The Samaritan Update

February 28th 2002

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The Samaritan Tradition.


This Coming Sabbath is a Special Day

   This Sabbath is a special Sabbath that precedes the coming of the Passover. It is called "Simmot" (in Old Aramic) of the Passover, in memorial of the meeting between Moses and Aaron his brother after they had not seen each other for sixty years. The "Simmot" occurs twice in a year, before Passover and before the Seventh month bodes the coming of the day of Atonement, and is in a memory of the death of Aaron the priest). This Sabbath (of this week) is also the third Sabbath of the Sabbaths of the ("Mofatem"-in old Hebrew) signal and strokes (signs and wonders) which God stroked the Egyptians. They start on the first Sabbath of the 11th month but this year it starts on the 12th month because we have 13 months this year and end at the Passover sacrifice where the last stroke (wonder) occurred (two months, as you read in the book of the Enlightment if you recall). Each Sabbath is in a memory of a signal or a stroke (sign and wonder). One of the customs of this special time is to give the children an allowance. The Sabbath before this Sabbath ("Simmot") is the Sabbath that the priests of the community publish the new calendar for the next-half of the year. Every young boy above twenty years of age must contribute his contribution to the High Priest, and he receives his calendar. The High Priest will publish the calendar for the second part of the year at the next “Simmot,” before the Seventh month, which occurs two months before the Day of Atonement. The Book of Enlightenment by Jacob, Son of Aaron may be found in our archives under the section Midrash and Halachah.


Osher Sasony

Found to be For Sale,

“Carved in Relief, on Marble From the

Samaritan Synagogue in Nablus in 1779”


   The follow is a description of a marble inscription that may have come from a Samaritan synagogue in Nablus. The description says the synagogue was built in the end of May to early June in 1779. I did some investigative and received an email from Pearl Woolnough – Bursar of Bristol Baptist Church in the UK. She informed me 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 bring much debate from its audience. The piece of marble must have been heavy as she informed me 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 15,000 English pounds. The following is the seller’s description. At this point we have obtained a photograph and we are hopeful a better photo is forthcoming. We will display the photo at our web site. Further information on the inscription to interesting parties that desire to purchase the Inscription may contact the agent, Clive Farahar and Sophie Dupre at or visit their web site at



  “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”

Recent Additions To Our Web Site:

The Sanctuary and Holy Vessels in Samaritan Art

By James D. Purvis of Boston University


And also read

The Problem of the Patrilineal or Matrilineal Decent and Inter-Marriage

According to the Samaritan and Rabbinic Halakah

By Michael Corinaldi

The following information describes the area near Mount Gerizim back in the late 1800’s.

Pages from

The Recovery of Jerusalem A Narrative of Exploration and Discovery in the City and the Holy Land

By Capt. Wilson, R.E. Warren, R.E.,


Part II.

The Survey of Palestine by Lieutenant Anderson, R.E.

D. Appleton & Company, New York, 1871.

Pages 361-362

   In the course of our day’s journey from Esdraelon we passed through a succession of narrow valleys, occasionally relieved by strips of plain, and these are the chief characteristics of the central portion of Manasseh’s territory. After seven hours’ traveling the path skirts the western shoulder of a very prominent hill, and then descends into the vale of Nablus.

   This spot, the site of the ancient Shechem, the City of Refuge, is unrivalled in Palestine for beauty and luxuriance. There are two mountains parallel to each other, almost meeting at their bases, but one mile and a half apart at their summits. They enclose a beautiful little valley between them, not more than 100 yards wide at the narrowest part, and widening out in both directions. The town of Nablus is situated at the narrowest part of the vale. The mountain on the north is Ebal, that on the south Gerizim, and the vale lies east and west. The site of the town is admirably chosen, on the water-shed, in the middle of the pass, easy access to the Jordan country eastward, and to the sea-coast on the west. The whole of Mount Gerizim was thoroughly examined, and the plan of Justinian’s church disclosed by excavation. It had been built upon older foundations, probably those of the old Samaritan temple. An excursion was made to the summit of Mount Ebal, 1,200 feet above the vale. The summit is rocky and bare, and there are no ruins on the mountain-top, except a curious square enclosure, with very thick rude walls. Just below the summit there is a break in the regular slope of the hill, and a small but steep valley comes up from the vale below almost to the summit, forming a vast natural amphitheatre, in height equal to that of the mountain. Immediately opposite to this the steep slope of Mount Gerizim is similarly broken by a valley forming a second natural amphitheatre (page 362) of equal beauty and grandeur. In these two lateral valleys were assembled the twelve tribes of Israel under Joshua, six tribes on Gerizim and six on Ebal. The Levites and the ark were in the strip of the vale, and the blessings and cursings were read before the whole congregation (Josh. vii. 32 to 35, and compare Deut. xxvii. 11). Nothing is wanting in the natural beauty of the site to add to the solemnity and impressiveness of such a scene. The best view of the town of Nablus is from Ebal. It seems to repose so snugly in the little vale, and while the houses seem to shrink from the base of the Ebal slope, they cling to and attempt to climb the slope of Gerizim, the mountain of blessings. At the edge of the plain of Mukna (Moreh), a mile and a half east of the town, is Jacob’s Well, on the piece of ground he purchased from the Shechemites. Not far from the well is the site of Joseph’s Tomb. The identity of the well has never been disputed. Christians, Jews, Moslems and Samaritans, all acknowledge it, and the existence of a well in a place where water-springs are abundant is sufficiently remarkable to give this well a peculiar history.


Read the next issue of the Samaritan Update for

Lieutenant Anderson’s journey to the bottom of Jacob’s Well.

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For Sale From The-Samaritans.Com :
Samaritan Interactive CD: -ROM from Nes Multimedia Production Ltd. The CD works on Windows and Macintosh computers. It exhibits many photos and mini movies. It addresses the Samaritan religion, chronicles, community, language and literature. There is even an interactive quiz that can test your knowledge. The Samaritan Singers reform (Osher sings with them on this cd-rom) their music on the CD-ROM. It is full of information.
Other items: A Samaritan Cook book in Hebrew, The CD of the Samaritan Singers, A copy of the Samaritan Torah, post cards of the Samaritans or if you are looking for something different. Interested parties can contact Osher at 

Thank you!
   We would like to thank you for visiting the web-site, in the past and hope you visit us again real soon. We ask you to forward this Update to your friends. The purpose at our web site is the education of the existence and history of the Samaritan-Israelites, descendants of the ancient Kingdom of Israel.  Answering questions from surfers will always be our top priority of our site. We try to maintain our archives of articles to be the best location on the net for the advancement of Samaritan-Israelite studies in English as well as Hebrew. Many gracious scholars have permitted us to exhibit their related articles. Recently we have been working on expanding our web site. We do hope you enjoy visiting our site and recommend it to your friends. Again we thank you for visiting us at Take care and may you be blessed from the Holy One from above.


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