March 25th, 2004  

Vol.  III - No.16

In This Issue

  • BBC World Service

  • Upcoming Samaritan Festivals

  • 1913 Newspaper: Samaritan Passover Article

  • Comments from the Editor

  • The Asatir

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begins Friday Sept. 26th, 5:55pm to Saturday 27th, 5:56 p.m.

April 2nd 6:01pm- 3rd 6:02pm

Samaritan Calendar

of Festivals

Samaritan Calendar

of Festivals

Passover Sacrifice: May 3rd, 2004

Passover: May 4th

Days of Unleavened Bread: May 4-10th

Pilgrimage: May 10th


Studies and Related Conferences:

In Planning Stage

SES:In Haifa, July 5-8, 2004 organised by Menahem Mor, and a session at the EABS in Grooningen, July 25-28, 2004 organized by Ingrid Hjelm

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BBC World Service

Samaritan Update subscriber, Gabe Eisenstein recently left a message at our discussion web page at, "I just heard a piece on American 'National Public Radio' about Samaritans." When asked for further information, Gabe gave us a web link that we may all hear the program as it appeared on the radio. This program was heard in the United States recently. The source of the program comes from Aaron Schachter, a foreign correspondent for the BBC World Service. The radio program can be heard over the internet all over the world now by computer. It is called 'Samaritans Report,' a 5 minutes 45 second report. The web page lead is, "Jews and Muslims have been woefully unable to resolve their differences in the Middle East.  But another religious group is caught in the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.  The World's Aaron Schachter tells us about the Samaritans."

Gabe informed us, "Here's a link where you can listen to it. (But hurry, the link will probably be gone soon.) ." Thank you so much Gabe for this fantastic information.


Upcoming Samaritan Festivals

The new Biblical year will begin on the first month which starts on the 20th of April this year. The Passover Sacrifice will take place on the evening of May 3rd, 2004. The Passover day will be May 4th. The Days of Unleavened Bread will be between May 4-10th, with the first pilgrimage of the year on May 10th. (Photo is a postcard of the Passover on Mount Gerizim in 1975)


1913 Newspaper: Samaritan Passover Article

The following is the first section of an article called "Passover with the Samaritans, 'A Medieval and Picturesque Easter Ceremony' that was in The Garden Grove Express, Garden Grove, Iowa, USA, March 20th, 1913. No author is given. The edges of the paper are worn off and the page number is missing. There is a photo of Armenians celebrating Easter attached to the article.


   Of the numerous festivities which take place in the Holy Land at Easter time by far the prettiest, and certainly one of the least known is that of the Samaritan Passover. All devout Jews, of course, celebrate the Passover, but even in Jerusalem, the holiest of cities, the Jewish ceremony is only a semblance of the graphic directions given by Moses for its observance. There is indeed the unleavened bread, but there is only a bit of bone to represent the slain lamb; a salad stands for the bitter herbs; a chocolate colored confection is a reminder of the Nile mud and of their servitude and brickmaking. Wine is drunk repeatedly throughout the ceremony and course after course of different dishes are brought to the table and eaten.

   With Samaritans, however, it is entirely different. They are the only people that celebrate the Passover in its primitive simplicity. The very midnight scene of the original Passover night, with its slain lambs, its sprinkled blood, its bitter herbs, its being eaten roasted and in haste, standing, with shoes on and staves in hand, is all faithfully reproduced. It is an open, air faithfully reproduced. It is an open air scene in the dead of night and with the full moon shining over head.

   Before describing this ancient and picturesque festival, which has now been annually held by this band of devout believers for the past 2,300 years, a word or two about the people themselves will not be out of place. Once strong and numerous they have gradually diminished until now the poor and despised  remnant crowded together in their quarters in Nablous, numbers only about 170 souls. As they do not intermarry with other peoples, and the number of their women is proportionately small, they are gradually dying out though holding on tenaciously to  their inherited ideas of coming national resuscitation and glory. They are, as in the time of Christ, detested by the Jews and are hardly tolerated by the Mohammedans among whom they dwell. Their high priest, by name Yakob, claims, with a good show of historical confirmation, to be a lineal descendant of Aaron, Israel's first high priest. He has held his office for over 60 years.

In their synagogue in Nablous they have the famous "Samaritan Scroll" of the Pentateuch. They accept only the five books of Moses as scripture. Their scroll is claimed by them to have been written by the grandson of Aaron. Scholars assign it to about the second century of the era. They also possess some valuable historical "annuls." They contain short references to the birth and death of Christ and to the work of the apostles.

   The locality in which they live is redolent with scripture associations Nablous is the Shechem of the history of the patriarchs, and was the first capital of the southern Jewish kingdom. This narrow vale in which the town lies is shut in by the historic mountains of Ebal on the north and Gerizim on the south, and here gathered that mighty assemblage of the tribes of Israel, soon after their entrance into the land, when the law was read and its blessings responded to from Gerizim and its curses from Ebal. Near by is the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. There also is Jacob's well, where Christ met the woman of Samaria who was from the little village of Sychar, which is still pointed out. Joseph's tomb is also close at hand.

   Those who are privileged to be the guests of the little Samaritan community on the memorable occasion of their Passover, make their way from the little town of Nablous in the late afternoon up the fruit slopes of Gerizim. (To be continued in the next issue of the Samaritan Update)


Comments from the Editor

Newspaper articles on the Samaritans in the early twentieth century are rare and need to be examined, even though they may be biased or contain incorrect information. Many articles are from Christians as we have shown in past articles shown in the Samaritan Update. I have chosen to displace a section of The Garden Grove Express at a time that it may be clarified as best as possible. The Passover Sacrifice in this 1913 article of March 20th had to be from the previous year since the Passover would not have been in March or before in the year of this article. So it is assumed that the Passover article observation is from 1912 Passover.

The author stated that the Samaritan-Israelites only have been basically a sect for 2300 years is an assumption, while facts have proven that the Samaritan-Israelites have been in existence much longer. Most of the facts at the time were scarce or incorrect in few scholarly publications. The article is interesting that it reveals that there were 170 Samaritan souls since it is been recognized that there were in fact 175 souls in 1913 that is according to Samaritan History, identity, Religion and Subdivisions, Literature and Social Status, by Hasanein Wasef Kahen, 1966. As for the statement that Yakob was High Priest for sixty year is a mistake. Yakob was High Priest from 1874 to1916, about forty-two years. He died at 75 years old, which would have made him about 71 at the time of the article. Where this number of sixty years comes from, is quit unknown. The references to the Christian Christ materials, they were sold and are in Leningard to the best of my knowledge. We will continue the article in the next issue of the Samaritan Update.



Section from The Asatir,

The Samaritan Book of the Secrets of Moses

Together with the Pitron or Samaritan Commentary

Written and translated by Moses Gaster, 1927. The Pitron- Pg. 229 to 235

(Note from the Editor: Appears to be a Passover of Avraham)

And Abraham dwelt in Elon Moreh, being shown thither by God- may He be exalted!- for He said unto him; "Go unto the land which I will show thee." And the 'Showing' meant that he should reach Elon Moreh, for he knew that this was the place to be sought for. And he rebuilt the altar of his forefathers Adam and Noah. And after that he went up  Mount Garizim to the East of Bethel. And he bowed down and prostrated and prostrated himself there before God. And he worshipped and went down.

   And it came to pass after these things that there was a famine in the land of Canaan, and Abraham and Lot, the son of his brother, journeyed with him from Elon Moreh, and they went down to Egypt. And when they reached the boundary of Egypt, there was a great shaking in all the houses of worship which were in Egypt. And all the dwellers of the houses of worship were frightened.

   And Abraham encamped in a place called Hrif. And it was in those many days that the women of Egypt went out into the field to the place Hrif. And they found Sarai the wife of Abraham, and they saw that she was of a beautiful face and of a beautiful countenance. And it came to pass that when they returned from the field in the evening, they praised her before their husbands, until the word reached the minister of Pharaoh, who praised her unto him. And it came to pass when he (page 231) (Pharaoh) heard the report about her, that he brought her into his house and he took her. And Abraham went with her but he could not do anything. And Pharaoh gave him many gifts and was kind to him for the sake of Sarai and Abraham went out from Pharaoh with a broken heart and a weeping eye. And he prayed unto God to save his wife Sarah from the hand of Pharaoh; and God hearkened to his prayer, and God plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues. And the plague was on the privy parts and Pharaoh was like a stone. And he called all the wizards of Egypt and its wise men and he gathered them together and there was among them a wizard and his name was Turts, who had studied in the Book of Signs. He had learned that the book in from Enoch, the son of Kain, and he strengthened himself in Hanohia and said, "There is in this place a woman, who is a faithful one, believing in God, and all these visitations one for her sake."

   And when our master Abraham- on whom be peace- heard what had happened to Pharaoh and to his house, he rose up and lifted up his face unto heaven and praised God, and he thanked Him and he sanctified Him for all the good He had done, in that He had preserved unto him Sarai his wife from defilement.

   Then it became true and known unto them that this had come through the evil deeds which had been done by Pharaoh. And no man could look on Sarah and no one could see her face. On her face the light was shining strongly. This is proved by his saying, "And they were freed (i.e. from the plague) and they saw that the whole palace was lit up from the appearance of the face of Sarah, and there was great fear." And thereby it became known that Sarah was the wife of Abraham. And Pharaoh begged relief of him and gave back his wife Sarah, and he went away in rejoicing and in peace, with the innocence of his (page 233) wife. And he stood before God and prayed for Pharaoh and for his house. This is the first prayer which our master Abraham prayed. And this is the whole of what he said in his prayer, "O Lord, the God of Heaven and the God of the earth, All Merciful, be merciful." And God healed Pharaoh and his house, and then Pharaoh believed in the truth of the faith of Abraham, since his prayer was received and his God was the God of Gods and the Lord of Lords, and He performed wonders for Abraham's sake. And he knew that his prayer before the idols had not cured him from the plague which he had, but that only the prayer of Abraham to his God cured him. At the time he commanded the destruction of the houses wherein the idols were, and breaking of the idols and the destruction of all pillars, and he commanded that those who worshipped them should be killed, as there was no use for them, and whoever prostrated himself before them, became worthless in this world and a sinner at the end of days. And all this is made evident from his word in the Asatir. "Ans all the houses of worship were destroyed and all those things (i.e., the idols) before which people prostrated themselves fell down and could not be raised up."

   And the wizard Turts went up from there, when he saw what Pharaoh had done to the houses of worship and to the idols and to the pillars; for he could not stay in Egypt any longer. And he went up thence and he went to Hebron.

   And afterwards Pharaoh commanded men from among his people and he said unto them that they should go with Abraham and lead him to the place which he would choose. They were not to forsake him and anyone who would do anything to him or to his wife should surely die. And they did as Pharaoh commanded them and they came with him and with Lot, his brother's son, with their (page 235) flocks and with everything which they possessed, until they reached Elon Moreh, the place of the first altar. And Abraham built up the above mentioned altar, and he brought up sacrifices unto God, who had saved him from the hand of the Egyptians. And Abraham and Lot dwelt in the land of Canaan one year.


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