January 16th, 2003



In this Issue:


  • The Railroad Under Mount Gerizim

  • A Pentateuch in Wyoming  

  • Samaritan Music in America in 2003

  • Library News:

  • Horae Apocalypticae

  • Palestine's Rural Economy

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Co-Editor: Osher    


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               Eyal Cohen

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The Railroad Under Mount Gerizim

Article by Shomron. Photo by Alvin B. Garley- 1930

   The first railway in the holy land  was constructed between Jerusalem and Jaffa by a French concessionary company in 1892. The line was further developed by the Turks with help from the Germans in 1914 and by the British in 1920. During World War I, the Turks extended the line southward from Afulah through Jenin to Nablus.

   Most likely the railway was a convenient transportation for the pilgrims of the Samaritan Passover. Moses Gaster most likely used this rail line as well as many others. I sent an e-mail with the photo to Israel Railways and received a response back from Paul Cotterell:
   "Thanks for the Nablus station photo. These are very rare indeed. The line from Afula to Nablus was begun in 1912 as a branch of the narrow gauge Hedjaz Railway line to Haifa, and was intended to reach Jerusalem. The outbreak of WW1 changed these plans. In 1915 the Turks altered the course of this line to go from Massudiah to Tulkarm, Lod, and Beersheba into the Negev Desert to support their campaign against the British in Egypt. Of the planned extension to Jerusalem, only the section to Nablus was completed (possibly by the British after September 1918). Traffic was only ever very light, with maybe one train a day from Haifa/Afula to Nablus. The line was damaged in The Disturbances of the late 1930s, and saw several periods out of use. It was rehabilitated by the British army in WW2 for military traffic, but closed completely about the end of the war (precise date unknown). Apparently the track in the Jordanian held West Bank section was only taken up about 1965."

A Pentateuch in Wyoming  

   by Anne Marie Lane

   In the American Heritage Center of the university of Wyoming, USA there is in the Toppan Rare Books Library, a Manuscript of the Pentateuch, apparently written in Samaritan characters.

    What a pleasant surprise to read an email from Shomron. It is the first inquiry I have had (in my 9 years here) about the Samaritan Pentateuch. It is a special favorite that I bring out for presentations on book history and books of different religions. It is small, a hand-held version, just over 4 inches high and 3 inches wide, 400 pages long, hand-sewn with red thread, and has the traditional "flap" binding. The leather is a light to medium brown (goatskin?), and has an incised cross (like this: X ) on both the front and back, each within a panel of incised lines. The spine has 21 horizontal lines inscribed from top to bottom. The paper is very thin, almost like modern airmail paper, and is a cream color. The ink is extremely black, and the whole book is handwritten in a remarkably tiny script. 

    I do not know the conditions of the book ending up here in Wyoming, except to say that the manual cataloging record I have (the book is not cataloged online yet) says it was acquired in 1967 as a William Fitzhugh gift. Dr. Fitzhugh (of California) donated both books and money to buy other books, so I'm not sure if he himself had bought it while traveling somewhere. The cataloging record also notes that it is from "Nablus, Palestine, circa 1750," so it is quite old.   

Anne Marie Lane
Faculty Curator of Rare Books
Toppan Library, American Heritage Center
P.O. Box 3924, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY  82071


Samaritan Music in America in 2003

   A. B. News Services

   Further steps have been made to arrange a successful journey of performances of the Samaritan Israelite Music Ensemble of 20 singers of both Samaritan Communities in Holon and Kiriat Luza. The ensemble has already been booked for the international festival of Coral Music that will take place in Missoula/Montana on July, 16-20, 2003. Benyamim Tsedaka met the executive of the festival at a special lunch that was arranged for him. Now in many places over the USA, like New York City, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Salt Lake City and San Diego, friends of the Samaritan culture are helping to set up more performances for the Ensemble, who sings the most ancient music in existence.

 Library News: Books and Articles

Conntinuation of the Samaritan Chronicle of Abu L'Fath
by Milka Levy-Rubin Hardcover Book

Darwin Pr; ISBN: 0878501363; (October 2002)

At Amazon.com for $35.00 plus shipping.


Article by Werner Arnold
A more general article on the Arabic dialects in the Tel-Aviv area includes the dialect of the Samaritans of Holon. This article will be published in German language in the Festschrift. A second article on the Arabic dialect of the Samaritans will be published in the proceedings of the 6th international conference on Arabic dialectologie in Cadiz. This article will be in English. A Text in Samaritan Arabic spoken by Benjamim Tsedaka will be published with a German translation in the Festschrift. I hope, that all publications will appear during this year. The spoken text will be included also in our Semitic language archive. There you can listen also to a lot of other (also Jewish Arabic) dialects. See: http://semarch.uni-hd.de/  ---Prof. Dr. Werner Arnold, Universität Heidelberg, Seminar für Sprachen und Kulturen des Vorderen Orients —Semitistik— Schulgasse 2, 69117 Heidelberg, http://arnold.uni-hd.de/


Rare Arabic Book

Author: Bible-Arabic 1854
Title: Libri Exodi et Levitici secundum Arabicam Pentateuchi Samaritani versionem, Ab Abu-Saido conscriptam, quos ex tribus
Publisher: E. J. Brill Leiden 1854.
Description: leather spine,ex-library. conscriptam, quos ex tribus codicibus edidit A. Kuenen.

Book ID: 045867   Price: US$187.50
 Crown number 1900, Abraham Kuenen.

Interested parties can contact: Richard Owen Roberts Booksellers & Publishers
PO Box 21,  123-145 N. Washington St.Wheaton, IL 60189
(630) 752-4122 Phone,(630) 653-8616 Fax

sales@rorbooks.com  www.rorbooks.com 




   I quote this from a Paper on the subject, in the Christian Observer for May 1802, p. 287; and, in further illustration of the uniformity of the Hebrew copies in respect of their numerals, may add that the Chaldee Paraphrase of Onkelos, written about the time of Christ, agrees with the Hebrew chronologies, -- that the same are recognized in the two Talmuds, -- and that Dr. Wolff informs me that "in the ancient manuscripts which he saw at Bokhara, the chronological notices of the length of lives both of the antediluvian and the postdiluvian patriarchs were exactly according to the received Hebrew text, though the letters of the manuscripts resembled Samaritan."


You can read Dr. Wolff's Journey to Bokhara. The Living Age, vol. 6, issue 67 (August 23, 1845). http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/moa/ This is a good book for discovery Wolff's thoughts on the ten lost tribes of Israel.

 "Palestine's Rural Economy, 1917 - 1939"

By Kenneth W. Stein

   'Devastation caused by the fighting in Palestine during World War I adversely affected the rural economy and the peasants' financial situation. The economy in general suffered from a severe decline in currency value and available capital. The inhabitants of Gaza bartered pottery for cereal from northern Palestine. The more densely populated area from Nablus to Jerusalem barely provided enough agricultural produce for local consumption. Administratively, the headlong Turkish retreat brought about the destruction of sub-district land registers and agricultural bank records, leaving virtually no complete and accurate picture of land rights......'

   'In 1913, there was a serious epidemic which reduced sheep flocks, cattle stock, and the number of transport oxen. The Turks commandeered huge camel stocks in 1915 and 1916. In 1916 they requisitioned large flocks of sheep near Beersheba and in 1917 the hill regions from Nablus to Hebron suffered a scarcity of sheep ....'

     'From 1931 through 1933 there was a 37% drop in domestic wheat output in Palestine. This forced the administration to issue loans for seed, plow oxen, and forage, and to remit the tithe from 1931 through 1934. In Jenin in early 1934, Arab journalists reported that 60% of the stock and 90% of the offspring perished due to scanty grazing, inclement weather, and drought; in Nablus the cold weather and lack of pasturage took their toll of 60% of the remaining stock. This resulted in the government's remission of the animal tax. In the early 1930s there was a steady decline in the price of domestic wheat and cereals, primarily because of the dumping of Syrian wheat on the Palestine market and worldwide overproduction.'


(This time period must have been very hard on the Samaritans. Shomron)

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