Samaritan Liturgy

Samaritan Liturgy.

Under this head we propose to treat of the formal ritual of the Samaritans, including their most important doctrines, usages, etc., as gathered from documentary sources; reserving some additional details as to their present practice for the art. SEE SAMARITANS, MODERN.

I. Ritual. — The liturgical literature of the Samaritans is very extensive, and not without a certain poetical value. It consists chiefly of hymns and prayers for Sabbath and feast days, and of occasional prayers at nuptials, circumcisions, burials, and the like. The British Museum possesses nineteen volumes of prayers and hymns, which are described by Heidenheim in his Vierteljahrsschrift, 1, 279 sq.; 408 sq. Several have also been published by Heidenheim, e.g. A Hymn for the Day of Atonement (ibid. 1, 290 sq.); A Petition of Vanah ben-Marka (ibid. p. 432); A Petition of Meshalma of Daphne (ibid. p. 438 sq.); The Prayer of Ab. Gelugah, from a Vatican MS. (ibid. 2, 213 sq.); The Litany of Marka, the end of which runs thus:

"Lord, for the sake of the three perfect ones! For the sake of Joseph, the interpreter of dreams! For the sake of Moses, chief of the prophets! For the sake of the priests, the masters of the priests! For the sake of the Torah, most sacred of books! For the sake of Mount Gerizim, the everlasting hill! For the sake of the hosts of angels! Destroy the enemies and foes! Receive our prayers! O Everlasting! Deliver us from these troubles! Open to us the treasure of heaven;"

A Prayer of the High priest Pinchas for the Celebration of the New Moon (contained in Cod. 19, 020 Add. MSS.); Two Hymn for the Day of Atonement, one by the priest Abraham, the other by the priest Tobias (ibid. 4, 110 sq.; contained in Cod. 19, 009 Add. MSS.); The Prayer of Marka and that of Amram, both contained in the Vatic. MS. (ibid. 4, 237 sq.; 390 sq.). Of the hymns for the Passover we will speak farther on. In Gesenius, Carmina Samaritana, fragments of liturgies from Damascus were published, which Kirchheim has published with emendations in his Karme Shomron. One hymn on the Unity of God, and headed לית אלה אלא אחד, i.e. "there is no God but one," runs thus:


אלהי ם קעימה The everlasting God, דקעי ם עד לעל ם Who liveth forever;

אלה על כל חילין God above all powers, וממן כן לעל ם And who thus remaineth forever.


בחילרִבה נתרחוֹ In thy great power shall we trust, דאת הו מין For thou art our Lord; באלהותדִאנדית In thy Godhead; for thou hast created עלמה מן רישה The world from beginning.


גבורתכִסיה Thy power was hidden,! וטהרוִרחמי And thy glory and mercy. גלין גליאתה וכסיאתה Revealed are both the things that are revealed, and those that are unrevealed, בשלטן אלהותוִכו 8 8 Before the reign of thy God head, etc.

Petermann has published three "prayers of Moses and Joshua" and five "prayers of the angels" in his Grammatica Samaritana, p. 418 sq. A volume of prayers is also in the Paris Bibl. Nat. Anciens Fonds, 4, Peiresc. The present Samaritans have two collections, which they call Dunrran ("string of pearls") and Defter ("book"), the latter comprising the former, the arrangement of which they ascribe to Amran-ez-Zeman or Amram- Dari. The language in which they are written varies; some are in almost classical Hebrew, others in a dialect resembling that of the Targums, containing an admixture of Arabisms and Hebraisms. The meter also differs considerably.

II. Doctrines. — From the various hymns and documents extant, it appears that the Samaritans had five principal articles of faith, viz.:

1. God is one, without partner or associate, without body and passions, the cause of all things, filling all things, etc.

2. Moses is the one messenger and prophet of God for all time, the end of revelation, the friend and familiar servant of God; none will arise like him.

3. The law is perfect and complete, destined for all time, never to be supplemented or abrogated by later revelation.

4. Gerizim is the one abode of God on earth, the home of eternal life; over it is Paradise, thence comes all rain.

5. There will be a day of retribution, when the pious will rise again; false prophets and their followers will then be cast into the fire and burned.

Other points in their creed may be noticed. From the prayer of Tobiah 5, 24, it seems that the Samaritans believed in original sin. "For the sake of Adam and because of the end of all flesh, forgive and pardon the whole congregation." From a prayer for the Day of Atonement we see that the doctrine concerning the Logos was known among them, for which see Heidenhelm, Vierteljahrsschrift, 4, 126 sq. They believe in angels and astrology, which may be seen from a prayer given by Heidenheim, l.c. p. 545 sq.

The belief in a coming Messiah, or "Restorer," who should be the son of Joseph, was current among the Samaritans at a very early age, and this belief is based upon such Messianic prophecies as Ge 15:17; Ge 49:10; Nu 24:17; and De 18:15. All that they had to say concerning this point is contained in the letter of Marchib Ibn-Jakub addressed to Thomas Marshall, where we read: "You have spoken of the arrival of the great Prophet. This is he who was announced to our father Abraham, as it is said there appeared 'a smoking furnace and a burning lamp' (Ge 15:17); 'to him shall the people submit themselves' (ibid. 49:10); of him also it is said (Nu 24:17), 'he shall destroy all the children of Sheth, and Israel shall do valiantly;' of him, 'the Lord thy God shall raise thee up from amidst thy brethren a prophet like unto me; unto him shall ye hearken' (De 18:15). Our teachers have said on this point that this prophet shall arise, that all people shall submit to him and believe in him and in the law and Mount Gerizim; that the religion of Moses, son of Amram, will then appear in glory; that the beginning of the name of the prophet who will arise will be M; that he will die and be interred near Joseph, 'the fruitful bough;' that the Tabernacle will appear by his ministry and be established on Gerizim. Thus it is said in our books and in the book of Joshua, the son of Nun" (Eichhorn, Repertorium, 9, 11 sq.). What has been said in this and other letters and works is merely an extract from a hymn composed by the high priest Abisha ben-Pinchas for the Day of Atonement, and contained in Cod. 19, 651 Add. MSS. of the British Museum (comp. Heidenheim, 5, 170 sq.). As to the time of his appearance the Samaritans were formerly uncertain. "No one knows his coming but Jehovah," says Ab Zehuta in 1589 (comp. Eichhorn, 13, 266); "it is a great mystery with regard to Messiah who is to come and who will manifest his spirit; happy shall we be when he arrives," writes Salameh, in 1811 (see De Sacy, Not. et Extr. 12, 122). "The appearance of Messiah," writes Petermann, in 1860, "is to take place 6000 years after the creation, and these have just elapsed; consequently he now, though all unconsciously, is going about upon earth. In 1853 the Samaritans expected a great political revolution; but in 1863 the kings of the earth will, according to them, assemble the wisest out of all nations in order by mutual counsel to discover the true faith. From the Israelites, i.e. Samaritans, will one be sent, and he will be the Taeb. He will gain the day, lead them to Gerizim, where under the twelve stones they will find the ten commandments (or the whole Torah), and under the stone of Bethel the Temple utensils and manna. Then will all believe in the law, and acknowledge him as their King and Lord of all the earth. He will convert and equalize all men, live 110 years upon earth, then die and be buried near Gerizim; for upon that pure and holy mountain, which is fifteen yards higher than Ebal, no burial can take place. Afterwards will the earth remain some hundreds of years more till the 7000 are completed, and then the last judgment will come in" (Herzog, R.-Encykl. 13, 373 sq.).

III. Usages. — At the present day the Samaritans celebrate seven feasts in the year, although only one, the Passover, is observed with its former solemnities. A minute and interesting account of the ceremonies of this feast, as celebrated in 1853, is given by Petermann, in Herzog, R.-Encykl. 13, 378; also by Stanley, Hist. of the Jewish Church, 1, 513 sq. The liturgy for this feast is very rich; thus every evening during the feast the "dream of the priest Abisha" is read, to hear which only the elders are permitted. This dream is contained in Cod. 19, 007 Add. MSS. Brit. Museum. There are Passover hymns composed by the high priests Marka, Pinchas, and Abisha (q.v.), given by Heidenheim, 3, 94 sq., 357 sq., 475 sq. There exists also a History of the Exodus, a so called Pesach-Hagqgadah, which Dr. S. Kohn published with a German translation in Abhandlungen der D. M. G. 5, No. 4 (Leips. 1876).

The second feast, celebrated on the 21st of Nisan, or last day of Unleavened Bread, is marked by a pilgrimage to Gerizim. The third feast is Pentecost; the fourth that of Trumpets; the fifth is the Day of Atonement. The first and eighth days of Tabernacles count for the remaining feast days.

The Sabbath, moreover, is kept with great strictness; the years of jubilee and release are also still observed.

The Samaritans have two more days of assembly, though they do not count them as holidays, termed צמות. Summoth, on which the number of the congregation is taken, and in return every male over twenty years of age presents the priest with half a shekel (three piasters), in accordance with Ex 30:12-14, receiving from him a calendar for the coming six months prepared from a table in his possession — originally, it is said, composed by Adam and committed to writing in the time of Phinehas. From these offerings, the tenth of the incomes of the congregation, and other small gifts, the priest gains his living. He may consecrate any of his family that he pleases to the priesthood, provided the candidate be twenty- five years of age and never have suffered his hair to be cut. Like other Orientals, he never removes his turban, and thus is not easily to be distinguished from the rest of the congregation; but, in accordance with Le 10:6, he does not "rend his clothes" by wearing a slit on his sleeve as other Samaritans; and when the roll of the law is taken from the ark, he, like his assistants, places a cloth, which they call טלית, tallith, around his head. They wear white turbans; ordinarily they are compelled, by way of distinction from Mohammedans, to wear them of a pale-red color. They may cut their hair or not, as they please, but not their beards, this being forbidden in Le 19:27; Le 21:5. Women must let their hair grow, and wear no earrings, because of them the golden calf was made. For fear of scandalizing the Mohammedans, none but the old ones venture to attend the synagogue. When a boy is born, great rejoicing is held; his circumcision always takes place on the eighth day after birth, even though it be a Sabbath. Boys marry as early as fifteen or sixteen, girls at twelve. The Samaritans may marry Christian or Jewish girls, provided they become Samaritans. When a man has a childless wife he may take a second; but if she also be barren, not a third. Divorces, though permitted, are uncommon. The dead are prepared for burial by their own friends; the whole body is washed, but especially the hands (thrice), mouth, nose, face, ears, both inside and out (all this in Mohammedan fashion), and lastly the feet. The burial takes place, if possible, before sunset the same day, accompanied with the recitation of the law and hymns. The following is a part of a litany for the dead

ִ יאדונינו משה ובו8 8 ובכבודוִבאדונינן אברה ם ויצחק ויעקב אדני יהוה אלהי ם ברחמיוִבוִבשמLord Jehovah, Elohim, for thy mercy, and for thine own sake, and for thy name, and for thy glory, and for the sake of our Lords Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and our Lords Moses and Aaron, and Eleazar, and Ithamar, and Phinehas, and Joshua, and Caleb, and the Holy Angels, and the seventy Elders, and the holy mountain of Gerizim, Beth El. If thou acceptest [תשי ם] this prayer [מקרא = reading], may there go forth from before thy holy countenance a gift sent to protect the spirit of thy servant, iS i. i.)j [N. the son of N.], of the sons of [ — ], daughter [ — ] from the sons of [ — ]. O Lord Jehovah, in thy mercy have compassion on him (, [or] have compassion on her), and rest his (her) soul in the garden of Eden; and forgive him (, | [or] her), and all the congregation of Israel who flock to Mount Gerizim, Beth El. Amen. Through Moses the trusty. Amen, Amen, Amen.

These readings are continued every day to the next Sabbath, the women of the family watching near the grave. On the Sabbath it is visited by the whole congregation (except the near relations), who eat there together, reciting part of the law and singing hymns, finishing the recitation later in the day with the relations.

From the usages among the Samaritans we see that, on the whole, they strictly adhere to Jewish customs, and yet we find numerous enactments against them in the Talmud. There is especially one whole treatise which bears upon this subject, entitled Massecheth Kuthim, which Kirchheim published with six others (Frankfort, 1851). From this treatise we see "that Jews are not allowed to suffer them to acquire immovable property, nor to sell them sheep for shearing, nor crops to cut, nor timber still standing. They are also forbidden to sell them weapons or anything which could damage persons, or to give or to take wives from them. A daughter of Israel may not deliver a Samaritan woman nor suckle her son, but a Samaritan woman may perform these offices for a daughter of Israel in her (the Israelite's) house." These are some of the main points contained in that treatise, which concludes in the following words:

"And why are the Cathim not permitted to come into the midst of the Jews? Because they have mixed with the priests of the heights (idolaters). R. Ismael says: They were at first pious converts (גירי צדק = real Israelites), and why is the intercourse with them prohibited? Because of their illegally begotten children, and because they do not fulfil the duties of יב ם (marrying the deceased brother's wife);' a law which they understand to apply to the betrothed only.

"'At what period are they to be received (into the community)?' 'When they abjure the Mount Gerizilm, recognize Jerusale!m (viz. its superior claims), and believe in the Resurrection.'" See Gesenius, Samarit. Theolog. (Hale, 1822); Anecdota Exon. (Lipsise, 1824); Kirchheim, Karme Shomron, p. 16 sq.; Petermann, in Herzog, 13:376 sq.; Nutt, Sketch of Samaritan History, p. 65 sq., 142 sq; Friedrich, De Christologia Samar. (Lipsice, 1821); Jost, Gesch. d. Judenth. u. s. Secten, 1, 50 sq.; Westcott, Introduction to the Study of the Gospels, p. 172; Adams, History of the Jews, 2, 257 sq.; Langen, Das Judenthum in Paldstina (Freiburg, 1866), p. 90 sq., 185 sq., 232 sq., 299 sq., 407 sq.; Appel, Qucestiones de rebus Samaritanorum (Gotting. 1874), and Ueber Samaritaner, in Jud. Literaturblatt, 1878, No. 14 sq.; Kitto, Cyclop. 3, 751 sq.; Smith, Dict. of the Bible, p. 2816 sq. (B.P.)

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.