> Cuthens (sect.);  Language, Samaritan;  Shamerim

> Until 1300
> Until the middle of the 20th century it was customary to believe that the Samaritans 
>originated from a mixture of the people living in Samaria and other peoples at the 
>time of the conquest of Samaria by Assyria (722/1 B.C.E.). The biblical account in II 
>Kings 17 had long been the decisive source for the formulation of historical accounts 
>of Samaritan origins. Reconsideration of this passage, however, has led to more 
>attention being paid to the Chronicles of the Samaritans themselves. With the 
>publication of Chronicle II (Sefer ha-Yamim), the fullest Samaritan version of their 
>own history became available (see below). Two types of information on Samaritan 
>history are available: the chronicles, and a variety of non-Samaritan materials 
>(which have been well treated by J. A. Montgomery in The Samaritans (1907, 1968), ch. 
>4–7). According to the former, the Samaritans are the direct descendants of the 
>Joseph tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh, and until the 17th century C.E. they possessed a 
>high priesthood descending directly from Aaron through Eleazar and Phinehas. They 
>claim to have continuously occupied their ancient territory in central Palestine and 
>to have been at peace with the other Israelite tribes until the time when Eli 
>disrupted the Northern cult by moving from Shechem to Shiloh and attracting some 
>northern Israelites to his new cult there. For the Samaritans, this was the "schism" 
>par excellence.

> It is not known as a matter of fact whether the priesthood in northern Israel 
>survived the Assyrian conquest. The Samaritan chronicles report the exile of "the 
>sons of Israel, the Samaritans" (the Bible refers to "the people of Israel"; II Kings 
>17:24), including the high priest. Nor is there any evidence beyond Samaritan sources 
>as to whether the Samaritans existed as a separate entity among the Samarians. If 
>they did exist as a religious group, but were not involved in the political struggles 
>of the eighth century, they may have survived in situ (except for a period in exile) 
>and thus perpetuated both their priesthood and cult. Certainly their chronicles refer 
>to the Samaritans as a distinct religious unit in Israel through the period of the 
>kings and thereafter throughout the Persian, Greek, Roman, and Arab eras. Available 
>information does not confirm whether the Samaritan claim is true, but it is likewise 
>uncertain whether statements of II Kings 17 are exact. It seems certain that only a 
>very small percentage of the Samarian, or northern Israelite, people were exiled, to 
>judge from Sargon's own account, and he makes no mention of any religious groups. The 
>number of foreigners imported into Samaria cannot have been large. It is more than 
>likely that II Kings 17 "focused events which were spread over a good part of a 
>century" (Montgomery, 51) and referred to a number of small migrations rather than 
>some great migration immediately following the conquest. Separate migrations under 
>Sargon, Esarhaddon, and Ashurbanipal probably took place, but the immigrants would 
>have become assimilated to the much larger indigenous population.

> Little guidance is obtained from the name of the Samaritans. The Bible uses the name 
>Shomronim MynrmQ) once, in II Kings 17:29, but this probably means Samarians rather 
>than Samaritans. The Samaritans themselves do not use the name at all; they have long 
>called themselves Shamerim (MyrmS); i.e., "keepers" or "observers," of the truth = al 
>ha-emet, both the short and long forms being in constant use in their chronicles. 
>They take the name Shomronim to mean inhabitants of the town of Samaria built by Omri 
>(cf. I Kings 16:24, where the probable origin of the word Shomronim is to be found).

> Chronicle II reports the history of the kings of Israel and Judah with some 
>additional material concerning local cultic matters. This chronicle is a late 
>compilation (1908) whose author used as his source material parts of the biblical 
>historical books which he combined to the accounts of the earlier Samaritan 
>chronicles, especially those of Abu-al-Fath. After the account of the exile, which is 
>obviously excerpted from the biblical account, the return from exile is reported as 
>follows: during the reign of the High Priest Abdel, the community of the Samaritan 
>Israelites, along with many of the tribe of Levi, returned to Canaan. This came about 
>because of a seven-year famine there, coupled with attacks by lions. The inhabitants 
>of Canaan sent a message to King Swrdy (Cyrus or Smerdis), who was in Haran, 
>reporting what was happening in the land. They wanted to know how the former 
>inhabitants had succeeded in living in security. The Samaritan high priest explained 
>to the king how they had lived and worshiped in Canaan, and as a result he commanded 
>the Samaritans to return with his assistance. After summoning the Samaritans in 
>scattered areas of Mesopotamia, with only partial success, Abdel found himself in 
>dispute with the Judean leader Zerubbabel. The king examined their rival claims and 
>finally, after a trial by fire of their respective lawbooks—which resulted in Swrdy 
>favoring the Samaritans, Abdel and the then Samaritan civil leader Sanballat from the 
>tribe of Levi led the exiles back to Canaan.

> Chronicle II then reports the reign of Xerxes, when the Judeans returned under 
>Nehemiah. The dispute over the fortifying of Jerusalem is reported from the Samaritan 
>viewpoint, according to which the Judeans were prevented from their purpose and the 
>Samaritans, with royal author ity, demolished all that had been built. The account 
>contrasts with Josephus (Ant. 11:174–6), who credits the victory to Nehemiah. This 
>account dates Sanballat to the time of Darius III, the last Persian king, who was 
>defeated by Alexander in 333 B.C.E., i.e., over 100 years after the time of Nehemiah. 
>This discrepancy can now be explained by the recent discoveries in a cave at Wadi 
>Dalieh, where a number of Samaritan papyri in Aramaic have been found. Some of them 
>are dated (ranging from 375 to 335 B.C.E.). One of these, a deed of property, bears 
>the signature "Sanaballat governor of Samaria" in ancient Hebrew characters. It shows 
>that the name Sanballat (or Sanaballat) recurs in the family invested with the 
>government of the Samaritan province during the period of Persian rule. Another 
>important question concerning the time and motives of the final schism between Jews 
>and Samaritans is still under debate. C. D. (H.) Mantel has discussed several 
>suggestions by different schools and scholars. He reaches the conclusion, favored 
>also by Albright and Cross, that the conquest of Shechem by John Hyrcanus (in 128 
>B.C.E.) and the destruction of the Samaritan temple there brought about the final 
>severance. Another proposal, forwarded by Y. Gafni, Ha-Yahasim bein Yehudim 
>ve-Shomronim be-Tekufat ha-Mishnah ve-ha-Talmud (unprinted M.A. dissertation, 
>Jerusalem, 1969), postpones the final breach to the times of the geonim. Gafni bases 
>his theory on source material adduced from the Mishnah, Talmud, and Midrash. (The 
>main chronological outlines of the Samaritan account are fairly accurate, and the 
>report goes on to the time of Ezra, but in the later portions of the account there is 
>confusion and some telescoping of the periods of Cyrus and of Xerxes.)

> According to Josephus (Ant. 11:306–12) Manasseh, son of the high priest in 
>Jerusalem, was expelled from Judea and was invited by Sanballat, the governor of 
>Samaria, to settle in Samaria. Up to this point the Samaritan Chronicle II reported 
>three periods of great animosity between the Samaritans and the Judeans: in the time 
>of Eli, of Cyrus and of Xerxes. The Chronicle II claims that an additional reason for 
>this enmity was brought about by Ezra altering the script and contents of the Torah. 
>There is no supporting evidence for this claim, however.

> The Samaritans claim to have had good relations with Xerxes at first, but he later 
>changed his attitude and they suffered oppression. They fared well under Artaxerxes I 
>(464–424) but under Darius II (423–404) they were severely oppressed and eventually 
>came under Judean control. The reign of Alexander the Great is recounted next. 
>According to the Samaritan Chronicle II (and Jos., Ant., 11:322–4), Alexander 
>permitted the Samaritans to build a temple on Mount Gerizim (which was later 
>destroyed by John Hycranus). They fared variously under his rule, but the chronicles 
>generally contain legendary material for the reign of Alexander which may be compared 
>to Jewish legends of similar motif. The Samaritans claim to have received from 
>Alexander a deed of covenant to protect them, and when Philip, Alexander's brother, 
>demanded gold from them at the beginning of his reign, the high priest, Daliah, sent 
>two emissaries with the deed and they succeeded in obtaining a renewal of the 
>covenant. Josephus (Ant. 12:7) reports, however, that Ptolemy carried many Jews and 
>Samaritans off to Egypt.

> In connection with the Septuagint, the chronicles recount the story of the dispute 
>between the Jews and Samaritans over the priority of their respective lawbooks. 
>Probably legendary, the story in both Jewish and Samaritan sources ends with victory 
>for the recounter's side. The Samaritan Chronicle II tells of the Samaritan success 
>in winning over Ptolemy Philadelphus, who was persuaded to forbid pilgrimages to 
>Jerusalem and prohibited the celebration of Jewish festivals there during his 
>lifetime. At this point the Chronicle II states that there were three divisions in 
>Israel: the Pharisees under Eleazar; the Sadducees, "who rejected the Prophets"; the 
>Hasidim, "... meaning the Righteous, who were the Samaritan Israelite community that 
>lived around.... Mount Gerizim." Next it is stated that a war, caused by a dispute 
>between Eleazar and John (Hyrcanus), took place between the Pharisees and the 
>Sadducees. The Sadducees and Hasidim joined forces against the Pharisees. After his 
>victory, John (for no stated reason) attacked Samaria and slew many "Samaritans and 
>Sadducees." This account is composed of different strands, but the victorious John 
>wished to make a pilgrimage to Mt. Gerizim (reason not stated), and his request was 
>rejected. Having heard the arguments for the priority of Mt. Gerizim over Jerusalem, 
>however, he gave up his intention, and accepted the Samaritans' claim (for Josephus' 
>version see Ant. 13:288ff.). According to this account the Samaritan temple was 
>destroyed by John in 128 B.C.E. and rebuilt by the Romans as a reward for the aid 
>given to them by the Samaritans during the Bar Kokhba rebellion. The remainder of the 
>period before Palestine became part of the Roman Empire is passed over quickly in the 
>chronicles, but it is mentioned that Cleopatra III, daughter of Dionysius, rendered 
>assistance to the Samaritans in their war with the Pharisees. This statement, 
>however, should properly refer to Antiochus VIII (in 108 B.C.E.), to whom the 
>Samaritans had appealed for aid. With the report of Cleopatra's reign, the pre-Roman 
>part of the chronicles end.

> So far the Samaritan version of history has been parallel rather than similar to the 
>Jewish version. From this point on the Samaritan chronicles are fuller and seem to 
>be, in the main, quite different from the record of Josephus. According to 
>Montgomery, "the resuscitation of the district of Samaria came with the strong arm of 
>Roman force and law" (The Samaritans, 82), and at first it seemed as though the 
>Samaritans would know real peace for the first time in centuries. The Romans, 
>however, were not to distinguish between Jews and Samaritans, and Roman legislation 
>was to be a heavy burden on both peoples in many respects. Herod, though king of the 
>Jews, ruled from his Samarian capital, Sebaste. Although one of his wives was a 
>Samaritan, there was hostility between Herod and the Samaritans, and they claim to 
>have succeeded in winning Caesar's favor against him. This contrasts with Josephus' 
>account of a Jewish victory over the Samaritans (for the details see Montgomery, p. 
>85). According to Josephus (Ant. 18, 85–89), the Samaritans suffered under Pilate 
>when a Samaritan fanatic persuaded many of his people that he would show them where 
>the Temple vessels were hidden on Mt. Gerizim. The assembly on the mountain was 
>stopped by Pilate with much bloodshed, but an appeal to the governor of Syria 
>resulted in Pilate being recalled.

> After brief reports of the building of Tiberias and Caesaria in the reigns of 
>Tiberius and Vespasian, the Samaritan Chronicle II narrates the events of Hadrian's 
>time. Both Jews and Samaritans suffered under this emperor (117–38), according to one 
>part of the chronicles, but a later addition tells of the success of the Samaritans 
>in gaining Hadrian's favor by helping him to overcome the defenders of Jerusalem 
>during his siege of the city. This version states that Hadrian was allowed to build a 
>place of worship on Mt. Gerizim and that all Jews living in the area were forcibly 
>removed. Samaritan guards were placed at the emperor's beit kinshah, as it was called 
>(see Montgomery, 91, for further details from other sources), but while Hadrian was 
>away in Rome his priests defiled the beit kinshah by burning corpses there. The 
>defilement, in Samaritan eyes, resulted in a gathering of people destroying the 
>building and then purifying the place ritually. The outcome was that Hadrian sent an 
>army which attacked and killed many of the Samaritans. At last one clever Samaritan 
>managed to put the blame on the Jews and managed to persuade Hadrian of the 
>Samaritans' innocence, so that the emperor attacked the Jews instead. Throughout the 
>chronicles, statements are made about the loss of Samaritan literature during times 
>of persecution. The worst of these periods seems to have been during the rule of 
>Hadrian (and later of Commodus and Severus), when most of the literature kept in 
>Shechem was destroyed. The high priest lists, however, were probably preserved.

> Both Samaritan and Jewish sources tell of the friendship of Antoninus Pius (138–61) 
>for their respective peoples. For the Samaritans, the worst of all persecutions was 
>that of Commodus (180–92). They were forbidden to read the Torah or teach it to their 
>children, synagogues were closed, and many Samaritans suffered crucifixion for minor 
>offenses. The reason for Commodus' persecutions given in Abu-al-Fath and Chronicle II 
>was a dispute between Alexander of Aphrodisias and a Samaritan called Levi. A 
>philosophical discussion, which was the starting point, led to the anger of the 
>emperor and severe repression of Levi's compatriots, with the consequent destruction 
>of their written documents and scrolls (some of which were hidden and saved). 
>Claudius Gelenus (who died c. 200) is brought into the story, and it is claimed that 
>he persuaded Commodus to force the Samaritans to eat the meat of pigs. Subsequent 
>trials compelled many Samaritans to flee to other regions. At the end of Commodus' 
>reign, 300,000 Samaritans were reported living in the Shechem area.

> Nothing is reported of Septimius Severus (193–211), but Alexander Severus (222–35) 
>is reported to have persecuted the Samaritans almost as severely as had Commodus. He 
>enforced the worship of Roman gods, thus bringing about a series of rebellions 
>against his rule, which he put down mercilessly. His reign was also a time of famine 
>and pestilence. Since the Samaritans' great hero Baba Rabbah is recorded as having 
>lived during Alexander Severus' rule, it may be assumed that there is some confusion 
>in the account (see Montgomery, 96, for an alternative view). Severus' successors are 
>correctly stated to have been Gordianus (238–44), Philip (244–49), and Decius 
>(249–51). This period seems to have been a difficult one for Samaria on the whole, 
>but little more is heard from Samaritan sources until the advent of Muhammad. From 
>the evidence of external sources, it is confirmed that Samaria suffered from the many 
>political and military maneuverings of the era. The next source of trouble and change 
>for Samaria was the christianization of the empire. The edict of Constantius, which 
>prohibited the marriage of Christian women to Jews (Montgomery, 100), led to social 
>intolerance throughout Palestine. Circumcision, prohibited by Hadrian, seems to have 
>been prohibited again in the time of Bishop Germanus, whose jurisdiction included 

> The story of Baba Rabbah may properly be related to the period of Bishop Germanus. 
>The chief importance of this Samaritan hero was that he revived the Samarian hopes of 
>freedom. He organized Samaria into districts, built synagogues, encouraged 
>literature, and raised a standing army. The Baba Rabbah story, despite some legendary 
>accretions, is not as absurd as Montgomery claims (103), for a great change in 
>Samaritanism undoubtedly took place at about this time (witness the work of Markah 
>and his family, who gave new shape to religious thinking and gave Samaritan religion 
>a firm base).

> During a long period of gradual christianization in Palestine, the Samaritans fared 
>badly; there were continual attacks by Samaritans on Christians and Christians on 
>Jews and Samaritans, and the holy places of Israel were taken over by the Christians. 
>Under certain rulers, a measure of protection was accorded to both Jews and 
>Samaritans, but the long reign of Theodosius II (408–50) brought in its wake many 
>deprivations, and both Jews and Samaritans became in effect second-class citizens 
>with minimal rights. It was not until the latter part of the fifth century that the 
>full fury of the new order was felt in Samaria, for under Zeno (474–91) Jews and 
>Samaritans suffered terrible massacres, and the Samaritan chronicles tell of many 
>incidents during this period which resulted in increasing repression. For the period 
>of Anastasius (491–518) and Justinian I (527–65), the chronicles have little 
>information, but external sources (see Montgomery, 113ff.) reveal further 
>devastations of the dwindling Samaritan community. Many small-scale uprisings had 
>taken place almost annually throughout the Christian period, but the greatest seems 
>to have occurred soon after Justinian I became emperor. This was in the year 529, and 
>there are many sources of information about it (Montgomery, 114–6). It is clear that 
>thousands of Samaritans died in the fighting and that they tried to establish their 
>own state. Jews and Samaritans seem to have been treated alike by the Christian 
>victors; sources speak of 50,000 Jewish and Samaritan soldiers being offered by the 
>Samaritans to the Persian king if he would take over Palestine. This attempt, which 
>was foiled, was symptomatic of the state of affairs in Samaria. The people of Samaria 
>became increasingly desperate and things were to become even worse as more repressive 
>laws were promulgated by Justinian, for a rising number of Samaritans relinquished 
>their faith and embraced Christianity, thus further reducing the number adhering to 
>the ancient faith. Indeed the Samaritans, as a recognizable religious group, had all 
>but been outlawed by Christianity. They lived in territory sacred to the Christians; 
>they were regarded, with the Jews, as eternal enemies of the new faith; and even when 
>they converted, they were not accorded the full rights of other Christians.

> According to the chronicles, many Samaritans fled eastward after 634, when the 
>Muslims were victorious at Yarmuk. Throughout the account of Samaritan history, from 
>earliest times, there were frequent emigrations eastward, and contact between the 
>MmigrMs and Nablus seems to have been lost frequently until the 13th century, when 
>migrations back to Nablus began. The story of life under the caliphs is one of revolt 
>and suppression. Little information on the basic cause of the troubles is available 
>because Muslim and Samaritan historians hardly refer to the Samaritans in historical 
>terms. During the early part of the reign of Harun al-Rash<d (d. 809), plague and 
>famine blighted Samaria, but after these calamities the Samaritans enjoyed peace in 
>his time. The reign of Ma$mun (813–33) was a period of respite, on the whole, but the 
>reign of his successor, Muta\im (833–42), brought considerable calamity to Samaria 
>when certain Muslim fanatics demolished many synagogues and all but destroyed Nablus.

> As time went on, religious bitterness increased and the Muslims imposed prohibitions 
>on religious practices, especially pilgrimages to Mt. Gerizim. During the tenth 
>century, however, matters improved under the Fatimid caliphs. Samaritan, Islamic, or 
>Christian sources tell little about the period of the Crusades. The Samarian capital 
>was the center of political intrigue and ecclesiastical debate during the early part 
>of the 12th century. In 1137 Nablus seems to have undergone the catastrophe of 
>further devastation and decimation of its inhabitants when the Saracens attacked it. 
>and thereafter, until 1244, Muslims assumed rule of the Samarian capital. 
> [John Macdonald]

Be-ahavah oo-ve-shalom oo-ve-emet, Ethel Jean Saltz
Mac(hiavelli)-Niet(zsche)-Spin(oza)-Gal(ileo), 392 A.G. (after Galileo)

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