The Samaritan Update

March 14th 2002

Further information on the Marble Inscription.

   Clive Farahar and Sophie Dupre, the owners of the marble inscription, featured in the last Samaritan Update have graciously e-mailed me a copy of the article of Alfred C. Fryer. He read the following before the Clifton Antiquarian Club (27th November 1895, Vol iii. pp. 149-150). Any one interested in purchasing the marble inscription may contact Clive Farahar and Sophie Dupre at or visit their web site at


An Enscribed Stone From Shechem.


By Alfred C. Fryer, Ph. D.

   This marble slab was the dedication stone formerly placed over the doorway of an ancient Samaritan synagogue at Shechem. The doorway (as is common in such buildings) was recessed under an arch, so that the stone was protected from the action of the weather. The ancient synagogue had fallen into the ruins and was not rebuilt, and the stone was sold by the officers of the Samaritan church to the chief Rabbi of the Dutch Jews, and for him it eventually passed into the hands of my father (the late Alfred Fryer, of Wilmslow), who purchased it in the East in the year 1870, and had it sent to England.

   The inscription consists of two portions. The first portion occupies the upper three lines and the center portion of the fourth line, and is in the ancient Samaritan character of the fourth line, and is in the ancient Samaritan character, which was the old Hebrew. The square-headed Hebrew, which is now in use, was brought back from Babylon after the captivity. It is believed that this inscription was cut when the synagogue was originally built, probably some years before the Christian Era. The words are read from right to left. The uppermost line a general inscription “In the name (of) God Almighty.” The second and third lines appear to be a paraphrase of part of the blessing which Jacob pronounced on Joseph on his death-bed: “- the God of thy fathers shall bless thee; and the Almighty shall bless thee.” The text in the Book of Genesis is:- “Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee, and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under.” (Genesis xlix, 25). The central part of the fourth line is occupied by the word “Amen.”

   It would appear that, at a much later date, the unoccupied portions of the stone were utilized for another inscription, in Arabic. This might refer to extensive repairs, or a rebuilding of the synagogue, or to some other building in the town. It is no uncommon thing to find the Arab conquerors carving their inscriptions on ancient tablets. The Arabic inscription is translated thus:-

   “The building of the house which was built in the fifth month of the year 1193.”

   The fifth month of the Mohammedan year was Gioumadi or Jomada I, and of course the date of the year is in the Mohammedan computation, dating from Hegira, or “Flight of the Prophet,” the day on which Mohammed entered Medina after his flight from Mecca, Friday the 16th of July, AD., 622.

   It is interesting to think that perchance the eyes of our Saviour Jesus Christ may have rested on this stone.



Dr. Friedrich Niessen discovered a fragment

 of the Samaritan Chronicle

In The Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection


   The Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection consists of 140,000 fragments of ancient Hebrew and Jewish documents and literature. The fragments now stored in the Cambridge University Library were a gift from Dr Solomon Schechter in 1898. He had obtained the collection from the Genizah (depositary) of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo a couple years prior. A student by the name of Taylor helped subsidize the cost of examining the fragments.

   Research Assistant Dr. Friedrich Niessen of the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit wrote, “Until now, no version of a Samaritan chronicle has been discovered in Judaeo-Arabic- and, indeed, one could hardly have expected to make such a discovery among the Genizah fragments.”  


   The fragment (T-S NS 188.20) is interesting to compare with ‘The Samaritan Chronicle or The Book of Joshua, the son of Nun,’ by Oliver Turnull Crane, 1890 (hosted in our archives), chapter XXIX.


A Comparison of the two English Translations


Taylor-Schechter Genizah fragment

NS 188.20 stored in the

Cambridge University Library

‘The Samaritan Chronicle or The Book of Joshua, the son of Nun,’

by Oliver Turnull Crane, 1890

Chapter XXIX.

An Account of the Reply sent to the Giants.

``[You will not be able to escape] to another place, but you will die here by the deadly sword, or by slaughter, or by the flame of fire, or by being wiped out. I do not boast to you as you have boasted [to me]. I do not say, as you have said: `Heroes will march with me.'

“ye shall not get away from me, nor depart from it, nor flee unto another place, but there destroyed by the slaughter of the sword and put to death by strangling and burned with fire and annihilated in vengeance; it shall not be unto you, O deluded ones, as ye now boast it shall. And I do not say as ye say,”

``The numbers are not imaginary: marching with me will be 600,000 men who destroyed Greater Egypt and ate the sacrifice of the Passover; who saw with their own eyes the ten plagues afflicting their enemies, and crossed the sea on the dry land; and travelled through the wilderness without a guide, the pillar of                  cloud sheltering them from the heat...''

“that they will march with me six hundred thousand men who did wage war with Greater Misr (Egypt), and did eat the sacrifices of the Passover, and around whom the angels kept guard, and who crossed the sea in dryness and journeyed through the wilderness without any guide, the pillar of fire sheltered them from the cold by night and the pillar of cloud sheltering them from the heat by day,…”


  The Taylor-Schechter Genizah fragment NS 188.20 article by Dr. Friedrich Niessen can be found at the following web-site: Read his full story!


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Recent Additions To Our Web Site:

The Sanctuary and Holy Vessels in Samaritan Art

By James D. Purvis of Boston University


And also read


The Celebration of Passover by the Samaritans
By Ya’aqov Ben Uzzi Ha-Cohen


The Journey to the bottom of Jacob’s Well Continued.

From The Pages of

The Recovery of Jerusalem A Narrative of Exploration and Discovery in the City and the Holy Land

Book By Capt. Wilson, R.E. Warren, R.E.,


Part II.

The Survey of Palestine by Lieutenant Anderson, R.E.

D. Appleton & Company, New York, 1871.

Pages 362-364

   Some men were set to work to clear the mouth of the well, which was being rapidly covered up. A chamber had been excavated to the depth of 10 feet, and in the floor of the chamber was the mouth of the well, like the mouth of a bottle, and just wide enough to admit a man’s body. We lowered a candle down the well and found the air perfectly good, and, after the usual amount of noise and talking among the workmen and idolers, I was lashed with a good rope round the waist and a loop for my feet, and lowered through the mouth of the well by some trusty Arabs directed by my friend Mr. Falcher, the Protestant missionary. The sensation was novel and disagreeable. The numerous knots in the rope continued to tighten and creak, and after having passed through the narrow mouth I found myself suspended in a cylindrical chamber, in shape and proportion not unlike that of the barrel of a gun. The twisting rope caused me to revolve as I was being (page 363) lowered, which produced giddiness, and there was the additional unpleasantness of vibrating from side to side, and touching the sides of the well. I suddenly heard the people from the top shouting to tell me that I had reached the bottom, so when I began to move I found myself lying on my back at the bottom of the well; looking up at the mouth, the opening seemed like a star. It was fortunate I had been securely lashed to the rope, as I had fainted during the operation of lowering. The well is 75 feet deep, 7 feet 6 inches diameter, and is lined throughout with rough masonry, as it is dug in alluvial soil. The bottom of the well was perfectly dry at this time of the year (the month of May), and covered with loose stones. There was a little pitcher lying at the bottom unbroken, and this was an evidence of there being water in the well at some seasons, as the pitcher would have been broken had it fallen upon the stones. It is probable that the well was very much deeper in ancient times, for in ten years it had decreased 10 feet in depth. Every one visiting the well throws stones down for the satisfaction of hearing them strike the bottom, and in this way, as well as from the debris of the ruined church built over the well during the fourth century, it has become filled up to probably more than a half its original depth. I was drawn up without mishap, but was bumped about sadly from side to side in consequence of the Arabs pulling me up by jerks, and at the same time the rope and its burden revolved. My kind friend and host the German missionary was glad to see me up again, and remarked, “Now I had fear for you, lest the rope did break.” The mouth of the well is close to the high-road from Jerusalem to Galilee.   The gardens in the vale of Shechem were looking very beautiful at this time (May 1st). The fig-trees, the latest of all, were in full leaf, and the people commenced to reap in the plain of this day. It was high time too, for the young locust were commencing their ravages, and the people seemed really roused to exertion at this critical time.    While we were breaking up our camp and preparing to (page 364) start, the lepers of the town gathered round the camp, making their piteous appeals for money. These unfortunate people, both men and women, were ordinarily found sitting on the heaps outside the town wall, close to the wayside. They were most distressing specimens of humanity; most of them without hands, some with no teeth or hair, and shunned by every one….

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Samaritan Interactive CD: -ROM from Nes Multimedia Production Ltd. The CD works on Windows and Macintosh computers. It exhibits many photos and mini movies. It addresses the Samaritan religion, chronicles, community, language and literature. There is even an interactive quiz that can test your knowledge. The Samaritan Singers reform (Osher sings with them on this cd-rom) their music on the CD-ROM. It is full of information.
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