Samaritan Versions

Samaritan Versions.

There exist three different translations of the Pentateuch in Samaritan, two of which have been translated into Greek and Arabic respectively.

1. Samaritan. — The origin, author, and age of the Samaritan version of the five books of Moses has hitherto — so Eichhorn quaintly observes — "always been a golden apple to the investigators, and will very probably remain so, until people leave off venturing decisive judgments upon historical subjects which no one has recorded in antiquity" (Einleitung, 2, 320). Indeed, modern investigators, keen as they have been, have done little towards the elucidation of the subject. According to the Samaritans themselves (De Sacy [Mem. 3], Paulus, Winer), their high priest Nathaniel, who died about B.C. 20, is its author. Gesenius puts its date a few years after Christ. Juynboll thinks that it had long been in use in the second post- Christian century. Frankel places it in the post-Mohammedan time, on account of the many Arabisms. Other investigators date it from the time of Esar-haddon's priest (Schwarz), or either shortly before or after the foundation of the temple on Mount Gerizim. Kohn thinks that it was made by different authors. It seems certain, however, that it was composed before the destruction of the second Temple; and being intended, like the Targums, for the use of the people exclusively, it was written in the popular Samaritan idiom, a mixture of Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, and Arabic.

As a whole, the version cannot be called a good one, since the translator seems to have been guided by no proper rules of exegesis. Hence he falls into many mistakes. "Elohim" or "Jehovah" is commonly avoided, and "angel" put instead, to suit the supposed dignity of the divine being. The names of peoples, countries, cities, mountains, and rivers are changed from the old into more modern names, as the following list of geographical names will prove. Thus we read in

The same is the case with proper nouns. Thus, "land of the tower" (Babylonia); Potipherah (Ge 46:20) is Cohenan; Gad, "a troop will depopulate," as it is in the Samaritan, is here rendered "a despiser will despise." In Ge 10:31, for "these are the sons of Shem," this version has הדה חלוקת ילידי שם, "these are the portions of the sons of Shem." Mistakes are numerous and glaring: thus for "the two of them" (שניהם, Ge 3:7), the version has רדפי עלהיון, "pursuing them," apparently because the translator read שנאהים. In Ex 20:26, "thou shalt not go up by steps" is rendered בשקרין לא תסק, "thou shalt not ascend with prevarications." In Nu 12:14, אביה, "her father," seems to have been taken from בוֹא, for it is rendered "in bringing her." In Ge 49:11, עירה, "his colt," is mistaken for "city," and is therefore translated קרתה. In Ge 24:63, for "Isaac went out to take a walk" (לשוח), the Samaritan has "Isaac went out to pray" (למצלאה), taking שוח as equivalent to שיח; but in this it agrees with Onkelos, the Arabic, and Persian. Another characteristic of this version is the great number of glosses found in it. Thus, Ge 1:15, ברקיע השמים is rendered בפליפִלוק שמיה, to which Morinus remarks, "his duabus dictionibus utitur ut firmamentum explicet;" Ge 5:27, ויברא is rendered קדוŠ פישין; Ge 2:3, שבת by בטל פסק; Ge 5:11, פשיןby קדוŠ פישין; Ge 3:9, ויקרא by ויקרא וזעק; Ge 5:12, נתתה עמדי by דאתנחת לי עמי = the one which has been brought to me; Ge 5:22, וחי לעלם by וחŠ לעלם וחי (comp. Kohn, Samaritanische Studien, p. 32 sq. The great similarity it has with Onkelos occasionally amounts to complete identity; for instance, the following example, taken from a facsimile by Blanchini (Evangeliarum Quadruplex, 2, 2, after 604). On account of this similarity, many critics, such as Hottinger, Eichhorn, and Kirchheim, have held it to have been copied from Onkelos. This, however, seems to be rather an overstating of the case. It is true that ἃπαξ λεγόμενα and words of uncertain meaning are often rendered by identical or similar expressions in both. Moreover, when Onkelos borrows from Jewish tradition, the Samaritan Targum often follows him. Yet the two are independent. The latter falls into serious blunders from which the version of Onkelos should have protected it; it often retains difficulties of the Hebrew text where the other gives a translation. For instance, the word דֶבֶר, "pestilence" (Ex 9:15), the Samaritan renders by ממלל, "word," as if it had read דָבָר, "a word." If it had followed Onkelos it could not have fallen into such a blunder, where the true reading is! במות , i.e. "with death." In De 1:44, we read דבֹרים, "bees," where the Samaritan renders מליה, "words," as if it read דבָרים, which could not have been the case had it followed Onkelos, who renders it correctly by דבריתא, "bees." That the Samaritan Targum has not followed the version of Onkelos may be also seen from the number of difficult Hebrew words, which, although intelligible to the Samaritan translator, he would not have retained had he followed Onkelos, who explained the same. Of such difficult words Winer mentions: Ge 2:12, שהם; 48:22, שכם; 49:10, שלה; 51:29, יש לאל ידי; Ex 1:16, על אצנים; 8:21, ערב; 13:18, חמשים; 23:28, צרעה; 26:6, קרסי; 27:4, מכבר; 26:19, אדנים; 28:8, חשב; 33:35, פרע; Le 1:15, מלק; 2:2, אזכרתה; 2:14, ערש; 5:21, תשוטת, etc. (comp. p. 39 sq.). Under these circumstances, we cannot but conclude that the Samaritan translator has not known the version of Onkelos, or that he has not perused it; and we can only suppose that single passages have been interpolated from Onkelos; for, as Eichhorn has justly remarked, "the Samaritan Paraphrase went through different hands, and was afterwards edited by one or more Samaritans" (Introduction, vol. 1, § 305).

For purposes of exegesis the version is entirely useless. It is simply interesting as faithfully representing the religious ideas and literary progress of the Samaritans; it is valuable also for philological purposes, as being the most trustworthy monument of an important Shemitic dialect. The oldest MSS. hitherto known to exist are both at Rome the Barberini Triglot and the Vatican. The former was bought by Peiresc at Damascus, in 1631, and bequeathed by him to cardinal Barberini, in whose library it still remains. It is imperfect; the oldest parts were written in A.D. 1226, and the end of Deuteronomy was supplied by a later hand in 1482.

The Vatican MS. was bought by Pietro della Valle at Damascus, in 1616. It is much later than the one just described; it is on paper, dated A.D. 1514, with considerable lacunae of words, and even verses (comp. Assemani, Bibl. Vat. Catal. 1, 1, 464). This is the only text that has ever been published: it appeared in the Paris Polyglot of 1645, and was thence copied, without, however, a fresh collation of the MS., into the London Polyglot of 1657, from which A. Brüll reprinted it in Hebrew characters, and published it under the title שמרני על התורה תרגום (Frankfort-on- the-Main, 1875). Petermann, of Berlin, intended to publish an edition from MSS. collated by him at Nablis, but the first part only was published: Pentateuchus Samaritanus, ad fidem Librorum Manuscriptorum apud Nablusianos Repertorum, edidit et varias Lectiones adscripsit H. Petermann. Fasciculus 1, Genesis (Berolini, 1872). Fragments of a Samaritan Targum (Le 25:26, to the end of that book, and parts of Numbers), from a Bodleian MS., were edited and published by Nutt (Lond. 1874). The Imperial Library of St. Petersburg contains also many fragments of the Samaritan-Arabic translation, as well as of the Samaritan Targum.

2. "The Samaritan" in Greek (τὸ Σαμαρειτικόν). In the fathers, of the 3d and 4th centuries, as well as in MSS. containing the Sept., with fragments of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, we find scholia, or pieces of a Greek translation of the Pentateuch so designated. These fragments have been collected by Morin, Hottinger, and Montfaucon, and are in Walton's Prolegomena. Castell, Vossius, and Herbst think that they are merely translated extracts from the Samaritan Version; while Gesenius, Winer, and Juynboll suppose them to be remains of a continuous Greek version of the Samaritan Pentateuch. On the other hand, Hengstenberg and Hävernick see in it only a corrected edition of certain passages of the Sept. The most probable of these opinions seems to be that which looks upon the notes or scholia as the Samaritan corrections of certain places in the Sept.

3. In 1070 an Arabic version of the Samaritan Pentateuch was made by Abu Said in Egypt, on the basis of the Arabic translation of Saadias Haggaon (q.v.). Like the original Samaritan, it avoids anthropomorphisms and anthropopathisms, replacing the latter by euphemisms, besides occasionally making some slight alterations, more especially in proper nouns. It appears to have been drawn up from the Samaritan text, not from the Samaritan Version, the Hebrew words occasionally remaining unaltered in the translation. Often, also, it renders the original differently from the Samaritan Version. Principally noticeable is its excessive dread of assigning to God anything like human attributes, physical or mental. For יהוה אלהים, "God," we find (as in Saadias sometimes) Malak Allah, "the Angel of God;" for "the eyes of God" we have (De 9:12) "the beholding of God." For "bread of God," "the necessary," etc. Great reverence is shown for Moses and the tribe of Levi; but envy of the tribe of Judah (Ge 49:10). It is written in the common language of the Arabs, and abounds in Samaritanisms. An edition of this version was commenced by Kuenen at Leyden. Genesis was published in 1851; Exodus and Leviticus in 1854. In Syria it would appear, at the Samaritans still used Saadias's even after Abu Said's had been made, for which reason Abul Baracat (about 1208) wrote scholia upon the latter in order to recommend it to the people. This must not be considered a new version, but a Syriac recension of the Arabic-Samaritan. The two recensions — the Syriac of Abul Baracat and the Egyptian of Abu Said — were mixed together in the MSS., and cannot now be properly separated. For further particulars we must refer to Juynboll and Eichhorn: the former in his Orientalia, 2, 115 sq.; the latter in the second volume of his Einleitung to the Old Test. Van Vloten described a MS. of Abu Said's in the University of Leyden in 1803; and Juynboll notices the MSS. at Paris, especially Nos. 2 and 4, in the Orientalia, 2, 115 sq.

Literature. — Cellarius, Hore Samaritanoe (Frankfort and Jena, 1705, 4to, 2d ed.), p. 1-58; Uhlemann, Samaritan Chrestomathy (Lipsiae, 1837); Walton, Prolegomena, ed. Dathe; Castell, Observations on the Sixth Volume of the London Polyglot; Eichhorn, Einleitung ins A.T. vol. 2; Gesenius, De Pentateuchi Samarit. Origine, etc.; Winer, De Versionis Pentat. Samar. Indole (ibid. 1817, 8vo); De Wette, Einleitung in das A.T.; Hävernick, Einleitung, 1, 1 — Juynboll, Commentarii in Historiam Gentis Samaritance (Leyden, 1846, 4to); Davidson, Treatise on Biblical Criticism, vol. 1; Lee, Prolegomena in Biblia Polyglotta Londinensia Minora, prolegomenon 2, § 1, 3; Kohn, De Pentateucho Samaritano, p. 66 sq.; id. Samaritanische Studien (Breslau, 1868); also Zur Sprache, Literatur u. Dogmatik der Samaritaner (Leipsic, 1876); Brill, Zur Geschichte u. Literatur der Samariter (Frankfort, 1876); Keil, Introduction, 2, 278 sq.; Kaulen, Einleitung (Freiburg, 1876), 1, 91 sq.; Noldeke, in Geiger's Zeitschrift, 6, 204 sq.; Barges, Notice sur deux Fragments d'un Pentateuque Hebreu-Samaritain, 1865, p. 15; Simon, Histoire Critique du V.T. p. 261; Davidson, in Kitto's Cyclop. 21, 750 sq.; Deutsch, in Smith's Dict. of the Bible, 4, 2812 sq.; Nutt, Sketch of Samaritan History, p. 106 sq.; Petermann, in Herzog's Real-Encyklop. 13, 375 sq. (B.P.)

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