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The articles in this issue have been divided up into the following categories







The Samaritans

The Samaritans are a small tribe, totalling about 1,000 people, who live mostly in the town of Nablus (Shechem) on the steps of Mt. Gerisim, or in Holon, Israel. They trace themselves to the remnants of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh with an admixture of non-Israelite colonists transported by the Assyrians after the defeat of the Kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C.E. and deportation of the Ten Tribes of Israel.

The function of High Priest (Cohen) is carried out by a Levite descendant. The position is not hereditary but passes on to the eldest member of the Priestly family. The tribe suffered most from attacks by the Arabs who looted much of their ancient books and treasures.

The Samaritans claim that their tradition has not changed for over 3,000 years. The Samaritan religion is composed of the following beliefs:

1. The Lord is the one and only God and there is none beside him.

2. The only prophet is Moses and no other prophet was or will be beside him.

3. The only Holy Book is the "Torah" consisting of the Five Books of Moses and the Book of Joshua.

4. The belief that the only Holy place in the world is Mt. Gerizim the Blessed Mountain, not Jerusalem - the Holy place of the Jews.

5. The Day of Judgement of the Lord will be according to the laws of the Torah, then every man will be judged and punished for his sins.

The Samaritans have seven holidays:

1. The first festival is the Passover. This feast begins in the middle of the first month (the month of Nisan) which is considered the first month of the year. During this feast all the tribe mounts up to the Blessed Mountain, Mt. Gerizim and remain there all during the Passover holiday. The first evening of the holiday, the 14th of the month, all the tribe celebrates the Passover sacrifice on Mt. Gerizim while many outsiders and tourists watch as bystanders. The clothing of the Samaritans during the sacrifice should be all white, reminding them of the Israelites' clothing when they left Egypt.

The time for eating the sacrifice is after midnight. At that time the meat is ready for eating and has been well roasted and prepared previously, especially for the occasion. The Sacrifice is eaten in accordance with the Commandment of the Old Testament - "belts round thy loin, thy shoes on thy feet and thy staff in thine hand, and thou shalt eat it in haste for it is the Passover of the Lord." All the days of the Passover the tribe eats only unleavened bread, which is prepared by the tribe, cooked on ashes.

2. The feast of the unleavened bread is on the last day of the Passover. On that day, all the tribe mounts up the mountain to the highest peak. There, an altar stands, on the same place where it was said Abraham had built his own altar to give his son Itzhak up to the Lord, when the Lord wanted to try AbrahamĂs faith. Each one of the tribe kisses the side of this alter asking the Lord for all he or she wishes.

3. The feast of Shavuoth is counted exactly 50 days after the first Sabbath of Passover, thus it always happened on a Sunday (cf. Whit Sunday). Formerly, the tribe used to bring the High Priest the first of their yield from the field, and a tenth of the wheat according to the laws of the Torah. Nowadays, the High Priest is given money which he divides among the members of the priestly family.

4. The first day of the seventh month (Tishrei) is the beginning of the ten days of repentance. On this day they feast and pray until midday. However, this day is not called the New Year (Rosh Hashana).

5. The Day of Kippurim is on the tenth day of the seventh month. On this day, all the tribe fasts, including the animals of the tribe. This fast is accompanied by a prayer which does not stop day and night for 26 hours. On this day the Holiest Scroll, the most ancient Bible in the world is taken out and shown to the whole tribe - this is the Torah written on a skin, in the Ohel Moed by the high Priest Avishua Ben Pinchas, the great-grandson of Aharon, brother of Moses. This Scroll is found until today in the hands of the tribe.

6. The feast of the Tabernacles falls on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. This feast is a reminder of the time when the children of Israel stayed in booths on their way from Egypt to Israel. This feast lasts seven days. As from the first day, each family builds a booth in the house in one room of the house. This made by four poles up to the ceiling, then poles crosswise. On these poles a net is placed laden with seasonal fruits and covered with Eucalyptus branches. During all this time the families try to be always under the booth, eating their meals there and receiving their guests there.

7. "Rejoicing of the Torah" is the eighth day of the Tabernacle Feast. The prayer at this time is one of the longest of the whole year (10 hour continuous prayer which goes on until 12 o'clock mid-day). When night falls, all the families tear down their booths, and make great bonfires out of the wood that has in the meantime grown dry in their homes.

The older Priests wear a red turban and a long gown (see picture). This way of clothing started 700 years before the Exodus. However, on Saturdays, holidays and during prayers, the Priests wear white turbans.

The new born baby is circumcised only on the eighth day - not before or after. That is why the circumcision is always planned for the early morning hours, so that it may not be postponed for any reason even until the second day. The circumcision is even carried out on Saturday or "Kippurim" should the eighth day fall on same.

According to the tradition, the "Torah" was given to the children of Israel, by Moses Ben-Amran, in the year 2194 after the world existed (1566 B.C.E.) 40 years after the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt, from slavery.

During the day, two prayers are held, one at dawn lasting a few minutes and one at nightfall also a few minutes but can be lengthened by adding all sorts of passages to it. While praying, one stands, bows and kneels. All the prayers in the tribe should be held in the maximum of cleanliness. Each prayer starts only after each hath washed his face, hands, feet, ears, nose and mouth in water three times each. The person who prays is not allowed to wear shoes, and stands on a special carpet.

The Samaritan Holy Scroll was written in the original Hebrew alphabet which was used by our ancestors until the days of Ezra the Scribe when the writing was changed to the modern square Hebrew alphabet. Some say that he did so to confuse the Samaritans. At the end of the Samaritans ancient Scroll is written the following:

"I, Avishua, son of Pinhas, son of Eliezer, son of Aharon the Cohen, Peace be with you, I have written this Testament on the porch of the Holy Tent, on Mt. Gerizim, in the thirteenth year after the children of Israel have entered the country of Canaan. I thank the Lord.

In the State of Israel they are recognised as an independent religious community.


When Jesus spoke of the good Samaritan he did not mean to praise that group of people. On the contrary, what he meant was, that even a Samaritan who believes correctly and comes to the rescue of someone in need of help, is to be commended.

Above: A Samaritan priest with the famous Scroll said to be written over 3,000 years ago, 12 years after the children of Israel entered Canaan.

The above picture of the writer's great-grandfather, Abraham, who was a scribe of Torah Scrolls and who also was "bodeq" checking the writing of other scribes. The picture was painted by the author from memory.


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