November 6th, 2003  

Vol.  III - No.6 

In This Issue

  • Samaritans must fight

  • From the Editor:

  • The Asatir

  • Notes and Extracts

  • Karaite Korner

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Co-Editor: Osher    


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               Eyal Cohen

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            Guy Tsabary

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A. B. - Samaritan News


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The Samaritans must fight with the State of Israel

for what is theirs by right and by law.

A. B. Services (English Translation from Hebrew by Liora Bernsten) (Photo is from an antique Post Card of the the priest High Priest Yitshak Ben Amram (1916-1932) with the Abisha Scroll from the Library of Shomron)

These days we have begun a struggle in the Israeli Knesset to bring about a complete turnabout in the attitude to the Israelite Samaritans, which mostly stems from ignorance as well as from ancient two thousand years long controversies between Jews and Samaritans.

Why should we, the Israelite Samaritans, all of whom are citizens of the State of Israel, struggle constantly for what is ours by right? How often must we fall between the chairs of identity tests and support tests administered by the state institution without ever devoting the proper attention to the tremendous specific value of our society, our heritage and culture, our unique identity and the special uprightness of a small people struggling for rights and wishing to receive the proper recognition of all that is its by right, status and identity.

The purpose of this struggle is to prevent once and for all a situation where every government official can determine of his own accord what we are entitled to and what we are not. This struggle will continue for as long as clear criteria about us are left undecided, not only according to our numbers and quantitative value, but also and mostly according to our historical and cultural value, according to our tremendous desire to survive culturally, for we have a clear message to the world in many areas of the Israeli existence.

This struggle will also intensify in the light of the great discoveries on Mount Gerizim, the large historical library of 480 inscriptions and about 13,000 coins. These findings are so meaningful that when their decoding is completed they will cause a newer, better and a more comprehensive evaluation of our glorious historical past. The sciences of Anthropology and genetics too now confirm our descent from the ancient Kingdom of Israel. Yet first we must establish our position within the Israeli society.

In the beginning of July 2003 we sat on a panel consisting of a Jewish Rabbi, a Moslem Sheick and an Israeli Samaritan on the subject of "Moses and Jethro." The debate soon turned to contemporary issues and the declarations of historical opinions from the participants. It was rightfully maintained that the character of Moses was intentionally blurred in Judaism because of the historical controversy of Judaism with Samaritanism, which glorifies him endlessly. For example, Moses, who is the protagonist of the Exodus is only hinted at in the Jewish Haggadah of Passover. Instead of Moses the Jewish Passover ritual absurdly emphasizes Elijah, a prophet who actually prophesized in the Kingdom of Israel.

How did the Rabbi answer this claim? He said, "The State of Israel indeed recognized you as Jews under the Law of Return, but it is obvious from the Bible that you are descended from the Kuthians and other nations brought by the king of Assyria," said the Rabbi, a historical research being no concern of his.

After the Panel we explained the Rabbi that the foreign nations brought by the kings of Assyria had nothing to do with the Israelites who mostly remained on their land after the Fall. It is true that some of them joined the Israelite majority, but they were not different in essence from the Edomites, Moabites and Amonites who were forcefully converted by Alexander Yanai, the Hasmonean king, and one of them, King Herod, attained the merit of building the most sanctified site of the present day Judaism, "the Western Wall," a fact that did not prevent the Jewish sages from giving him with the derogatory title "the Edomite Slave." The Rabbi had no answer to these statements.

Only the Israeli Knesset can legally determine the status of the Samaritans and the equalization of their rights with those of the rest of the citizens of Israel. Only thus will the unreasonable situation whereby we are forcing the government of Israel, with the assistance of its High Court of Justice rulings to give us what is ours by right and justice stop. This is the case with the Law of Return, with Government duties and with the equalization of the status of Samaritan priests with those of Jewish Rabbis in Israel. It will be a prolonged battle but we are confident that our cause will be victorious. (Reprint from the A. B. The Samaritan News. 20.8.2003: 845-847)


From the Editor:

I just recently received the book The Continuatio of the Samaritan Chronicle of Abu L-Fath Al-Samiri Al-Danafi, Text, Translated and Annotated by Milka Levy-Rubin (Darwin Press, Inc. Princeton, NJ, 2002). The book is from a series of Studies in Late Antiquity and Early Islam. I was not sure which book was in the package when it was delivered but as soon as I seen that it was Milka's book I sat down right there and began reading sections of it. I have enjoyed reading the entire book since then. Milka's wonderful work will be a happy addition to my library. If you are wondering what this book is about, simply, it is an English translation with original page copies of a Samaritan-Israelite Chronicle spanning a period involving the beginning of Mohamed and the Arab conquests. Again, she took a lot of time and made extra information available in the footnotes and the Geographical Appendix. Great translation of the Samaritan Chronicle from the Samaritan manuscript no. 20 of the Bibiotheque Nationale in Paris. Looking forward to her future work!

I am now more obsessed with the book by Father Paul Stenhouse, entitled The Kitab 'l-Ta'rikh of Abu 'l-Fath-Translated and Annotated from University of Sydney: Mandelbaum Trust, 1985. Milka's book basically begins where Stenhouse's book ends or close to it. His book is also of a Samaritan Chronicle. But I have a problem with the international currency exchange and they do not except credit cards. I would personally buy a few extra copies for whom ever in the future would want one. Maybe someone can assist me through this dilemma.

You can purchase Milka Levy-Rubin's book

 through our link at Amazon for $35.00 plus shipping.

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 following is the Pitron, page 209, 211, 213]:

Chapter IV [Noah]

And it came to pass that the lord Noah admonished and taught in the world, but no one listened to him. And he saw that all the creatures had gone astray and that dwelling in the midst of the wicked would not cause him to prosper, so he went out from Rift and he went to the mountain whose name is ['Adr Shgg] whereon he made the Ark for Seth had told him of the advent of the flood. And Noah started looking into the secrets of the Book of Signs and he saw the obliteration (i.e. the hiding away) of the children of Adam and he found therein the direction concerning the Ark. And at the time when he left Rift, God revealed a great sign in the place where he was residing. And Noah was greatly frightened and Noah continued in prayers and praises one hundred years after his begetting Shem, Ham and Japhet; but daughters were not born unto him by the love [of God] for him. For the Lord knew of the advent of the flood. Shem took the daughter of Seth to himself to wife and Ham took [Shkh, the daughter of Jared] and Japhet took [Mkisthe, the daughter of Lamech]. And at the time when the sins of the creatures had been completed and reached the time of destruction, the Lord told Noah to make the ark and he made it and completed its making on the tenth day of the second month. And after four days more died and the last of the pious ones who was Metushelah. For the flood did not occur except after the death of all the pious ones. And Metushelah no longer lived; and from the holy Law it is shown that Lamech and Metushelah died in the same year and God knows whether Lamech died first. And after the death of Metushelah, whose death was on the fourteenth day of the second month, the earth was humid and three days after were broken up all the fountains of the mighty deep and the windows of the heavens were opened. And the rain was upon the earth in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month. ON the third day (Tuesday) and that is proved from the saying of the messenger in the Asatir [on the fourth the earth was humid and was broken open; and on the thirteenth were opened the windows of heaven]. And the Sabbath on the sixth hour of the night; and that is proved by his saying [and the time of completion was the sixth hour of the night of the seventh day, the Sabbath, then the decree was completely finished]. The coming down of the rain came to an end on the sixth and the rest of the ting is clear. And I have seen some who wish to explain it differently like this. [In the seven hundred and nintieth year, it came to an end in the sixth hour of the night of Sabbath.] And this comes out from his saying seven hundred and ninety, and God knows whether this explanation is according to the truth, though if differs from our interpretation.]

And now let us return where we left the remembrance of it, and let us say with the author of the Asatir- on whom pe peace- that Noah's going out from the Ark was on the Sabbath.

On the second and third day he built an altar and he sacrificed upon it an offering to God according to his saying, and it was on the seventh [and on the first that Noah went out from the Ark and on the second he built an altar and he brought a sacrifice.] And after the completion of the flood, and of the death of all the living on the face of the earth, there did not remain but Noah and those who were with him in the Ark. And Noah was frightened and he thought and said in his heart lest the flood should return a second time upon the earth; and God knew what he thought and he said to his (Noah's) heart, I will not smite any more the whole of the living and he made with him the covenant of the bow (rainbow). He made him a faithful promise to the end of the generations and the making of this covenant with him was in the seventh month, and Noah dwelt in Ahilah which is on the eastern part of the town of Babel. And he taught his sons' and the first thing he taught them was the confession of the unity of God and that God is one alone and there is no second to him. This is proved from the author of the Asatir [and he taught his sons the principles of the confession of faith] and after sixty two years since the flood he divided the earth among his sons.


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 15c-17a)

   But two hundred years ago a strain of the occult was also manifesting itself. In view of the religious atmosphere in which the Samaritans lived this is perhaps not surprising. It took the form of 'dreams and visions of the night' which are vividly described. One at least of these appeared to have had a practical outcome, for the writer, who does not give his name but appears to have been a nephew of Muslim (Mashlamah bin Murjan), relates that it was through the effect of a dream that he came to restore the tomb of Eleazar at 'Awartah which had fallen into ruin.

   The writer narrates how he fell asleep on the eve of the holy Sabbath and dreamed that he made the journey to 'Awartah with its meadows, gardens, trees, grain-crops, and drew near to the (Page 16) courtyard of the tomb of Eleazar. He was filled with the fearsome awe of the unseen and was not able to approach the tomb itself. But after a time summoning up all his courage, he advanced to the steps leading to it with terror in his heart. There came forth to meet him a man of venerable aspect clad in white raiment suffused with light and with a white turban on his head. He was of middle stature, red in face, with long white hair and beard. When the visitor saw him thus he was seized with great trembling and could not utter a word. The Saint addressed him, and inquired of him if he was prepared to carry out the restoration of the place and reap the reward. After the Saint had withdrawn his visitor resolved to do what was asked, and at once he saw the shrine lit up and the courtyard returned to its former state. He woke up bathed in perspiration and when dawn came he repaired to the Synagogue with his brain in a whirl and disclosed the matter to his brethren. As soon as the Sabbath was over he proceeded to organise an expedition. He called into his aid a master builder, two foremen and six workers and assembled all the equipment necessary. He took along his mother and aunt to cook for the expedition. When they arrived at the place and had asked, as the custom was, the Saint to grant permission, they came upon a peasant working on the spot, who told them of a strange happening. On the day before he had lain down to rest after his midday meal and had fallen asleep. In his sleep an old man had appeared to him and had told him that no attempt must be made to arrest the work of restoration. The whole party now threw themselves into the work they had planned, which is described in detail, and when dusk fell and the moon  rose they drank coffee and spent the night singing to the accompaniment of the lute praises to God until the day broke. And what a dawn- glorious, shining, adorable, splendid! Eventually towards the end of the week the work was finished, and when all were resting in happiness and contentment there stole over the company, whence they knew not, a perfume as of spices and myrrh, stronger than aloes wood, and with it a deep sense of awe, convincing them that the Saint accepted their labours. (Page 17)

   A dream of  similar character befell Sadaqah b. Sarur, which Ibrahim b. Ya'qub, nephew of Muslim records. (Look for the next issue of the Samaritan Update) (This entire article will soon appear at


Karaite Korner

They Shall Make for Themselves Sisith [Fringe/Tassel]

By Hakham Meir Yosef Rekhavi

The Samaritans do not harmonise the passage from Numbers with the passage from Deuteronomy. The reason for this, according to the Samaritans, is that in Numbers the word sisith is used whilst gadhil is used in Deuteronomy. Therefore because each passage uses a different noun the two passages must be referring to two different miswoth. The Samaritans are in agreement with us in that the passage from Deuteronomy is referring to fringes but not so for the passage from Numbers. The Tabbakh harmonises sisith, because of the twisted thread of tekheleth [blue], with the Hoshen [breastplate], on which the jewels of twelve colours were set, worn by the Kohen Haggadhol [High Priest] and held in place by a twisted thread of tekheleth (see Ex. 28:28). By means of this harmonisation he arrives at the conclusion that they are silk fringes, thirty-two in number, comprising the twelve colours belonging to the jewels and of course the twisted thread of tekheleth. Since there is no harmonisation with the passage from Deuteronomy there are not four fringes but only two worn on the sleeves. I do not agree with this form of exegesis, for surely it would be more logical to harmonise the sisith from Numbers with the sis of the Kohen Haggadhol (see above) which was also held in place by a twisted thread of tekheleth. The fact that Numbers and Deuteronomy use two different nouns does not mean that they refer to two different miswoth. For instance when referring to the time of the Korban Pesah [Passover Offering] the Tora designates that part of the day by three different names. In Ex. 12:6 it is called beyn ha'arbayim, meaning twilight, literary between the two evenings. In Deut. 16:6 ba'arev, meaning in the evening and also kevo hashshemesh which means at sunset, literary when the sun comes. Thus all three terms have the same meaning. Nobody in their right mind would hold that the Korban Pesah should be offered up on three different occasions in the same day. Therefore sisith and gadhil are both referring to the same item.

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