May-June 2006  

Vol.  V - No.6

In This Issue

  • Passover book

  • Sacrifice

  • Cruise

  • Misc links

  • manuscript

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Passover Prayer Book Returned to Samaritan Community

This Passover Prayer book written in 1866 was recently returned to one of the members of the Samaritan-Israelite community, Shoham (Murgan) Sassoni. The 140 year old siddur was written by Yaacov ben Marchiv. Yaacov had no children. When the siddur was sold from the Samaritan Community is unkown but it made it's way to someone in Europe most likely in the early 1900s, where it was just recently purchased from a book store for a modest sum. Yaacov shared his books with his family and brothers, and this was one of them.

Yaachov's brother was Abraham ben Marchiv Sedaka, the great grandfather of Benny and Israel Tsedaka. Abraham married the sister of his close friend Murgan (Ab Sikkua) son of Assad. Assad died in 1916 when he was only 57 years old and is considered to be one of the main Samaritan Scholars of the 20CE . Murgan is Shoham Sassoni's great grandfather. Murgan's name also appears at the end of the siddur. They were both students of Priest Pinhas, son of Issac, the father of the main Levite (priesthood) family today.

The Samaritan Passover Sacrifice from a Jewish Perspective

By Rabbi Moshe Reiss


I attended the Samaritan Passover Seder, preparation beginning on April 11, 2006 eating on the following day immediately after midnight. The Jewish Seder is eaten on April 12, the preparation the day previous. 1 The Passover festival is both for Jews and Samaritans the first pilgrimage of the year. Good Friday this year was on April 14.

I was told I could not eat from their sacrificed lamb because I was the equivalent of one of the nations – a Gentile. That the Passover sacrifice is forbidden for non-Israeli’s is stated in my and their Torah (Ex. 12:43). Their definition of themselves is not Samaritan’s but Children of Israel. Since I do not follow their tradition I was considered a Gentile. This experience of watching these people chant in ancient Hebrew and sacrificing a lamb as my ancient ancestors did made me feel more attached to my ancient Jewish roots. 



The Real Samaritans

MT. GERIZIM, Palestinian Territories, April 14, 2006

By CBS read &watch it now


The Cruise of the Eight Hundred to and through Palestine, Glimpses of Bible Lands

This book published by The Christain Herald 91-115 Bible House, New York NY, has a copyright of 1905 for W.N. Hartshorn and Louis Klopsch. This book is the journeys of Bible missionaries and teachers in 1904. They had a convention  in Jerusalem April 17, 18, and 19, 1904. Among these delegates was the Samaritan manuscript collector Mr. E. K. Warren in which this was not his first trip to the area. He was the chairman of the fourth convention of this kind.

   'Over the hills, through olive groves, we ride to Nablous, the ancient Shechem. The town is in a fertile valley surrounded by rich vegetation. Our camp is pitched under the welcome shade of an olive grove for our Sunday rest. Later we visited the Samaritan Jews, now only a few in number, and were graciously received by their High Priest, Jacob, son of Aaron, who showed us their ancient Hebrew books and scrolls. (page 115b)"

On the opening day of this convention Jacob was invited to speak.

"White-robed figures sat impassively by the roadside, and little groups of Orientals stood or walked near the great convention tent, eying curiously the Westerners, who moved in a steady stream out from the Damascus gate, past the century-stained brown alls of Zion, under the shadow of Golgotha and on into the long, narrow tent.

  Within, the nations of the world were gathering. Sitting together on the raised platform were men whom you see at every international Sunday-school convention in the homeland, and mingled with them were faces and costumes never before seen in any assemblage known to history.

That kindly faced, swarthy skinned, gray-bearded patriarch, clad in graceful, flowing robe reaching to his feet, whose mild eyes look out at you from under a turban, is Jacob, Son of Aaron, High Priest of the Samaritans. Leaving the little remnant of his people, less than two hundred souls, who live together at Nablous, ancient Shechem, thirty-five miles north of Jerusalem up in Samaria, he has come with his son, by invitation, to attend this world's convention of Christian Sunday-school workers. Surely he has a warm place in his heart of One who, nineteen centuries ago, talked so lovingly and revealingly with a certain Samaritan woman, one of his High Priest's own people, as they sat together by the side of Jacob's Well, within (page 239 ends) sight of the Samaritans' holy mountain Gerizim.(240)"

There were fifty-five different religions represented from 26 different countries.. The above jpgs were scanned from the book and are Jacob's address of welcome in 3 languages. The order of proceedings at the Jerusalem convention gives the High Priest Jacob's name as a speaker in the evening of the first day (Sunday, April 17, 1904).You can find Jacob's photo on

It is interesting to read this since in the past we had ran across some small scrolls that we published in past Updates. Here the Samaritans had an access to sell their writings to the conventioneers from a round the world.


Ancient Jewish Art in North Africa and Its Religious Significance

Baruch Kanael

The 7-branched candlestick is now seen on 3 legs, since the solid base was by now associated with the Samaritans.


Chapter 18

Judaism in Late Antiquity (ca. 250-565)

It is also possible that in Palestine at least, if not in the Diaspora, the Judaeans’ burst of synagogue construction after the middle of the third century was in response to Samaritan initiatives.  The Samaritans, who preferred (with considerable justification) to be called “Israelites,” had for centuries maintained their ancient sacrificial tradition, sacrificing beasts to Adonai at Mt. Gerizim and following what they considered the Pentateuch of Moses. The old temple at Mt. Gerizim had been destroyed by John Hyrcanus, but was rebuilt with Hadrian’s approval after the Bar Kochba war.  Because it still featured sacrifice when Judaism did not, Samaritanism may have gained some adherents in Palestine during the second and third centuries, but even among Samaritans the sacrificial tradition was losing much of its old appeal.13  The Samaritans also had a long tradition of meeting in synagogues, but many of these were closed by the emperors Commodus and Alexander Severus.  According to the Samaritans’ own tradition, around the middle of the third century CE the reformer Baba Rabba gave a new direction and new life to their religion, and central to his reform was the synagogue.  Baba Rabba saw to the building of a great synagogue at Mt. Gerizim, and was also credited with building eight smaller synagogues in Samaria.  Although some scholars have dated Baba Rabba’s reforms to the early fourth century rather than the third, others believe that the Samaritans’ own date - ca. 250 CE - is correct.  “If this last suggestion is accepted,” states Lee Levine, “then Samaritan synagogue building would constitute an interesting chronological parallel to the appearance of the late third-century Jewish synagogues and may even be related in some way to this development.14  

13. The temple at Mt. Gerizim nevertheless continued as the site for sacrifices until it was destroyed by the emperor Zeno at the end of the fifth century.

14. Levine 2000, pp. 175-76; for traditions about Baba Rabba see Levine 2000, pp. 173-75, and for artistic parallels between Judaean and Samaritan synagogues in the third and fourth century see Levine’s note 50 on p. 176.


Descriptive Geography and Brief Historical Sketch of Palestine.

The Passover Sacrifice קרבן פסח Among the Samaritans, the Ancient Cutheans of 2 Kings 17.

By Rabbi Joseph Schwarz, 1850

I have to remark something which strikes me as peculiar among them. They call God Ashima, and they use this term whenever the name of God is to be pronounced in the Bible or their speech. But this word Ashima occurs in 2 Kings 17:30, as the idol of the men of Chamath (not of the Cutheans, who worshipped Nergal), which first was, according to Talmud Sanhedrin, 63 b, in the shape of a goat. The modern Cutheans are, however, of a mixed class, as they employ an image resembling a bird, much like a dove (see Chulin, 6 a), which is carved of wood, and put on the top of their rolls of the law which are written in the Syriac (Samaritan character), and out of which they read a short passage every Sabbath somewhat after the fashion of our modern reformers. The just-cited passage of the Talmud avers that Nergal, the idol of the Cutheans, was a cock, a bird, therefore, having nothing in common with the goat; and as nevertheless the Samaritans use the word Ashima, which denoted the goat, the idol of the Camatheans, it proves that they are of a mixed descent, and not pure Cutheans merely.


Editor's comments: To bad this Rabbi did not take the time to talk to A Samaritan-Israelite and learn that what he wrote here above was incorrect information. Please see the following links for the real truth.


Thoughts of A Karaite: Yohanan Shalom Jacobson in February 12th, 2004  

Myths about the Samaritans January 2nd, 2003


Samaritan Font

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Selected Papers of W. Scott Watson

Watson, W. Scott (William Scott), 1862-1944

Consists of a small amount of correspondence and retained copies of letters by Watson; manuscripts for his sermons, lectures, and articles, such as "The Book of the Days," "A Contribution to Samaritan Palaeography," and "The Origin of the Book of the Old Testament"; miscellaneous writings in English, Hebrew, and Greek; several boxes of Arabic manuscripts; and printed material concerning Presbyterian Church matters. Also present are bound manuscripts of "A Complete Compend of Systematic Theology...Questions by Charles Hodge...," recorded by David S. Anderson in 1844 while at the Princeton Theological Seminary, and "Kirchen-Recht der Katholisches und Protestantisches" by R. Zachariae in 1839.


Lippincott's Magazine, October 1885

We went, of course, to the little Samaritan synagogue, to see the famous copy of the Pentateuch, whose age no man knoweth. We rode up the steep slopes of Gerizim to the ruins of the temple where the woman of Samaria said her fathers had always worshipped, and then, in a pouring rain, we started for Jenin. Hassan sunk his head down in a huge Oriental cloak, undoubtedly manufactured in Birmingham or Manchester, and his horse, left to himself, lost his way, for a Palestine road may at any time, like a Western trail, turn into a squirrel's track and run up a tree. When we found ourselves again we were all wet and not in the best of humor, but in sight of the old city of Samaria on her high hills.



R. H. Brown
12420 Birch St., Yucaipa, CA 92399-4218


Some remarks preliminary to a biblical chronology

by Pete Williams


There are a number of points where modern Biblical chronologies disagree with each other. For those who do not assume gaps in the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 the largest area of dispute is the assessment of the varying merits of the Masoretic Text, Septuagint (LXX) and Samaritan Pentateuch. Evidence is given which suggests that the Septuagint and Samaritan traditions have suffered chronological revision in the course of transmission. The various alleged uses of Septuagint and Samaritan chronology by New Testament writers are surveyed and found to be explicable by ways other than by supposing that the New Testament writers followed the Septuagint or Samaritan Pentateuch. Future areas of chronological research are considered.



Manual of the Chaldee Language; containing a Chaldee Grammar, a Chrestomathy, a Vocabulary, with an Appendix on the Rabbinic and Samaritan Dialects by Riggs, Elias

Anson D.F. Randolph, 1858


Ancient: The Bimonthly Review of Antiquity No. 53, Vol. 5 (October 1996) U.K.: Agora, 1996. Partial contents include "Samaritans: Guardians of the Faith";  Magazine.





contains a section on the Samaritan Temple on Mount Gerizim



MANUSCRIPT, Samaritan. Tarjamat al-Tawrāh al-Muqaddasa. The Samaritan Pentateuch, in the Arabic translation of Abu 'l-Suryānī. • Perhaps Nablus or Damascus, 18th or 19th century (but see below). The manuscript consists of 296 leaves, 344 x 223 mm, of slightly glossy European paper, and is apparently complete; the text is written in black ink, 19 lines to a page, in a rather shaky Arabic hand, with the title and basmala in a larger bold letter, and with various marginal additions. The manuscript is bound in early nineteenth-century European quarter red morocco over orange paper boards, the bottom of the spine is torn and the boards are somewhat stained, but otherwise it is a fine and well-preserved copy.
EUR 4400,00

This is an Arabic translation of the Samaritan Pentateuch, the only part of the Bible used by the Samaritans and in a form slightly different from that of the Hebrew text. On p. 2 is a long account in Arabic, either by the scribe himself or copied from the exemplar. The writer, Abū Sa'īd b. Abu 'l-Husayn b. Abī Sa'īd, gives thanks for this correct translation of the Holy Book, copied with divine guidance and derived, he says, from the faulty Arabic of Shaykh Abī al-Hasan al-Sūrī and from the translation of the Jew, [Rabbi Sa'adyah] al-Fayyumi, and that both these versions were used by the final translator, Abu 'l-Barakāt b. Sa'īd al-Basrī al-Suryānī, who translated this Holy Book from the Hebrew and the Syriac.
Our copy bears the booklabels of its former owners: the well-known French Orientalist A. I. Silvestre de Sacy, Lord Amherst of Hackney and D. S. Sassoon, his ms. 71. (See: D. S. Sassoon, Ohel Dawid, descriptive catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan manuscripts in the Sassoon library. London 1932, II p. 585.
According to the description of the manuscript in Silvestre de Sacy's auction catalogue, nr. 1, this manuscript was copied by Michael Sabbagh (c. 1780-1816), the Christian Syrian scholar employed by the École Spéciale des Langues Orientales Vivantes as copyist of Arabic manuscripts. He was working closely with Silvestre de Sacy, who edited his Arabic poem on carrier pigeons in 1805 (La colombe messagčre).


So the question here is where is Michael Sabbagh's copied manuscript today? Was it sold as a copy or still unknown?

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