January 29th, 2004
Vol. III - No. 12
In This Issue
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Sunset Times for Central Israelcalculated by Abraham Cohen from Holon
begins Friday Jan. 30th, 5:12pm to Saturday 31st, 5:13 p.m.
6th 5:18 pm- 7th, 5:19 pm
Next fest: Passover
May 3rd, 2004
Studies and Related Conferences:
In Planning Stage
SES:In Haifa, July 5-8, 2004 organised byMenahem Mor, and a session at the EABS in Grooningen, July 25-28, 2004 organized by Ingrid Hjelm
(Still waiting to hear for a call for Papers)
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NB: Dates, where given, are according to both Muslim and Christian calendars with the Muslim year preceding the Christian one thus: 1176/1672-73. Since the two calendars rarely coincide the Christian equivalent is not usually exact.
# 31 is the location of the old Samaritan Synagogue.
The synagogue is no longer in use my the Samaritan-Israelites. A new synagogue was built on Mount Gerizim and also two exist in Holon.
Baba Rabba's Synagogues, Where Are The Remains Today?
The great Samaritan reformer Baba Rabba left a great impression on Samaritan-Israelites and their history. He was named ‘Baba ha-Gadol’ (the Great Baba meaning the great Gate). We are told he was born in Samaria in the 4th century C. E. and was the eldest son of the Levite (a descendant of Aaron) High Priest Nethanel (300-332 C.E.). Information concerning Rabbah Baba comes to us from Samaritan sources, the Tolidah, the Book of Joshua, the Kitab al-Ta’rikh of Abul Fath and the New Chronicle. Among his many accomplishments, he built and established eight synagogues in various locals in the land of Israel. But where are the remains of these structures?
Samaritan Chronicles inform us that the synagogues were constructed in the same manner as the Basrah synagogue (A Samaritan Chronicle, Jeffrey M. Cohen, Brill, Leiden, 1981, p.71.) Apparently, this synagogue is said to have been built in the Era of favor (Rahuta), these were the early years after the Israelites entered into the land of Canaan. To my knowledge the location of this synagogue with its earth floor is unknown today. Interesting is the fact that discovered Samaritan synagogues are known to have mosaic floors (See the article in Biblical Archaeology Review, may/June 1998, How to Tell a Samaritan Synagogue from a Jewish Synagogue by Reinhard Pummer, and the article by David Landau, Ancient Synagogues in the Holy Land-What Synagogues).
John Bowman (Samaritan Documents Relating to their History and Life, Pickwick Press, Pitt, Penn. 1977) and Jeffrey Cohen (A Samaritan Chronicle, E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1981) have a list of the locations of the eight synagogues from Samaritan Chronicles. Cohen's book appears to be just a little more details from his manuscript than Bowman's on the synagogue locations. But Cohen gives no extra information on the buildings or cities. Maybe he had planned a separate article or book on the locations. No complete writing as of yet links any discovered remains with Rabba's synagogues. Here are the two lists from each book.
Bowman and Cohen also give some names of the sages that were placed in charge of the synagogues. Each of the two books only give us seven sages which may mean the Baba Rabba or more likely the reigning High Priest took charge of the eighth synagogues. The information may also help in identifying the synagogues' locations.
One interesting piece in the history of the Nablus synagogue found on page 83 of The Continuatio of the Samaritan Chronicle of Abu L-Fath Al-Samiri Al-danafi by Milka Levy-Rubin, explains how the synagogue that had been burnt down was rebuilt without wood, except for the middle building. The fact that it is mentioned that it was built without wood may follow the same pattern as a Rabba synagogue. Milka assumes that this synagogue was burnt down during one of the rebel raids (page 32). It would be interesting to locate all eight synagogues and see if they all have the same dimensions. Some links to possibilities of Samaritan synagogues have been added below in this issue. It would be interesting to see if any of our readers can possibly link an excavation to any of the eight synagogues. The Samaritan-Israelites have continued to use the synagogue as their house of Prayer to this day.
Qumran and the Samaritans
In the past few months I have had numerous inquires concerning the book by Thord and Maria Thordson, Qumran and the Samaritans. The interest appears to be derived from their personal studies and interests in early Christian sects in the land of Israel. The interest of the Essenes have intrigued the world since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. A couple of the scrolls bear a close connection with Samaritan-Israelites writings. This in turn adds a fascination of the sect and its revelations of similarities of the Samaritans. These similarities are very plainly revealed in Thordsons' book. Not only does this book compare doctrines between the Essenses and Samaritans but also the Jews and Kariates. It is a one of a kind book but sorry, it may be hard to find. I would suggest a library loan! Note: I have often wondered if the sect of the Essenes were in fact an off sect of the Dositheans!
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