Samaritan woman



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The Samaritans (שומרונים Shomronim), (السامريون) known in the Talmud as Kuthim (כותים), are an ethnoreligious group of the Levant. Ancestrally, they are descended from a group of Israelite inhabitants that have connections to ancient Samaria from the beginning of the Babylonian Exile up to the beginning of the Christian Era. The Samaritans, however, derive their name not from this geographical designation, but rather from the term (šāmĕrı̂m), "keeper [of the law]". Religiously, they are the adherents to Samaritanism, a religion that is a branch of Judaism separate from mainstream Judaism based on the Samaritan Pentateuch. Samaritans claim that their worship (as opposed to mainstream Judaism) is the true religion of the ancient Israelites, predating the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

As of November 1, 2007, there were 712 Samaritans according to their tally living almost exclusively in Kiryat Luza on the holy Mount Gerizim near the city of Nablus (Shechem) in the West Bank, and in the city of Holon in Israel. There are, however, converts of various religious backgrounds who follow the Samaritan traditions outside of the land of Israel, especially in the United States.

The Samaritans speak either Modern Hebrew (in Holon) or Palestinian Arabic (in Nablus) as their mother language. For liturgical purposes, Samaritan Hebrew, also known as ancient Hebrew, and Samaritan Aramaic are used.

Early history according to Samaritan sources

The Samaritans assert that Mount Gerizim was the original Holy Place of Israel from the time that Joshua conquered Israel and the ten tribes settled the land. According to the torah, the story of Mount Gerizim takes us back to the story of the time when Moses ordered Joshua to take the Twelve Tribes of Israel to the mountains by Shechem and place half of the tribes, six in number, on the top of Mount Gerizim, the Mount of the Blessing, and the other half in Mount Ebal, the Mount of the Curse. The two mountains were used to symbolize the significance of the commandments and serve as a warning to whoever disobeyed them.

The Samaritans have insisted that they are direct descendants of the Northern Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, who survived the destruction of the Northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in 722 BC. The inscription of Sargon II records the deportation of a relatively small proportion of the Israelites (27,290, according to the annals), so it is quite possible that a sizable population remained that could identify themselves as Israelites, the term that the Samaritans prefer for themselves.

Samaritan historiography would place the basic schism from the remaining part of Israel after the twelve tribes conquered the land of Canaan, led by Joshua. After Joshua's death, Eli the priest left the tabernacle which Moses erected in the desert and established on Mount Gerizim, and built another one under his own rule in the hills of Shiloh (1 Sam 1:1-3; 2:12-17). Thus, he established both an illegitimate priesthood and an illegitimate place of worship.

Abu l-Fath, who in the fourteenth century AD wrote the major work of Samaritan history, comments on Samaritan origins as follows:

A terrible civil war broke out between Eli son of Yafni, of the line of Ithamar, and the sons of Phineas, because Eli son of Yafni resolved to usurp the High Priesthood from the descendents of Phineas. He used to offer sacrifices on an altar of stones. He was 50 years old, endowed with wealth and in charge of the treasury of the children of Israel...

He offered a sacrifice on the altar, but without salt, as if he were inattentive. When the Great High Priest Ozzi learned of this, and found the sacrifice was not accepted, he thoroughly disowned him; and it is (even) said that he rebuked him.

Thereupon he and the group that sympathized with him, rose in revolt and at once he and his followers and his beasts set off for Shiloh. Thus Israel split in factions. He sent to their leaders saying to them, Anyone who would like to see wonderful things, let him come to me. Then he assembled a large group around him in Shiloh, and built a Temple for himself there; he constructed a place like the Temple (on Mount Gerizim). He built an altar, omitting no detail — it all corresponded to the original, piece by piece.

At this time the Children of Israel split into three factions. A loyal faction on Mount Gerizim; a heretical faction that followed false Gods; and the faction that followed Eli son of Yafni on Shiloh.

Further, the Samaritan Chronicle Adler, or New Chronicle, believed to have been composed in the 18th century AD using earlier chronicles as sources states:

And the children of Israel in his days divided into three groups. One did according to the abominations of the Gentiles and served other Gods; another followed Eli the son of Yafni, although many of them turned away from him after he had revealed his intentions; and a third remained with the High Priest Uzzi ben Bukki, the chosen place.

Non-Samaritan view of origins

The emergence of the Samaritans as an ethnic and religious community distinct from other Levant peoples appears to have occurred at some point after the Assyrian conquest of the Israelite Kingdom of Israel in approximately 721 BC. The records of Sargon II of Assyria indicate that he deported 27,290 inhabitants of the region.

Jewish tradition maintains a different origin for the Samaritans. The Talmud accounts for a people called "Cuthim" on a number of occasions, mentioning their arrival by the hands of the Assyrians. According to 2 Kings 17 and Josephus (Antiquities 9.277–91), the people of Israel were removed by the king of the Assyrians (Sargon II- see special wording of 2 Kings 17 which mentions Shalmaneser in verse 3 but the "king of the Assyrians" from verse 4 onward), to Halah, to Gozan on the Habor River and to the towns of the Medes. The king of the Assyrians then brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avah, Emath, and Sepharvaim to place in Samaria. Because God sent lions among them to kill them, the king of the Assyrians sent one of the priests from Bethel to teach the new settlers about God's ordinances. The eventual result was that the new settlers worshipped both the God of the land and their own gods from the countries from which they came.

A Midrash (Genesis Rabbah Sect. 94) relates about an encounter between Rabbi Meir and a Samaritan. The story that developed includes the following dialogue:

  • R. Meir asks the Samaritan: What tribe are you from?
  • The Samaritan answers: From Joseph.
  • R. Meir : No!
  • The Samaritan: From which one then?
  • R. Meir : From Issachar.
  • The Samaritan: How do you know?
  • R. Meir: For it is written (Gen 46:13): The sons of Issachar: Tola, Puvah, Iob, and Shimron. These are the Samaritans (shamray).

Zertal dates the Assyrian onslaught at 721 BC to 647 BC and discusses three waves of imported settlers. He shows that Mesopotamian pottery in Samaritan territory cluster around the lands of Menasheh and that the type of pottery found was produced around 689 BC. Some date their split with the Jews to the time of Nehemiah, Ezra, and the building of the Second Temple in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. Returning exiles considered the Samaritans to be non-Jews and, thus, not fit for this religious work.

The Encyclopaedia Judaica (under "Samaritans") summarizes both past and the present views on the Samaritans' origins. It says:

Until the middle of the 20th Century it was customary to believe that the Samaritans originated from a mixture of the people living in Samaria and other peoples at the time of the conquest of Samaria by Assyria (722/1 BC). The Biblical account in II Kings 17 had long been the decisive source for the formulation of historical accounts of Samaritan origins. Reconsideration of this passage, however, has led to more attention being paid to the Chronicles of the Samaritans themselves. With the publication of Chronicle II (Sefer ha-Yamim), the fullest Samaritan version of their own history became available: the chronicles, and a variety of non-Samaritan materials.

According to the former, the Samaritans are the direct descendants of the Joseph tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh, and until the 17th century C.E. they possessed a high priesthood descending directly from Aaron through Eleazar and Phinehas. They claim to have continuously occupied their ancient territory and to have been at peace with other Israelite tribes until the time when Eli disrupted the Northern cult by moving from Shechem to Shiloh and attracting some northern Israelites to his new followers there. For the Samaritans, this was the 'schism' par excellence.("Samaritans" in Encyclopaedia Judaica, 1972, Volume 14, op. cit., col. 727.)

Furthermore, even to this day the Samaritans still claim descent from the tribe of Joseph:

The laymen also possess their traditional claims. They are all of the tribe of Joseph, except those of the tribe of Benjamin, but this traditional branch of people, which, the Chronicles assert, was established at Gaza in earlier days, seems to have disappeared. There exists an aristocratic feeling amongst the different families in this community, and some are very proud over their pedigree and the great men it had produced.(J. A. Montgomery, The Samaritans The Earliest Jewish Sect: Their History, Theology And Literature, 1907, op. cit., p. 32.)

End of the Judean exile

When the Judean exile ended in 538 BC and the exiles began returning home, they found that their former homeland was now populated by other people who claimed the land as their own and that their former glorious capital still lay in ruins.

According to , the Persian Emperor Cyrus, who returned the exiles to their homeland, explicitly ordered the people to rebuild the temple. The prophet Isaiah identified Cyrus as "The Lord's anointed" (meshiach; see Isa 45.1). The temple was rebuilt over a period of several decades.

22 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the The project was first led by Sheshbazzar (about 538 BC), later by Zerubbabel and Jeshua, and later still by Haggai and Zechariah (520–515 BC).

Ezra 4 tells us how the local inhabitants of the land offered to assist with the building of the new temple during the time of Zerubbabel, but their offer was rejected. According to Ezra, this rejection precipitated a further interference not only with the rebuilding of the temple but also with the reconstruction of Jerusalem.

The text is not clear on this matter, but one possibility is that these "people of the land" were thought of as Samaritans. We do know that Samaritan and Jewish antagonism continued to increase, and that the Samaritans eventually built their own temple on on Mount Gerizim, near Shechem.

The Temple was completed in 515 BC.

15 And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king. 16 And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy. (

Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim

The precise date of the schism between Samaritans and Jews is unknown, but was certainly complete by the end of the fourth century BC. Archaeological excavations at Mount Gerizim suggest that a Samaritan temple was built there c. 330 BC. According to Samaritans , it was on Mount Gerizim that Abraham offered Isaac .

The Torah mentions the place where God shall choose to establish His name (Deut 12:5), and Judaism takes this to refer to Jerusalem. However, the Samaritan text speaks of the place where God has chosen to establish His name, and Samaritans identify it as Mount Gerizim, making it the focus of their spiritual values.

The Gospel of John relates an encounter between a Samaritan woman and Jesus in which she asserts that the mountain was the center of their worship .

Antiochus IV Epiphanes and hellenization

In the second century BC a particularly bitter series of events eventually led to a revolution.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes was on the throne of the Seleucid Empire from 175 to 163 BC. His determined policy was to Hellenize his entire kingdom and standardize religious observance. According to 1 Maccabees 1:41-50 he proclaimed himself the incarnation of the Greek god Zeus and mandated death to anyone who refused to worship him. A major obstacle to his ambition was the fidelity of the Jews to their historic religion.

The universal peril led the Samaritans, eager for safety, to repudiate all connection and kinship with the Jews. The request was granted. This was evidently the final breach between the two groups indicated in John 4:9, "For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

Several centuries before the birth of Jesus, the Samaritans had built their own temple on Mt. Gerizim to rival the one in Jerusalem. Here, they offered sacrifices according to the Mosaic code. Anderson notes that during the reign of Antiochus IV (175-164 BC):

the Samaritan temple was renamed either Zeus Hellenios (willingly by the Samaritans according to Josephus or, more likely, Zeus Xenios, (unwillingly in accord with 2 Macc. 6:2) Bromiley, 4.304).

Josephus Book 12, Chapter 5 quotes the Samaritans as saying:

We therefore beseech thee, our benefactor and saviour, to give order to Apolonius, the governor of this part of the country, and to Nicanor, the procurator of thy affairs, to give us no disturbances, nor to lay to our charge what the Jews are accused for, since we are aliens from their nation and from their customs, but let our temple which at present hath no name at all, be named the Temple of Jupiter Hellenius.

Shortly afterwards, the king sent Gerontes the Athenian to force the Jews to violate their ancestral customs and live no longer by the laws of God; and to profane the Temple in Jerusalem and dedicate it to Olympian Zeus, and the one on Mount Gerizim to Zeus, Patron of Strangers, as the inhabitants of the latter place had requested.—II Maccabees 6:1–2

In 167 BC the Seleucid ruler Antiochus Epiphanes set up an altar to Zeus over the altar of burnt offerings in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. He also sacrificed a pig on the altar in the Temple in Jerusalem. This event is known as the "abomination of desolation".

The authority of the high priesthood was severely damaged when first Jason and then Meneleus bought their office from Antiochus.

The persecution and death of faithful Jewish persons who refused to worship and kiss Antiochus' image eventually led to a revolt led by Judas Maccabeus and his family.

Judas's priestly family, the Hasmoneans, introduced a dynasty that ruled during a period of conflict, with tensions arising both from within the family as well as from external enemies.

This Samaritan Temple at Mount Gerizim was destroyed by John Hyrcanus in about 128 BC, having existed about 200 years. Only a few stone remnants of it exist today.

164 BC and after

During the Hellenistic period, Samaria (like Judea) was largely divided between a Hellenizing faction based in Samaria (Sebastaea) and a pious faction, led by the High Priest and based largely around Shechem and the rural areas.

Samaria was a largely autonomous state nominally dependent on the Seleucid empire until around 129 BC, when the Jewish Hasmonean king Yohanan Girhan (John Hyrcanus) destroyed the Samaritan temple and devastated Samaria.

Roman and Sassanid times

Samaritans fared badly under the Roman Empire, when Samaria was part of the Roman province of Judea. However, this period was also something of a golden age for the Samaritan community. The Temple of Gerizim was rebuilt after the Bar Kochba revolt, around AD 135. Much of Samaritan liturgy was set by the high priest Baba Rabba in the fourth century.

There were some Samaritans in the Persian Empire, where they served in the Sassanid army.

Byzantine times

Later, under the Christian Byzantine Emperor Zeno in the late fifth century, Samaritans and Jews were massacred, and the Temple on Mt. Gerizim was again destroyed. This period is considered the worst for Samaritans. Under a charismatic, messianic figure named Julianus ben Sabar (or ben Sahir), the Samaritans launched a war to create their own independent state in 529 AD. With the help of the Ghassanid Arabs, Emperor Justinian I crushed the revolt; tens of thousands of Samaritans died or were enslaved. The Samaritan faith was virtually outlawed thereafter by the Christian Byzantine Empire; from a population once at least in the hundreds of thousands, the Samaritan community dwindled to near extinction.

Under Islam

By the onset of Islamic rule, Samaritans were living in an area stretching between Egypt and Syria. Like other non-Muslims in the empire, they had Dhimmi status and were expected to pay special taxes. During the Crusades, Samaritans, like others in the region were persecuted by the Crusaders. In 1624, the last Samaritan high priest of the line of Eleazar son of Aaron died without issue, but descendants of Aaron's other son, Ithamar, remained and took over the office.

In the past, the Samaritans are believed to have numbered several hundred thousand, but persecution and assimilation have reduced their numbers drastically. In 1919, an illustrated National Geographic report on the community stated that their numbers were less than 150.

References: Chewee Lee - founder of Samaritan

Modern times

As of November 1, 2007, there were 712 Samaritans half of whom reside in their modern homes at Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim, which is sacred to them, and the rest in the city of Holon, just outside Tel Aviv.

Until the 1980s, most of the Samaritans resided in the Palestinian town of Nablus below Mount Gerizim. They relocated to the mountain itself near the Israeli settlement of Har Brakha as a result of the First Intifada (1987-1990), and all that is left of the community in Nablus itself is an abandoned synagogue. The Israeli army maintains a constant presence in the area to monitor activity in Nablus and secure Har Brakha.

Relations of Samaritans with Jewish Israelis and Arab Palestinians in neighboring areas have been mixed. In 1954, Israeli President Yitzhak Ben-Zvi created a Samaritan enclave in Holon. Those living in Israel have Israeli citizenship. Samaritans in the Palestinian Authority territories are a recognized minority; they had a reserved seat in the Palestinian Legislative Council in the election of 1996, but they no longer have one. Palestinian Samaritans have been granted passports by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

As a small community divided between two mutually hostile neighbors, the Samaritans are generally unwilling to take sides in the conflict, fearing that whatever side they take could lead to repercussions from the other. Both the communities and in Arab Nablus and Israeli Holon have assimilated to the surrounding culture; however, Hebrew has become the primary domestic language. Samaritans who are Israeli citizens are drafted into the military. Both communities tend to be more politically aligned with Israel.

One of the biggest problems facing the community today is the issue of continuity. With such a small population, divided into only four families (Cohen, Tsedakah, Danfi and Marhib; a fifth family died out in the last century) and a general refusal to accept converts, there has been a history of genetic disease within the group due to the small gene pool. To counter this, the Samaritan community has recently agreed that men from the community may marry non-Samaritan (primarily, Israeli Jewish) women, provided that the women agree to follow Samaritan religious practices. This often poses a problem for the women, who are typically less than eager to adopt the strict interpretation of Biblical (Levitical) laws regarding menstruation, by which they must live in a separate dwelling during their periods and after childbirth. Nevertheless, there have been a few instances of intermarriage. In addition, all marriages within the Samaritan community are first approved by a geneticist at Tel HaShomer Hospital, in order to prevent the spread of genetic disease.

In 2004 the Samaritan high priest, Saloum Cohen, died and was replaced by Elazar ben Tsedaka ben Yitzhaq. The Samaritan high priest is selected by age from the priestly family, and resides on Mount Gerizim.

Genetic Research/Testing of Samaritans

Genetic and demographic investigations of the Samaritan community were carried out in the 1960s. Detailed pedigrees of the last 13 generations show that the Samaritans comprise four lineages:

  • The Tsedakah lineage, claiming descent from the tribe of Manasseh
  • The Joshua-Marhiv lineage, claiming descent from the tribe of Ephraim
  • The Danfi lineage, claiming descent from the tribe of Ephraim
  • The priestly Cohen lineage from the tribe of Levi.

Of the 12 Samaritan males used in the analysis, 10 (83%) belong to haplogroup J, which includes three of the four Samaritan families. The Joshua-Marhiv family belongs to haplogroup J1, while the Danfi and Tsedakah families belong to haplogroup J2, and can be further distinguished by M67, the derived allele of which has been found in the Danfi family. The only Samaritan family not found in haplogroup J was the Cohen family (Tradition: Tribe of Levi) which was found in haplogroup E3b1a M78. This article predated the change of the classifcation of haplogroup E3b1-M78 to E3b1a-M78 and the further subdivision of E3b1a-M78 into 6 subclades based on the research of Cruciani, et al.

Genetic differences between the Samaritans and neighboring Jewish and non-Jewish populations are corroborated in the present study of 7,280 bp of nonrecombining Y-chromosome and 5,622 bp of coding and hypervariable segment (HVS-I) mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences. Comparative sequence analysis was carried out on 12 Samaritan Y-chromosome, and mtDNA samples from 9 male and 7 female Samaritans separated by at least two generations. In addition, 18–20 male individuals were analyzed, each representing Ethiopian, Ashkenazi, Iraqi, Libyan, Moroccan, and Yemenite Jews, as well as Druze and Palestinians, all currently living in Israel. The four Samaritan families clustered to four distinct Y-chromosome haplogroups according to their patrilineal identity. Of the 16 Samaritan mtDNA samples, 14 carry either of two mitochondrial haplotypes that are rare or absent among other worldwide ethnic groups.

In this 2004 article on the genetic ancestry of the Samaritans, Shen, et al., concluded that principal components analysis suggested a common ancestry of Samaritan and Jewish patrilineages. Most of the former may be traced back to a common ancestor in what is today identified as the paternally-inherited Israelite high priesthood (Cohanim) with a common ancestor projected to the time of the Assyrian conquest of the kingdom of Israel. Archaeologists Aharoni, et al, estimated that this "exile of peoples to and from Israel under the Assyrians" took place during ca. 734 BCE to 712 BCE.


The Samaritan religion is based on some of the same books used as the basis of mainstream Judaism, but differs from the latter. Samaritan scriptures include the Samaritan version of the Torah, the Memar Markah, the Samaritan liturgy, and Samaritan law codes and biblical commentaries. Samaritans appear to have texts of the Torah as old as the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint; scholars have various theories concerning the actual relationships between these three texts.

Religious beliefs

  • There is one God, the same God recognized by the Hebrew prophets.
  • The Torah was given by God to Moses.
  • Mount Gerizim, not Jerusalem, is the one true sanctuary chosen by Israel's God.
  • Many Samaritans believe that at the end of days, the dead will be resurrected by Taheb, a restorer (possibly a prophet, some say Moses).
  • They believe in Paradise (heaven).
  • The priests are the interpreters of the law and the keepers of tradition; unlike Judaism, scholars are secondary to the priesthood.
  • The authority of classical Jewish rabbinical works (the Mishnah and the Talmud) is rejected.
  • Samaritans reject Jewish codes of law.
  • They have a significantly different version of the Ten Commandments (for example, their 10th commandment is about the sanctity of Mt. Gerizim).

The Samaritans retained the Ancient Hebrew script, the high priesthood, animal sacrifices, the eating of lambs at Passover, and the celebration of Aviv in spring as the New Year. Yom Teruah (the biblical name for Rosh Hashanah), at the beginning of Tishrei, is not considered a new year as it is in Judaism. Their main Torah text differs from the Masoretic Text, as well. Some differences are doctrinal: for example, their Torah explicitly states that Mount Gerizim is "the place that God has chosen" for the Temple, as opposed to the Jewish Torah that calls Jerusalem "the place that God will choose." Other differences are minor and seem more or less accidental.

Relationship to mainstream Judaism

Samaritans refer to themselves as Bene Yisrael ("Children of Israel") which is a term used by all Jewish denominations as a name for the Jewish people as a whole. They however do not refer to themselves as Yehudim, the standard Hebrew name for Jews, considering the latter to denote only mainstream Jews.

The Talmudic attitude expressed in tractate Kutim is that they are to be treated as Jews in matters where their practice coincides with the mainstream but are treated as non-Jews where their practice differs. Since the 19th century mainstream Judaism has regarded the Samaritans as a Jewish sect and the term Samaritan Jews has been used for them.

Religious texts

Samaritan law is not the same as halakha (Rabbinical Jewish law). The Samaritans have several groups of religious texts, which equate to Jewish halakhah. A few examples of such texts are:

  • Torah
    • Samaritan Pentateuch: only inspired text. (Contains about 6,000 variations from the Masoretic text. Most are minor.)
  • Historical writings
  • Hagiographical texts
    • Samaritan Halakhic Text, The Hillukh (Code of halakhah, marriage, circumsion, etc.)
    • Samaritan Halakhic Text, the Kitab at-Tabbah (Halacha and interpretation of some verses and chapters from the Torah, written by Abu Al Hassan 12th century CE)
    • Samaritan Halakhic Text, the Kitab al-Kafi (Book of Halakhah, written by Yosef Al Ascar 14th century CE)
    • Al-Asatir—legendary Aramaic texts form 11th 12th centuries, containing:
      • Haggadic Midrash, Abu'l Hasan al-Suri
      • Haggadic Midrash, Memar Markah—3rd or 4th century theological treaties attributted to Hakkam Markha
      • Haggadic Midrash, Pinkhas on the Taheb
      • Haggadic Midrash, Molad Maseh (On the birth of Moses)
  • Defter, prayer book of psalms and hymns.

List of the Samaritan High Priests (from 1613)

See a complete listing of the Samaritan High Priests

Line of Eleazar:

  • 1613–1624 Shelemiah ben Pinhas

Line of Ithamar:

  • 1624–1650 Tsedaka ben Tabia Ha'abta'ai
  • 1650–1694 Yitzhaq ben Tsedaka
  • 1694–1732 Abraham ben Yitzhaq
  • 1732–1752 Tabia ben Yiszhaq ben Avraham
  • 1752–1787 Levi ben Avraham
  • 1787–1855 Shalma ben Tabia
  • 1855–1874 Amram ben Shalma
  • 1874–1916 Yaacov ben Aaharon ben Shalma
  • 1916–1932 Yitzhaq ben Amram ben Shalma ben Tabia
  • 1933–1943 Matzliach ben Phinhas ben Yitzhaq ben Shalma
  • 1943–1961 Abisha ben Phinhas ben Yittzhaq ben Shalma
  • 1961–1980 Amram ben Yitzhaq ben Amram ben Shalma
  • 1980–1982 Asher ben Matzliach ben Phinhas
  • 1982–1984 Phinhas ben Matzliach ben Phinhas
  • 1984–1987 Yaacov ben Ezzi ben Yaacov ben Aaharon
  • 1987–1998 Yoseph ben Ab-Hisda ben Yaacov ben Aaharon
  • 1998–2001 Levi ben Abisha ben Phinhas ben Yitzhaq
  • 2001–2004 Shalom ben Amram ben Yitzhaq (Saum Is'haq al-Samiri)
  • from 2004 Elazar ben Tsedaka ben Yitzhaq (he is the 131st Samaritan High Priest)

Samaritans in the Christian Gospels

The Christian Gospels mention Samaritans on four occasions. Jesus, who lived and acted within a society where centuries-long hostility to and prejudice against Samaritans were deeply rooted, evidently sought to teach that actions speak louder than ethnic identity or pious appearances:

  • The Parable of the Good Samaritan. Begins in .
  • Jesus asks a Samaritan woman of Sychar for water from Jacob's Well. .
  • Jesus healed 10 lepers, of whom only one returned to praise God, and he was a Samaritan.
  • In the Gospel of John, Jesus is accused of being a Samaritan and being demon-possessed.

Luke has the parable of the Good Samaritan and the story of the Samaritan Leper, but it also contains a story of a Samaritan village denying hospitality to Jesus and his disciples, because the villagers did not want to facilitate a pilgrimage to Jerusalem—a practice which they saw as a violation of the Law of Moses.

In , when instructing his disciples as to how they should spread the word, Jesus tells them not to visit any Samaritan city, but instead go to the "lost sheep of Israel".

The Gospel of Mark contains no mention of Samaritans, either positive or negative.

Samaritan media

The Samaritans have a monthly magazine started in 1969 called A.B.-The Samaritan News, which is written in Samaritan, Hebrew, Arabic, and English and deals with current and historical issues with which the Samaritan community is concerned.

The Samaritan Update is a bi-monthly e-newsletter for Samaritan Studies


  • Montgomery, James Alan (2006). The Samaritans, the Earliest Jewish Sect. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock.
  • Thomson, J. E. H. Tha Samaritans: Their Testimony to the Religion of Israel. Edinburgh & London: Oliver and Boyd.
  • Gaster, Moses The Samaritans: Their History, Doctrines and Literature. Oxford University Press.
  • Macdonald, John The Theology of the Samaritans. London: SCM Press.
  • Purvis, James D. The Samaritan Pentateuch and the Origin of the Samaritan Sect. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
  • Bowman, John The Samaritan Problem. Pickwick Press.
  • Coggins, R. J. Samaritans and Jews: The Origins of Samaritanism Reconsidered. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
  • Pummer, Reinhard The Samaritans. Leiden: E. J. Brill.
  • Hjelm, Ingrid Samaritans and Early Judaism: A Literary Analysis. Sheffield Academic Press.
  • Anderson, Robert T.; Giles, Terry The Keepers: An Introduction to the History and Culture of the Samaritans. Hendrickson Publishing.
  • Crown, Alan David (2005). A Bibliography of the Samaritans: Revised Expanded and Annotated. 3rd edition, Scarecrow Press.
  • Heinsdorff, Cornel (2003). Christus, Nikodemus und die Samaritanerin bei Juvencus. Mit einem Anhang zur lateinischen Evangelienvorlage (= Untersuchungen zur antiken Literatur und Geschichte, Bd. 67), Berlin/New York. ISBN 3-11-017851-6
  • Zertal, Adam (1989). "The Wedge-Shaped Decorated Bowl and the Origin of the Samaritans". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 276. (November 1989), pp. 77–84.

See also


Nat Geo Utsav: More Weddings & Another Funeral: Samaritan Wedding This is the brief of prog broadcasted by Nat Geo Channel, the anchor Hakeem Kae-Kazim is in Holon, near Israel's cosmopolitan city of Tel Aviv, to meet a community called the Samaritans. Believed to be one of the smallest and oldest religious sects in the world, the community numbers only about 650 people, divided between Holon and the Arab city of Nablus in the Palestinian Authority. Carried out in accordance with the Samaritans strict interpretation of the Torah, the holy Jewish book, the wedding ritual has changed little down the centuries, and Hakeem finds himself witnessing a ritual that has remained relatively unchanged for over 3,000 years. {| class="wikitable" border="1" |- ! Jews ! separate sects of Jews ! non-ethnic Jews

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