April 24th, 2003


In This Issue


  • Passover: 2003

  • Section from The Asatir

  • The Samaritans

  • Who is the Author?


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Read and gain knowledge  at our website on the Passover and the days of Unleavened Bread:


The Last Israelitish Blood Sacrifice by John D. Whiting,


Samaritans Keep the Passover by Cecil Roth,


The Three Biblical Pilgrimages by Bonne Rook,


The Celebration of Passover by Yaqov Ben Uzzi Ha-Cohen,


The Days of Passover with the Samaritans, by L. Rynearson,


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Passover: 2003 

By Osher Sassoni


On Sunday April 20th, we where all invited to the ceremony of the Bar-Mitzvah of 8 years Jacob Ben Eyal Ben Jacob Cohen at Kiryat Luza on mount Gerizim. (Pictured to the left is Jacob.)

The Passover

Well, this year we (the Samaritan-Israelites) had a wonderful feast considering all the predicaments of the unpredictable weather on mount Gerizim. On the day prior to the Passover, April 14th, every family had baked their own amount of matzoth for the next day, but  the worry was from the uncertain weather  forecast of the next day. Everyone was so worried that we would not be able to fulfill the Passover sacrifice properly because of the rain that was predicted. But in the evening  the weather improved and you could see, like every year, that there were clouds everywhere except over the location of the community square where the sacrifice was to be held. It was amazing! It was still cloudy on the day of the Passover sacrifice and most of the people left their new festive cloths at home in the closet, but you still could feel the festive atmosphere in the air. The weather became warmer and the sacrifice ceremony was fascinating like every year. There were not  many visitors as in  the usual years but still there were many more than at this time last year. I noticed also some  TV groups from TVE and from some Palestinian channels. The whole ceremony was secured by  the presence of the Israeli army. The High Priest, Shalom Ben Amram stood on the high stone and initiated the ceremony. This year there were about forty sheep that were purchased and carefully chosen after the inspections were made. The words were read by the High Priest, and voiced by the people and the sheep were slaughtered at once. The meat was fresh and tasty after three hours of cooking  in the tannurs (covered ground-ovens). Some of the TV crews remained later into the evening.

The Feast days of Unleavened Bread

The next day, the 16th, was the first day of the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and it rained. Most of us stayed at home or went to visit friends while the main street was empty all the day. It was just too cold to be outside. The following days were much better, and the main street returned to its active Holiday mood as it should be. All the professional slaughters (butchers) begun their job of slaughtering for every family their yearly consumption of meat. This was around another forty sheep. According to the Torah (Pentateuch) and Samaritan tradition, every family must use up all their meat at home preceding to the day before the Passover sacrifice. The new year begins with the new fresh meat. On the Sabbath, we all went early in the morning to the synagogue for special prayers of 'The Sabbath of the Seven Days of the Feast of  Matzoth.' It is one of those special prayers where the scroll of Abisha is brought out from the coffer, displayed in front of the crowd who ask for blesses from the priests. The prayer ended about ten in the morning when every family went to their festive meal with family.

On the succeeding days the weather became worse. Monday morning, the 21st, it rained and about evening, a thick fog covered every part of the mount. The priests and the cantor of the week, Abraham Ben Matzliah decided to postpone the early morning prayer in the synagogue to a later hour, in order to see if the weather would become better for the first pilgrimage of the year. So the prayer started at 4:00 am instead of 1:00 am like every year. But the weather remained unchanged and was not in the lest better,  so the prayers  continued in the synagogue. After the prayers, when the sun began up, it became a little warmer. People gathered together and climbed to the top to the holy sites on the mount while singing,  and praying to fulfill the commandment of the pilgrimage.  The day was cloudy as on the the first day. In the evening, after prayers were said in the synagogue at sunset, the people gathered in homes and lead by a priest or Elder read a couple verses of the Exodus to complete the week. Then the members of the community of Holon came back returned home. Upon returning to Holon, we were shocked to hear (cell phone) that some Samaritan cars were hit with stones which were threw at them by Arabic men, in the village near Marda. Thanks God, no one was hurt in the incident and everybody arrived safely back to their homes in Holon.

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, pages 257, 259, 261]:

And it came to pass after these things that a new king arose in Egypt and his name was Pharaoh from the Kittim, and he was 'Atirt. And this is the third king who ruled over Egypt from the Pharaoh who had ruled in the time of Joseph. And it came to pass on the fifteenth day of the third lunar month, on the on the fourth day, that there came our Master Moses the Messenger- upon whom be peace- with the sheep of his father-in-law, Jethro quite unexpectedly to the mountain of God, Horeb. And on the fifteenth, on the selfsame day the Lord fulfilled his covenant with the Meritorious Ones, and the staff of Adam and his clothes, namely the clothes of light, that were upon Adam when he was in the Garden, were given to Moses on that day. And proof of it is the word which he spake before anything else where he said, "and this shall be a token unto thee; this has been given as a sign that I have sent thee." And the Lord appeared unto Moses on the third day of the month which was a Wednesday, and on the first day (Sunday), Moses went down to Egypt. And the Lord said unto Aaron, "Go into the wilderness to meet Moses." And he went and met him at the mountain of God, and kissed him. And both went up to Egypt and performed the wonders in the sight of the children of Israel. And the people believed. On the third day, they went up and stood before Pharaoh and told him all the words of God; on the fifth day was the miracles were enacted in Egypt. In the sixth hour of the night of the fifth day the children of Israel went out of Egypt with uplifted arm. On the night of the first day they passed the dry land through the midst of the sea; according to the words of the Asatir, the Feast of the Pesach was the night of the fifth, for God has said in the Holy Law, "on the marrow after the Passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians." And the sacrifice of the Pesach was from the evening until the break of the first dawn. And the festival is from the break of the first dawn to the setting of the sun, although our master Markah, in his exalted poem, said that the feast in Egypt was on the second day, (Monday) for he said, "Thus have they made the Passover; then journeyed to Rameses, and they traveled three days until they came to the Sea of Reeds; and in the night of the second day of the festival, when it was on the night of the first day, (Sunday). For we have the remembrance of it unto this very day, as we call it. "The night of the first day (Sunday),' but according to the statement of our master Markah, the first day of the festival would be on the Monday and the last day on the Sunday. But God knows. But I believe that the statement of our master Markah is a true one, and may the Lord forgive every sin and trespass! And on the third day, they came to Elim and the bitter waters were made sweet unto them. And the Lord showed them a bitter tree and they put twigs into the water so that it became sweet, and this is a well known and wonderful tree which even to this day, if put into bitter water, turns it sweet. And on the sixth day (Friday), which is the fifth day after the morning of the second festival, Amalek came upon them and he fought them, and they weakened him and they wiped out his name from under the heavens. And the children of Israel were victorious over him by the help of God- may He be exalted! And on the third day of the third month on the fourth day (Wednesday), the Lord called from Mount Sinai.

The Samaritans by Shemaryahu Talmon

By Shomron

Scientific American magazine, January 1977, Volume 236, Number 1.

A nice article in the magazine gave an insight on the Samaritans to its readers. Exposing the existence of the Samaritans to the world, is a wonderful thing! Talmon's article that ranges from page 100-8 displays three color photos; one of full page at the time of the Passover and two on the 1st pilgrimage of the year for the Samaritans. While little is written on the past history, the descriptions does in fact show the difficulties in which the Samaritans have indeed endured and impresses the Samaritan religious commitments. The main focal point dealt with the Samaritans themselves. This included a brief knowledge of Samaritan customs and belief. Talmon displays population charts on his given five major families in Nablus and Holon. Even though he places the Sassoni family as a family of its own, it should be recognized that they belongs to the Danfi family. Maps on the locations of the two communities, Holon and Nablus, in which the latter has moved to Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim. The map does give a good location of the position of the old Samaritan quarter in Nablus. The last Samaritan moved out of the quarter in 1998,  while still today some still own property there.  

The article is full of relative information for the common reader as well as the scholar. The magazine can be found in or through most Libraries.

Recommended reading.

Who is the Author of the Article in the London Newspaper?

From the Editor:

In the issue of 'The Samaritan Update,' March 28th, 2002, recounts an article published by the Christian Advocate and Journal rewritten from an English Newspaper in Jan. 1855. I wrote then, 'The author spent a fair amount of time in the area with the people.' After reading Domestic Life in Palestine by Mary Eliza Rogers, I suspected that the author of this article was in fact her brother, Edward Thomas Rogers(1831-1884). In her book, she states on page 17 , that they left from London on June, 1855. She further reports on the same page, 'He had been enjoying a few months in England, after having spent more than six years in consular service in Syria." Syria, at that time included the Palestine area. Six plus years can be  shown as 1848 as the current web link shows, http://home.cogeco.ca/~gstephenson1/#Thomas. The article from the newspaper speaks of 'seven years since', so seven years which would be 1948, the year in which E. T. Rogers began to serve in the area. It is a custom for all the peoples to meet the new consuls and in this year he meant Ibrahim Pacha who is mentioned in both the newspaper and the book of his sister.
E. T. Rogers had, as can be seen in his sister's book, been to Jacob's Well as seen on page 285. The newspaper article bears resembles to diplomatic tones in which Rogers would correspond. Rogers was well known by the Samaritans and his treatment of them as his sister writes, 'Our arrival was soon announced, and visitors thronged the large divan all the evening, for my brother was well known in Nablus. Priest Amran, of the Samaritan community, came, speaking with earnest gratitude of the kindness of the English people, and of the English Government.' And notice should be made of, 'My brother has twice been present at the celebration of the Feast of the Passover, and from him I obtained the above description.' Rogers had to be interested in the Samaritans in order to visit the Passover twice. The  priest even kept contact with the British Consul Rogers, 'from Priest Amran to E. T. Rogers, Esq., Her Britannic majesty’s Vice-Consul, Haifa.' The quotes are from Mary Roger's chapter in her book that will soon be at our main website.

E. T. Rogers was in fact well  acquainted with the Samaritans since in 1855, Rogers translated into English the well known works of Notices of the Modern Samaritans, Illustrated by Incidents in the life of Jacob esh-Shelaby, Gathered from From and Translated. See Crown's Bibliography #2759. ( I have so far not been able to find the funds to purchase this booklet from Fishburn Books, but hope to in the near future, if still available.) Roger's knowledge of Arabic made him the perfect choice for translating the this booklet!

An interesting note must also be recognized from Mary Rogers book; 'He gave me an interesting account of his little community, whose numbers amounted to only one hundred and ninety-six.' In her footnote she has; 'According to Wilson’s account, they numbered one hundred and fifty in the year 1843.'  But it could be possible that Dr. John Wilson is the author. Puzzling information in the article could help solve a problem.

Upon the returning from Palestine, E. T. Rogers may have brought information that was the cause for the author writing the newspaper article, 'I am surprised to see a statement of exertions making, or about to be made, on behalf of the Samaritans, without any notice of the extent of the relief required.'

Wilson most likely knew E. Rogers since both knew a certain Samaritan in London by the name Jacob esh-Shelaby (Ya'qub as-Salabi), not to mention the Samaritans in Nablus themselves. Further information in Mary Rogers book collaborates this. The part of the news article that says, 'on behalf of the Samaritans' would fit into E. Rogers position as Consul in Palestine. In Mary Rogers book there is the statement, 'Priest Amran said, “Now that the English word has been spoken for us, we shall no longer fear;"'

In Wilson's book, Lands of the Bible, he interviewed forty-five Samaritans that were brought together, which most likely comes the statement, 'I state this from personal knowledge, as far as it could be obtained from the Samaritan elders themselves, in their own synagogue at Nablous.' In the article, it also gives the author's admiration of the Samaritan manuscript, while in Wilson's book,  he details the Samaritan manuscripts in which he must have felt their importance. There is one more thing that should be noted, the news article says, 'One who has sat by Jacob's well.' This also can relate to Wilson with the famous story of  retrieving the book from the bottom of the well with Jacob esh-Shelaby (the story is in all three of the books listed above).

It could very well be that by the evidence that Wilson was the author of this newspaper article, or maybe not!

Reference Information From the University of Dundee

Reference: MS 38/5/1/(2)
Collection: Torrance Collection
Dates: c.1929-c.1941
Description: Notebooks kept by Herbert Watt Torrance: Passover; article on the Samaritan Passover by Hazel C. Ferguson; http://www.dundee.ac.uk/archives/rel02.htm

Have you purchased this book yet?
Early Christian Authors on Samaritans & Samaritanism: Texts, Translations & Commentary (Texts & Studies in Ancient Judaism, 92)
by Reinhard Pummer ISBN 3-16-147831-2 Leiden  

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