December 4th, 2003  

Vol.  III - No.8

In This Issue

  • Orlando Visit

  • The Seal

  • Notes and Extracts

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Orlando Visit
By Shomron

This past week presented a nice surprise. Benny Tsadaka visiting Orlando, Florida met with two of his friends, Stephan Huller of Canada and myself (Shomron). Various conversations on many topics were discussed. But the most surprising to Benny and myself was when Stephan Huller took us to a tourist park, The Holy Land Experience. What was the surprise you might wonder? Well, Stephan had visited the park with some friends a while back and knew we would enjoy what he had discovered there. In the Sola Scriptura, a building designed for displaying Bibles in their possession. In this building was a 13th century Samaritan Manuscript. It contacts 4 pages of book form, a section of Numbers partly describing the death of Aaron the High Priest. We were amazed, since neither Benny nor I knew of any Samaritan Manuscripts in Orlando, Florida. For me, I was amazed since I had contacted them about a year and a half ago and had asked them if they had any Samaritan manuscripts in their possession. They had at that time informed me that there were none in their collection.

The next day we contacted the curator of the Sola Scriptura, Herbert Samworth. Dr. Samworth informed us that, "Unfortunately, I am unable to give you much information concerning the manuscript except to say that it was purchased a number of years ago at an auction sale. Provenance is listed as "probably Nablus" and dated early 13th century." We have contacted the Auction House and hope to hear more information from them on the Samaritan Manuscript in the near future. We want to thank Dr. Samworth for the above photo in which we hope to learn more of their manuscript. Thank you Stephan Huller for the nice surprise!

I thought I would spare one conversation with Benny Tsadaka on his eating habits in the States. On eating any type of meat: No meat can be eaten even if he was to slaughter it, keeping it kosher, would not be allowed since he could not give the Priests their portion. But fish is acceptable since it is not considered meat.


The Seal

By Shomron

Have you ever come across the seal (shown in the photo to the left) that was discovered at Megiddo in 1904 by G. Schumacher. It depicts a roaring lion with an inscription that has been translated, "To Shema" with "servant of Jeroboam." "From the shapes of the letters, we know that that the king in this case is Jeroboam II," says G. E. Wright. But the importance of this seal is the word "Shema," the same word used still today by the Samaritan-Israelites meaning "the name," the name of God. It has been assumed by scholars that this name "Shema" was the name of a servant of Jeroboam. But what if it was, as in a letter, the name of an addressee of messages in which the seal marked. Where as,  this servant was a scribe of Jeroboam that sent messages. I am not an authority on the subject, just that I find it interesting. Since there was a Jeroboam in scripture that had fortified Shechem and was most likely was his capital for a time. His connection to Shechem and and the ten tribes would make for an interesting investigation since the word, "Shema" could have very well meant the current High Priest at Shechem, who was the representative of Shema, God. The High Priest at Shechem was very important to the religion and people in the region at that time.

Megiddo, the location of the discovery of this seal, was a military station of the Israelite horses and chariots. According to information a Jeroboam had an army of 300 chariots.  Jeroboam ruled over Israel for 22 years and his brother ruled over Judah for 18 years. Shishak, the king of Egypt destroyed Megiddo (see I Kings 14:25-28 and II Chron. 12:2-12). This may have been the time when this seal was lost during end of Jeroboam's rule.


Notes and Extracts From the Semitic manuscripts in the John Rylands Library: V. In the Samaritan Nablus Two Centuries Ago. By Edward Robertson, D.Litt., D. D. Reprint from the "Bulletin of the John Rylands Library," Vol. 22, No. I, April, 1938. (page 20-22a)
But the notices on the surplus leaves of the manuscript are generally more of personal and communal interest than literacy. There are notes on the
weather when the inhabitants were kept indoors for days by heavy rain, and for sheer joy when it ceased they went round to each other's houses to congratulate each other. They tell of occasions when snow fell long and steadily and reached in depth to the stature of a man; when earth-quakes shook houses during the night and they all rushed out of doors to spend the remaining hours till daylight in the open. They tell of times when drought made things scarce and dear and locusts destroyed when little remained. It is recorded how on one occasion a Governor of Syria with a great army encamped at Nablus, and requisitioned all the lambs in the neighbourhood to feed his troops so that they were not able to offer their Passover sacrifice that year on Gerizim. The personal entries are numerous- family records of births, marriages and deaths in particular. Sometimes they are so numerous that we can read and follow the life-history of a writer. We will take the case of Salamah b. Ya'qub, a nephew of the Muslim (Mashlamah bin Murjan) of whom we have already spoken, and follow out the entries.

Salamah was born in december, 1716, and in the year 1738 he records in the Great Calendar that he studied it. In the same year he was married to Shelhah, a mature girl. There must have been a marriage before this of which we have no record for his first marriage would take place when he was about fourteen years old. In April of the year 1740 his wife died and in December of the same year he married again, his wife's name was Sadiqah. In February, 1746, his wife presented him with a daughter whom they named Sarah. When Sarah was but seven months old she died. Six months later, in March 1747, his wife Sadiqah also died. In February, 1748, eleven months later he married again, this time his wife's name was Salihah. Ten months later a daughter was born they called Ispahan, after the name of his mother. When Ispahan was three years old she died of small-pox, and the parents were consoled when, three months later (in May, 1752), another daughter arrived whom they also called Ispahan. Four months later she too, followed her sister to the grave. In September, 1752, he had married Safah, a cousin of his, so that he had, unless there is some slip in the dates of the entries, two wives living at this time. That was, of course, permitted by the Samaritans under certain circumstances. In June of 1753 a daughter was born to Safah whom they named Safah, and in December of the same year his other wife Salihah died.

There is now a gap in the entries, and the next we find tells us that in July, 1764, he married Hadiyah, so presumably Safah had died in the interval. And then in July of the following year (1765) there was great excitement and rejoicing, for a son was born. Attention was drawn in the entry to the fact that Salamah had now reached his fiftieth year and had not had a son born to him, all his previous children having been daughters. They called the boy's name Ibrahim. Knowing the anxiety of the Samaritans for male issue and that probably Salamah's bigamies were intended to secure that, we could all hope that it would be spared. But alas, there is a short supplementary note that the boy died when twenty-one days old. The note goes on to say that the very day a son was born to another member of the Danafite family and they called its name Ibrahim. This child also died when it was twenty-two days old. In May of the following year (1766) a daughter was born, whom they named Ispahan, and to whom they gave the pet name Mahbubah (darling). In May, 1768, he records the birth of another daughter, whom they named Bihan but she died after a month. Then in July, 1770, Salamah's dearest wish was again gratified. A son was born and this time they called the child Jacob. But alas, this child, too, died when only three months old. Then the last entry records the death of his wife Hadiyah in July, 1773, and mentions that she was the seventh wife to die, adding "May God cause us to be patient in our afflictions." Then, curiously enough, he quotes a well-known utterance based at least on the Quran although his spelling is defective: "There is no power nor might save with God the high and mighty." No entry gives the date of Salamah's death. It may have been on one of the surplus leaves of the codex which have been lost.

Has tragedy much more to offer? Surely Salamah's life was one long pilgrimage through a vale of tears. Yet it is not unique in these records. Other lives there were almost as heavily shadowed as Salamah's. But we must be content with the examples we have given. We have no time to go into all the entries.


MiShomron LeShechem: Haeda HaShomronit Bet HaTikah by Menahem Mor, Jerusalem Zalman Shazar, 2003, 368 pages.

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