The Samaritan Update

December 20th 2001

Another Samaritan Man Was Injured

In Still Another Terrorism Attack.

    Sammer ben Yosef Allatif (23) was shot on his way to work on the morning of December 18th at 6:30AM. Every work day, Sammer travels from his residence in Kiryat Luza on mount Gerizim to his job in the industrial section of the nearby town of ARIEL. Today when he crossed the Arabic village at the foot of the mount, an unknown terrorist shot at him. Only one bullet found its way to wounded his hand. Thank god, he was evacuated quickly to the nearest Hospital, wherein he received surgery in order to remove the bullet from his hand. This is the second terrorism act that has been forced upon the Samaritans. The Samaritans are trying to live a normal life between two struggling uncompromising forces of the Israelis and Palestinians.

Report by Osher Sassoni


By: Reinhard Pummer

[The University of Ottawa]

   For the last three hundred years Samaritans have lived only in the Holy Land. And in fact, today’s Samaritans consider it a duty to live there. However, from antiquity to approximately the year 1700, Samaritans were found in numerous cities outside the Holy Land, from Damascus to Rome. One of the most important diaspora groups lived in Egypt.

   A number of surveys have been written about the Samaritan diaspora in general or in antiquity. The oldest seems to be Th. G. J. Juynboll’s chapter six in his work Commentarii in historian gentis samaritanae published in 1846. It is entitled “De Terris, in quibus Gens samaritana olim vixit, et Urbibus, ubi Coetus samaritani antea flouerunt”. J.W.Nutt presented a brief overview in Fragments of a Samaritan Targum, published in 1874. More recent studies are the articles by A. D. Crown, “The Samaritan Diaspora to the End of the Byzantine Era”, and “The Samaritan Diaspora”; and by P.van der Horst, “De Samaritaanse diaspora”, and “The Samaritan Diaspora in Antiquity”.

    The following paper will focus on one area, Egypt, and will try to bring together all available information about the Samaritan diaspora in that land. Completeness was sought as much in the collection of the material, except for one aspect, i.e. not every manuscript with a colophon or a deed of sale that mentions Egypt, was identified and listed. In any event, it is not always the case that “Egypt” refers to that region, but often Gaza in intended.

(This article in its complete can be found at our archives section of our website:

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Recent additions to the archives:

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The Book of Joshua, the son of Nun.

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Question to the Editor:

   A quick question: In Samaritan Update Nov.22, it says that the Septuagint (LXX) agrees that Joshua set up an altar on Mt. Gerizim, not Ebal. In LXX texts I can find, Joshua 8:30(=9:2a in LXX) and Deut.27:4 both have EBAL. Who wrote this article? I am aware of one possible source of this statement. As Emanuel Tov reports, the Old Latin translation of the Septuagint has Gerizim in Deut.27:4. But my understanding is that no ancient Greek version with Gerizim is known. It is possible that the LXX was also changed after the time of the Latin translation, but it is difficult to see how this would have occurred, as the Greek texts would have been widely circulated, and why would the Christians be interested in changing them? On the other hand, the Latin copyist got it from somewhere. I would be grateful for any clarification on this point, from the author of the article.   G.


 Dear G,

    We are happy that you read the Samaritan Update. In the writings of the LXX, you will find that you are correct as to the translation concerning the altar being erected on mount Ebal. It appears a clarification should be made on this article that I wrote and to the meaning behind that which was intended.

   The Septuagint that the honorable Professor Tov may have been thinking of was most likely the Vetus Latina. It has Mount Gerizim in place of Ebal. Professor Emanuel Tov informs me, “readings in the Old Latin deviating from the main text of the LXX are always a riddle. But the assumption is that there once existed an ancient Greek text, original or not vis-a-vis the MT, from which the Latin was translated, probably in the first century C.E. Since the old Latin cannot be suspected to be Samaritan, the possibility exists that this reflects a Greek reading, and possibly an original Hebrew reading.”

   Jerome’s Latin version known as the Vulgate began when he noticed the Septuagint diverged from the Hebrew text of the Jews. With the help of his Jewish friends and teachers, Jerome prepared a fresh Latin translation in which he believed to be from the “original truth of the Hebrew text, “the Hebraica veritas.” The Vetus Latina has Gerizim in place of Ebal in Deuteronomy 27.

   There is a fragment of an ancient Greek parchment that contains Deuteronomy, chapters 24-29. It illustrates Mount Gerizim instead of Ebal. The Giessen University Library purchased the fragment in Egypt from a grant by the Committee on Papryology in Berlin. Paul Glaue and Alfred Rahlfs published their studies on the parchment in 1911. It has been recognized to be a partial Greek translation of the Samaritan Pentateuch.

   Origen’s Hexapla (“the sixfold,”), completed in 245 C.E., gives marginal notes that quote from a Samareitikon, a Greek translation of the Samaritan Pentateuch. There is no known copy of the Samareitikon to exist today. But it could be that the Fragment from Egypt is a portion of the Samareitikon or maybe even the original LXX. Origen found that there appeared to be a problem with the Greek text, it differed from the Hebrew text of the Jews. The Jews were dissatisfied with the Septuagint that the Christians had also.

   Considering that the newly formed Dosithean sects that developed from the writings of Dusis became the Christian is evident from names such as Simon Magnus (Samaritan origin). The Dustan sect claimed to have the true text that was given to the seventy elders by Moses. Their text differed somewhat from that of the Samaritans and the Jews. This would have given at least three different texts of the Torah. There are over thirty uncials (4th to 9th century) and close to 350 cursives (9th- 15th) in existence today while there are only a very few fragments prior to 2nd century BCE. While today all extant manuscripts in Greek are from Christian origins.

    The translation from the Hebrew to Greek texts would have also differed developing into fused controversies. As a result Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus made new versions in the course of the second century. In the second century, Aquila and Onkelos translated the Torah in to Greek and Arabic under the direction of Rabbi Joshua ben Chananiah and Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcan. It appears around the time of the Maccabees (2nd century or so) the men in charge in Jerusalem were call, ‘the Beth Din of the High Priests.’ The number of their body was seventy. Some of their books they complied were from defective books. This may have been the LXX.

There is little evidence today to give us the positive proofs we need to accredit from which book the Greek versions derived from. The Samaritan text and LXX have ‘sixth’ in Genesis 2:2, wherein the Masoretic text has seventh. This is evidence of a better reading, “And on the sixth (seventh MT) day God ended his work.”

    It is also interesting that writers like Josephus places not the altar on Gerizim or Ebal but between them. Josephus also instructs us that Shechem lay between the two mountains (AJ. IV viii, 44). According to Ps-Philo, “And Joshua went down to Galgala and built an altar of very great stones, and brought no iron upon them, as Moses had commanded……(See XXI, 7-9). But he also writes that Joshua moved the tabernacle that would include the altar, to Silo (XXII,8). But we know that Silo or Shiloh did not exist as the home of the Tabernacle during the days of Joshua.

    It would have been difficult to offer sacrifices on mount Ebal considering that there is no known now and past any water sources that would have been used for the sacrifices. Where as Gerizim has now and past many springs of fresh water.

  Moses Gastor gives a convincing agreement on the origin of the LXX:

   “The origin of the LXX will now also find a better explanation since every legend must have some kernal of truth. The idea of the LXX is not wholly the result of a pious fiction. It so happened that at the end of one or two of the MSS. of the Samaritan Pentateuch in book form I found a peculiar colophon. Among others reference is made to the ‘70’, and in many of their writings, especially the Book of the Laws which will be described hereafter, it is distantly stated that the text of the Bible in their possession is the one which they received as an ‘ancient tradition’ from the seventy elders. These were the seventy elders chosen by Moses in the wilderness to whom he had entrusted a copy of the Law. According to their statements, the text which the Samaritans exhibited before King Ptolemy Philadelphus was a text which rested upon the authority of the seventy elders. These were the ‘70’ who were responsible for the text and later for the translation which was made from that text.”

 By the way, the Samaritan Torah differs from the Messoric text at about 6,000 details. And of these occurrences the LXX agrees with the Samaritan but mostly in small details.

   I agree with S. Kohn, the LXX came from the Samareitikon. But it is hard to say. Even today there are over two thousand different Bibles in English for sale, each different from the next in its own way.

Shomron (I wrote the article, but never corrected or edited it. My mistake! I found it in my archive and thought it was finished. It will not happen again! I hope!)


   Primary Sources:

Encyclopaedia Judaica, Keter Publishing House, Jerusalem, Israel, 1972.

The Samaritan Pentateuch and the origin of the Samaritan Sect, James D. Purvis, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1968.

The Samaritans, their History, Doctrines and Literature by Moses Gaster, Humphrey Milford, Oxford Press, London, 1923. 

Pronaos to Holy Writ, Establishing, on Documentary Evidence, the authorship, date, form, and contents of each of its books and the Authenticity of the Pentateuch, Isaac M. Wise, Cincinnati, Robert Clarke & Co. 1891.

The Samaritans, edited by Alan Crown, JCB Mohr, Tubingen, 1989.

The Text-Critical use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research, Emanuel Tov, Simor Ltd., Jerusalem, 1997.

Pentateuchal Criticism by D.C. Simpson, Oxford University Press, London, 1924.

A Simple Computer Trick Worth Doing.

   When/if a worm virus gets into your computer it heads straight for your

Email address book and sends itself to everyone in there, thus infecting all your friends and

associates.  This trick won't keep the virus from getting into your computer, but it will stop it from using your address book to spread further. Here's what you do: First, open your address book and click on "new contact".  In the window, type your friend's first name, type in !000 (that's an exclamation mark followed by 3 zeros). Enter the new email address, type in WormAlert. Then complete by clicking add, enter, ok, etc.  The "name" !000 will be placed at the top of your address book as entry #1.  This will be where the worm will start to send itself to all your friends.  But when it tries to send itself to !000, it will be undeliverable because of the phony  email address you entered (WormAlert).  If the first attempt fails (which it will because of the phony address), the worm goes no further and your friends will not be infected. Here's the second great advantage of this method: if an email cannot be delivered, you will be notified of this in your InBox almost immediately. Hence, if you ever get an email telling you that an email addressed to WormAlert could not be delivered, you know right away that you have the worm virus in your system.  You can then take steps to get rid of it!  Pretty slick.

Uncle Jim supplied this information.                                                                          Shomron


Written material from 1907-1908 by Jacob ben Aaron, the Samaritan High Priest. I cannot locate “Circumcision Among the Samaritans,” “The Messianic Hope of the Samaritans,” and “The Samaritan Sabbath.” Any help would be appreciated to finish my collection of his works. Please contact Shomron at .

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