The First Principle of the Samaritan's Faith
The first principle of the statement of the Samaritan declaration is, "One God, who is the God of Israel." The God of Israel is the sole object of Samaritan Worship. The name given to the God of Israel by the Samaritans transliterated to "Shema," or "Sema" pronounced "Shemma," also known as "the Name," means "Eternal." The name of Shema is used to avoid uttering the true name of "YHWH." "All the names of God are attributive except the name 'YHWH,' which does not consist of any attribute" (Memar Markah II.9). Shema (may He bless us with understanding) is Creator, King, King of kings, King of the worlds, God of gods, and Lord of lords. He is Might, the Mighty One, Great, Strong, Able, Enduring, Victor, Redeemer, the Living One, the Wise, the Great Power and the Rock and the Stone of Israel. Samaritan tradition has 76 names and titles of God from the Torah (Pentateuch). Deut. 6:4 forms the basis of the belief in the Oneness of God but this does not correspond to the unity of God in any embodied fashion. The Samaritans therefore worship NO images of any deities or anything of the kind!
Today the Israelite-Samaritans being of the remnant of the northern kingdom of Israel, still worship Shema on Mount Gerizim as their forefather had, ever since the Israelites entered into the land of Canaan. In the Ten Commandments of the Samaritan Torah, the tenth reads as follows:
"And it shall be that when God shall bring thee into the land of Canaanite, which
thou shalt enter to inherit it; there shalt thou set up large stones, and thou shalt
plaster them with plaster, and thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of
this law. And when ye shall cross the Jordan, ye shall set up these stones, as I
am commanding you, in Mount Gerizim. And ye shall build there an altar for the
Lord your God, and thou shalt offer thereupon offerings for the Lord your God.."
And this is the location that God chose (Samaritan Pentateuch Ex. xv.17) and where Israel as a whole nation worshiped Shema for 260 years, till Israel sinned against the Almighty. Because of this, the Creator removed his presence from the Tabernacle that stood on mount Gerizim. The Tabernacle and everything in it, including the Ark was hidden till the time comes when all will be restored as it once was. Since the removal of the Tabernacle from Mount Gerizim, the daily sacrifices have been exchanged for daily prayers made bowing and prostrating facing Gerizim. These prayers are made in the mourning and evening being the same time that the daily sacrifices were done, "One lamb ye shall bring in the morning and the second you shall bring in the evening."
Markah's Teachings Concerning Prayers to Shema.
Markah, is one of the most respected theologians of the Samaritans from the third and fourth century, C.E. His compositions relate to the Samaritan belief and the significance of prayer. Here below are several of his words:
"In the case of a man who is in a place of desolation and does not realize his position,
turn him from that place. In the case of a man who utters statements which he does not
understand and he suffers reproach, turn him to truth. In the case of a man who is
caught in his guilt and who does not realize the significance of it, turn him from his way.
(Memar Markah III.6)
"Greatness belongs to God, Who forgives sins and rolls away in his mercy, so that
men can repent. (Memar Markah IV.2)
"Know that He is merciful and pitiful. He does not accept the guilty till they repent."
(Memar Markah III.5)
"Prayer is not acceptable unless it comes from a heart full of penitence. If we pray
with heart adulterated with another god, the prayer is not accepted and the petition
not answered. (Memar Markah VI.8)
"If the prophet Moses were to pray for us when we were in evil, his prayer would not
be accepted, for the prayer of the righteous on behalf of the sinner while he is yet in
his sin in not efficacious." (Memar Markah III.9)
"Come with us! Let us wholeheartedly make petition. Let us worship sincerely before
him like Adam when he was afraid, like Enoch when he was obedient, like Noah when
he submitted himself, like Abraham when he tested, like Isaac when he was bound, like
Jacob when he was in affliction, like Joseph when he fled, like Moses when he hid, like
Aaron when he was silent, like Eleazar when he was faithful, like Phinehas when he was
zealous for God- perchance we may repent, bringing to light the divine will and hiding
away the divine disfavor, submitting in righteousness, obedient to what God has
commanded." (Memar Markah III.2)
"If you obey His commandments, He will hear your voice; if you put His words into
efforts, He will put the blessings into effect. If you fear Him, all the peoples of the land
will fear you. If you magnify His commandments, you will be exalted. If you open His
Scripture and read therein, He will open for you the treasures of good. (Memar Markah
"If you come to your Lord with sincerity, you will find him." (Memar Markah III.9)
A Samaritan Prayer
Praise be to God, the quintessence of Unity; the indivisible and eternal;
To him who is far above either mother or son;
To the forgiver of sins to every on that repents with purity of conscience;
To him who overlooks shortcomings, and consoles the disconsolate hearts;
To him who alone is perfect and eternal, and liable neither to malady nor disease;
He is eternal and immutable, far above destruction, or any possible damage;
He is the Everlasting, who is too exalted to be represented either by image or likeness;
And is far above measurement or drawing.
He is described by the most exalted names;
To him belongs the ineffable name “AHIH ASHR AHIH.”
He is the one who hears and beholds all things.
Verily he hears the flowing of water in the most parched wilderness,
And sees the black ants in the darkest recesses of the rock.
There is no God but he;
None but he is worthy to be worshipped.
He is invisible, eternal in his eternity,
And Lord of all the heavens.
Exalted and blessed be his Name!
He is praised in the secret and in the open;
In the conscience and by the tongue;
Inwardly and outwardly.
He is the only judge,
Who will avenge Himself on the rebellious on the last day.
Holy be His Great Name! Amen.
And Shema Knows All
Articles on our web-site for further reading:
Concerning the Name of Shema:
Sema and not YHWH and its Brothers in Samaritan Arabic Literature By Haseeb Shehadeh- Helsinki University
Readings concerning Mount Gerizim as the True place of Worship:
Mount Gerizim, The One True Sanctuary, by Jacob, son of Aaron, Shechem
Mount Gerizim Bet El and Jerusalem by Israel Sedaka, Holon, Israel
Readings of the disappearance of the Tabernacle:
The History and religion of the Samaritans, by Priest Amram Ishak, Shechem (Nablus)
The Samaritan Chronicle by Oliver Turnbull Crane