> Cuthens (sect.); Language, Samaritan; Shamerim > SAMARITANS. > HISTORY > 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. >47). 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 lawbookswhich 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. 11:1746), 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. 11:30612) 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 >(464424) but under Darius II (423404) 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., 11:3224), 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, 8589), 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 (11738), 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 (13861) >for their respective peoples. For the Samaritans, the worst of all persecutions was >that of Commodus (18092). 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 (193211), but Alexander Severus (22235) >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 (23844), Philip (24449), and Decius >(24951). 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 >Nablus. > 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 (40850) 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 (47491) 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 (491518) and Justinian I (52765), 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, 1146). 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 (81333) was a period of respite, on the whole, but the >reign of his successor, Muta\im (83342), 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) mailto: [EMAIL PROTECTED] For private reply, e-mail to ethel jean saltz <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> ---------------------------------------------------------------- To unsubscribe from Orion, e-mail to [EMAIL PROTECTED] with the message: "unsubscribe Orion." Archives are on the Orion Web site, http://orion.mscc.huji.ac.il. (PLEASE REMOVE THIS TRAILOR BEFORE REPLYING TO THE MESSAGE)