October 9th, 2003  

Vol.  III - No.4

In This Issue

  • Samaritan-Israelite Festivals

  • International Conference:

  • The Samaritans and the Book of Deuteronomy

  • Jeroboam II and Osorkon II

  • The Byzantine Period

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Co-Editor: Osher    


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               Eyal Cohen

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A. B. - Samaritan News


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Sunset Times for Central Israel calculated by Abraham Cohen from Holon


begins Friday Oct. 10th, 5:17pm to Saturday 11th, 5:15 p.m.

Oct. 17th, 5:07 pm- 18th 5:06 pm

Samaritan Calendar

of Festivals

Holy Day of Succoth & 3rd Pilgrimage-

October 9th at sunset (5:17) to sunset of the 10th (5:17)

7 Days of Succoth-

October 9th at sunset (5:17) to sunset (5:07) of the 17th

Shemini Azeret Oct. 16th (5:09)-17th (5:07)


Studies and Related Conferences:

2003 Byzantine Studies Conference

Oct 17-19, 2003

Lewiston ME.


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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Samaritan-Israelite Festivals

Day of Atonement (Yom akkibburem) went well! The day after (Oct. 5th) (see our previous Update for the Day of Atonement) the Samaritan Israelites prepare for Sukkot. Sukkot (Booths or Tabernacles)- Beginning on the fifteenth day of the seventh month which is in the evening (5:17 p.m. or 17:17) of October 9th of this year. Sukkot or Tabernacles is the remembrance of the when the Israelites left Egypt and is an everlasting commandment to the Israelite descendants. No work is permitted on this day. Thoughts run through the minds of the families on how their sukkah will be designed this year. Last year you may recall all the various styles of the fruit configurations. The Samaritan-Israelite sukkahs are built inside the homes, this is the result many years of past persecutions of their Arab neighbours. Usually in the main room of each home you will find permanent anchors in the ceiling designed for use to support their sukkah. A steel frame with an internal framework is supported on these anchors, usually in the four corners. Fresh fruit of the season is used in an array of sequences. Each fruit is carefully hand wired by it's stem to the metal frame. The contains of the sukkah are the four spices of Leviticus 23:40: citrus fruit, palm branches, branches of dense trees and a special plant that grows along river beds (or red peppers). There are no walls, just a ceiling, a covering. Last year the Samaritan-Israelites hosted a Succoth Festival open house at the President of Israel, Moshe Katzav's presidential residence. You can review the article in the September 26th, 2002 issue of the Samaritan Update or at our News section at our main website: the-Samaritans.com. Also see the Oct. 24th, 2002 issue on Sukkot.

In the early morning on the first day of Sukkot will be the time for the third pilgrimage (Oct. 10th) of the year to the peak of Gerizim. This is also instructed, 'Three times a year, you shall appear before me.' This takes place early in the morning and the people gather at the Kiryat Luza synagogue after early prayers are made. No work is permitted on this day. (See the-samaritans.com: festivals)

Shemini Azeret (Simhat Torah)- Oct. 16th(5:09) to the 17th (5:07) Rejoicing of the Torah is always 22 days from the beginning of the seventh month. It is the number of the words in the ancient Torah that describes the month, "sbton zkron truah mkra kds." This is the last day of Sukkot. . Shortly after midnight, prayers are made in the synagogue for more than ten hours. No work is permitted on this day. (Photo by Osher Sassoni: Top is the frame of the Sukkah. Middle is Shoham Sassoni with his daughter preparing the fruit. Third is the sukkah.)


 A Personal Report of the International Conference: Mandaean and Samaritan Literatures in Memoriam of Rudolph Macuch Freie Universität Berlin, 1-2 October 2003

Benny  Tsedaka [A. B. - The Samaritan News"]

   I just returned from Berlin, where I had two pleasant days at the conference memorial of Macuch, a great man and scholar of Mandaism and Samaritanism. I have to remark that the greater part was dedicated to Mandaism and only 5 of the 17 lectures were on Samaritanism. Nevertheless I had a great time listening to the lectures on Mandaism. Before this conference I had only the information I had collected from Dr. Victor Rubrick at the Copenhagen Conference [who canceled  as well as Dr. Alan Crown as expected] and now I know much more concerning the Madaism issue with its rich culture, language, script, history, etc.
   It was expected that the number of lectures about Samaritanism were to be six but Dr. Sylvia Powels-Niami from Potsdam had changed the title of her subject to speak only concerning Mandaism. Finally there were five lectures about Samaritanism, starting with my lecture in the second session on the second day that was chaired by Dr. Magner Cartveit [Norway]. My lecture was on "Words on Contention in the Reading of the Torah and in Prayers among the Samaritan Israelites of today," was warmly received by over forty scholars that attended the session. I have prepared copies of my lecture to make it easier for the scholars to follow the pronunciation of the words in contention.
   Then came the lecture of Dr. Joseph Zsengeller [Hungary] on "Temple and Sacred Text - A Samaritan and Jewish Perspective."  He addressed his view concerning different attitudes towards these two terminologies. The whole chapter will appear in his next [second] book, soon. I have noted afterwards that many old terminologies will receive new significances when of the book appears from Dr. Yitzhaq Magen on the four hundred and eighty inscriptions that were discovered on the peak of Mount Gerizim.
   During the break I was greeted by Prof. Reiner Voigt [Berlin - Freie universitet] the organizer of the conference, who  run it so well, expressed his good impression of my lecture and asked me to chair the next session [the third]. I thanked him for the honor and agreed.
   In this session the first lecturer was Dr. Gerhard Wedel [Berlin] who spoke about "Kitab ElTibach" of the great author Abu ElChasan ElSuri of the 11th century and demonstrated new ways of researching this composition of practicing the Law.
   Then came Dr. Magner Cartveit spoke on the oldest Samaritan Cannon - to say that he feels that the Samaritans has adopted one of many ancient texts of the Torah used during the first couple centuries A.D. - A view that was relevant 60-100 years ago and now no serious scholar considers.
   Third in this session was Dr. Haseeb Shehadeh [University of Helsinki], lectured on the story of Shalma b. Tabia the Samaritan Tailor and the Nablus Merchants, reflecting on the personality of Shalma [High Priest 1798-1855] and the personality of the storyteller Priest Jacob b. Azzi [High Priest 1984-1987].
   Quit a number of Samaritanologists had attended the Conference, Dr. Zuheir Schunnar and Dr. Heinz Pohl from Berlin, Dr. Ingrid Jhelm of Copenhagen, and Dr. Stefan Schorsh from Bielefeld. With the aforementioned, the number was a complete ten. On Wednesday night I had invited them to a meeting to an Egyptian restaurant where we discussed the current state of the SES [Societe Etudes Samaritains]- Schunnar, Wedel and Schorch were missing.
   Dr. Pohl described the sad situation of the society that chances are it will come to the end next year. We have decided to wait till March 2004 to see what will happen in the special meeting in Paris. There are only two options now facing the SES, to be part of bigger organization or to vanish. In both options all participants of that meeting in Berlin have agreed that there is no future for the SES. On the other hand there are great expectations from the new development of running a new conference of Samaritan Studies by the University of Haifa next summer.


The Samaritans and the Book of Deuteronomy

By The Reverend Professor John Bowman, B.D., D.PHIL.(Melbourne)

Reprinted from the Transactions of the Glasgow University Oriental Society, Vol. XVII, years 1957-58 (published 1959).

   To return to Deuteronomy, E provides the upper limit for D. The Book of the Covenant (Ex. 20-4) is the basis of D. Critics are wrong who regard D as merely Deut. 12-26. The basis of the Covenant is the ten words of Deut. 5. Deut. 12-26 are an extended Midrash on them, just as Ex. 21-3 are a halakhic Midrash on Ex. 20. Just as Ex. 24 gives the covenant scene at Sinai, Deut. 27 f. give the Mosaic instruction for the covenant scene at Shechem with Gerizim as the Mount of Blessing. It is hard to see how an altar and the twelve stones would have been erected on Ebal, the Mount of Cursing. The Law written on the twelve stones would be twelve copies of the Decalogue, one for each tribe. The ten words are the Law and basis of the covenant. I think the Samaritans are right in regarding Deut. 27:1-4 as the tenth commandment. Any harmonization here in the Samaritan Pentateuch is the insertion of the tenth commandment (Samaritan) at the beginning of Deut. 27. The statement at the end of Ex. 20, in verses 24-6, as to the altar whereon offerings are to be made, is significant. Religion and Law cannot be separated as some critics do in shearing off Deut. 5-11 from Deut. 12-26. Nor can religion in an ethical sense be separated from religion in a ceremonial sense. To keep the commandments one must worship God, and God’s worship demanded sacrificial offerings. It is to be expected that one be told along with the commandments where one can worship God. Ex. 20:24 says (Page 16) “In all places where I record my name I will come to thee.” This is consonant with the E level. With the D reform, one has centralization and one rightly expects to have this important command included with the commandments.

   The Book of Deuteronomy is influenced by the teaching of the eighth century prophets, Hosea in particular. If Deuteronomy were a northern code which was written before the northern kingdom fell, one would expect the northerners to refer to their own sanctuary. In the book of Deuteronomy (17:16, 17), it is plain that strictures on the king referred to blemishes in Solomon. We know from the book of I Kings (12:29 ff.) that Jeroboam had sanctuaries of his own and prevented the people from going up to Jerusalem. It is not impossible that Deuteronomy originally was designed for centralization of worship in one sanctuary in the north. Jeroboam had sanctuaries at Bethel and Dan. The Samaritans called Mount Gerizim Bethel. It is not impossible that when Amos condemned the worship of his time at bethel, he was condemning the worship at the royal shrine in the northern kingdom at Mount Gerizim. Deuteronomy stresses both the altar, one central sanctuary. The only place where instructions are given in Deuteronomy to build an altar is on Ebal (M.T.; Sam. Gerizim); in any case whatever reading is followed it was on a northern mountain. The Samaritans’ religion derived much from early post-exilic Judaism, but if Deuteronomy is a northern Code the Samaritans, in their regarding the place of the sanctuary as originally having Mount Gerizim, in their celebrating Passover in the place which they believe God had chosen, in their refusal to distinguish between priests and levites, in all this following Deuteronomy, may on these points be true successors of the best in North Israelite religion. In the Book of the Covenant (Ex. 23:14) and also in D. the Israelite was to appear three times before the Lord. In D it is at the place which God shall choose (M.T.; Sam. has chosen). The three times were Hag Matzoth, Hag Shabuoth and Hag Sukkoth. In the Samaritan Liturgy there are Festival Liturgies for Matzoth, Shabuoth, and Sukkoth. These have been added to from time to time. But alongside these there is for each festival- The Seventh Day of Matzoth (i.e. the Hag Matzoth), Hag (Page 17) Shabuoth, and Hag Sukkoth- a pilgrimage liturgy made up in the main of readings of the Law. The Samaritans follow a carefully fixed course up Gerizim and visit various altars towards the top; these are the altars of Jacob, Noah, Adam, etc. They then eventually circumambulate the summit, appearing before the Lord. The three pilgrimages are, in the route followed and in the parashiyyoth from the Law read, the same. Here we have something very old. It is a pity that B. W. Anderson in his otherwise excellent article “The Place of Shechem in the Bible” (Biblical  Archaeologist, vol. xx, 1957, 1, pp. 10-19), while recognizing (ibid., p. 18) the ancient Shechem liturgy imbedded in Deuteronomy 27 f., did not refer to the continued liturgical rites in the same area. The names of the altars may have changed, but I venture to suggest that this pilgrimage rite is at least as old as the covenant at Shechem mentioned in Joshua, whether this took place in the time of Joshua or was only supposed to have taken place then after Deuteronomy made Moses give instructions for the ceremony of the Covenant at Shechem.

(The complete article will soon be at our website: the-samaritans.com)


Jeroboam II and Osorkon II

The conclusion has now for some time been generally accepted that the Samaritan ostraca were written not in Ahab’’s time, but in the time of one of the last kings of Samaria. Of the kings of Israel after Ahab, only Jeroboam II and Pekah reigned for more than seventeen years. The scholarly opinion arrived at an almost unanimous conclusion that the ostraca were written in the days of Jeroboam II (ca. -785 to -744). This conclusion appears to be correct.



The Byzantine Period (5th-7th Centuries C.E.)

A real revival of the (city of Yavneh-Yam) city took place in the Byzantine period, when was reached the enonic and social peak of the Land of Israel (as the "Holy Land"). According to the Life of Peter the Iberian, the empress Eudokia sponsored the erection of a church and a hospitium (hostel) for pilgrims at Yavneh-Yam (named here Mehoz Yavneh), although the site was inhabited by Samaritans. http://www.tau.ac.il/~yavneyam/history.htm

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