26: So the king of Assyria was told, "The nations which you have carried away and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the law of the god of the land; therefore he has sent lions among them, and behold, they are killing them, because they do not know the law of the god of the land."

27: Then the king of Assyria commanded, "Send there one of the priests whom you carried away thence; and let him go and dwell there, and teach them the law of the god of the land."

28: So one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the LORD.

29: But every nation still made gods of its own, and put them in the shrines of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in the cities in which they dwelt;

32: They also feared the LORD, and appointed from among themselves all sorts of people as priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places.

33: So they feared the LORD but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away.

 

* It was later in the Jewish, not Samaritan, area of the country.

 

 

3.4 What Really Happened?

 

To attempt a reconstruction of the origin of the Samaritans it is necessary to go far back into Israel’s history and to bear in mind that in a highly religious age, movements and tensions that might have been originally geographic, ethnic, political or personal get expressed through religion and cult.

 

Ancient Biblical and other Semitic genealogies are less a means of describing ethnic origins and relationships, than of describing the political and social relations of groups of people at the time of composition of the genealogies11.  A glance at the genealogical chart (below) will indicate the subjectively felt degree of relationship between the tribes at a very early stage, while the maps of tribal territories shows their spatial arrangement much later, probably late in the period of the Judges.

 

To begin to understand the subjective feeling of closeness and superiority/inferiority between the tribes, it is necessary to bear in mind that Rachel and Leah were full wives while Bilhah and Zilpah were servant-wives. The children of the servants were considered to be “second class” children of their respective mistresses.  Thus Dan and Naphtali would be second class children of Rachel.  Rachel was Jacob’s second and younger but favourite wife and her biological children, Joseph and Benjamin, were Jacob’s favourite children.  Rachel’s being favoured, is a variation on a repeating pattern in Genesis of the first-born being displaced by later born children e.g. Isaac displacing Ishmael; Jacob displacing Esau; Ephraim displacing Manasseh; the tribe of Judah becoming dominant over those of Reuben and Simeon.  The order of birth probably indicated the tribes’ relative importance at an early period of Israelite pre-history.

 

 

Birth Order

Leah

Older sister of Rachel

Zilpah

Servant of Leah

Rachel

Younger Sister of Leah

Bilhah

Servant of Rachel

1

Reuben

 

 

 

2

Simeon

 

 

 

3

Levi

 

 

 

4

Judah

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

Dan

6

 

 

 

Naphtali

7

 

Gad

 

 

8

 

Asher

 

 

9

Issachar

 

 

 

10

Zebulun

 

 

 

11

 

 

Joseph (father of Manasseh and Ephriam)

 

12

 

 

Benjamin

 

 

 

The map of the tribal allotments .and the Bible narrative indicates a completely different situation from that of the genealogies.    Specifically:

 

 

In the time of the Judges (1100-1025 BCE) we, in fact, have the beginning of the Samaritan Schism.  However, it is not a religious schism.  We find the tribes broken into 2 major and 2 minor blocks:

 

Major:

Minor

 

The northern block was separated from the central block by unconquered Canaanite city states until about 1000 BCE.

 

At the splitting of the kingdoms (c. 928 BCE), upon the death of Solomon, we find that Judah and most of Benjamin form the Kingdom of Judah while the remaining tribal territory are included in the Kingdom of Israel. The Kingdom of Israel was dominated by Ephraim-Manasseh.

 

Between the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem (587 BCE) and the start of the Maccabean revolt (167 BCE) the only reliable historical records are those contained in the biblical descriptions of two vital episodes:

 

 

In the early Maccabean period, when our lack of documentation comes to a sudden end, we find that Galilee and the eastern region (Gilead) have attached themselves to Jerusalem as has most of the former territory of Ephraim, leaving only the rump of the central block as Samaritan.  The attitude of at least some Jews to the Samaritans at this time is expressed in two documents:

 

a) Ben Sira, writing about 185 BCE, just before the persecution that led to the Maccabean uprising, wrote

 

בשני גוים קצה נפשי

והשלישית איננו עם

 

יושבי שעיר ופלשת

וגוי נבל הדר בשכם

 

My whole being loathes two nations

The third is not even a people

 

Those who live in Seir and Philistia

And the degenerate folk who dwell in Shechem (i.e. the Samaritans)

 

It would seem that Ben Sira’s attitude is similar to that presupposed in the Gospel stories two or three centuries later.

 

Second Maccabees (2 Macabees 5:21-6:2), written after the persecution, states

 

… Antiochus … left governors to oppress the people at Jerusalem..and at Gerizim… the king sent an Athenian senator to compel the Jews to forsake the laws of their ancestors …also to pollute the temple in Jerusalem and to call it the temple of Olympian Zeus, and to call the one in Gerizim the temple of Zeus-the-Friend-of-Strangers, as did the people who lived in that place.

 

The text implies that the Samaritan temple was already quasi-pagan and that, unlike the Jews, the Samaritans did not resist the Hellenizing of their temple and the banning of Torah law.  Of course, we have no way of knowing how contemporaneous Samaritans would have described the situation.

 

What led to the development of the Samaritans, sacrificing on Mt. Girizim and socially and religiously estranged from the Jews, out of the mass of politically-socially disaffected Samarians?

 

My belief is that the small numbers exiled from the former territory of the Joseph tribes and the foreign upper class implanted into Samaria had little to do with it.  It has been shown by Coggins and Anderson that there are no passages, in the Hebrew Bible, that can be convincingly shown to refer to the Samaritans.  A few things are clear:

 

 

 

 

We may speculate that the Samarians, long used to dominating the Israelites of Galilee and Gilead, and long the main rival of Judah, felt most repelled by the thought of complete subservience to Jerusalem; whereas, the Galilean and Gilead Israelites probably felt that by giving allegiance to Jerusalem them would be escaping from Samarian domination, renewing old ethnic links (Leah-Zilpah) and that Jerusalem was far enough away not to be able to interfere in their internal affairs.

 

Religious Background to the Origin of the Samaritans

 

Josiah, when he proclaimed Deuteronomy (or its core) as the law of the land, and destroyed all the other Bamot in Judah and in the central part of the former Kingdom of Israel, was, in fact, staking a claim for Jerusalem as the ONE legitimate sacrificial cult site.

 

As an aside, we could mention that Ezekiel was less specific about the site of the temple.  Perhaps the Northern originators of the Deuteronomic traditions would have envisaged a site further north such as Beth El or Mt. Girizim.  Mt. Girizim and nearby Shechem, unlike Jerusalem, figure prominently in the early history of Israel.  Thus, it is hardly surprising that the Samaritan chose Mt. Girizim, which unlike Beth El or Jerusalem lay within their territory, as the one legitimate cult site.

 

Before the acceptance of Deuteronomy as the word of God, it would not have been schismatic to set up another Yahwist temple offering animal sacrifice.  However, after the acceptance of Deuteronomy as God’s Torah, Israelites could only establish a temple within the country by denying the validity of any other such temple.

 

About 350 BCE the situation was:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Antiquities book 11, Josephus records and incident (see below), that can explain the origin of the Samaritan Temple whose erection probably took place soon after Alexander’s conquest of the country in 331 BCE.  If you strip away the obvious anti-Samaritan polemics, I consider that this story is historically reliable.  Josephus, a Jerusalem priest, would be unlikely to invent a story which implies that the only true Zadokite priests in office, within the homeland, in his day were the Samaritan priesthood which can be assumed to have continued sacrificing after the destruction of their temple as they do to the present day.  It should be recalled that the Hashmonean family displaced the Jerusalem Zadokite priesthood during the Maccabean uprising.

 

 

Antiquities of the Jews (Book XI chapter 7-8)

 

2. Now when John had departed this life, his son Jaddua succeeded in the high priesthood. He had a brother, whose name was Manasseh. :Now there was one Sanballat, who was sent by Darius, the last king [of Persia], into Samaria. He was a Cutheam by birth; of which stock were the Samaritans also. This man knew that the city Jerusalem was a famous city, and that their kings had given a great deal of trouble to the Assyrians, and the people of Celesyria; so that he willingly gave his daughter, whose name was Nicaso, in marriage to Manasseh, as thinking this alliance by marriage would be a pledge and security that the nation of the Jews should continue their good-will to him.

 

CHAPTER 8.

 

ABOUT this time it was that Philip, king of Macedon, was treacherously assaulted and slain … and his son Alexander succeeded him …

 

Now the elders of Jerusalem, resenting the fact that the brother of the high priest Jaddus was sharing the high priesthood while married to a foreigner, rose up against him, for they considered this marriage to be a stepping-stone for those who might wish to transgress the laws about taking wives and that this would be the beginning of intercourse with foreigners. They believed, moreover, that their former captivity and misfortunes had been caused by some who had erred in marrying and taking wives who were not of their own country.  They therefore told Manassas either to divorce his wife or not to approach the altar.  And, as the high priest shared the indignation of the people and kept his brother from the altar, Manassas went to his father-in-law, Sanballetes, and said that while he loved his daughter Nikaso, nevertheless the priestly office was the highest in the nation and always belonged to his family, and that therefore he did not wish to be deprived of it on her account. But Sanballetes promised not only to preserve the priesthood for him but also to procure for him the power and office of high priest and to appoint him governor of all the places over which he ruled, if he were willing to live with his daughter; and he said that he would build a temple similar to that in Jerusalem, upon Mount Garizein (i.e. Mt. Girizim) - this is the highest of the mountains near Samaria -, and undertook to do these things with the consent of King Darius. Elated by these promises, Manassas stayed with Sanballetes, believing that he would obtain the high priesthood as the gift of Darius, for Sanballetes, as it happened, was now an old man. But, as many priests and Israelites were involved in such marriages, great was the confusion which seized the people of Jerusalem. For all these deserted to Manassas, and Sanballetes supplied them with money and with land for cultivation and assigned them places wherein to dwell, in every way seeking to win favour for his son-in-law….

 

As Alexander received him in friendly fashion, Sanballetes now felt confident about his plan and addressed him on that subject, explaining that he had a son-in-law Manassas, who was the brother of Jaddus, the high priest of the Jews, and that there were many others of his countrymen with him who now wished to build a temple in the territory subject to him. It was also an advantage to the king, he said, that the power of the Jews should be divided in two, in order that the nation might not, in the event of revolution, be of one mind and stand together and so give trouble to the kings as it had formerly given to the Assyrian rulers. When, therefore, Alexander gave his consent, Sanballetes brought all his energy to bear and built the temple and appointed Manassas high priest, considering this to be the greatest distinction which his daughter's descendents could have.  But Sanballetes died after seven months had been spent on the siege of Tyre and two on that of Gaza, …

 

And so, having regulated these matters at Jerusalem, Alexander marched off against the neighbouring cities. But all those peoples to whom he came received him in a friendly spirit, whereupon the Samaritans, whose chief city at that time was Shechem, which lay beside Mount Garizein and was inhabited by apostates from the Jewish nation, seeing that Alexander had so signally honoured the Jews, decided to profess themselves Jews. For such is the nature of the Samaritans, as we have already shown somewhere above. When the Jews are in difficulties, they deny that they have any kinship with them, thereby indeed admitting the truth, but whenever they see some splendid bit of good fortune come to them, they suddenly grasp at the connexion with them, saying that they are related to them and tracing their line back to Ephraim and Manasseh, the descendants of Joseph…

 

Now when Alexander was dead, the government was parted among his successors, but the temple upon Mount Gerizzim remained. And if any one were accused by those of Jerusalem of having eaten things common (24) or of having broken the sabbath, or of any other crime of the like nature, he fled away to the Shechemites, and said that he was accused unjustly. About this time it was that Jaddua the high priest died, and Onias his son took the high priesthood. This was the state of the affairs of the people of Jerusalem at this time.

 

Thus, while the Samaritans claim that their priests were Aaronite, they would seem to have been Zadokites from Jerusalem!

 

With the acceptance of the Torah, and the founding of their temple, we can now call those who supported that temple Samaritans. The establishment of their own temple probably relieved some of the frustrations of the Samaritans but, in the light of Deuteronomy, it could not but cause a major split with Jerusalem.

 

Manasseh and his followers doubtless took with them the current version of the Torah which was similar, but not identical to the Samaritan Pentateuch which was a sectarian  recension of a Jewish text of the second century BCE.  They also would have transplanted all or most of the traditions of the Jerusalem temple, as they existed in 330 BCE, to the new temple on Mt. Girizim.  Thus the Girizim temple, though occupying the site of a very ancient Israelite shrine, does not represent a continuation of local traditions or the traditions of the old Kingdom of Israel state shrine at Beth El.  Rather it was an offshoot of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in all of its traditions except site.  It appears that the Zadokite priestly line continued to oversee the pascal sacrifices and to minister to the Samaritans until 1624 when it died out and the Levites took over.

 

After the founding of the Samaritan temple, in the late 4th century BCE, the next reliable mention of the Samaritans is in the passage form the Second Book of Maccabees quoted, in excerpt, above.

 

As already noted, with the Maccabean victory they replaced the Zadokites as High Priests in Jerusalem.  However, the Zadokites held on at the periphery:

 

 

In the ensuing period, the Jewish king John Hyrcanus, destroyed the Samaritan temple (128 BCE).  At about the same time, a current Jewish Torah text, one of a number of slightly varying text types then in circulation, had introduced into it textual changes supporting the primacy of Girizim.  The resulting Torah text, together with the then current Jewish Paleo-Hebraic script, then started its independent development which has continued to the present.  During the same period the classical late Second Temple sects – Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes – took shape.

 

 Even as late as the end of the Second Temple period, the Samaritans shared many characteristics and customs with other Jewish groups, especially the Sadducees, while being set off, from other sects, by their rejection of Jerusalem.    However, after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, with the disappearance of all the groups except the Pharisaic Proto-Rabbis, the group farthest removed from the Samaritans in almost every way, they clearly had become a religion apart.  Just in passing, we could enumerate a few of the differences and similarities of known Second Temple Jewish sects –

 

 

Pharisaic Proto-Rabbis

Sadducees

Dead Sea Sect (probably = Essenes)

Samaritans

Holy site Jerusalem

Holy site Jerusalem

Holy site Jerusalem

Holy site Mt. Girizim

Law expands to cover every possible situation through the Oral Law considered given by God on Sinai

Carry out the Law of the Torah and what’s not covered by the written law is personal or group choice. No Oral Law from Sinai.

Everything not in the written law covered by the rules of the group. No Oral Law from Sinai.

Carry out the Law of the Torah and what’s not covered by the written law is personal or group choice. No Oral Law from Sinai.

Resurrection and Judgement Day, Messiah and World to Come

None known

Neither mention nor denial in sectarian writings

These doctrines accepted by Samaritans after 200 CE

Fulfilling the Commandments was most important – no creedal statement

Cultic correctness was probably of more importance than fulfilling the Commandments. Unknown if they had creedal statement.

Cultic correctness of most importance

Cultic correctness of most importance.  Statement and belief in creed more important than fulfilling the Commandments.

Rabbinate of key importance – and aristocracy of knowledge.  Priests are vestigial.

Priests provide leadership

Priests provide leadership though at end of days would be role for a Messiah of Israel who may be of the line of David

Priests provide leadership

Accepted the Prophets and Writings (Hebrew Bible beyond Deuteronomy) as canonical

Probably gave a lesser status to the Prophets and Writings

Accepted the Prophets and Writings (Hebrew Bible beyond Deuteronomy) as holy

Accepted only the Torah

Current Jewish calendar

?

Solar calendar and perhaps others

Sectarian calendar

Count omer from second day of Passover

Count omer from Sabbath after first day of Passover

Count omer from Sabbath after first day of Passover

Count omer from Sabbath after first day of Passover

 

4.0 Contact Between Jews and Samaritans

 

Before we pursue this issue, it would be useful to focus on the tolerance inherent in polytheism and the intolerance inherent in monotheism. 

 

Ancient polytheism always had room for more gods and generally, when people came together they recognized the legitimacy of each other’s gods and often identified (i.e. merged) gods which had some common traits e.g. Apollo and Adonis or Zeus and Baal Shamem.  This enabled the Ancient World’s population groups to coexist in reasonable peace and mutual respect.  However, the monotheistic religions – Samaritan, Jewish, Christian or Muslim – find it difficult to be tolerant.  There is to be only one God and each group passionately believes that it holds the true revelation of how, when and where he must be served.  All the other groups are superseded (as Christianity regards Judaism and as Islam regards both Judaism and Christianity), or at best, misguided.  In theory these monotheistic religions are intolerant of both paganism and of each other.  In practice, paganism is less of a threat.

 

The Romans tolerated the Jews, both because they generally practiced religious toleration, and because the Jews were too numerous to suppress.  The Romans even made special concessions to Jewish sensitivities such as:

 

 

 The pagan Romans were generally unable to distinguish Jews from Samaritans on the basis of religion.  They both had the same Torah, the same spoken and written languages; both called themselves the true Israel etc.  However, they were able to distinguish them politically since each group were more than willing to help the Romans to suppress the other and even bribed Roman officials to persecute the other group.  Each group also periodically undertook raids to defile the other’s holy place and to massacre each other. 

 

When the Roman Empire became Christian (4th century CE) the Samaritans, together with the Manicheans, were persecuted even more fiercely than the Jews.

 

It would thus seem that, in principle, there was an implacable opposition between Jews and Samaritans in the Second Temple period.  This was probably the case as regards the official leadership of each group.  It seems, however, that between crises the groups coexisted moderately harmoniously.  Thus the Babylonian Minor Tractate Kuthim, discusses the splitting of tithes between Jewish and Samaritan priests, teaching each other’s children a trade, eating Samaritan matzah on Passover, the kashrut of Samaritan meat and whether a Samaritan may circumcise a Jew.  By the third century CEJews essentially considered Samaritans to be totally foreign to them both ethnically and religiously.

 

In all likelihood, from very early times into the Middle Ages Samaritans and Jews probably got along the way Jews, Christians and Muslims have got along in the Middle East in recent centuries.

 

Perhaps typical to the ongoing situation are the following quotes from Pummer, in The Samaritans in Egypt -  

 

“Although in general the relationship between Jews and Samaritans seems to have been cordial, there were incidents in which animosity came to the fore. One such episode is described by Elijah Capsali (c. 1483-1555) in his work Sefer Eliyahu Zuta (also called Seper de-Vei Eliyahu), which he wrote in 1523. He mentions a Samaritan by the name of Sadaqa, a very rich man who had great influence with the Muslim authorities. It seems that this Sadaqa was the main instigator of an attempted massacre of the Jews at the end of the Mamluk rule when, in 1517, the Ottoman sultan Selim I (born 1467 or 1470, died 1520) conquered Cairo ….Uncertain is also what happened to the Samaritan synagogue in Cairo. While I. Ben-Zvi claims that the Samaritan synagogue in Cairo was taken over by Jews in 1708, others believe that it was the Karaites who took it over

 

5.0 Samaritan Studies

 

5.1 What We Cannot Learn

 

Many scholars are first attracted to Samaritan Studies in the hope that they gain access thereby to lost Northern Israelite traditions.  Regrettably, it seems that no recoverable Samaritan traditions exist that go back behind the Torah.  Really, there is no meaningful information before the early liturgy and Markah (4th century CE).  It must be remembered that through most of their history the Samaritans have lived in settlements having Jewish, Christian and Muslim populations.  They could, and did, read the literature of these other faith communities.  They would seem to have had a fair familiarity with Rabbinic Jewish writings and, even more so, with Karaite literature.

 

On the other hand, specific Jewish traditions directly derived from Northern Israelite sources abound. E.g.

 

 

Indeed, it is more logical to look for information on Northern traditions in Jewish sources because:

 

 

 

5.2 What We Can Learn

 

 

“…the Samaritans are important as living witnesses to ancient traditions and practice.  They are our only link with the old Zadokite priesthood of Jerusalem.  Their sacrifices, their stress on levitical purity, their calendar, all may be survivals of the early post-Exilic  period …”

 

I would stress the word “may” in Bowman’s statement.

 

 

5.3 Problems in Samaritan Studies

1.   Quality and Quantity of Researchers

 a)     Quality and Quantity of Researchers

 From its inception, Samaritan Studies have been crippled by the small number of qualified researchers willing to dedicate a major portion of their professional careers to Samaritan history, culture, languages, literature etc.  In part, this is probably due to a combination of limited interest within the academic community, the difficulty of mastering the necessary languages (see below) and the fact that there are clearly no literary masterpieces in the Samaritan literary corpus. On the other hand, scholars of modest capabilities, may find attractive, being a “big fish in a small pond”.

 This field has been blessed by a few first-class scholars (such as Ben-Hayyim, Cowley, Crown, Macuch, Montgomery, Pummer, Purvis, Tal) more mediocre scholars and some a good deal worse than that.  Unfortunately, some of the poorer scholars have published the most, and in English the most accessible of languages.  Poor scholarship, often picked up in secondary literature, is a serious problem since, in such a slow developing field a book can remain in current use for many decades and thus poor scholarship can mislead almost ad infinitum.

At present, the greatest need is for: (a) an English translation of Ben Hayyim's Tibat Marqe: A Collection of Samaritan Midrashim,  (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1988 (Hebrew); and, (b) a critical edition and translation of the Defter - the core Samaritan liturgy.

 

b)     The Language problem

 To work seriously in Samaritan Studies it is necessary to master the following languages: Samaritan Biblical Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic, Samaritan Arabic, Samaritan Modern Literary Hebrew (a derivative of Biblical Hebrew), English, German, French and Modern Hebrew often written in a rather difficult style and sometimes even Russian.  To this level of linguistic competence must be added all the skills and competences necessary to do something useful with the material after you have read it.  It is hardly to be wondered at that few scholars measure up.

 What can be done to ease this burden?

 First of all, the need for competencies in Biblical Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic, Samaritan Arabic, and Samaritan Modern Literary Hebrew can be reduced, for many types of work, by providing careful English translations of critical editions of the major Samaritan texts.

 Secondly, the field could standardize on publishing in English.  From the beginning of Samaritan Studies English has been the major modern language of publication.  It is now the “New Latin” – a language that any scholar in any field, can be expected to be able to read fluently.  This will be hard to swallow for Israelis, as well as German and French speakers.  However, it is the path taken in most fields of study in the world and a clear necessity if Samaritan Studies is to prosper as it should.

 I will give just two clear, and important, examples of mediocre scholarship pushing out outstanding scholarship because the former was published in English while the outstanding scholarship was published in a difficult Modern Hebrew

 -          Macdonald’s edition of Memar Marqah with English translation (John Macdonald, ed. and trans., Memar Marqah: the Teaching of Marqah.  2 vols.  Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 84.  Berlin, 1963) in preference to Ben-Hayyim’s (Z. Ben-Hayyim, Tibat Marqe (Jerusalem: The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1988)

 -          Gaster’s edition of Al-Asatir (The Samaritan Book of the Secrets of Moses, 1927) in preference to Ben-Hayyim’s ("Sefer Asatir," Aramaic text and modern Hebrew translation by J. Ben-HayyimTarbitz 14 (1943): 104-114, 123-125; Tarbitz 15 (1944): 79-86) see Encyclopaedia Judaica vol. 2 cols. 510-511

 

 

 

 

Annex 1

 

Some Thoughts of the Differing Fates of Samaritans and Jews

 

The Samaritan mindset, like that of the Sadducees seems to have been conservative.  They rejected the Hebrew Bible beyond Deuteronomy and have preserved no literature of their own prior to the 4th century CE.  Centuries later than main stream Judaism, they accepted the synagogue, the substitution of prayer for the sacrificial service other than Passover and belief in the resurrection of the dead.  Main stream Samaritanism aborted the development of a rabbinate despite early developments in that direction.  Thus priestly leadership, founded on a monopoly of the interpretation of Torah, has continued to the present day.  The Samaritans have been so tied to their holy mountain that they could not escape plagues, wars, frequent Christian and Muslim persecutions and other calamities when they visited the area.  Their Diaspora communities were bled continuously to help build up the declining population at Shechem-Nablus.  One wonders whether such a priest-temple centred worship could hold the allegiance of those far away who could always convert or informally join the Jewish, Christian or Muslim communities.

 

By contrast, Rabbinic Judaism has periodically, in the past, been willing to “reinvent” itself.  Its “canonization” process has, if unacknowledged, effectively continued to the present (e.g. Acceptance as normative of the Hebrew Bible beyond Deuteronomy, the Mishnah, Gemara, Rashi, Maimonides, Shulkhan Arukh, Zohar etc. etc.)

 

Rabbinic Judaism has developed in the Oral Law a method of changing to meet new circumstances while maintaining Deuteronomy’s theo-centricity.

 

Through the development of the Oral Law, yeshivot, prayer and the synagogue, Judaism became fully portable.  Perhaps, the Temple sacrifices were not renewed after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem because Judaism had already found it to be an anachronism from the removal of which the Jews benefited.

 

 

 

 

Annex 2

Samaritans in the New Testament

 

The following are the New Testaments texts mentioning the Samaritans with a few comments of my own. I will take the texts as they stand fully realizing that they may not, in fact, closely to what Jesus may have said.

 

1. John, chapter 4:3-22

 

3: he left Judea and departed again to Galilee.

4: He had to pass through Samaria.

5: So he came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

6: Jacob's well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

7: There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."

8: For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.

9: The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

10: Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, `Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water."

11: The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water?

12: Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?"

13: Jesus said to her, "Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again,

14: but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

15: The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw."

16: Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here."

17: The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, `I have no husband';

18: for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly."

19: The woman said to him, "Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.

20: Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship."

21: Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.

22: You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

 

This story exhibits the Jewish view of the Samaritans: i.e.

 

 

The story also illustrates the Samaritan claim to be the true Israel (“our father Jacob” in vs. 12).  It should be noted that Jesus rejects this claim in vs. 22.

 

From a Christian point of view, the story’s point is that, if even the corrupt Samaritans recognize Jesus as a prophet how much more should the Jews!

 

2. Luke, chapter 17:11-18

 

11: On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.

12: And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance

13: and lifted up their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us."

14: When he saw them he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went they were cleansed.

15: Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice;

16: and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.

17: Then said Jesus, "Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?

18: Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?"

 

Here the Samaritan is classed as a foreigner.  From a Christian polemical point of view, once again, this illustrates the point that if even the Samaritan is grateful how much more should be the Jews the true Israel.  The point of the Good Samaritan story (Luke 10:20-37) is analogous, although the story contains other elements.

 

3. Matthew, chapter 10:1 and vss. 5-7

 

 1: And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity….

5: These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans,

6: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

7: And preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'

 

Jesus is once again classing the Samaritans with the gentiles.

 

4. John, chapter 8:48-49

 

48: The Jews answered him, "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?"

49: Jesus answered, "I have not a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me.

 

Perhaps, here the appellation of “Samaritan” was taken by Jesus as being the equivalent of insane or, perhaps, Jesus considered the accusation to be such a low blow that he wouldn’t stoop to answer it.

 

 

   Maps

 

 

Map 12 tribes

http://www.spbts.org/youth/jrhi/12tribes.html

http://www.aceit.org/aceitnow/departments/histoethics/history/mod02/Images/Boundaries_Tribes.htm

http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/Judaism/tribemap.html

 

Divided kingdoms http://www.bible.ca/maps/maps-divided-kingdom.htm

 

Israel at time of Jesus

http://www.mideastweb.org/isrlate.htm

http://www.bible.ca/maps/maps-palestine-33AD.htm

 

 

 

Select Bibliography and Links