The following article is not the opinions of the Samaritans.
This is an article of Samaritan related material.
And is here displayed for educational reasons only.
“Carved in Relief, on Marble From the
Samaritan Synagogue in Nablus in 1779”
The follow is the description of a marble inscription that has come from a Samaritan synagogue in Nablus. The description says the synagogue was built in the end of May to early June in 1779. During investigations of the Stone an email was received from Pearl Woolnough – Bursar of Bristol Baptist Church in the UK. She said, “There was an auction on the 30th of June 1998 and the inscription sold for 4200 pounds.” She does not know who purchased it but feels it was someone from the Antiques Road Show. Further, she knows of no other Samaritan artifacts at the College. The inscription was displayed in a showcase in her office for many years bringing much debate from its audience. The piece of marble must have been heavy as she informed us timidly, ‘that on hot days, she would use it to hold the door open to her office.’ Today, the marble inscription has a purchasing price of over 15,000 English pounds. The following is the seller’s description. At this point we have obtained a photograph. Further information on the inscription to interesting parties that desire to purchase the Inscription may contact the owners, Clive Farahar and Sophie Dupre at Farahar_Dupre@compuserve.com or visit their web site at http://www.farahardupre.co.uk/
“Well-preserved inscription of four lines in Hebrew and Arabic, carved in relief, on marble, each line within a frame, the Hebrew in Samaritan characters, from a synagogue in Nablus (the ancient Shechem). The Hebrew reads (line 1) 'In the Name of God the [mark of abbreviation, implying 'Blessed' or 'Great' or a similar title]', followed (lines 2-3) by the first six words of Jacob's blessing to Joseph in Genesis 49:25, 'By the God of thy father [who] shall help thee, and God Almighty [who] shall bless thee'. On line 4 is 'Amen', with, in Arabic around and below it, 'This blessed house was built in Jumada I 1193', corresponding to 18th May - 16th June 1779, 11" x 19¼", 1779.
(Transcription) 1 BShM YHWHH[?BRWK or ?GDWL]; 2 M 'L 'BYKWY'[ZRK]; 3 W'L ShDY YBRKK 4 'MN'Umira al-bayt al-mubarak fi Jumada al-Ula sanat 1193. (Neither the Samaritan nor the Arabic have vocalization). Notes: Line 1: For the abbreviation, compare Baillet, Nos. 42-44, 49, 50, 56. Line 2: The Massoretic Text has M'L as one word. For the abbreviation cf. Baillet 39 which has the word in full. Lines 3: The MT has Tav for Samaritan Lamed. A number of Samaritan manuscripts omit W before YBRKK, as here. Unknown to M. Baillet. In his article 'Samaritains' in 'Supplément au Dictionnaire de la Bible', ed. Jacques Briend et al., Vol. XI, 1990, pp. 860-874, he lists all the known (137) inscriptions. Ours is new to the world of modern scholarship. Line 1 is the well-known Islamic formula, but with the Hebrew Sacred Name, followed by the article and the mark of abbreviation (a dot above a hook). Line 2 abbreviates 'shall bless thee' to 3 characters. Line 3 follows the Samaritan version, which differs from the standard Hebrew in two minor respects. The idea of repeating Jacob's blessing to Joseph is a nice one for blessing a building, given the Samaritan's descent from the Joseph tribes, and their veneration for Joseph's tomb and Jacob's Well (St. John, ch.4). Provenance: 1. A printed description, read by the former owner, Dr. Alfred Cooper Fryer, to the Clifton Antiquarian Club (27th November 1895, Vol iii. pp. 149-150), states '.. The stone was sold by the officers of the Samaritan church to the chief Rabbi of the Dutch Jews, and .. eventually .. my father (the late Alfred Fryer of Wilmslow) .. purchased it in the East in .. 1870, and had it sent to England'. Dr. Fryer was elected F.S.A. in 1901 and donated the stone to the Bristol Baptist College. He wrote papers on church antiquities, chiefly English, and historical stories for young people. 2. Bristol Baptist College Sale, June 1998. The Samaritans, now numbering about 500, descend from the 'Joseph' tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, with priests of the tribe of Levi. They hold only the first five books of the Bible as canonical, revere Moses as the only prophet, and celebrate the Passover on Mt. Gerizim with the ancient ritual. Their manuscripts and inscriptions still preserve the ancient Hebrew letter-forms, which pre-date the familiar 'square Hebrew'. They claim guardianship of Jacob's well (St. John's Gospel, Ch. 4) and Joseph's tomb. Their temple, which rivaled Jerusalem, was destroyed in 128 B.C., and Vespasian replaced Shechem, where Joshua first made a treaty to settle in Canaan, by nearby Neapolis (Nablus). By the 16th century A.D. this was their only home, except for a few families in Gaza and elsewhere. In the second half of the 19th century their remaining buildings were destroyed and they were driven into a kind of ghetto on the North slopes of Mt. Gerizim, which overlooks Nablus. By 1900 there were between 100 and 200 souls left. Their fortunes revived in the 1920s under the British, and especially since 1947, when a synagogue was built in Holon on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. Now that Nablus is part of the occupied West Bank, there are synagogues in Nablus and on Mt. Gerizim itself, Israeli President Ben-Gurion having taking a personal interest in their welfare. The Samaritans have used Arabic since about the 10th century, along with the Moslem calendar, for day-to-day use, retaining Samaritan for the liturgy and formal inscriptions. Only about 140 inscriptions survive, from the beginning of the Christian era onwards, nearly all in museums. The wording of the present stone differs little from Baillet's No. 39, p. 864, dated 1153 AH (1740). For a description of the latter, see H.H. Spoer, 'Notes on Some New Samaritan In 27076.14”
Alfred C. Fryer read the following before the Clifton Antiquarian Club
(27th November 1895, Vol iii. pp. 149-150).
An Enscribed Stone From Shechem.
By Alfred C. Fryer, Ph. D.
This marble slab was the dedication stone formerly placed over the doorway of an ancient Samaritan synagogue at Shechem. The doorway (as is common in such buildings) was recessed under an arch, so that the stone was protected from the action of the weather. The ancient synagogue had fallen into the ruins and was not rebuilt, and the stone was sold by the officers of the Samaritan church to the chief Rabbi of the Dutch Jews, and for him it eventually passed into the hands of my father (the late Alfred Fryer, of Wilmslow), who purchased it in the East in the year 1870, and had it sent to England.
The inscription consists of two portions. The first portion occupies the upper three lines and the center portion of the fourth line, and is in the ancient Samaritan character of the fourth line, and is in the ancient Samaritan character, which was the old Hebrew. The square-headed Hebrew, which is now in use, was brought back from Babylon after the captivity. It is believed that this inscription was cut when the synagogue was originally built, probably some years before the Christian Era. The words are read from right to left. The uppermost line a general inscription “In the name (of) God Almighty.” The second and third lines appear to be a paraphrase of part of the blessing which Jacob pronounced on Joseph on his death-bed: “- the God of thy fathers shall bless thee; and the Almighty shall bless thee.” The text in the Book of Genesis is:- “Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee, and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under.” (Genesis xlix, 25). The central part of the fourth line is occupied by the word “Amen.”
It would appear that, at a much later date, the unoccupied portions of the stone were utilized for another inscription, in Arabic. This might refer to extensive repairs, or a rebuilding of the synagogue, or to some other building in the town. It is no uncommon thing to find the Arab conquerors carving their inscriptions on ancient tablets. The Arabic inscription is translated thus:-
“The building of the house which was built in the fifth month of the year 1193.”
The fifth month of the Mohammedan year was Gioumadi or Jomada I, and of course the date of the year is in the Mohammedan computation, dating from Hegira, or “Flight of the Prophet,” the day on which Mohammed entered Medina after his flight from Mecca, Friday the 16th of July, AD., 622.
It is interesting to think that perchance the eyes of our Saviour Jesus Christ may have rested on this stone.
Copyright ©, All Rights Reserved.