Samaritans, Modern. As already stated (under SAMARITAN), a small remnant of the old nation still dwell in their ancient capital, Shechem. There existed a tradition among them, which has yet hardly died out, that large numbers of their brethren were dwelling in various parts of the world — in England, France, India, and elsewhere — and they have instituted inquiries from time to time in the hope of becoming acquainted with these their brethren. In past ages we do find them not only inhabiting various cities in Palestine, but even in Egypt and Constantinople (El-Masudi, Hist. Encycl. 1, 114; Rabbi Benjamin, Itinerary). They are now, however, confined to Nablus, the ancient Shechem, and their sacred city through all ages. Here they live together, Ghetto-like, on the southwestern side of the town, at the very foot of Gerizim, their sacred mount. They have dwindled down to a very small number, consisting only of some forty families; and before many generations more have passed away, the ancient Samaritan nation will have become extinct. In 1872 they numbered 135 souls, 80 of whom were males; by the defection of Jacob Shellaby and his family, they have been reduced to a total of 130 souls. Perhaps no people have been persecuted and oppressed from age to age more than they have, yet it has served to knit them the more closely together. In appearance they are superior to their circumstances, as also to all others around them — a straight and high forehead, full brow, large and rather almond-shaped eyes, aquiline nose, somewhat large mouth, and well-formed chin are their chief physiological characteristics; and, with few exceptions, they are tall and of lofty bearing. If the present small community is a fair specimen of what their nation was in ancient times, they must have been a fine race.
A deep interest is attached to this people, not only because they are the oldest and smallest sect in the world, but principally because they retain the opinions, ceremonies, and habits of their forefathers, and are, like their Jewish brethren, a living evidence of the truth of Bible history, especially that of the Pentateuch. Our object will be, therefore, to give a summary account of all the principal features of their life and manners, as exhibited by these remaining votaries; and for this purpose we chiefly follow Mills's abridgment (in Fairbairn's Dictionary) of his larger account (Three Months in Nablus, Lond. 1864).
I. Domestic Life and Duties. —
1. Circumcision. — The first and most important is to admit the male child into the Abrahamic covenant by circumcision. This ceremony must be performed on the eighth day, even should that be the Sabbath, as it was undoubtedly the practice of the Jews of old (Joh 7:22); and not in the synagogue, but always in the house of the parents. The performance of the rite devolves upon the priest; but should he happen to be absent, any one acquainted with the mode of operating may do it. During the celebration of the ceremony the name of the child is announced, as of old (Lu 1:59), and, when over, they celebrate it (as the Jews do) by a feast, enlivened by Arab music and singing. If the child be female, the only observance is that of naming, which takes place on the third day at the parents' house, without any particular rite or gathering of friends, the priest simply announcing it in the hearing of those who may happen to be present. Formerly, they used to redeem the first-born child, as the Jews still do, according to the commandment (Ex 13:13), but now the ceremony is discontinued on account of the poverty of their people.
2. Marriage. — Like most Easterns, the Samaritans have a strong desire for offspring, a feeling which is probably intensified by the paucity of their number. This, together with an early development in such a climate, leads them, like all their neighbors, to marry at a very early age, the males being eligible at fourteen and the females at ten years of age. But they never intermarry with persons of another creed, whether circumcised or uncircumcised; and never marry but on a Thursday, this in their estimation being a peculiarly propitious day. They have no betrothing, and the marriage rite is very simple. Upon the appointed day, two men who are witnesses of the agreement conduct the bride and her friends at midday to the bridegroom's house, where the ceremony is performed by the priest. The service is in Hebrew — an unknown tongue to those most concerned — and consists of portions of the law interspersed with certain prayers; and the marriage agreement is read, by which the young bridegroom has to pay a fixed dowry to the father of the bride. In the evening a feast is made, followed by music, singing, and dancing, performed, however, not by themselves, but by hired Mussulmans. Here we may observe that they are not given to polygamy. There is nothing in their theology prohibiting it, but this virtue has grown upon them from necessity, on account of the unequal distribution of the sexes. Their present rule, and one which has existed for some ages past, is that any one may take an additional wife if the first wife be willing, but on that condition only.
3. Divorce. — The Samaritans are not given to divorcement, and in this matter they stand in singular contrast to their Jewish and Mohammedan neighbors. Their modern theology at least forbids it, except only for the cause of fornication, but their strict conformity to this dogma under all circumstances is very doubtful.
4. Purifications. — There are seven things that particularly defile a person, four of which relate to both sexes, the remaining three pertaining to the female: (1) the conjugal act; (2) nocturnal pollution; (3) touching any dead body; (4) touching unclean birds, quadrupeds, or reptiles; (5) a female from hemorrhage; (6) a female's menstrual discharge, when she remains unclean for seven days; (7) childbirth, when the mother is accounted unclean for forty-one days if the child be male, but if female for eighty days. On account of these defilements they purify themselves most scrupulously. Formerly, when sacrifices used to be offered, the ashes of a burned heifer were kept to be mixed with running water and sprinkled on the unclean person by one that was clean according to the law (Nu 19:17-19). Now running water only is used. The washing of hands as a rite of purification at rising and before eating, etc., as the Jews do, is never observed by the Samaritans; they simply do it for the purpose of cleansing, and not as a religious ceremony (comp. Mr 7:3-4).
5. Morning and Evening Prayer. — The first duty on rising is to repeat the morning prayer, which is long and tedious. It is generally offered by each individual in private, although there is no law against its being performed in the presence of the family. Any one is at liberty to repeat this or any other prayer as often as he pleases during the day, but the morning and evening orisons must on no account be neglected, and must be said in the early morning and at sunset. This, like all their other prayers, is a set one in the Hebrew tongue, and consequently not understood except by some one or two besides the priest. Still, the sacredness of the language, combined with the antiquity of the formula, imparts to it a kind of hallowedness, which has a strange hold upon the conscience of the people. During the prayer they always turn towards Mount Gerizim.
6. Food. — When they sit to eat, a blessing is pronounced before the food is served. This duty devolves upon the head of the family. They make the broadest distinction in articles of diet; adhering faithfully to the law of Moses, and attaching the greatest importance to its observance. They never eat the flesh of any beast that does not chew the cud and divide the hoof (Le 11:3-8; De 14:6-8), and swine are held in the greatest detestation. All kinds of poultry, except those notified as unclean (Le 11:13-25), are considered lawful, as well as all fish that have fins and scales (Le 11:9-12). Like the Jews, they never partake of flesh and butter (or milk) at the same meal, nor do they even place them on the table at the same time. Six hours must elapse after partaking of meat before milk or butter can be taken. The Jews found this custom on the passage, "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk" (Ex 23:19), but the Samaritans refuse it the importance of a law of Moses, and only observe it as a sanatory rule laid down by their sages. They hold it unlawful to eat anything prepared by either Jews or Gentiles, therefore they make their own bread, cheese, butter, etc. Cattle and poultry too must be slaughtered by their own shochet, or killer, who has to pass through a course of study and training before he is qualified to kill according to the numerous rules prescribed by their sages.
7. Duties towards the Dead. — The Samaritans, like the Jews, teach the dying person to say as his last words, "The Lord our God is one Lord." This last utterance must be in the Hebrew, therefore all their people, women and children, are most carefully taught this phrase. The relations of the dead never rend their clothes, as they consider it to be contrary to the will of God. Nor have they any fixed time to mourn, or formula to repeat over the departed. With them it is simply a matter of feeling; some mourn for a long and some for a shorter time. But to indulge in grief is discouraged, forasmuch as the high priest was forbidden to mourn for the dead (Le 21:10); so they consider the refrainment from it to be a proof of a more thorough obedience to the will of God and a higher religious state of mind. As anciently, the house wherein the dead body lies is rendered unclean (Nu 19:14), and the priest carefully avoids crossing its threshold (Le 21:11).
As soon as the dying person has expired, they perform the ceremony of טִהֲרָה (taharah), purification, by washing the body carefully with clean running water. This is done by individuals appointed to that duty from among themselves, after which it is wrapped in a cotton shroud (Joh 11:44), and then placed in a wooden coffin. It is curious to observe that no other natives of any creed use coffins; the Samaritans, however, scrupulously follow the example set them by their father Joseph (Ge 1; Ge 26). When a death is expected, the law is read in the chamber of the sick, not by the priest, but by one appointed for that purpose. As soon as all hope of recovery is given up, the reading begins, is continued to the patient's death, and again resumed after the taharah, and continued to Nu 30:1. After arranging the funeral procession, the reading is once more proceeded with until the whole law be read.
II. Religion. — The Samaritan idea of religion is a national one. To them their faith and people are synonymous. In this sense they are, according to their own belief, the only peculiar people of God, with whom the Almighty has entered into covenants, and which covenants they faithfully keep. These are seven in number, and are as follows:
a, the covenant of Noah (Ge 9:14);
b, the covenant of Abraham concerning circumcision (Ge 17:9-14);
c, the covenant of the Sabbath (Ex 31:12-17);
d, the covenant of the two tables of the ten commandments (Ex 20:2-17);
e, the covenant of salt (Nu 18:19);
f, the covenant of the Passover (Ex 12:2);
g, the covenant of the priesthood (Nu 25:12-13). By virtue of these they are separated, on the one hand, from all the Gentiles, and, on the other hand, from the Jews, who, they assert, are cursed since the time of Eli.
1. Constitution. — Their people, according to the above idea, constitute a national religious community, over which two officers preside. The chief is the priest (כֹּהֵן). Upon him devolves the performance of all the duties prescribed in the law of Moses as pertaining to the priestly office. These are now but nominal, as they have no sacrifice because they have no temple; but certain prayers are offered instead of sacrifices. These, together with the priestly blessings, are given on all occasions by the priest himself, who is in reality but a Levite, for the last of the descendants of Aaron, according to their own chronicle, died in A.D. 1631. The second officer is the minister, חֲזִן (chazan), who is a member of a younger branch of the same family. It is his duty to read the public service generally, both in the synagogue and out of it. Upon him also falls the work of educating the children and instructing them in the law. These two officers sitting in assembly constitute their בֵּית יּיַן, or house of judgment. The priest sits supreme and the minister second, and before this tribunal all Samaritan matters, whether social or religious, are settled. Should a question of any difficulty arise, the priest calls other members of the priestly family to assist in deciding the case; otherwise all kinds of questions are determined by the two officers alone.
2. Creed. — The Samaritans have no formula of belief or set articles of faith, excepting four great tenets: (1) to believe in Jehovah as the only God; (2) to believe in Moses as the only lawgiver; (3) to believe in the תּוֹרָה (Torah), Pentateuch, as the only divine book; (4) to believe in Mount Gerizim as the only house of God. These are the cardinal points of the Samaritan faith; but so far as a more detailed theological creed is concerned, the thirteen articles drawn up by Maimonides would as well express the Samaritan as the Jewish faith. These consist of a belief, in God as Creator and Governor; in one God only; in his not being corporeal; in God being first and last of all things; in God as the only object of prayer; in the truth of prophecy; in the truthfulness and superiority of Moses; in the law as the enactment of Moses; in the unchangeableness of the law; in the omniscience of God; in rewards and punishments; in the coming of the Messiah; and in a general resurrection (British Jews, p. 68). Here it is important to observe that their only authority in theology is the Pentateuch — nothing is divine and binding but the Torah; all their dogmas are believed, whether rightly or wrongly, to be founded upon that sacred volume; and they are, in fact, strictly and wholly the disciples of Moses. It becomes, therefore, a subject of no little interest to the Biblical student to observe how many of the principal doctrines of revealed truth are held by the Samaritans to be the teaching of the law. For instance, they found the doctrine of a future state upon Ex 21:6 — "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, ed the God of Jacob;" being the very passage quoted by the Savior, and drawing from it the same conclusion that "he is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living" (Mr 12:26-27); and that of a resurrection they hold to be clearly revealed in Ge 9:5. "And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man." But we cannot help thinking that the influence of Christianity is discernible in several points of modem Samaritanism, as well as of modern Judaism; and that some doctrines may be regarded as affiliated to the Torah rather than inducted therefrom. Their doctrine concerning the Messiah, although infinitely below the conception of the New Test., is yet far superior to that of the Jews. They never call him Messiah — that name not being in the law — but Tahebah, תהבה, or the Arabic equivalent, Al-Mudy, the Restorer.
They believe him to be a man, a son of Joseph, of the tribe of Ephraim, according to the words of Moses (De 33:16). The promise of his coming was made by Moses" The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken" (De 18:15). He is to be not a king and conqueror, but a great teacher. His mission is not to shed blood, but to heal the nations; not to make war, but to bring peace. He will restore the law to its purity, preach it to the world, and bring all the nations over to its practice. In fact, he will be a great reformer, expressly sent by the Almighty, and endowed with the necessary qualifications to perform so great and glorious a work. Following his direction, they believe that the congregation will repair to Gerizim, where, under the "twelve stones," they will find the Ten Commandments, and under the stone of Bethel the golden vessels of the temple and the manna. After one hundred and ten years the Prophet is to die and be buried beside Joseph in the valley. Soon afterwards, on the conclusion of seven thousand years from its foundation, the world is to come to an end.
3. Synagogue. — They themselves never call it synagogue. Sometimes they use the Arabic term bit Allah, house of God, but the common appellation is kinshah, קנשה, place of assembly; equivalent to the Greek συναγωγή, and the Hebrew בֵּית הִכּנֶסֶת. At present they have but one, a small and unsightly building, but large enough for their community. Its extreme length measures thirty-seven feet five inches, with a breadth of eighteen feet. A part of the floor — namely, that of the right — hand division in the accompanying plan is raised a foot higher than the remaining portion. On the left-hand side is a recess some four feet square. The ceiling is vaulted, and from it hang two very primitive chandeliers and a small oil lamp. In the roof is a circular, dome-like window to admit light and air, the only opening besides the door. The small, square recess is the musbah, or altar, which is considered to be the most sacred spot in the building. It is here the Torah, or Law of Moses, is kept, in the form of a roll, and in this respect the musbah answers to the Jewish chel. But it has a further sacredness attached to it. During the existence of the temple on Gerizim sacrifices were slain on the altar, but since its demolition they are considered unlawful; therefore the musbale takes the place of the altar, and prayer that of sacrifice. Its place in the synagogue, therefore, fronts the spot whereon the temple formerly stood, so that when the worshippers, during service, look towards the sacred recess their faces may be turned to Mount Gerizim. A large, square veil hangs continually in front of the musbah, in order to screen it from the gaze of the people, as no one is permitted to enter it but the two officials. The congregation consists of males only; but in this particular the Samaritans do not stand alone, as it is common to the natives of all creeds, with the exception of the few Christian Protestants in the country. Should the females wish to be present, they are at liberty to gather outside the building in the court and listen to the service, but no more. On this point Jews and Samaritans agree, but not with regard to the number necessary to constitute a congregation. With the first there must be a minyan — i.e. ten males of full age — present before the congregation is legal and the service can be read; but with the Samaritans there is no rule, but, like the Christian practice, it may be formed of any number met together to worship. They never assemble in the synagogue during week days except on the feasts and fasts. On the Sabbath they have three services. The first is a short one at sunset on Friday, at which time their Sabbath commences. The second is early on the following morning, and is much the longest and most important, for during this service the law is shown. The minister takes it out of the musbah, removes its covering, opens the silver-gilt case in which it is kept, and exhibits to the congregation that column of the text which contains Aaron's blessing (Nu 6:24-27), when they step forward to kiss the sacred scroll. The last service is on Saturday afternoon a little before sunset, and consists of prayers interspersed with portions of the law, and arranged in one liturgy. The language being all Hebrew, the people understand the service but very imperfectly, the officials with one or two others excepted. It is performed in a kind of chant or cantillation most peculiar in its character. It differs nearly as much from the native Arab music as from that of Europeans, and seems to have an origin both ancient and peculiar. They have seventy different melodies, composed, according to their tradition, by the seventy elders of Israel in the time of Moses, which they have preserved and still use on various occasions.
4. Sacred Seasons. — An important part of the Samaritan religion consists of the observance of certain sacred seasons. These are as follows:
(1.) The Sabbath. — Like the Jews, they reckon their days from sunset to sunset, according to the expression in Genesis — "And the evening and the morning were the first day." The Sabbath, therefore, as already said, commences at sunset on Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday. This day they keep most strictly as a day of rest, upon which no manner of work is to be done, according to the words of the law in Ex 20:8-10. To this command they adhere most faithfully, accepting it in its literal fullness. Unlike the Jews, they employ no gobim, or Gentiles, to light their fires or snuff their candles, but all within the gates keep the Sabbath alike. Consequently they never have any fire on that day, but scrupulously keep the command, "Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath day" (Ex 35:3). Not a lamp or a candle ever burns in their houses or in the synagogue on that day. When darkness comes on during the reading of the opening service on Friday evening, they never introduce lights, but finish the service in the dark, and remain so in their houses until they retire to rest. Their first and great idea of keeping the Sabbath holy is to remain quiet — never to go out of their dwellings except to the synagogue; and the second is, to live more generously than on ordinary days, but the cooking is all prepared on Friday. Although they carefully abstain from all kind of work, even the most trifling actions, they keep no such guard on their language nor check on their thoughts, but feel at liberty to talk about anything and everything; and of a higher and purer mode of sanctifying the day they have no idea.
(2.) The New Moon. — Next in frequency, but not in importance, to the observance of the Sabbath is that of the new moon, the reosh hadesh, equivalent to the Jewish rosh chodesh. The new moon is sacredly watched for, and the afternoon immediately following its appearance, about half past four, the Samaritans assemble in the synagogue to perform the appointed service. It consists of prescribed prayers composed for the occasion, intermixed with portions of the law, especially those referring to the beginning of months (Nu 10:10; Nu 28:11-14). During the recital of the service, the whole of which lasts about two hours, the minister exhibits one of the roll copies of the Pentateuch to the congregation.
(3.) The Feasts and Fasts. — The Samaritans are not given to festivals. In this they greatly differ from their Jewish brethren, as well as from some Christian communities. In the Jewish calendar there are above thirty such seasons of greater or less importance; but in the Samaritan only eight, six of which are commanded in the law, the other two being less important. These are the following:
(a.) Karaban Aphsah, or Jewish חִג הִפֶּסִח , Passover. This is the memorial of their great national deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 12). The time of its celebration is the fifteenth day of their month Nisan, in the evening of the day; but should that happen to be a Sabbath, the feast is held on the previous day. Its place of celebration is Mount Gerizim, which they found upon Ex 21:18. Therefore, early on the morning of the fourteenth day the whole community, with few exceptions, close their dwellings in the city, and clamber up the Mount, on the top of which, and in front of the ruins of their ancient temple, they pitch their tents in a circle. The lambs, five or six in number, and "without blemish," are brought on the tenth day, and during the intervening days are carefully kept, and cleanly washed as a sort of purification to fit them for the paschal service (comp. Joh 5:2). On the sacred spot, near the tents, a fire is kindled, over which two caldrons full of water are placed. Another fire is kindled close by in a kind of circular pit sunk into the ground, where the lambs are to be roasted. At sunset the lambs are slaughtered by five or six young men dressed in blue robes of unbleached calico, having their loins girded, who dip their fingers in the streaming blood and with it mark the foreheads and noses of the children. The boiling water is carefully poured over the dead lambs, and, when fleeced, the right forelegs, which belong to the priest, are removed and placed on wood already laid for the purpose, together with the entrails; salt is added, and they are then burned. The lambs are now spitted and lowered into the oven. The spit is a long pole thrust through from head to tail, near the end of which is placed a transverse peg to prevent the carcass from slipping off. At midnight the lambs are taken up, when the paschal feast commences. A large copper dish filled with unleavened cakes and bitter herbs rolled up together is brought in and distributed among the congregation, all the adults wearing a kind of girdle around their waist, with staves in their hands, according to the command (Ex 12:11). The lambs are then laid upon carpets and strewn over with bitter herbs, all the congregation, i.e. the men, standing in two rows, one on each side of the lambs. During all this time, a long and tedious service peculiar to the day is recited by the two officials in turn, and when the reading has arrived at a certain point, all the expectant auditors stoop at once, and, as if in haste and hunger, tear away the flesh piecemeal with their fingers, and carry portions to the females and little ones in the tents. In a few minutes the whole disappears except some fragments, which are carefully gathered up, not a particle being left, which, with the bones, are all burned in a fire kindled for that purpose (Ex 12:10). On the following day rejoicings continue; fish, rice, and eggs are eaten, wine and spirits are drunk, and hymns, generally impromptu, are sung. Here we may observe that those who are unable to keep the Passover on this day may do so on the same day of the following month; but this second celebration is not kept on the hill, but in their own quarter in the city.
(b.) Moed Aphsah, answering to the Jewish הִמִּצּוֹת חִג', or Feast of Unleavened Cakes. Although this feast is intimately connected with the former, still, strictly speaking, they are two distinct solemnities, the Feast of the Passover commemorating the protection given them when the first born of the Egyptians were slain, and that of the Unleavened Bread commemorating the beginning of their march out of Egypt. The distinction of the two feasts is more marked in the Samaritan than in the Jewish mode of their celebration. On the preceding day of the feast, every family removes all leavened bread out of its dwelling, and a most careful search is made, so that the least fragment may not remain. Thus by the evening of the fourteenth day, all leavened bread and fermented drink are laid aside, and unleavened bread alone must be used during the seven following days, according to the law (Ex 12:18-20). This bread they call masat, equivalent to the Hebrew matstsoth; and the cake is made in the same form as the Jewish matstsoth, except that it is a little larger, but of the same thickness. The Samaritans, like some of the strict Jews, hang up some of the cakes in their houses till the next Passover, believing them to have the power of charms in warding off evils and drawing many blessings upon the family. The first and seventh days of the feast are kept holy, according to Ex 12:16, but the seventh is considered the most sacred of the two. At early morn they form themselves into a procession and clamber up Gerizir, "in honor of God." There, on the sacred spot, the priest repeats the service for the day, which consists of lengthy portions of the law interspersed with prayers and songs.
(c.) Chamsin, the "fiftieth," equivalent to the Πεντηκοστή', Pentecost, of the New Test. It is thus called because it falls upon the fiftieth day after the morrow of the Sabbath of the Unleavened Bread. The Samaritans differ from the Jews in reckoning these days. The latter begin to count them from the second day of the Unleavened Bread, on whatever day of the week it may happen; but the Samaritans commence on the morrow of the Sabbath which falls within the days of that feast, and cite as their authority Le 23:15-16. It is kept as a day to "rejoice before the Lord their God," on account of the bounties of his providence and the liberty to enjoy them in their own promised land (De 16:9-12). This day likewise they go up Gerizim in procession, and on the same place as before the service for the day is gone through, which contains all the references made in the law to the harvest, as well as prayers and songs.
(d.) Arish-sheni similar to the Jewish Rosh-hashanah, and always falls on the 1st of Tishri, that month being the commencement of the civil year with the Samaritans as with the Jews. They keep this day as a holy convocation, in which no servile work is done (Le 23:24). They attend synagogue, and the service lasts about six hours; but they neither have "blowing of trumpets," as in the Jewish synagogue, nor is the day regarded with the importance attached to it by the Jews.
(e.) Kibburim, equivalent to the Jewish Yom Kippur, יוֹם הִכַּפּוּרַים , Day of Atonement of the Jews, which is held on the tenth day of Tishri, according to the command (Le 23:27-32). In a strict point of view, this is the most important day in the Samaritan calendar. On the ninth day of the month, just two hours before sunset, all the community, both male and female, purify themselves by the free application of clean running water, after which they partake of the last meal before the great fast. The meal must be finished at least half an hour before sunset, when a rigid fast is observed until half an hour after sunset on the following day, making altogether a fast of twenty-five hours. During this time neither man, nor woman, nor child — not even the sick or suckling — is permitted to taste a morsel of bread or a drop of water. No indulgence, however trifling it may be, is permitted, and the whole fast is kept with such rigor that even medicine to the sick would on no account be administered. The day is therefore looked forward to with no little anxiety. They assemble at the synagogue a little before sunset, when the service commences and is kept up in solemn darkness through the night. It consists of the reading of the law, together with special prayers and supplications, portions of which are sung to their ancient melodies. The following morning they form a procession and visit the tombs of some of their prophets, where they repeat a portion of the service, and on their return at noon it is resumed in the synagogue. As it draws to a conclusion the principal ceremony takes place — namely, the exhibition of the ancient roll of the law, believed by them to be written by Abishua, the great-grandson of Aaron. Before the roll is covered and replaced, all step forward with eagerness to kiss it, as the opportunity only occurs annually. The service is undertaken by the priest and minister alternately, with the occasional help of one of the congregation. A little after sunset the anxious and tedious duties of the solemn day are over.
(f.) Sekuth, the Jewish סֻכּוֹת, Tabernacles. They begin this festival on the fifteenth day of the same month, and keep it for seven days, conforming literally to the injunctions in Le 23:34-36,40-43. On the eleventh day they begin the erection of the booths, which must be finished by the morning of the fourteenth. These are raised in the courts of their houses, in the open air. On each day of this feast service is held in the synagogue both morning and evening, and they make in procession a daily ascent of Gerizim, "in honor of God." No servile work is done, nor is any business transacted during these days, of which the eighth and last is held the most sacred.
Besides the sacred seasons already mentioned, they have two others of less important character. The first is Reosh-ashena, Rosh-hashanah of the Jews, the beginning of the year. It is held, not on the first day of Tishri, the beginning of the civil year, but on the first day of Nisan, the commencement of their ecclesiastical year. The day is not kept sacred, for they all follow their usual vocations; they simply attend a short service in the synagogue both morning and evening. The next is Purim, not, like that of the Jews, held in the month Adar to commemorate the national deliverance through queen Esther, but held in the preceding month, Shebat, in commemoration of the mission of Moses to deliver the Israelites out of Egypt.
4. Sacred Places. — The religious rites of Palestine, whether performed in honor of the true God or that of idols, were celebrated from the earliest ages on the top of the highest mountains. The Hebrew lawgiver felt it necessary to enjoin on the Israelites the duty of destroying all these sacred high places on their coming into possession of the land (De 12:2-5); but so deeply rooted was this form of worship in the religious feelings of Israel, as of the surrounding nations, that it proved a snare to them for many ages. It was these early sympathies that made Mount Gerizim so sacred to the children of Ephraim ever since the conquest, and in the same spirit have the Samaritans regarded it through all ages even to this day. Their great holy place is Gerizim. This mountain they hold to be the earth's center, the house of God, the highest mountain on earth, the only one not covered by the flood, the site of altars raised by Adam, Seth, and Noah, the Mount Moriah of Abraham's sacrifice, the Bethel or Luz of Jacob's vision, and the place where Joshua erected first an altar, next the tabernacle, and finally a temple. On its slope the cave of Makkedah is also shown, though now closed up. Just as the Jew in all parts of the world turns his face in prayer towards the Temple mount at Jerusalem, so does the Samaritan to Gerizim, his temp mount. To him it is "the house of God," "the house of Jehovah," "the mountain of the world," "God's mountain," "the Sanctuary," "the mountain of the Divine Presence," and other such like titles — all flowing from their extravagant notions of its sacredness. They rarely write its name without the addition "the house of God." It was this same spirit that moved the woman of Samaria to answer the Savior with such an air of pride — "Our fathers worshipped in this mountain" (Joh 4:20). SEE GERIZIM.
But Samaritanism has other holy places. These are the tombs of their early prophets and holy men — viz. Joseph, Eleazar, Ithamar, Phinehas, Joshua, Caleb, the seventy elders, and Eldad and Medad. All these, according to their tradition, are buried in the neighborhood of Shechem, and on certain occasions the congregation visit them, when portions of the law and prayers are repeated. This is especially the case with the tombs of Phinehas and Eleazar, but even more so with that of Joseph, which they visit frequently.
III. Local Literature. — Before giving a summary of the books of the modern Samaritans, it is necessary to remark that they are, to a certain extent, a trilingual people. Of these languages the first is Hebrew. The fact of its being the language of the Law of Moses makes it to them, as to the Jews, the leshon hak-kodesh, or holy tongue. All their sacred books and their religious services are therefore in Hebrew, although it is to them, with few exceptions, a dead language. The second is the Samaritan. Its basis was the Hebrew, and it was thoroughly Shemitic in framework; but its superstructure contained many anomalies, some of which were harsh and foreign. SEE SAMARITAN LANGUAGE. From what now remains of it, its general construction seems very simple, and not unfrequently lucid and forcible; and, as pronounced by the Samaritans, it is much more euphonious than the Arabic. Soon after the Mohammedan conquest of Palestine, it gradually lapsed into a dead language. The only literature now remaining in it consists of the forms of the Pentateuch and a few other works, above noticed. The third tongue is the Arabic, the language of their conquerors. This soon supplanted the Samaritan, and has ever since remained their vernacular, and most of their works have been translated into Arabic for the sake of such of their people as understand no other.
It is difficult, at this time, to determine to what extent the ancient Samaritan literature was developed, though there is enough evidence to show that much mental activity existed among the people in former ages. Of their literary productions but little remains, owing in part to the destructive hand of time, but much more to the ravages they suffered during the first centuries of the Christian era, and again under the Mohammedan rule. The works now known as extant may be classified under four heads, and we arrange the lists according to the Samaritan dates, including some already enumerated under SAMARITAN LITERATURE.
1. Theological. — It is to this class most belong, and the first on the list is the Torah, or Law of Moses. SEE SAMARITAN PENTATEUCH.
Risalat Achbor Israel, a work explaining the feasts, their object, and manner of keeping them, by Eleazaer, a priest who is said to have lived in the 5th century after the conquest of Palestine by the tribes. (Composed in Hebrew, of which there is an Arabic translation.)
Sharich, an exposition of the book of Exodus by various authors. (Written in Hebrew, with an Arabic translation. No date, but ancient.)
El-Amir, a commentary on portions of the law by Maraka, who flourished about fifty years before Christ. (Hebrew, with an Arabic translation.)
Sharich, an exposition of Genesis from the beginning to ch. 28; the author not known, but dates from the 2d century of our era. (Written in Hebrew, but, like the former, has an Arabic translation.)
El-Kaffi. This is a work discussing the doctrines contained in the law, written by Juseph el-Askari, A.D. 700. (Hebrew and Arabic.)
Masail Chilafi, a work discussing the differences between the Jews and Samaritans, by Munaji Naphes ed-Din, who lived in the 12th century. (Hebrew and Arabic.)
El-Mulhalal fi en-Nikahi, an explanation of the laws of marriage, by Abul- Barakat, who lived in the 12th century. (Hebrew and Arabic.)
Kitab el-Mirath, a work on the laws and regulations of wills and testaments. (Written by the same author, in Hebrew, with an Arabic translation.)
Sharich, a historical exposition of the law, showing how the ancients observed it; written by El-Hhabr Jacub in the 12th century. (In Hebrew only.)
Sharich, an exposition of the book of Exodus, by Ghazal ed-Duik, of the 13th century. (In Hebrew and Arabic.)
Sharich, a book explaining the blessings and cursings of the law, by Ihbrahim el-Kaisi, of the 16th century. (Hebrew and Arabic.)
Risalat el-Arshad, a book on the days of the month upon which the feasts were to be held, written by Ibrahim il-Ahi, an author of the 18th century. (Hebrew and Arabic)
Sharich, an exposition of the whole book of Genesis, written by Musalem el-Murjam, of the last century. (Hebrew and Arabic.)
Sharich, an exposition of the books of Leviticus and Numbers, by Ghazal el-Matari who lived in the last century. (Hebrew and Arabic.)
Sharich, a work concerning the Eternal, together with certain social points, principally marriage and the Sabbath, by Ghazal ibn Ramiyahh. (Hebrew and Arabic, but without date.)
2. Liturgical. — This class comprises all the books relating to their public and private services, such as the feasts and fasts, circumcision, marriage, and burial. They consist of passages from the Torah, interspersed with prayers and poetic compositions, the reading of which is principally performed with a kind of cantillation; hence the term Tartil generally applied to these books. This class is nearly as extensive as the theological, and contains much interesting matter and many beautiful passages, but the works have not yet received the attention they deserve. The most important are the services for the annual feasts and fasts, eleven in number- namely, one for the ordinary Sabbaths throughout the year; one for the two Sabbaths preceding Passover; one for the Passover; one for the days of Unleavened Bread; one for the fifty days following Passover; one for Pentecost: one for the 1st of Tishri; one for the Day of Atonement; one for the Tabernacles; one for the first day of the year, and one for the last day of the year.
All these liturgies exist only in Hebrew, as it would be unlawful to translate them into the vulgar tongue. They are all of ancient date, but the authors and compilers are unknown. SEE SAMARITAN LITURGY.
3. Historical. — In this class there are but few works; these are:
Tarik. This is the Samaritan book of Joshua, as it is generally called, and is pretty well known to European scholars since the time of Scaliger, who, in A.D. 1584, received a copy from the Samaritans of Cairo, an edition of which was brought out by Juynboll (Leyden, 1848), with a Latin version and valuable annotations. It contains a brief history of themselves from the close of the Pentateuch down to modern times, and comprising some amount of valuable information mixed up with much that is fictitious and exaggerated.
Another historical work is extant, partly compiled from the above, by Abul-Fatah, an author of the 14th century, but is not held in esteem by the Samaritans themselves.
El-Tabak, a history of the Jews, principally relating the judgments that had befallen them; written by Abu Hassan es-Suri in the 12th century. (Hebrew and Arabic.)
Kitab es-Satir, a compendium of history from Adam to Moses. No author is named; but it is stated to have been written at the command of Moses. (Hebrew only.)
Ihlm Attawarik. This is simply a chronological table according to the Samaritan dates, extending from the creation of man to the present time. It is well known that the Samaritan copy of the Pentateuch differs in its dates from both the Jewish Hebrew text and the Sept. version, thus causing a difference in the date of all subsequent historical events. Independently of this, there is a further difference between this table and all other accepted data down to the commencement of the Christian era. For example, the entrance of the Israelites into Canaan took place, according to common chronology, in A.M. 2553; but, according to the Samaritan, it was in 2794, making a difference of 241 years. The same chronology gives the age of the world at the commencement of the Christian era as 4438 A.M., while the accepted date is 4004, thus making a difference of 434 years. But from this period the table generally agrees with our ordinary chronology.
4. Scientific. — Under this head may be comprised the following:
El- Chubs, an astronomical work treating of the rules regulating the first month of the year, and the conjunctions of the sun and moon. It was written, we are told, under the direction of Adam. (Hebrew.)
Risalat. This is a sort of exposition of the former work, written by several authors, but whose names and times are unknown. (Hebrew and Arabic.)
To the foregoing list may be added the following works extant and known in Europe, but not now in the possession of the Samaritans themselves — viz. Ghazal and Zadaka on parts of the law, Abul-Hassan and Zadaka el- Israili on religion and ceremonies; and Abu Said and Abu Itshak Ibrahim on language and grammar.