August. 28th, 2003  

Vol.  III - Nu.1


In This Issue

  • Update Anniversary

  • Copenhagen Conference Abstracts

  • Footnotes

  • From the Editor

  • Book & Video

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Editor: Shomron

Co-Editor: Osher    


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Staff Photographer:    

               Eyal Cohen

Staff Translator:

            Guy Tsabary

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A. B. - Samaritan News


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Samaritan Calendar

of Festivals


Festival of the Seventh Month- Begins September 25th at Sunset till sunset of the 26th.


Day of Atonement-

October 4th at sunset to sunset of the 5th


Holy Day of Succoth & 3rd Pilgrimage-

October 9th at sunset to sunset of the 10th


7 Days of Succoth-

October 9th at sunset to sunset of the 17th



Studies and Related Conferences:

International Conference: Mandaean and Samaritan Literatures in Memoriam of Rudolph Macuch Freie Universität

Berlin, 1-2 October 2003


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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 The Samaritan Update Anniversary

By  Shomron   Photo: The Meadow taken from Mount Gerizim in 1930 by Alvin B. Garley

It has now been two complete years and many of the bi-weekly issues have been published over the internet. The creation of the Samaritan Updates belongs to Osher Sassoni, Samaritan-Israelite and webmaster of In the beginning, Osher suggested that the e-newsletter be published monthly instead of our current bi-weekly. This was my idea, sometimes I wonder how good of an idea it really was (smile). It takes a lot of research and many hours to try to develop something worth giving to the public, especially with all the critics out there. Well yes, we do like to be corrected if we make a mistake! But the few mistakes have been corrected!

We would like to thank everyone for their support, subscription to are editions and your kind words! We wish to thank the many contributors for their donations to help support our web site; .We would like to thank the entire Samaritan-Israelite population from both communities in Kiryat Luza and Holon. We would like to thank all the Librarians and Store owners/managers for their contributions. We wish to thank the many Scholars and Professors in the field of Samaritan Studies for their dedication and contributions over the years. Well done! We wish also to pay a special credit to Benyamim Tsedaka of the A.B.- The Samaritan News for his encouragements, cooperation and material in which were invaluable to our issues! Thank you Benny! A Thank you goes to our staff Eyal Cohen and Guy Tsabary for their support. And last but not least, I wish to thank Osher Sassoni, his father and mother for their support for the Samaritan website!

What you are looking at is the new style of the e-newsletter that begins our third year. We hope you like it! If you will also notice the popup ads were not there!

And PLEASE keep us informed!


Copenhagen Conference Abstracts
Source: Ingrid Hjelm and A. B. -The Samaritan News

Introduction by Ingrid Hjelm, University of Copenhagen (Photo)

Dear colleagues, "I am very pleased to welcome you to this session on Samaritan Studies. The importance of incorporating Samaritan studies as part of studies in Jewish and Christian bibles probably has never been greater. With increasing arguments for a lower dating of the writing and composition of the Hebrew Bible to the post-exilic, or second-temple period if you wish, and re-evaluations of the independent political and religious role of Samaria until its annexation into the Hasmonaean Jewish state in the end of the second century BCE, Samaritan traditions, belief and practices have more to do with these issues than hitherto assumed. While 10 years ago it was fully accepted to view Samaritanism as a specific development from post exilic Judaism, to which it owed its origin and intellectual continuation, recent research in the field has made such assumptions less likely. Excavations on Gerizim since the 1980’s conducted by Itzaq Magen have made clear that the post-exilic history of Judea and the formation of the Hebrew Bible cannot be written without taking Samaritan history into account. The Samaritans did not come into existence in the fourth century BCE with Alexander’s permission to dissident priests from Jerusalem’s temple to build a temple on Gerizim as told by Josephus. The temple structures found on Mount Gerizim underneath the enlarged Hellenistic cult place do not date to the reign of Alexander the Great, but to around mid-fifth century BCE. The plan of  this cult place fits the description of the temple in Ezechiel’ s vision, measurements of which, cannot be associated to Jerusalems’ temple earlier than the Hellenistic or Roman periods (Magen, in Qadmoniot 120, 2000:109). As Josephus got it wrong regarding the building of the Samaritan temple, he neglected its enlargement and Gerizim’s change from cult place to capitol and temple city in the time of Antiochus III (Magen 2000: 117-118). The destruction of the temple, Josephus argues had taken place at the beginning of the reign of John Hyrcanus (135-104 BCE), rather than at the end of his reign. From the coinage, a dating later than 111 BCE is the more probable (Magen 2000: 118). The duration of the Samaritan temple, which was dedicated to ‘Yahweh-el-‘Eljon’ (Magen 2000: 108, 113) was not the 200 years stated by Josephus (Ant. 13.256), but rather closer to the 343 years, he ascribes to the existence of the temple in Heliopolis / Leontopolis (War 7.436), stories of which, Josephus mingles with stories about Gerizim (Hjelm, in SJOT 13/2, 1999; Hjelm, The Samaritans and Early Judaism, 2000: 227-232). The finds needs further examination as do the now 480 inscriptions found on the spot. According to Ephraim Stern this is the largest collection of building inscriptions, some of which are quite large, ever found in Israel. The needs of establishing new paradigms for both the history of Palestine and the formation of its literary heritage, I hope will become apparent with the papers on Samaritan and Jewish relationship given in this session."  

"Unfortunately, the original program has diminished because of cancellations, from Haseeb Shehadeh, Moshe Florentin, Haroutun Jamgotchian, Vittorio Morabito and Jozsef Zsengeller, who apologize for not being able to come. Jamgotchian has sent drafts of his paper together with his 2001 and 2003 books on Samaritan manuscripts. Jamgotchian’s work on the Arabic fragments of the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Chronicles from the hitherto almost inaccessible Samaritan manuscripts of the Firkowich collection in the Russian National Library are of great importance for the transmission history of these texts.

Greetings have been sent from the acting president of the Société d’Etudes Samaritaines Dom Guy D. Sixdenier, who has sent draft introduction and the first chapters of a long planned Samaritan Hexapla, which cannot serve as a lecture, but which we might think of publishing after some editing."

"This session on Samaritan Studies is dedicated to the memory of the former president of the SES, Dr. Ferdinand Dexinger, who, died of cancer, February 21st this year. Blessed be his memory."

"As the board of the SES has not been able to elect a new president from members of the board and as contacts to members of the SES are virtually non-existent, the future of the SES is in jeopardy. For the study of Samaritan matters, it is absolutely necessary that researchers can meet regularly. I hope that this meeting and meetings planned for next year in Haifa, July 5-8, organised by Menahem Mor, and a session at the EABS in Grooningen, July 25-28, organised by me, will fulfil such needs. I highly recommend that you respond positively to Mor’s coming invitation. With these meetings we will simply continue to do research and distribute our results in publication also without the SES if necessary."


These are the abstracts of the Copenhagen Conference, this past August 4th.

Session I, Chairman of first session: Dr. Ingrid Jhelm
1- Benyamim Tsedaka, Samaritan A.B. Institute, Holon, Israel
Title: Sources to Composition of a New Samaritan Chronicle from Joshua Till the Present Times
The intention of this paper is to describe the different sources to a new Samaritan chronicle based on the writings of the Israelite Samaritans in their own sources. The new chronicle coming to be out soon is based on the whole testimonies that have been found in Samaritan Israelite libraries and special collections of Samaritan Israelite collections and general archives to describe the history of the Israelite Samaritans from the time of Joshua Bin Nun the successor of Moses till the year 2000 A.D. The short summary of such a historical description has been written by the modern Samaritan sage Ab-Sikkuwwa b. Sa'ed Hadinfi in the year 1900, which is known in the field of Samaritan Studies as Adler Chronicle and updated the history till the year of that composition, mainly based on previous Samaritan Israelite chronicles and Jewish and Arab sources. The new composition edited and written by the speaker is based on the widest and most comprehensive scale of the self historical and testimonial sources he could found so far. It is divided into 4 groups:

1. Chronicle - 6 different complete sources.
2. Sectional histori
cal testimonies from different periods.
3. Testimonies of writers and scribes in ancient manuscripts in special collections all over the planet.
4. Any testimony on the history or related to the history the speaker has found in poetry and literature.
5. Letters written by the Samaritans during the 16th-19th century to European personalities and scholars including the big letters collections of Gaster and Warren.
6. Documents in governmental achieves from the time of the Ottoman Rule to time of the Government of Israel including the special archives of the I. Ben Zvi, the second president of Israel, who was the patron of the new Samaritan survival.

The speaker will describe the sources of his work and their important contribution to compose a complete chronicle of history of the Israelite Samaritans through their own sources.

2 -Ruairidh Bóid, Australia
Title: The Structure and Purpose of the Asatir
Abstract: This paper builds on the conclusions of my monograph A Pair of Ancient Samaritan Eschatologies, to be published by Brill's in Leiden.
It is not a summary of monograph, but a first attempt at going beyond its conclusions, so as to integrate the Aramaic booklet called for convenience the Asatir (the original title being lost) into the corpus of the theological texts that were used by the authors of the New Testament, or which are at least the relatives of such texts. The two eschatologies mentioned are ch. XI and ch. XII (the last two chapters). These two chapters have so far been completely unintelligible, because the Samaritans have no tradition for the language of the content, and previous studies have followed old Samaritan commentaries, by authors who confessed themselves to be merely guessing. My present purpose is to examine the ten chapters of salvific history that precede the two eschatologies, and to work out the reason for their attachment to the last two chapters. The resultant theology has a very definite relationship to parts of the New Testament, and some connection with the Book of Jubilees, and is in part an attack on Daniel and1 Maccabees.

3-Rivka Shahal, Ashkelon Regional College, under the academic supervision of the Bar-Ilan University.
Title: The Conflict between the Samaritans and the Jews in the time of the Second Temple
Abstract: A look at the sources describing the political-national and other events during the Second Temple period indicates a sombre relationship between residents of the northern entity and Judea. The first documented confrontation between adversaries of Judea and Binyamin and the Jews happened to be in 537 BCE. The confrontation (Ezra 4;2) erupted when the adversaries wished to join the Temple builders and were turned down on the basis of the legal claim that relied on the exact phrasing of Cyrus' declaration. Once the Samaritans were turned down, the conflict escalated. The adversaries carried out a number of attacks: wrote accusatory letters and made every attempt to stop the construction of the Second Temple. Later on, in the days Nehemiah (444/5 BC), Sanballat wished to sabotage the repair of Jerusalem's wall. Jerusalem responded with preventive action and feeling of rage and hatred.
In the second century BCE there was real progress in the formation of the Samaritan community as a sect, with signs of their becoming an independent entity. This led to a deterioration of Jewish-Samaritan relations which lasted throughout the Second Temple period. During the first half of the first century, Josephus Flavious reports about vicious acts of the part of the Samaritans against the Temple and its pilgrims.
In 66 CE the Great Rebellion against Rome broke out. There is no evidence that the Samaritans joined the Jews in the rebellion, but there is evidence that they suffered from the Roman wrath. They attached in 67 CE Vespasian's commander in chief, who killed 11,600 Samaritans.
Session II, chaired by Benyamim Tsedaka, Samaritan A.B. Institute, Holon, Israel.
1-Ingrid Hjelm, University of Copenhagen
Title: 'The Place Yahweh Has Chosen': Samaritan and Jewish Narrative as Apologia.
Abstract: The ambiguity of Deuteronomy 12's utterance about the chosen place has generated narratives, which in the Samaritan Joshua traditions and the Jewish David traditions establish either Shechem-Gerizim or Jerusalem-Zion as the chosen place. While Deuteronomy's ambiguity might have been intended to meet the needs of both these and other groups, interpretations of the Deuteronomistic Law have come to focus on cult centralization rather than the control of the cult, which may have been the  original intention of the Law. Within this discussion of centralization, both Samaritans and Jews have cast doubt on 'the chosen place(s)', some of which their ancestors' considered legitimate according to shared or separate traditions. This paper attempts to bring to the attention of the biblical scholar, the necessity of implying these ancient discussions in biblical research. Although, the application of cult centralization is found in Kings' narratives of pre-exilic Hezekian and Josianic reforms, its context belongs to discussions of cult and belief of the Persian and Greco-Roman periods.
2-Victor Rebrik, Munich, Germany.

Title: Samaritans and Mandaeans: Have They Much in Common?
Abstract: Already G. Widengren more than 50 years ago made some connection between the Samaritan ideas about the ascension and intronisation of Moses, his purification, eating of the food of angels and writing of the heaven book (e.g. in Marqa, Carmina Samaritana etc.) and of the much the same proceedings of the Jawar-Ziwa and Denanuxt in the Mandaic works (Ginsa, etc.). The related stories existed also in the
Jewish Pseudepigrapha (Adsumptio Mosis, Ascensio Jesaiae, Henoch) and Hekhalot-Literature, and later in the Islamic tradition about the ascension of Muhammad. One can also find the Zoroastrian parallels. Are these all motives only typologically related or do the go upon some common old tradition, which could have the beginning in the Ancient Israel or Mesopotamia? Some other affinities between Samaritans and Mandaeans are also discussed.

3-Joshua A. Sabih, University of Copenhagen
Title: Samaritans, Karaites and Rabbinates under the Banners of Islam.
Abstract: The Arab-Islamic conquests of the seventh century ushered the traditional habitat of, inter alia, Samaritan and Jewish communities into a new phase in their identity-building and codification of their literary systems. One of the turning points of the conquests was the process of collective self-exposure of every community and its culture. In the post-conquest Arab-Islamic Space, Samaritans, Karaites and Rabbinates acquired a legal status according to which they became recognized as autonomous religious communities. The burden of the new historical phase on them was, however, far greater. The two recognized religions, were forced to review their theological arsenal and literary systems vis a vis the newreligio-ethno-political situation, into which Islam and Islamic theology had introduced them. The impact of the latter was so huge that the Rabbinates, the Karaites and the Samaritans began to use Arabic in writing, transmitting, and codifying some of their most sacred subjects: Bible translation, Halakhah, etc. This paper will focus on the dynamics of the post-conquest Arab-Islamic society in general and the nature of the relationship between Rabbinates, Karaites, and Samaritans - as three religious communities having similar claims. In the final analysis, each community had to be looked at as a voice or  a sub-system within one space/super-system: the Arab-Islamic space. Instead of looking into each system as an isolated phenomenon, I shall be mapping the inter-relationship between all systems. The influencing-influenced mechanism is a highway-like traffic. Islam's self definition as the final phase of the universal Monotheism made it possible for, inter-alia, 'ahl al-Kitab -peoplesof the Book - to live as Dhimmis - protected - within an open-closed space: the multi-ethno-religious  Arab-Islamic society.
4- Composer Simon Shahal  - Ashkelon Regional College, under the academic supervision of the Bar-Ilan University.
Title: Comparison between the Israelite Samaritan Music and the Ancient Jewish Music
Abstract - Composer Sachal has compared between the different music and gave many audio examples to the conclusion that the Samaritan Music is the most ancient and has no similarities with any other music in existence.
5- Haroutun S. Jamgotchian, University of Moscow (no photo)
Title: "Samaritan-Arabic disjecta membra in Firkovitch's Collection: Problems, Discoveries and Achievements".
Abstract:  When being acquired, Firkovitch's Samaritan collection was no doubt a huge bundle of folios scarcely bound or bound in disorder nearly irrespective of their contents. The problem was to rearrange such scattered leafs in order to restore previous codices to which they once belonged. Fragments of three great Samaritan-Arabic books: Samaritan-Arabic versions of the Pentateuch, Liber Josuae and Abu'l-Fath's Chronicle were revealed, classified and rearranged, virtually, each  leaf getting the first and the last chapter and verse or page and line of the  standard commonly accessible editions. About 10 codices of each of the mentioned texts have been revealed. Details are exposed in two monographs, published in Russian in 2001-2003. A considerable number of new readings explain perfectly well passages that are obscure in the previous editions. I hope that the results of my 10 years work on the disjectra membra of the most ancient and important monuments of Samaritan-Arabic heritage would be helpful for future studies on a wide range of Samaritan and biblical subjects. In fact, readings of the most ancient Samaritan-Arabic codices emend the received editions to such a great degree, that anyone, who deals with the Samaritan traditions, should take these recent revealed readings into consideration. "Addenda et corrigenda" is a final result only of parts of the whole work, which I would like to present in brief. I hope to prevent biblical scholars from being deceived by obviously corrupt passages in the 19th century editions, and have a useful tool for any work concerning the subject. [This lecture has been sent to the conference to be read before the audience].



 The Samaritan Chronicle or the Book of Joshua, the Son of Nun

by Oliver Turnbull Crane, John B. Alden, Publisher, NY, 1890.

Footnote 60, from page 73, found on page 163.   'Merj Balata. ("the Meadow of Balata"). This is the great plain stretching east from the mountains Gerizim and Ebal: its modern Arabic name is Mukhna. Close to the foot of Mount Gerizim on the edge of the plain, stands the present ruined hamlet of Balata, this site the Samaritans call "The Holy Oak" or "The Tree of Grace," identifying it with the spot where stood in ancient days the "Oak of Shechem" (or Moreh). In Chapter xxix we find this same plain called "the hallowed (or pure) plain," and in Chapters xxxix and xlvii the term Merj el-Baha "Meadow of Beauty" is applied to it.'

Footnote 72, from page 99, , found on page 165. 'Merj el-Baha (Meadow of Beauty). See note 60. In the Samaritan Version of the Pentateuch, Gen. xii. 6, this plain is called "the Plain of Vision," and the Vulgate here reads "convallem illustrem," which seems to be quite closely allied to the name Merj el-Baha.'


From the Editor

Recently, this past week I have been thinking about two subjects that I believe demands attention. The first, began from an idea while doing research on an inscription. I would suggest that scholars get together and create a book of all known Samaritan Inscriptions. Any information of a known inscription, even if now lost, should be incorporated into this volume, that would include photos or rubbings if possible. Scattered information is misinformation!

The Second thought that entered my mind, is the fact that there are so many articles from one journal, that could be brought together in one volume. The recent contact with the Palestine Exploration Fund is a good example of this. There was one record under Prickett, know to exist there in their Quarterly, yet, there as shown in the last UP were two articles. There must be many articles that are not recorded, yet may be found and recorded into A Bibliography of the Samaritan enhancing studies even further. A good example is the recent work by Professor Reinhard Pummer, again has been way ahead of us with his work Early Christian Authors on Samaritans & Samaritanism: Texts, Translations & Commentary. Wonderful, Professor Pummer!


Book & Video:

Jews in the Roman Empire: Legal Problems, from Herod to Justinian by Alfredo Mordechai Rabello Hardcover, June 2000 Publisher: Ashgate Publishing Company Series: Variorum Collected Studies ISBN: 0860786625 Hardcover, 376pp

Among the 15 topics Rabello (Hebrew U. of Jerusalem) discusses.......Jewish jurisdiction in the Roman Empire, and the legal status of the Samaritans as revealed in special legislation in Justinian's. Annotation-


Biblical sect : the Samaritans
1 videocassette (27 mins ) : sd., col.   1985
Examines the Samaritans who for 3,000 years have refused to acknowledge the primacy of Jerusalem. Tells how they still honour the traditions of the Hebrews of the time of Moses. S, US V2281

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