December 19, 2002

In this Issue:

  • The Samaritan Tradition:


  • The Samaritan Version of the Ten Commandments

  • The Samaritan Tenth Commandment

  • Scholarly Reprints


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The Samaritan Tradition: Mezuza

by Osher Sassoni

   The mezuza/mezuzah means in Hebrew doorpost. "You shall write them on the door-posts of your house, and on your gates" Shema Yisrael (Hear Yisrael) 6:4. The writing of the Samaritan Mezuza is not in a fixed format. It includes some sentences or verses from the Torah which relates to blessings or on the same order. As requested, there are two mezuzas shown and each have been translated into English. You can enlarge either mezuza by clinging on the image, download the jpg and print. Print and place over your doorway . Translations:

( Exodus )" Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 6:23"Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, 'This is how you shall bless the children of Israel.' You shall tell them, Yahweh bless you, and keep you. Yahweh make his face to shine on you,
And be gracious to you. Yahweh lift up his face toward you, And give you peace.

So they shall put my name on the children of Israel; and I will bless them."

                      Ohhho God, The good Merciful (In Aramic)

(I AM WHO I AM) Eheyee Eshar Eheyee (one of God's names, Exodus 3:14)

(Deut. 26:15) " Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Israel, and the ground which you have given us, as you swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey."

*********   ***********   ********   ********

Blessed who said: (this a sentence [in Aramic] which is said before quoting sentences of God from the Torah)

(Exodus 12:13 ) I will pass over you and the plague  shall not be upon you to destroy you:"

"Yahweh bless; Yahweh make his face; Yahweh lift up his face " (a shorter version of the blessings wrote above)

 The Samaritan Version of the Ten Commandments

I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
(Commandment No. 1) You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me, and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments
(Commandment No. 2)
Save the day of Sabbath to make it holy. You shall labor six days, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your man-servant, nor your maid-servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates; for in six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy.
(Commandment No. 3) Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your God gives you.
(Commandment No. 4) You shall not murder.
(Commandment No. 5) You shall not commit adultery.
(Commandment No. 6) You shall not steal.
(Commandment No. 7) You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
(Commandment No. 8) You shall not covet your neighbor's house
(Commandment No. 9) You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's."
(Commandment No. 10) It shall be  when your god will bring you to the Canaanite land, which you are going to inherit, you shall set yourself up great stones, and plaster them with plaster, and you shall write on them all the words of this law. It shall be, when you are passed over the Jordan, that you shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in Mount Gerizim. There shall you build an altar to Yahweh your God, an altar of stones: you shall lift up no iron tool on them. You shall build the altar of Yahweh your God of uncut stones; and you shall offer burnt offerings thereon to Yahweh your God: and you shall sacrifice peace-offerings, and shall eat there; and you shall rejoice before Yahweh your God. That mount beyond the Jordan, behind the way of the going down of the sun, in the land of the Canaanites who dwell in the Arabah, over against Gilgal, beside the oaks of Moreh, against Shechem (Nablus).


The Samaritans, Their History, Doctrines and Literature

By Moses Gaster, The Schweich Lectures 1923

   In the course of the lectures I have not been able to do more than to point out briefly the difference between the Jewish and Samaritan recension of the Ten Commandments, and to show that great importance is to be attached to this text, and even far more than to the corresponding variants in Deuteronomy. The matter is, however, of such fundamental importance from more than one point of view, that it deserves a much fuller treatment. In order to understand the real character of the Samaritan recension of the Pentateuch no section offers a better example than the one under consideration. The essential feature has been the desire to harmonize the contents of the Bible, to smooth away difficulties, and to fill up the lacunae as much as possible with portions of the text found elsewhere. The book, as it were, was to interpret itself from within. This procedure gave an air of justification for this kind of replenishing the text and completing it, especially as it was designed to be read before the public and to be easily understood by the audience. In this way awkward questions were removed, and first, as already remarked, by words or verses from within, and secondly, by slight additions and interpolations from without. In the Ten Commandments, such as they are found in the books and scrolls, this tendency is made manifest, and quite obviously too.

   It is well known that there are two recensions of the Ten Commandments in the Pentateuch, the one in Exodus xx, 1ff., and the other in Deuteronomy v. 6ff. There are a good many differences in the Jewish text between the one and the other, which have given rise to many speculations and have led to divergent conclusions. The Samaritans have got over that difficulty by simply harmonizing the two texts; thus every difficulty has removed, as two texts now read almost alike; but this is as nothing compared to the very fundamental change by the addition of a long passage which is counted by them as the Tenth Commandment. It contains the vital dogmatic difference between Jews and Samaritans for the sanctity of Mount Garizim thus proclaimed by God in the grand revelation on Sinai. It stands on the same level with all the other Commandments which form the Covenant between God and Israel, the breaking of which was as heinous an act and as terrible a sin as that of breaking the other Commandments. The selection of Mount Garizim as the chosen spot where the memorial stones were to be placed, upon which the words of these Commandments were to be written, and where an altar was to be built and the sanctuary established, was thus no longer a mere stray Commandment found in various verses in Deuteronomy. This Commandment was, on the contrary, an essential portion of the Divine Revelation. The occurrence of similar verses in Deuteronomy was then, according to this recension, a mere repetition of the Commandment originally given on Mount Sinai, and then repeated by Moses with especial stress when they were approaching the borders of the land of Canaan. It would then be practically the first Commandment in order to be fulfilled as soon as they had taken possession of the land. For the original source was the Divine Revelation. To my mind sufficient attention has not been bestowed upon this cardinal fact, which is the corner-stone of the Samaritan dissidence, and the everlasting bone of contention to this very day. Round it turn all the disputations throughout the ages, and the Samaritans found their strength and justification in the fact that this formed part of the Ten Commandments. It may be that for this reason the reading of the Ten Commandments as part of the liturgy in Jerusalem was dropped after a time; the reason given was ‘because of the Minim.’ (See Talmud B. Berakhot f. 11 a.) These were probably the Samaritans, and the leaders in Jerusalem obviously intended to avoid drawing attention to the fundamental difference between the two sects. It is a curious fact, to which attention has already been drawn (p. 128), that this passage had been introduced into the Greek translation, although Origenes does not fail to note that it is absent from the Jewish text, and marks it with an asterisk. Still it is surprising strange that such an obvious anti-Jewish passage should have been admitted into the Greek text, and above all among the Ten Commandments, thus giving it such a sacred character and such prominent importance. It is no doubt an interpolation from the Samaritans, but still it remains a puzzle.

   This, however, does not exhaust the importance of the variants in the Samaritan text. The process of harmonizing has reached here its highest development. A number of verses have been added, and the blending of various texts into one has been carried out on a far more extensive scale than even in the Ten Commandments. It must not be forgotten that the verses which follow both in Exodus and in Deuteronomy are a direct continuation of the Revelation, and contain a full description of the incidents which happened immediately after the grand act, the discussions between Moses and the people, and the words which God spake to Moses on that occasion, containing also new Commandments. If one compares the two corresponding sections in Exodus and Deuteronomy, the discrepancies are still greater than between the two texts of the Commandments. Surely God could not have spoken differently in one case and differently in another when the same fact is recorded. Either the version in Exodus is the correct record or that in Deuteronomy. The answer to this question is given by the Samaritans, who join the two texts together, and make out of them one complete in Exodus. Thus every difficulty disappears and the text is now fully harmonized. It consists of Deuteronomy v. 21-5 ; Exodus xx. 19 ; Deuteronomy v. 26-9 ; Deuteronomy xviii. 16ff. ; Exodus xx. 20-6. This composite text has, furthermore, a transcendent value by the interpolation of the passage from Deuteronomy xvii, which becomes clear in the light of the explanation which I have given (pp. 90-2), when discussing the Samaritan principle of the future Redeemer. He was to be a prophet like unto Moses, and this part of their eschatology agreed in the main with the teaching found in the Apocryphal literature, and above all with the views entertained by the Sadducees, or rather the Sadokites, of the pre-Maccabean period. By inserting here this promise that a prophet like Moses will arise in the future, who will be sent by God, and to whose voice they are bidden to hearken, a unique importance has been given to it. It has been placed next to the Commandments as being uttered by God on the very solemn occasion. One cannot over-estimate the value just assigned to it, for it assumes a character of its own and becomes the basis of all the eschatological speculations which are later on crystallized in the belief of a Taheb. No wonder, therefore, that when these Messianic ideas and the outlook for happier times became one of the driving forces in the religious life of the Jews’ that the Samaritans should then have rested their belief on this clear pronouncement and Divine promise. They had to seek for a biblical justification for such belief, and nothing lay better to their hands than these words.

   The only question which remains which cannot be answered satisfactorily is how old this portion is in the Samaritan Pentateuch. It is older in any case than the Abisha Scroll, and if, as one may assume, it is as old as the Samaritan Tenth Commandment, which, as witnessed by the Septuagint, was already found in their text before the Greek translation, then it belongs indeed to a very high antiquity. To this points also the antiquity of the belief in, or dogma of, the Taheb so fully developed already before the beginnings of the Christian era (John iv. 25). Thus, the Samaritan recension of the Ten Commandments, with the concluding section, contains some of the fundamental dogmas of the Samaritans, and notably those which separate them from the Jews. For this reason I have reproduced here in facsimile two copies of the entire section, including the Tenth Commandment and the succeeding verses. One is taken from a modern scroll, and the other from the ancient parallel Pentateuch preserved in the Kinsha, which contains the Jewish and Samaritan recension side by side. A faithful copy was made for me many years ago by the late High Priest Jacob, and one can see thus at a glance the difference between these two recensions, which I have transliterated and translated here as well.

   Besides other slight changes and variations, one more deserves special attention. It shows how careful the Samaritans have been not to allow words to stand in the text, or, according to their statement, not allow words to be introduced, which would change the true meaning and cause even the slightest doubt concerning the Chosen Spot. In the Jewish recension verse 24 reads, “in all places where I will record my Name’; the Samaritan, however, reads, ‘in that place where I have caused my Name to be recorded’. Whilst the Jewish recension allows, as it were, many places to be recorded by God, the verb being in the future tense ‘I will record’, the Samaritan does not allow but one single place, The Chosen Place, which has been recorded by God, here the verb in the past tense, i.e. the place mentioned shortly before in the Tenth Commandment; the change, therefore, is very skillfully done, and shows great tenacity of purpose.

Samaritan Tenth Commandment and Succeeding Verses

from my Scroll now in the British Museum.

    And it shall come to pass when the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land of the Canaanites whither thou goest to take possession of it, thou shalt erect unto thee large stones, and thou shalt cover them with lime, and thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this Law, and it shall come to pass when ye cross the Jordan, ye shall erect these stones which I command thee upon Mount Garizim, and thou shalt build there an altar unto the Lord thy God, an altar of stones, and thou shalt not lift upon them iron, of perfect stones shalt thou build tine altar, and thou shalt bring upon it burnt offerings to the Lord thy God, and thou shalt sacrifice peace offerings, and thou shalt eat there and rejoice before the Lord thy God. That mountain is on the other side of the Jordan at the end of the road towards the going down of the sun in the land of the Canaanites who dwell in the Arabah facing Gilgal close by Elon Moreh facing Shechem.

   And all the people heard the voices and the sound of the trumpets and they saw the flames and the mountain smoking, and all the people saw it and they trembled and stood afar off, and they said unto Moses, ‘Behold the Lord our God hath showed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire; this day have we seen that God doth talk with man and he liveth. Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us; if we should continue to hear the voice of the Lord our God anymore, then we shall die. For who is there of all flesh that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire as have we, and yet live? Go thou near and hear all that the Lord thy God shall say, and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee, and we will hear and do, but let not God speak with us lest we die.’  And Moses said unto the people, ‘Do not fear, for God is come to prove you, and that the fear of him may be before your faces, that ye sin not.’ And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near to the thick darkness where was God. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, ‘I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee; they have well said all that they have spoken. I that there were such an heart in them that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them and with their children for ever. (Deuteronomy xviii. 18) I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee; and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass that whosoever will not hearken unto his words which he shall speak in my Name, I will require it of him. But the prophet which shall presume to speak a word in my Name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die. And if thou sayest in thine heart, How shall it be known that the word is not which the Lord hath spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the Name of the Lord, if the thing follow not nor come to pass. that is the ting which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy v. 30:) Go say to them, Get you into your tents again. But as for thee, stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandment, the statues, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it.’ (Exodus xx. 22:) And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold. An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, from thy sheep and from thine oxen, and in that place where I have caused my Name to be recorded, thither will I come and bless thee. And if thou make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone, for thou hast lifted up thy tool upon it, and thou hast defiled it. Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered by it.’

Scholarly Reprints By Good Books
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Those which are described as large pages are from folios or quartos, and have only 1 page per page.  Some have been enlarged or reduced in size.  All books are clothbound (hardback) in black buckram thesis sewn bindings measuring 8.5 by 11 inches with short titles on the spines.  In a few cases, 2 or more volumes are bound together, such as in a series.  A few are from faint originals or have reader's markings. All orders must be pre-paid by check using the Order Form. No credit card orders are accepted. No orders are taken by phone, fax or e-mail. Checks are to be made payable to “Good Books.”  Foreign customers must pay in US dollars by a check drawn on a US bank or International Money Order.  Postage is 10% for US customers, 15% for foreign customers.  All orders are shipped by US Postal Service.

    Chaldaico. 1790. 545 pp. An  early edition   of the Samaritan Pentateuch. 1275. $40.    1923. 219 pp. 1305. $25. 

   Montgomery, James Alan. The Samaritans. 1907. 370 pp. With special reference to  the Samaritan language and Pentateuch. 1329. $30. 

   Munro. J. Iverach. The Samaritan Pentateuch and Modern Criticism. 1911. 211 pp. 1331. $20. 

   Nicholls, G. F. A Grammar of the Samaritan Language. 1858. [and] Samaritan Word-Book. ND. 178 pp. total. 1337. $20.  

   Nutt, John. Fragments of a Samaritan Targum. 1874. 256 pp. Samaritan text in Hebrew characters, critical notes, introduction. 1340. $25.  

   Thomson, J. E. H. The Samaritans. 1919. 438 pp. Special reference to the Samaritan language and Pentateuch. 1364. $35.

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