January 1st, 2004  

Vol.  III - Nu.10

In This Issue

  • Samaritan Evidence

  • A Samaritan Synagogue in Rome?

  • Missed Lectures

  • Books:

  • Recent Web Articles on the Net

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Sunset Times for Central Israel calculated by Abraham Cohen from Holon


begins Friday Jan. 2nd, 4:48pm to Saturday 3rd, 4:49 p.m.

9th 4:53pm- 10th 4:54pm

Samaritan Calendar

of Festivals

Next fest: Passover

May 3rd, 2004



Studies and Related Conferences:


In Planning Stage

SES:In Haifa, July 5-8, 2004 organised by Menahem Mor, and a session at the EABS in Grooningen, July 25-28, 2004 organized by Ingrid Hjelm

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Samaritan Evidence

By Shomron

Photo: The Samaritans, Montgomery, XIV, Plate 4. 

The picture to the left is the First Emmaus Inscription that was found in an archaeological discovery at al-Amwas, in the ancient Emmaus-Nicopolis basilica. The location of the site is about twenty miles northwest of Jerusalem. Discovered by Clermont-Ganneau in 1881, the Samaritan-Israelite inscription has been claimed to be between the 1st century B.C. to the first century C.E. which is the most likely. The inscription reads, "brwk smw lwlm," that is 'blessed be his name forever.' Two other inscriptions were also found, now named the Second and Third Emmaus Inscriptions. The inscription is inscribed on a column capital, most likely from a Samaritan synagogue.

Recently, at the mount Gerizim excavation, Dr. Yitzhak Magen discovered two whole and a  section of a third capital of a close similar style. They too have the end volutes that are well known in the "proto-Ionic" capitals. But most proto-ionic capitals found have a central triangle between the volutes. The Gerizim and Emmaus capitals to not demonstrate this triangular feature. What new discoveries will Magen reveal from mount Gerizim in the near future? Will any capitals, if found, bear a similar inscription like the First Emmaus Inscription? Dr. Magen's book on his recent discoveries of mount Gerizim was projected to in publication at the end of 2003.

Further reading:

The Samaritan Pentateuch and the Origen of the Samaritan Sect, James D. Purvis, Oxford University Press, London, 1968.

Israel Exploration Journal, Archaelolgical Evidence for the first stage of the Samaritan Temple on Mount Gerizim, Ephraim Stern, Yitzhak Magen, V 52, no. 1, pg 49-57 Jerusalem 2002.


A Samaritan Synagogue in Rome?

By Shomron

An ancient account from the works of a monk named Cassiodorus Senator (484-580), Variarum Libri Duodecim gives us a little information of a Samaritan synagogue, "the Samaritans in Rome are being accused of falsely claiming that a synagogue of theirs had been changed into a church." From this statement, it has been believed that the Samaritan-Israelites once had a synagogue in Rome. J.A. Montgomery in his book, The Samaritans wrote, 'Indeed we learn by chance that about A.D. 500 there existed a Samaritan community in Rome. Cassiodorus Senator has preserved a letter of the emperor Theodoric calling attention to a complaint made by "the people of the Samaritan superstition," who have had the effrontery to declare that the Church had appropriated a building which was once a synagogue of theirs, and to demand their rights.' Apparently this information came to Senator from a letter of king Theoderic (507/511). But the location of this synagogue may not have been in Rome at all!

Accordingly, there is a record of a Samaritan-Israelite synagogue that was replaced by a church, but not in Rome. This building was the octagonal church that was dedicated to Mary Theotokos in 486 C.E. by Emperor Zeno (474-491 A.D.) on the peak of Mount Gerizim after a Samaritan upheaval in 484.

The Samaritan-Israelite synagogue on mount Gerizim is mentioned in the Samaritan book Abu'l Fath, where it says, 'Mount Gerizim was sanctified as was the House on it.' A Chronicle mentions that the priest Baba Rabba built a ritual bath and a Synagogue so that the people could pray on mount Gerizim. This may also be known as the Synagogue of the Stone, surrounded by three hundred and sixty chambers, which may account for the numerous rooms shown in the photo above. Similarly this synagogue is one of eight built by Rabba, that according to records remained till the time of the kings of the Franks. This was the site of the of the house of prayer during the time of divine favour, that began after the Israelites entered the land of Canaan.  Another Samaritan Chronicle relates a story, describing how the nephew of Baba Rabba, wanted to ascend mount Gerizim and see a church. The ruins  can still be seen.

Most likely, Samaritans went to Rome upon hearing of the news of a new emperor, in this case emperor Theoderic expressing their disapproval of the issue of the holy mount. As history informs us, Theoderic did nothing for the Samaritan cause. Emperor Justinian (527-565 A.D.) later added to the surrounding area of the Gerizim church site with the walled fortifications. "Procopius, in De edificiia, v,7, gives an account of Justinian's building operations on Gerizim and in Shechem. The emperor reared outside of the old stockade erected by Zeno an impregnable wall. He also rebuilt five churches which had been destroyed on Gerizim" (Montgomery, The Samaritans).

Kippenberg's Garizim, gives an account, in which he says that Zeno just converted the Samaritan synagogue into a church which would most certainly coincide with the writing of Senator.

Montgomery (The Samaritans) wrote, 'Then upon Zeno's arrival in the land, he brought the Samaritans under the jurisdiction of the Christian courts......The holy places of the community were confiscated, the synagogue of Akbun he turned into a monastery. Upon his visit to the synagogue of Baba Rabba he was surprised at the absence of images. Next he demanded the sale of the holy mount, but the Samaritans, while politely acknowledged his power, refused to enter into a bargain; thereupon he seized the temple, its precincts, and the pools of water alongside. The temple he enlarged and turned into a Christian church, surmounted with a large white dome, wherein a light burned at night- which could be seen as far as Constantinople and Rome! He also constructed a tomb in front of the temple, so that when the Samaritans turned towards Gerizim, they would have to face the tomb. As for the body which it contained, Abu'l Fath records two versions of the story: one that he buried a child of his, the other that he himself was buried there. In addition to these independent data, there are several interesting correspondences between the Byzantine historians and the Samaritans chronicles, as in the name of the Samaritan leader, the connection of Caesarea with the history, the confiscation of the synagogues in the town and of the holy site on Gerizim, and the replacement of the Samaritan temple there with a Christian church."

Further evidence of Samaritan necessitate of their Gerizim synagogue is evident. "In the troublous days of Anastasius (491-518), the same kind of fanaticism that exhibited itself in the days of Pilate was repeated by a mob of Samaritans, who, headed by a woman, scaled the sacred hill, surprised and massacred the garrison, and seized the church of St. Mary. But Procopius, governor of Palestine, was soon able to suppress the uprising, and its leaders were slain" (Montgomery, The Samaritans).

Since no evidence of a Samaritan Synagogue in Rome have been found, we can reasonably assume that the Samaritans were trying to gain control over their lost synagogue on mount Gerizim.

Archeologist Dr. Magen's discoveries on mount Gerizim, does confirm an Israelite presence. Magen said, "The inscriptions on mount Gerizim were written in ancient Aramaic script, by people who brought donations and tithes to the priests." This is verified by the Delos inscription, "The Israelites of Delos, who donate to the temple of Mt. Gerezim, crown with a golden crown Sarapion, son of Jason, from Knossos on account of the benefaction towards them." The Delos inscription has been believed to be from the third to first century B.C.E. See:  http://www.kchanson.com/ANCDOCS/greek/samben.html


Temple Replica Uncovered http://www.hope-of-israel.org/p14.htm

Cassiodorus, by James J. O'Donnell http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/jod/texts/cassbook/toc.html


Missed Lectures


Beit Morasha of Jerusalem - Robert M. Beren College
The Institute for the Study of Rabbinic Thought
Invites the public to attend its Sixth Annual Conference:

How Formative are Polemics to Rabbinic Thought?
Sunday-Wednesday, December 21-24, 2003
Beit Morasha of Jerusalem, Kiryat Moriah Campus, Talpiot, Jerusalem

12:00-14:00 Galit Hasan-Rokem, (Hebrew University), Chair
Israel J. Yuval (Hebrew University), 'All Israel Have a Share in the World to Come' - The Limits of Polemical Interpretation
Gavriel Barzilei (Bar-Ilan University), Anti-Samaritan Polemic in the Early Exegesis of Genesis




ll sessions are open to the public and will take place at the Institute for Advanced Studies on the Giv‘at Ram Campus of the Hebrew University
Thursday 3 July 2003, Tenth Session 9:30 – 11:00
Dan Barag (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Samaritan writing and writings
Hagai Misgav (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Inscriptions from Mount Gerizim



Emanuel: Studies in Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, and Dead Sea Scrolls in Honor of Emanuel Tov

Crown, Alan D. "Samaritan Scribal Habits with Reference to the Masorah and the Dead Sea Scrolls." In Emanuel: Studies in Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, and Dead Sea Scrolls in Honor of Emanuel Tov, eds. Shalom M. Paul, Robert A. Kraft, Lawrence H. Schiffman, and Weston W. Fields, with the assistance of Eva Ben-David, 159-177. Supplements to Vetus Testamentum 94. Leiden: Brill, 2003.

Eshel, Esther and Hanan Eshel. "Dating the Samaritan Pentateuch's Compilation in Light of the Qumran Biblical Scrolls." In Emanuel: Studies in Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, and Dead Sea Scrolls in Honor of Emanuel Tov, eds. Shalom M. Paul, Robert A. Kraft, Lawrence H. Schiffman, with the assistance of Eva Ben-David, and Weston W. Fields, 215-240. Supplements to Vetus Testamentum 94. Leiden: Brill, 2003.

Other books

694 HUNTER, P. HAY After the Exile. A hundred years of Jewish history and literature. Vol. 1: The close of the exile to the coming of Ezra. Vol. 2: The coming of Ezra to the Samaritan schism. 2 vols. Edinburgh, 1890. ( Or.cloth., slightly worn , XXX, 320, XX, 313 pp.)  68,00



When Aseneth Met Joseph: A Late Antique Tale of the Biblical Patriarch and His Egyptian Wife, Reconsidered  by Ross Shepard Kraemer, Publisher: Oxford Univ Pr on Demand; (July 1998) ISBN: 0195114752

Ross Kraemer explores possible Samaritan involvement in the production and transmission of the Aseneth story ("Could Aseneth be Samaritan?");



Recent Web Articles on the net:

A Bad Time to Be a Samaritan (Newsday)
Middle Eastern sect fights to survive
December 15, 2003

Israeli star saw dark side of the Good Samaritan

(The Guardian/Observe)
Conal Urquart in Jerusalem reports that women are ostracised for daring to marry outside one of the Holy Land's tiniest and most ancient communities
December 28, 2003


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