Samaritan

Samaritan

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The Samaritans are an ethnoreligious
Ethnoreligious
An ethnoreligious group is an ethnic group of people whose members are also unified by a common religious background...

 group of the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

. Religiously, they are the adherents to Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

. Based on the Samaritan Torah
Samaritan Pentateuch
The Samaritan Pentateuch, sometimes called Samaritan Torah, , is a version of the Hebrew language Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, used by the Samaritans....

, Samaritans claim their worship is the true religion of the ancient Israelites prior to the Babylonian Exile, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

, as opposed to Judaism, which they assert is a related but altered and amended religion brought back by those returning from exile.

Ancestrally, they claim descent from a group of Israelite
Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

 inhabitants from the tribes of Ephraim
Ephraim
Ephraim ; was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan...

 and Manasseh
Tribe of Manasseh
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph....

 (the two sons of Joseph) as well as some descendants from the priestly tribe of Levi
Levite
In Jewish tradition, a Levite is a member of the Hebrew tribe of Levi. When Joshua led the Israelites into the land of Canaan, the Levites were the only Israelite tribe that received cities but were not allowed to be landowners "because the Lord the God of Israel himself is their inheritance"...

, who have connections to ancient Samaria
Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

 from the period of their entry into the land of Canaan, while some suggest that it was from the beginning of the Babylonian Exile up to the Samaritan Kingdom of Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba, literally "The Great Gate", was one of the greatest of the Samaritan high priests. He is believed to have lived during the late third and early fourth century AD....

. The Samaritans, however, derive their name not from this geographical designation, but rather from the Hebrew term Shamerim שַמֶרִים, "Keepers [of the Law]".

In the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, a central post-exilic religious text of Judaism, their claim of ancestral origin is disputed, and in those texts they are called Cutheans , allegedly from the ancient city of Cuthah
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 (Kutha), geographically located in what is today Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. Modern genetics has suggested some truth to both the claims of the Samaritans and Jewish accounts in the Talmud.

Historically, they were a large community — up to more than a million in late Roman times, but were then gradually reduced to several tens of thousands up to a few centuries ago — their unprecedented demographic
Demography
Demography is the statistical study of human population. It can be a very general science that can be applied to any kind of dynamic human population, that is, one that changes over time or space...

 shrinkage has been a result of various historical events, including, most notably, the bloody suppression of the Third Samaritan Revolt (529 AD) against the Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 rulers, and the mass conversion to Islam in the Early Muslim period of Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

. According to their tally, there were 745 Samaritans as of November 30, 2011, living exclusively in two localities, one in Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

 near the city of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

, and the other in the Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i city of Holon. There are, however, followers of various backgrounds adhering to Samaritan traditions outside of Israel, especially in the United States.

With the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language by Jews in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, and its growth and officialization following the establishment of the state, most Samaritans in Israel today speak Modern Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

. As with their counterpart Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

, Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

, Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 and other Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i religious communities, the most recent spoken mother tongue of the Samaritans was Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, and it still is for those in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 city of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

. For liturgical
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 purposes, Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic, and Samaritan Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 are used, all of which are written in the Samaritan alphabet
Samaritan alphabet
The Samaritan alphabet is used by the Samaritans for religious writings, including the Samaritan Pentateuch, writings in Samaritan Hebrew, and for commentaries and translations in Samaritan Aramaic and occasionally Arabic....

, a variant of the Old Hebrew alphabet
Paleo-Hebrew alphabet
The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet , is an abjad offshoot of the ancient Semitic alphabet, identical to the Phoenician alphabet. At the very least it dates to the 10th century BCE...

, distinct from the so-called square script "Hebrew alphabet
Hebrew alphabet
The Hebrew alphabet , known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. There have been two...

" of Jews and Judaism, which is a stylized form of the Aramaic alphabet
Aramaic alphabet
The Aramaic alphabet is adapted from the Phoenician alphabet and became distinctive from it by the 8th century BC. The letters all represent consonants, some of which are matres lectionis, which also indicate long vowels....

. Hebrew, and later Aramaic, were languages in use by the Jewish and Samaritan inhabitants of Judea prior to the Roman exile, and beyond.

Samaritan sources


According to Samaritan tradition, Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

 was the original Holy Place of the Israelites from the time that Joshua
Joshua
Joshua , is a minor figure in the Torah, being one of the spies for Israel and in few passages as Moses's assistant. He turns to be the central character in the Hebrew Bible's Book of Joshua...

 conquered Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

 and the tribes of Israel settled the land. The reference to Mount Gerizim derives from the biblical story of Moses ordering Joshua to take the Twelve Tribes of Israel, (the number of which did not include the priestly tribe of Levi) to the mountains by Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 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
Mount Ebal
Mount Ebal is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the Palestinian city of Nablus in the West Bank , and forms the northern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated, the southern side being formed by Mount Gerizim...

, 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 (Deut. 11:29; 27:12; Josh. 8:33).

The Samaritans have insisted that they are direct descendants of the Northern Israelite tribes of Ephraim
Ephraim
Ephraim ; was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan...

 and Manasseh
Tribe of Manasseh
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph....

, who survived the destruction of the Northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

ns in 722 BC. The inscription of Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

 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 tribes of Israel conquered and returned to the land of Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

, 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
Shiloh (Biblical)
Shiloh was an ancient city south of ancient Tirzah and mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Its site is at modern Khirbet Seilun, West Bank, and north of the Israeli settlement of Beth El in the West Bank....

. Thus, he established both an illegitimate priesthood and an illegitimate place of worship.

Abu l-Fath
Abu l-Fath
Abu l-Fath, or Ibn Abi al-Hasan al-Samiri al-Danafi, was a fourteen century Samaritan chronicler, writing in Arabic. His major work is Kitab al-Ta'rikh.The work was commissioned in 1352 by Pinḥas, Samaritan high priest, and begun in 1356...

, who in the 14th century AD wrote a major work of Samaritan history, comments on Samaritan origins as follows:
Further, the Samaritan Chronicle Adler, or New Chronicle, believed to have been composed in the 18th century AD using earlier chronicles as sources states:

Jewish sources


The emergence of the Samaritans as an ethnic and religious community distinct from other Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 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 former kingdom.

Jewish tradition maintains a different origin for the Samaritans. The Talmud accounts for a people called "Cuthim"
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 on a number of occasions, mentioning their arrival by the hands of the Assyrians. According to 2 Kings
Books of Kings
The Book of Kings presents a narrative history of ancient Israel and Judah from the death of David to the release of his successor Jehoiachin from imprisonment in Babylon, a period of some 400 years...

 17 and Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 (Antiquities
Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquities of the Jews is a twenty volume historiographical work composed by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in the thirteenth year of the reign of Roman emperor Flavius Domitian which was around 93 or 94 AD. Antiquities of the Jews contains an account of history of the Jewish people,...

 9.277–91), the people of Israel were removed by the king of the Assyrians (Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

- see special wording of 2 Kings 17 which mentions Shalmaneser
Shalmaneser V
Shalmaneser V was king of Assyria from 727 to 722 BC. He first appears as governor of Zimirra in Phoenicia in the reign of his father, Tiglath-Pileser III....

 in verse 3 but the "king of the Assyrians" from verse 4 onward), to Halah
Halah
Halah is a city that is mentioned in the Bible. It is noted when the Assyrians invaded Israel and enslaved the people. They were sent into exile in Halah, in Gozan on the Khabur River, and in the towns of the Medes. Halah was in Assyria, which was a major power in northern Mesopotamia...

, to Gozan
Tell Halaf
Tell Halaf is an archaeological site in the Al Hasakah governorate of northeastern Syria, near the Turkish border, just opposite Ceylanpınar. It was the first find of a Neolithic culture, subsequently dubbed the Halaf culture, characterized by glazed pottery painted with geometric and animal designs...

 on the Khabur River
Khabur River
The Khabur River , , , ) is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrian territory. Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra's al-'Ayn are the river's main source of water. Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah, together creating...

 and to the towns of the Medes
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

. The king of the Assyrians then brought people from Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

, Cuthah
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

, 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
Rabbi Meir
Rabbi Meir or Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes was a Jewish sage who lived in the time of the Mishna. He was considered one of the greatest of the Tannaim of the fourth generation . According to legend , his father was a descendant of the Roman Emperor Nero who had converted to Judaism. His wife Bruriah is...

 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 figure?
  • 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
Nehemiah
Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which describes his work rebuilding Jerusalem and purifying the Jewish community. He was the son of Hachaliah, Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the...

, Ezra
Ezra
Ezra , also called Ezra the Scribe and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra. According to the Hebrew Bible he returned from the Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem...

, and the building of the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. Returning exiles considered the Samaritans to be non-Israelites 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:
Furthermore, even to this day the Samaritans still claim descent from the tribe of Joseph:

Tension between the Samaritans and the Jews


The narratives in Genesis about the rivalries among the twelve sons of Jacob describe tensions between north and south. Those were temporarily united under the strong kingship of David and Solomon, but at the death of Solomon, the kingdom split into two: northern Israel with its capital Samaria and southern Judea with its capital Jerusalem.

The Deuteronomistic Historians, writing in Judah, saw northern Israel as a sinful kingdom, divinely punished for its idolatry and iniquity by being destroyed by the Assyrians in 720 BC. (Ironically, the Chronicler is very generous to the south Judah and considers it God's will to recover the chosen people that they were destroyed by Babylon and exiled to Babylon.)

The tensions continued in the postexilic period. According to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, Ezra-Nehemiah is hostile toward its northern neighbors and considers the northern Israel except for the "true Israel". Chronicles is more inclusive than Ezra-Nehemiah since for the Chronicler the ideal is of one Israel with twelve tribes; the Chronicler concentrates on Judah and ignores northern Israel.

Unlike the Chronicler, the Samaritans claimed that they were the true Israel who were descendants of the "lost" tribes taken into Assyrian captivity. They had their own temple on Mount Gerizim and claimed that it was the original sanctuary. Moreover, they claimed that their version of the Pentateuch was the original and that the Jews had a falsified text produced by Ezra during the Babylonian exile.

Both Jewish and Samaritan religious leaders taught that it was wrong to have any contact with the opposite group, and neither was to enter each other's territories or even to speak to one another. During the New Testament period, although the tensions went unrecognized by Roman authorities, Josephus reports numerous violent confrontations between Jews and Samaritans throughout the first half of the first century.

Rejection by Judeans


According to the Jewish version of events, when the Judean exile ended in 538 BC and the exiles began returning home from Babylon, they found their former homeland populated by other people who claimed the land as their own and Jerusalem, their former glorious capital, in ruins.

According to , the Persian emperor, Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 (reigned 559 BC – 530 BC), permitted the return of the exiles to their homeland and ordered the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem (Zion
Zion
Zion is a place name often used as a synonym for Jerusalem. The word is first found in Samuel II, 5:7 dating to c.630-540 BCE...

). The prophet Isaiah identified Cyrus as "the Lord's Messiah" (Meshiach; see ). The word "Messiah
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

" refers to an anointed one, such as a king or priest.

says that the local inhabitants of the land offered to assist with the building of the new temple during the time of Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Judah and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia . The date is generally thought to...

, 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 alienation increased, and that the Samaritans eventually built their own temple on Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, near Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

.

(The rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem took several decades. The project was first led by Sheshbazzar (about 538 BC), later by Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Judah and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia . The date is generally thought to...

 and Jeshua
Joshua the High Priest
Joshua the High Priest was, according to the Bible the first person chosen to be the High Priest for the reconstruction of the Jewish Temple after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity The name is also spelled 'Jeshua' in some English versions , and, as with the earlier Joshua, is...

, and later still by Haggai
Haggai
Haggai was a Hebrew prophet during the building of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and one of the twelve minor prophets in the Hebrew Bible and the author of the Book of Haggai. His name means "my holiday"...

 and Zechariah (520–515 BC). Work was completed in 515 BC.)

The term "Cuthim" applied by Jews to the Samaritans had clear pejorative
Pejorative
Pejoratives , including name slurs, are words or grammatical forms that connote negativity and express contempt or distaste. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social groups but not in others, e.g., hacker is a term used for computer criminals as well as quick and clever computer experts...

 connotations, implying that they were interlopers brought in from Kutha
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 in Mesopotamia and rejecting their claim of descent from the ancient Tribes of Israel. This claim, however, that the northern tribes of Israel were all exiled by the Assyrians and therefore those who occupied the land were of a non-Israelite origin is rejected by the Bible, 2 Chronicles 30:1-31:6, which states that not all of the people from the northern kingdom were exiled by the Assyrians and some still remained even after the Assyrian conquest of the land in the 8th century BC.

Assyrian Account of the Conquest and Settlement of Samaria


However, the following account of the Assyrian kings, which was among the archaeological discoveries in Babylon, differs from the Samaritan and Jewish Biblical accounts:
Also,

Temple on Mount Gerizim


Archaeological excavations at Mount Gerizim indicate that a Samaritan temple was built there in the first half of the 5th century BC. The date of the schism between Samaritans and Jews is unknown.

According to Samaritans, it was on Mount Gerizim that Abraham was commanded by God to offer Isaac, his son, as a sacrifice . In both narratives, God then causes the sacrifice to be interrupted, explaining that this was the ultimate test of Abraham's obedience, as a result of which all the world would receive blessing.

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
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, making it the focus of their spiritual values.

The legitimacy of the Samaritan temple was attacked by Jewish scholars including Andronicus ben Meshullam
Andronicus ben Meshullam
Andronicus ben Meshullam, a Jewish scholar of the 2nd century BCE. According to Josephus , he was the representative of the Jews in their religious dispute with the Samaritans, which was held before King Ptolemy VI Philometor, about the year 150 BCE...

.

In the Christian Bible, the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 relates an encounter between a Samaritan woman and Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 in which she asserts that the mountain was the center of their worship .

Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Hellenization


In the 2nd century BC a particularly bitter series of events eventually led to a revolution of the Israelites against their Greek oppressors.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne....

 was on the throne of the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 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 and their refusal to allow their homeland to be defiled.

The universal peril led the Samaritans, eager for safety, to repudiate all connection and kinship with the Jews. The request was granted. This was put forth as the final breach between the two groups, being alleged at a much later date in the Christian bible (John 4:9), "For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans."

Several centuries before Christ, the Samaritans had built their own temple on Mt. Gerizim to rival the Temple in Jerusalem. Here, they offered sacrifices according to the Mosaic code. Anderson notes that during the reign of Antiochus IV (175–164 BC):
Josephus Book 12, Chapter 5 quotes the Samaritans as saying:

In 167 BC the Seleucid ruler Antiochus Epiphanes defiled the Jewish temple by setting up an altar to Zeus over the holy altar of burnt offerings in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which was the center of Jewish religious life. Antiochus 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 Jews who refused to worship and kiss Antiochus' image, along with the desecration of the Holy Temple, ultimately led to a revolt led by Judah Maccabee
Judas Maccabeus
Judah Maccabee was a Kohen and a son of the Jewish priest Mattathias...

 (Judah the Hammer) and his family. Though quite outnumbered, the Israelites, led by the Maccabee family, managed to regain control of their land. This "miracle" restoration of Jewish sovereignty in the face of Greek dominance has been since observed by Jews in the winter "Festival of Lights" holiday known as Chanukah.

Judah'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
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

 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
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 until around 129 BC, when the Jewish Hasmonean
Hasmonean
The Hasmonean dynasty , was the ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE, the dynasty ruled semi-autonomously from the Seleucids in the region of Judea...

 king Yohanan Girhan (John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

) destroyed the Samaritan temple and devastated Samaria.

Roman period


Samaritans fared badly under the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, when Samaria was a part of the Roman-ruled province of Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

.

Samaritans appear briefly in the Christian gospels, most notable in the parable of the Good Samaritan
Parable of the Good Samaritan
The parable of the Good Samaritan is a parable told by Jesus and is mentioned in only one of the Canonical gospels. According to the Gospel of Luke a traveller is beaten, robbed, and left half dead along the road. First a priest and then a Levite come by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a...

. In this parable, told to Jews, a Samaritan helps a wounded Jew even though Jews and Samaritans despised each other.

However, this period is also considered as something of a golden age for the Samaritan community, the population thought to number up to a million. The Temple of Gerizim was rebuilt after the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans, around 135 AD. Much of Samaritan liturgy was set by the high priest Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba, literally "The Great Gate", was one of the greatest of the Samaritan high priests. He is believed to have lived during the late third and early fourth century AD....

 in the 4th century.

The oldest, known Samaritan synagogue, the Delos Synagogue
Delos Synagogue
The synagogue of Delos, Greece, is the oldest synagogue known today, its origin dating between 150 and 128 BCE. The building’s most recent use is widely agreed to have been an assembly hall for Jews or Samaritans. However, the first use for the building is more controversial...

 dates from between 150 and 128 BC, or earlier and is located on the island of Delos
Delos
The island of Delos , isolated in the centre of the roughly circular ring of islands called the Cyclades, near Mykonos, is one of the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece...

.

There were some Samaritans in the Persia
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

n Empire, where they served in the Sassanid army. Many Jews had also lived in Persia for millennia, after various exiles and captivities.

Byzantine times



According to Samaritan sources, Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno
Zeno (emperor)
Zeno , originally named Tarasis, was Byzantine Emperor from 474 to 475 and again from 476 to 491. Domestic revolts and religious dissension plagued his reign, which nevertheless succeeded to some extent in foreign issues...

 (who ruled 474-491 and whom the sources call "Zait the King of Edom") persecuted the Samaritans. The Emperor went to Sichem (Neapolis), gathered the elders and asked them to convert; when they refused, Zeno had many Samaritans killed, and re-built the synagogue to a church. Zeno then took for himself Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, where the Samaritans worshipped God, and built several edifices, among whom a tomb for his recently deceased son, on which he put a cross, so that the Samaritans, worshipping God, would prostrate in front of the tomb. Later, in 484, the Samaritans revolted. The rebels attacked Sichem, burnt five churches built on Samaritan holy places and cut the finger of bishop Terebinthus, who was officiating the ceremony of Pentecost
Pentecost
Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ after the Resurrection of Jesus...

. They elected a Justa
Justa (rebel)
Justa was elected by Samaritans as their king during the 484 CE Samaritan revolt. Following his ascent in Samaria, he moved on Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. There, many Christians were killed and the church of St. Procopius was destroyed...

 (or Justasa/Justasus) as their king and moved to Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. Here several Christians were killed and the church of St. Sebastian was destroyed. Justa celebrated the victory with games in the circus. According to John Malalas
John Malalas
John Malalas or Ioannes Malalas was a Greek chronicler from Antioch. Malalas is probably a Syriac word for "rhetor", "orator"; it is first applied to him by John of Damascus .-Life:Malalas was educated in Antioch, and probably was a jurist there, but moved to...

, the dux Palaestinae Asclepiades, whose troops were reinforced by the Caesarea-based Arcadiani of Rheges, defeated Justa, killed him and sent his head to Zeno. According to Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

, Terebinthus went to Zeno to ask for revenge; the Emperor personally went to Samaria to quell the rebellion.

Modern historians believe that the order of the facts preserved by Samaritan sources should be inverted, as the persecution of Zeno was a consequence of the rebellion rather than its cause, and should have happened after 484, around 489. Zeno rebuilt the church of St. Procopius in Neapolis (Sichem) and the Samaritans were banned from Mount Gerizim, on whose top a signalling tower was built to alert in case of civil unrest.

Under a charismatic
Charismatic authority
The sociologist Max Weber defined charismatic authority as "resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him." Charismatic authority is one of three forms of authority laid out...

, messianic figure named Julianus ben Sabar
Julianus ben Sabar
Julianus ben Sabar was a messianic leader of the Samaritans, who led a failed revolt against Byzantium during the early 6th century....

 (or ben Sahir), the Samaritans launched a war to create their own independent state in 529. With the help of the Ghassanid Arabs, Emperor Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

 crushed the revolt; tens of thousands of Samaritans died or were enslaved
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

. The Samaritan faith was virtually outlawed thereafter by the Christian Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

; from a population once at least in the hundreds of thousands, the Samaritan community dwindled to near extinction.

After the Muslim Conquests


By the time of the Muslim Conquests
Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power.They...

, Samaritans were living in an area stretching between Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. Like other non-Muslims in the empire, such as Jews, Samaritans were considered to be People of the Book
People of the Book
People of the Book is a term used to designate non-Muslim adherents to faiths which have a revealed scripture called, in Arabic, Al-Kitab . The three types of adherents to faiths that the Qur'an mentions as people of the book are the Jews, Sabians and Christians.In Islam, the Muslim scripture, the...

.

Their minority status was protected by the Muslim rulers, and they had the right to practice their religion, but, as dhimmi
Dhimmi
A , is a non-Muslim subject of a state governed in accordance with sharia law. Linguistically, the word means "one whose responsibility has been taken". This has to be understood in the context of the definition of state in Islam...

, adult males had to pay the jizya
Jizya
Under Islamic law, jizya or jizyah is a per capita tax levied on a section of an Islamic state's non-Muslim citizens, who meet certain criteria...

 or "protection tax".

It has been suggested that they were forced to wear red colored turbans as a result of the terms of a document known as the Pact of Umar II, but this stipulation is not explicitly mentioned in the document, the authenticity has been questioned by contemporary scholars, and the tradition cannot be independently verified.

During the Crusades, Samaritans, like the other non-Latin Christian inhabitants of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

, were second-class citizens, but they were tolerated and perhaps favoured because they were docile and had been mentioned positively in the Christian New Testament.

Over the centuries of Byzantine, Arab and Turkish rule, the Samaritans suffered many hardships which included forced conversion to Christianity, forced conversion to Islam, harsh religious decrees, massacre and persecution.

While the majority of the Samaritan population in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 was killed or converted during the reign of the Ottoman Pasha Mardam Beq in the early 17th century, the remainder of the Samaritan communities from Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 and the other cities where they had a presence moved to Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

, due to its close proximity to Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

.

The Shechem community endured because most of the surviving diaspora returned, and they have maintained a tiny presence there to this day. In 1624, the last Samaritan High Priest
Samaritan High Priest
The Samaritan High Priest is the high priest of the Samaritan community in the Middle East.According to Samaritan tradition, the office has existed continuously since Aaron, the brother of Moses, and has been held by 132 people...

 of the line of Eleazar
Eleazar
Eleazar , was a priest in the Hebrew Bible, the second Kohen Gadol - succeeding his father Aaron. He was a nephew of Moses.-Life:...

 son of Aaron
Aaron
In the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, Aaron : Ααρών ), who is often called "'Aaron the Priest"' and once Aaron the Levite , was the older brother of Moses, and a prophet of God. He represented the priestly functions of his tribe, becoming the first High Priest of the Israelites...

 died without issue, but descendants of Aaron's other son, Ithamar
Ithamar
In the Torah, Ithamar is mentioned as the youngest son of Aaron the High Priest. After the death of his two eldest brothers Nadab and Abihu when they had been punished by the Lord for performing an unauthorized sacrificial offering, Ithamar served as a priest along with his elder brother, Eleazar...

, remained and took over the office.

The situation of the Samaritan community improved significantly during the British Mandate of Palestine. At that time, they began to work in the public sector, like many other groups. During the thirties one of the Samaritans, Tawfeek Khadir al-Kahen, was nominated as member of the Shechem Municipality.

Samaritan origins of Palestinian Muslims


Much of the local Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 population of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 is believed to be descended from Samaritans who converted to Islam. According to the historian Fayyad Altif, large numbers of Samaritans converted due to persecution under various Muslim rulers, and because the monotheistic nature of Islam made it easy for them to accept it. The Samaritans themselves describe the Ottoman period
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 as the worst period in their modern history, as many Samaritan families changed their religion during that time. Even today, certain Nabulsi family names such as Muslimani, Yaish, Sayeh, and Shakshir among others, are associated with Samaritan ancestry.

For the Samaritans in particular, the passing of the al-Hakem Edict by the Fatimids in 1021, under which all Jews and Christians in the Fatimid ruled southern Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 were ordered to either convert to Islam or leave, along with another notable forced conversion to Islam imposed at the hands of the rebel Ibn Firāsa, would contribute to their rapid unprecedented decrease, and ultimately almost complete extinction as a separate religious community. As a result, they have decreased from more than a million in Roman times to just 745 people today.

In 1940, the future Israeli president and historian Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi was a historian, Labor Zionist leader, the second and longest-serving President of Israel.-Biography:...

 wrote an article in which he stated that two thirds of the residents of Nablus and the surrounding neighboring villages are of Samaritan origin. He mentioned the name of several Palestinian Muslim families as having Samaritan origins, including the Buwarda and Kasem families who protected Samaritans from Muslim persecution in the 1850s. He further claimed that these families had written records testifying to their Samaritan ancestry, which were maintained by their priests and elders.

DNA and genetic studies


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
    Kohen
    A Kohen is the Hebrew word for priest. Jewish Kohens are traditionally believed and halachically required to be of direct patrilineal descent from the Biblical Aaron....

     lineage from the tribe of Levi.


Of the 12 Samaritan males used in the analysis, 10 (83%) had Y chromosones belonging to haplogroup J
Haplogroup J (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup J is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup. It is one of the major male lines of all living men...

, which includes three of the four Samaritan families. The Joshua-Marhiv family belongs to haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 J1
Haplogroup J1 (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Y DNA haplogroup J1, also known as J-M267, is a sub-haplogroup of Y DNA haplogroup J, along with its sibling clade Y DNA haplogroup J2. Men with this type of Y DNA share a common paternal ancestry, which is demonstrated and defined by the presence of the SNP mutation referred to...

, while the Danfi and Tsedakah families belong to haplogroup J2
Haplogroup J2 (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup J2 is a Y-chromosome haplogroup which is a subdivision of haplogroup J. It is further divided into two complementary clades, J2a-M410 and J2b-M12.-Origins:...

, 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
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 J
J
Ĵ or ĵ is a letter in Esperanto orthography representing the sound .While Esperanto orthography uses a diacritic for its four postalveolar consonants, as do the Latin-based Slavic alphabets, the base letters are Romano-Germanic...

 was the Cohen family (Tradition: Tribe of Levi) which was found in haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 E3b1a M78. This article predated the change of the classification 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.
The Samaritans ( Shomronim, as-Sāmariyyūn) are an ethnoreligious
Ethnoreligious
An ethnoreligious group is an ethnic group of people whose members are also unified by a common religious background...

 group of the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

. Religiously, they are the adherents to Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

. Based on the Samaritan Torah
Samaritan Pentateuch
The Samaritan Pentateuch, sometimes called Samaritan Torah, , is a version of the Hebrew language Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, used by the Samaritans....

, Samaritans claim their worship is the true religion of the ancient Israelites prior to the Babylonian Exile, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

, as opposed to Judaism, which they assert is a related but altered and amended religion brought back by those returning from exile.

Ancestrally, they claim descent from a group of Israelite
Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

 inhabitants from the tribes of Ephraim
Ephraim
Ephraim ; was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan...

 and Manasseh
Tribe of Manasseh
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph....

 (the two sons of Joseph) as well as some descendants from the priestly tribe of Levi
Levite
In Jewish tradition, a Levite is a member of the Hebrew tribe of Levi. When Joshua led the Israelites into the land of Canaan, the Levites were the only Israelite tribe that received cities but were not allowed to be landowners "because the Lord the God of Israel himself is their inheritance"...

,Who are the Samaritans? who have connections to ancient Samaria
Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

 from the period of their entry into the land of Canaan, while some suggest that it was from the beginning of the Babylonian Exile up to the Samaritan Kingdom of Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba, literally "The Great Gate", was one of the greatest of the Samaritan high priests. He is believed to have lived during the late third and early fourth century AD....

. The Samaritans, however, derive their name not from this geographical designation, but rather from the Hebrew term Shamerim שַמֶרִים, "Keepers [of the Law]".David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 5:941 (New York: Doubleday, 1996, c1992).

In the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, a central post-exilic religious text of Judaism, their claim of ancestral origin is disputed, and in those texts they are called Cutheans , allegedly from the ancient city of Cuthah
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 (Kutha), geographically located in what is today Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. Modern genetics has suggested some truth to both the claims of the Samaritans and Jewish accounts in the Talmud., Hum Mutat 24:248–260, 2004.

Historically, they were a large community — up to more than a million in late Roman times, but were then gradually reduced to several tens of thousands up to a few centuries ago — their unprecedented demographic
Demography
Demography is the statistical study of human population. It can be a very general science that can be applied to any kind of dynamic human population, that is, one that changes over time or space...

 shrinkage has been a result of various historical events, including, most notably, the bloody suppression of the Third Samaritan Revolt (529 AD) against the Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 rulers, and the mass conversion to Islam in the Early Muslim period of Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

. According to their tally, there were 745 Samaritans as of November 30, 2011, living exclusively in two localities, one in Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

 near the city of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

, and the other in the Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i city of Holon. There are, however, followers of various backgrounds adhering to Samaritan traditions outside of Israel, especially in the United States.

With the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language by Jews in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, and its growth and officialization following the establishment of the state, most Samaritans in Israel today speak Modern Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

. As with their counterpart Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

, Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

, Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 and other Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i religious communities, the most recent spoken mother tongue of the Samaritans was Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, and it still is for those in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 city of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

. For liturgical
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 purposes, Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic, and Samaritan Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 are used, all of which are written in the Samaritan alphabet
Samaritan alphabet
The Samaritan alphabet is used by the Samaritans for religious writings, including the Samaritan Pentateuch, writings in Samaritan Hebrew, and for commentaries and translations in Samaritan Aramaic and occasionally Arabic....

, a variant of the Old Hebrew alphabet
Paleo-Hebrew alphabet
The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet , is an abjad offshoot of the ancient Semitic alphabet, identical to the Phoenician alphabet. At the very least it dates to the 10th century BCE...

, distinct from the so-called square script "Hebrew alphabet
Hebrew alphabet
The Hebrew alphabet , known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. There have been two...

" of Jews and Judaism, which is a stylized form of the Aramaic alphabet
Aramaic alphabet
The Aramaic alphabet is adapted from the Phoenician alphabet and became distinctive from it by the 8th century BC. The letters all represent consonants, some of which are matres lectionis, which also indicate long vowels....

. Hebrew, and later Aramaic, were languages in use by the Jewish and Samaritan inhabitants of Judea prior to the Roman exile, and beyond."The Samaritans' Passover sacrifice", Ynetnews
Ynetnews
Ynetnews is the online English language Israeli news website of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s most-read newspaper, and the Hebrew Israel news portal, Ynet...

, May 2, 2007

Samaritan sources


According to Samaritan tradition, Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

 was the original Holy Place of the Israelites from the time that Joshua
Joshua
Joshua , is a minor figure in the Torah, being one of the spies for Israel and in few passages as Moses's assistant. He turns to be the central character in the Hebrew Bible's Book of Joshua...

 conquered Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

 and the tribes of Israel settled the land. The reference to Mount Gerizim derives from the biblical story of Moses ordering Joshua to take the Twelve Tribes of Israel, (the number of which did not include the priestly tribe of Levi) to the mountains by Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 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
Mount Ebal
Mount Ebal is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the Palestinian city of Nablus in the West Bank , and forms the northern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated, the southern side being formed by Mount Gerizim...

, 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 (Deut. 11:29; 27:12; Josh. 8:33).

The Samaritans have insisted that they are direct descendants of the Northern Israelite tribes of Ephraim
Ephraim
Ephraim ; was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan...

 and Manasseh
Tribe of Manasseh
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph....

, who survived the destruction of the Northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

ns in 722 BC. The inscription of Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

 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 tribes of Israel conquered and returned to the land of Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

, 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
Shiloh (Biblical)
Shiloh was an ancient city south of ancient Tirzah and mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Its site is at modern Khirbet Seilun, West Bank, and north of the Israeli settlement of Beth El in the West Bank....

. Thus, he established both an illegitimate priesthood and an illegitimate place of worship.

Abu l-Fath
Abu l-Fath
Abu l-Fath, or Ibn Abi al-Hasan al-Samiri al-Danafi, was a fourteen century Samaritan chronicler, writing in Arabic. His major work is Kitab al-Ta'rikh.The work was commissioned in 1352 by Pinḥas, Samaritan high priest, and begun in 1356...

, who in the 14th century AD wrote a major work of Samaritan history, comments on Samaritan origins as follows:The Keepers, An Introduction to the History and Culture of the Samaritans, by Robert T. Anderson and Terry Giles, Hendrickson Publishing, 2002, pages 11-12
Further, the Samaritan Chronicle Adler, or New Chronicle, believed to have been composed in the 18th century AD using earlier chronicles as sources states:

Jewish sources


The emergence of the Samaritans as an ethnic and religious community distinct from other Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 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 former kingdom.

Jewish tradition maintains a different origin for the Samaritans. The Talmud accounts for a people called "Cuthim"
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 on a number of occasions, mentioning their arrival by the hands of the Assyrians. According to 2 Kings
Books of Kings
The Book of Kings presents a narrative history of ancient Israel and Judah from the death of David to the release of his successor Jehoiachin from imprisonment in Babylon, a period of some 400 years...

 17 and Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 (Antiquities
Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquities of the Jews is a twenty volume historiographical work composed by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in the thirteenth year of the reign of Roman emperor Flavius Domitian which was around 93 or 94 AD. Antiquities of the Jews contains an account of history of the Jewish people,...

 9.277–91), the people of Israel were removed by the king of the Assyrians (Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

- see special wording of 2 Kings 17 which mentions Shalmaneser
Shalmaneser V
Shalmaneser V was king of Assyria from 727 to 722 BC. He first appears as governor of Zimirra in Phoenicia in the reign of his father, Tiglath-Pileser III....

 in verse 3 but the "king of the Assyrians" from verse 4 onward), to Halah
Halah
Halah is a city that is mentioned in the Bible. It is noted when the Assyrians invaded Israel and enslaved the people. They were sent into exile in Halah, in Gozan on the Khabur River, and in the towns of the Medes. Halah was in Assyria, which was a major power in northern Mesopotamia...

, to Gozan
Tell Halaf
Tell Halaf is an archaeological site in the Al Hasakah governorate of northeastern Syria, near the Turkish border, just opposite Ceylanpınar. It was the first find of a Neolithic culture, subsequently dubbed the Halaf culture, characterized by glazed pottery painted with geometric and animal designs...

 on the Khabur River
Khabur River
The Khabur River , , , ) is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrian territory. Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra's al-'Ayn are the river's main source of water. Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah, together creating...

 and to the towns of the Medes
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

. The king of the Assyrians then brought people from Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

, Cuthah
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

, 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
Rabbi Meir
Rabbi Meir or Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes was a Jewish sage who lived in the time of the Mishna. He was considered one of the greatest of the Tannaim of the fourth generation . According to legend , his father was a descendant of the Roman Emperor Nero who had converted to Judaism. His wife Bruriah is...

 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 figure?
  • 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
Nehemiah
Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which describes his work rebuilding Jerusalem and purifying the Jewish community. He was the son of Hachaliah, Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the...

, Ezra
Ezra
Ezra , also called Ezra the Scribe and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra. According to the Hebrew Bible he returned from the Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem...

, and the building of the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. Returning exiles considered the Samaritans to be non-Israelites 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:
Furthermore, even to this day the Samaritans still claim descent from the tribe of Joseph:

Tension between the Samaritans and the Jews


The narratives in Genesis about the rivalries among the twelve sons of Jacob describe tensions between north and south. Those were temporarily united under the strong kingship of David and Solomon, but at the death of Solomon, the kingdom split into two: northern Israel with its capital Samaria and southern Judea with its capital Jerusalem.

The Deuteronomistic Historians, writing in Judah, saw northern Israel as a sinful kingdom, divinely punished for its idolatry and iniquity by being destroyed by the Assyrians in 720 BC. (Ironically, the Chronicler is very generous to the south Judah and considers it God's will to recover the chosen people that they were destroyed by Babylon and exiled to Babylon.)

The tensions continued in the postexilic period. According to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, Ezra-Nehemiah is hostile toward its northern neighbors and considers the northern Israel except for the "true Israel". Chronicles is more inclusive than Ezra-Nehemiah since for the Chronicler the ideal is of one Israel with twelve tribes; the Chronicler concentrates on Judah and ignores northern Israel.Michael D. Coogan, "A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament" page 363, 2009.

Unlike the Chronicler, the Samaritans claimed that they were the true Israel who were descendants of the "lost" tribes taken into Assyrian captivity. They had their own temple on Mount Gerizim and claimed that it was the original sanctuary. Moreover, they claimed that their version of the Pentateuch was the original and that the Jews had a falsified text produced by Ezra during the Babylonian exile.

Both Jewish and Samaritan religious leaders taught that it was wrong to have any contact with the opposite group, and neither was to enter each other's territories or even to speak to one another. During the New Testament period, although the tensions went unrecognized by Roman authorities, Josephus reports numerous violent confrontations between Jews and Samaritans throughout the first half of the first century.Mark A. Powell, "Introduction the New Testament" 'Ch.01 The People of Palestine at the Time of Jesus', Baker Academic, 2009.

Rejection by Judeans


According to the Jewish version of events, when the Judean exile ended in 538 BC and the exiles began returning home from Babylon, they found their former homeland populated by other people who claimed the land as their own and Jerusalem, their former glorious capital, in ruins.

According to , the Persian emperor, Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 (reigned 559 BC – 530 BC), permitted the return of the exiles to their homeland and ordered the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem (Zion
Zion
Zion is a place name often used as a synonym for Jerusalem. The word is first found in Samuel II, 5:7 dating to c.630-540 BCE...

). The prophet Isaiah identified Cyrus as "the Lord's Messiah" (Meshiach; see ). The word "Messiah
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

" refers to an anointed one, such as a king or priest.

says that the local inhabitants of the land offered to assist with the building of the new temple during the time of Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Judah and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia . The date is generally thought to...

, 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 alienation increased, and that the Samaritans eventually built their own temple on Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, near Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

.

(The rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem took several decades. The project was first led by Sheshbazzar (about 538 BC), later by Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Judah and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia . The date is generally thought to...

 and Jeshua
Joshua the High Priest
Joshua the High Priest was, according to the Bible the first person chosen to be the High Priest for the reconstruction of the Jewish Temple after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity The name is also spelled 'Jeshua' in some English versions , and, as with the earlier Joshua, is...

, and later still by Haggai
Haggai
Haggai was a Hebrew prophet during the building of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and one of the twelve minor prophets in the Hebrew Bible and the author of the Book of Haggai. His name means "my holiday"...

 and Zechariah (520–515 BC). Work was completed in 515 BC.)

The term "Cuthim" applied by Jews to the Samaritans had clear pejorative
Pejorative
Pejoratives , including name slurs, are words or grammatical forms that connote negativity and express contempt or distaste. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social groups but not in others, e.g., hacker is a term used for computer criminals as well as quick and clever computer experts...

 connotations, implying that they were interlopers brought in from Kutha
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 in Mesopotamia and rejecting their claim of descent from the ancient Tribes of Israel. This claim, however, that the northern tribes of Israel were all exiled by the Assyrians and therefore those who occupied the land were of a non-Israelite origin is rejected by the Bible, 2 Chronicles 30:1-31:6, which states that not all of the people from the northern kingdom were exiled by the Assyrians and some still remained even after the Assyrian conquest of the land in the 8th century BC.

Assyrian Account of the Conquest and Settlement of Samaria


However, the following account of the Assyrian kings, which was among the archaeological discoveries in Babylon, differs from the Samaritan and Jewish Biblical accounts:
Also,

Temple on Mount Gerizim


Archaeological excavations at Mount Gerizim indicate that a Samaritan temple was built there in the first half of the 5th century BC.http://books.google.com.au/books?id=6NsxZRnxE70C&pg=PA75&lpg=PA75&dq=Lipschits+Yehud&source=bl&ots=ItiriRREm4&sig=8qiPIQOnJdojfacDoHFXFmM4muM&hl=en&ei=UoEUTMGlBcO9cYSd9JAM&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCAQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=Lipschits%20Yehud&f=falseYitzhak Magen, The Dating of the First Pahse of the Samaritan Temple on Mount Gerizim in the Light of the Archaeological Evidence (in Oded Lipschitz, Gary N. Knoppers, Rainer Albertz, eds, "Judah and Judeans in the Fourth Century BC", Eisenbrauns, 2007)] The date of the schism between Samaritans and Jews is unknown.

According to Samaritans, it was on Mount Gerizim that Abraham was commanded by God to offer Isaac, his son, as a sacrifice . In both narratives, God then causes the sacrifice to be interrupted, explaining that this was the ultimate test of Abraham's obedience, as a result of which all the world would receive blessing.

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
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, making it the focus of their spiritual values.

The legitimacy of the Samaritan temple was attacked by Jewish scholars including Andronicus ben Meshullam
Andronicus ben Meshullam
Andronicus ben Meshullam, a Jewish scholar of the 2nd century BCE. According to Josephus , he was the representative of the Jews in their religious dispute with the Samaritans, which was held before King Ptolemy VI Philometor, about the year 150 BCE...

.

In the Christian Bible, the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 relates an encounter between a Samaritan woman and Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 in which she asserts that the mountain was the center of their worship .

Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Hellenization


In the 2nd century BC a particularly bitter series of events eventually led to a revolution of the Israelites against their Greek oppressors.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne....

 was on the throne of the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 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 and their refusal to allow their homeland to be defiled.

The universal peril led the Samaritans, eager for safety, to repudiate all connection and kinship with the Jews. The request was granted. This was put forth as the final breach between the two groups, being alleged at a much later date in the Christian bible (John 4:9), "For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans."

Several centuries before Christ, the Samaritans had built their own temple on Mt. Gerizim to rival the Temple in Jerusalem. Here, they offered sacrifices according to the Mosaic code. Anderson notes that during the reign of Antiochus IV (175–164 BC):
Josephus Book 12, Chapter 5 quotes the Samaritans as saying:

In 167 BC the Seleucid ruler Antiochus Epiphanes defiled the Jewish temple by setting up an altar to Zeus over the holy altar of burnt offerings in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which was the center of Jewish religious life. Antiochus 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 Jews who refused to worship and kiss Antiochus' image, along with the desecration of the Holy Temple, ultimately led to a revolt led by Judah Maccabee
Judas Maccabeus
Judah Maccabee was a Kohen and a son of the Jewish priest Mattathias...

 (Judah the Hammer) and his family. Though quite outnumbered, the Israelites, led by the Maccabee family, managed to regain control of their land. This "miracle" restoration of Jewish sovereignty in the face of Greek dominance has been since observed by Jews in the winter "Festival of Lights" holiday known as Chanukah.

Judah'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
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

 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
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 until around 129 BC, when the Jewish Hasmonean
Hasmonean
The Hasmonean dynasty , was the ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE, the dynasty ruled semi-autonomously from the Seleucids in the region of Judea...

 king Yohanan Girhan (John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

) destroyed the Samaritan temple and devastated Samaria.

Roman period


Samaritans fared badly under the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, when Samaria was a part of the Roman-ruled province of Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

.

Samaritans appear briefly in the Christian gospels, most notable in the parable of the Good Samaritan
Parable of the Good Samaritan
The parable of the Good Samaritan is a parable told by Jesus and is mentioned in only one of the Canonical gospels. According to the Gospel of Luke a traveller is beaten, robbed, and left half dead along the road. First a priest and then a Levite come by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a...

. In this parable, told to Jews, a Samaritan helps a wounded Jew even though Jews and Samaritans despised each other.

However, this period is also considered as something of a golden age for the Samaritan community, the population thought to number up to a million.http://www.lonelyplanet.com/israel-and-the-palestinian-territories The Temple of Gerizim was rebuilt after the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans, around 135 AD. Much of Samaritan liturgy was set by the high priest Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba, literally "The Great Gate", was one of the greatest of the Samaritan high priests. He is believed to have lived during the late third and early fourth century AD....

 in the 4th century.

The oldest, known Samaritan synagogue, the Delos Synagogue
Delos Synagogue
The synagogue of Delos, Greece, is the oldest synagogue known today, its origin dating between 150 and 128 BCE. The building’s most recent use is widely agreed to have been an assembly hall for Jews or Samaritans. However, the first use for the building is more controversial...

 dates from between 150 and 128 BC, or earlier and is located on the island of Delos
Delos
The island of Delos , isolated in the centre of the roughly circular ring of islands called the Cyclades, near Mykonos, is one of the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece...

.

There were some Samaritans in the Persia
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

n Empire, where they served in the Sassanid army. Many Jews had also lived in Persia for millennia, after various exiles and captivities.

Byzantine times



According to Samaritan sources, Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno
Zeno (emperor)
Zeno , originally named Tarasis, was Byzantine Emperor from 474 to 475 and again from 476 to 491. Domestic revolts and religious dissension plagued his reign, which nevertheless succeeded to some extent in foreign issues...

 (who ruled 474-491 and whom the sources call "Zait the King of Edom") persecuted the Samaritans. The Emperor went to Sichem (Neapolis), gathered the elders and asked them to convert; when they refused, Zeno had many Samaritans killed, and re-built the synagogue to a church. Zeno then took for himself Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, where the Samaritans worshipped God, and built several edifices, among whom a tomb for his recently deceased son, on which he put a cross, so that the Samaritans, worshipping God, would prostrate in front of the tomb. Later, in 484, the Samaritans revolted. The rebels attacked Sichem, burnt five churches built on Samaritan holy places and cut the finger of bishop Terebinthus, who was officiating the ceremony of Pentecost
Pentecost
Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ after the Resurrection of Jesus...

. They elected a Justa
Justa (rebel)
Justa was elected by Samaritans as their king during the 484 CE Samaritan revolt. Following his ascent in Samaria, he moved on Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. There, many Christians were killed and the church of St. Procopius was destroyed...

 (or Justasa/Justasus) as their king and moved to Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. Here several Christians were killed and the church of St. Sebastian was destroyed. Justa celebrated the victory with games in the circus. According to John Malalas
John Malalas
John Malalas or Ioannes Malalas was a Greek chronicler from Antioch. Malalas is probably a Syriac word for "rhetor", "orator"; it is first applied to him by John of Damascus .-Life:Malalas was educated in Antioch, and probably was a jurist there, but moved to...

, the dux Palaestinae Asclepiades, whose troops were reinforced by the Caesarea-based Arcadiani of Rheges, defeated Justa, killed him and sent his head to Zeno.Malalas, 15. According to Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

, Terebinthus went to Zeno to ask for revenge; the Emperor personally went to Samaria to quell the rebellion.Procopius, Buildings, 5.7.

Modern historians believe that the order of the facts preserved by Samaritan sources should be inverted, as the persecution of Zeno was a consequence of the rebellion rather than its cause, and should have happened after 484, around 489. Zeno rebuilt the church of St. Procopius in Neapolis (Sichem) and the Samaritans were banned from Mount Gerizim, on whose top a signalling tower was built to alert in case of civil unrest.Alan David Crown, The Samaritans, Mohr Siebeck, 1989, ISBN 3161452372, pp. 72-73.

Under a charismatic
Charismatic authority
The sociologist Max Weber defined charismatic authority as "resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him." Charismatic authority is one of three forms of authority laid out...

, messianic figure named Julianus ben Sabar
Julianus ben Sabar
Julianus ben Sabar was a messianic leader of the Samaritans, who led a failed revolt against Byzantium during the early 6th century....

 (or ben Sahir), the Samaritans launched a war to create their own independent state in 529. With the help of the Ghassanid Arabs, Emperor Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

 crushed the revolt; tens of thousands of Samaritans died or were enslaved
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

. The Samaritan faith was virtually outlawed thereafter by the Christian Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

; from a population once at least in the hundreds of thousands, the Samaritan community dwindled to near extinction.

After the Muslim Conquests


By the time of the Muslim Conquests
Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power.They...

, Samaritans were living in an area stretching between Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. Like other non-Muslims in the empire, such as Jews, Samaritans were considered to be People of the Book
People of the Book
People of the Book is a term used to designate non-Muslim adherents to faiths which have a revealed scripture called, in Arabic, Al-Kitab . The three types of adherents to faiths that the Qur'an mentions as people of the book are the Jews, Sabians and Christians.In Islam, the Muslim scripture, the...

.

Their minority status was protected by the Muslim rulers, and they had the right to practice their religion, but, as dhimmi
Dhimmi
A , is a non-Muslim subject of a state governed in accordance with sharia law. Linguistically, the word means "one whose responsibility has been taken". This has to be understood in the context of the definition of state in Islam...

, adult males had to pay the jizya
Jizya
Under Islamic law, jizya or jizyah is a per capita tax levied on a section of an Islamic state's non-Muslim citizens, who meet certain criteria...

 or "protection tax".

It has been suggested that they were forced to wear red colored turbans as a result of the terms of a document known as the Pact of Umar II, but this stipulation is not explicitly mentioned in the document, the authenticity has been questioned by contemporary scholars, and the tradition cannot be independently verified.

During the Crusades, Samaritans, like the other non-Latin Christian inhabitants of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

, were second-class citizens, but they were tolerated and perhaps favoured because they were docile and had been mentioned positively in the Christian New Testament.Benjamin Z. Kedar, "The Frankish period", in The Samaritans, ed. Alan D. Cross (Tübingen, 1989), pp. 86-87.

Over the centuries of Byzantine, Arab and Turkish rule, the Samaritans suffered many hardships which included forced conversion to Christianity, forced conversion to Islam, harsh religious decrees, massacre and persecution.

While the majority of the Samaritan population in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 was killed or converted during the reign of the Ottoman Pasha Mardam Beq in the early 17th century, the remainder of the Samaritan communities from Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 and the other cities where they had a presence moved to Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

, due to its close proximity to Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

.

The Shechem community endured because most of the surviving diaspora returned, and they have maintained a tiny presence there to this day. In 1624, the last Samaritan High Priest
Samaritan High Priest
The Samaritan High Priest is the high priest of the Samaritan community in the Middle East.According to Samaritan tradition, the office has existed continuously since Aaron, the brother of Moses, and has been held by 132 people...

 of the line of Eleazar
Eleazar
Eleazar , was a priest in the Hebrew Bible, the second Kohen Gadol - succeeding his father Aaron. He was a nephew of Moses.-Life:...

 son of Aaron
Aaron
In the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, Aaron : Ααρών ), who is often called "'Aaron the Priest"' and once Aaron the Levite , was the older brother of Moses, and a prophet of God. He represented the priestly functions of his tribe, becoming the first High Priest of the Israelites...

 died without issue, but descendants of Aaron's other son, Ithamar
Ithamar
In the Torah, Ithamar is mentioned as the youngest son of Aaron the High Priest. After the death of his two eldest brothers Nadab and Abihu when they had been punished by the Lord for performing an unauthorized sacrificial offering, Ithamar served as a priest along with his elder brother, Eleazar...

, remained and took over the office.

The situation of the Samaritan community improved significantly during the British Mandate of Palestine. At that time, they began to work in the public sector, like many other groups. During the thirties one of the Samaritans, Tawfeek Khadir al-Kahen, was nominated as member of the Shechem Municipality.

Samaritan origins of Palestinian Muslims


Much of the local Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 population of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 is believed to be descended from Samaritans who converted to Islam. According to the historian Fayyad Altif, large numbers of Samaritans converted due to persecution under various Muslim rulers, and because the monotheistic nature of Islam made it easy for them to accept it. The Samaritans themselves describe the Ottoman period
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 as the worst period in their modern history, as many Samaritan families changed their religion during that time. Even today, certain Nabulsi family names such as Muslimani, Yaish, Sayeh, and Shakshir among others, are associated with Samaritan ancestry.

For the Samaritans in particular, the passing of the al-Hakem Edict by the Fatimids in 1021, under which all Jews and Christians in the Fatimid ruled southern Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 were ordered to either convert to Islam or leave, along with another notable forced conversion to Islam imposed at the hands of the rebel Ibn Firāsa, would contribute to their rapid unprecedented decrease, and ultimately almost complete extinction as a separate religious community. As a result, they have decreased from more than a million in Roman times to just 745 people today.

In 1940, the future Israeli president and historian Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi was a historian, Labor Zionist leader, the second and longest-serving President of Israel.-Biography:...

 wrote an article in which he stated that two thirds of the residents of Nablus and the surrounding neighboring villages are of Samaritan origin. He mentioned the name of several Palestinian Muslim families as having Samaritan origins, including the Buwarda and Kasem families who protected Samaritans from Muslim persecution in the 1850s. He further claimed that these families had written records testifying to their Samaritan ancestry, which were maintained by their priests and elders.

DNA and genetic studies


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
    Kohen
    A Kohen is the Hebrew word for priest. Jewish Kohens are traditionally believed and halachically required to be of direct patrilineal descent from the Biblical Aaron....

     lineage from the tribe of Levi.


Of the 12 Samaritan males used in the analysis, 10 (83%) had Y chromosones belonging to haplogroup J
Haplogroup J (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup J is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup. It is one of the major male lines of all living men...

, which includes three of the four Samaritan families. The Joshua-Marhiv family belongs to haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 J1
Haplogroup J1 (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Y DNA haplogroup J1, also known as J-M267, is a sub-haplogroup of Y DNA haplogroup J, along with its sibling clade Y DNA haplogroup J2. Men with this type of Y DNA share a common paternal ancestry, which is demonstrated and defined by the presence of the SNP mutation referred to...

, while the Danfi and Tsedakah families belong to haplogroup J2
Haplogroup J2 (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup J2 is a Y-chromosome haplogroup which is a subdivision of haplogroup J. It is further divided into two complementary clades, J2a-M410 and J2b-M12.-Origins:...

, 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
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 J
J
Ĵ or ĵ is a letter in Esperanto orthography representing the sound .While Esperanto orthography uses a diacritic for its four postalveolar consonants, as do the Latin-based Slavic alphabets, the base letters are Romano-Germanic...

 was the Cohen family (Tradition: Tribe of Levi) which was found in haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 E3b1a M78. This article predated the change of the classification 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.
The Samaritans ( Shomronim, as-Sāmariyyūn) are an ethnoreligious
Ethnoreligious
An ethnoreligious group is an ethnic group of people whose members are also unified by a common religious background...

 group of the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

. Religiously, they are the adherents to Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

. Based on the Samaritan Torah
Samaritan Pentateuch
The Samaritan Pentateuch, sometimes called Samaritan Torah, , is a version of the Hebrew language Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, used by the Samaritans....

, Samaritans claim their worship is the true religion of the ancient Israelites prior to the Babylonian Exile, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

, as opposed to Judaism, which they assert is a related but altered and amended religion brought back by those returning from exile.

Ancestrally, they claim descent from a group of Israelite
Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

 inhabitants from the tribes of Ephraim
Ephraim
Ephraim ; was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan...

 and Manasseh
Tribe of Manasseh
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph....

 (the two sons of Joseph) as well as some descendants from the priestly tribe of Levi
Levite
In Jewish tradition, a Levite is a member of the Hebrew tribe of Levi. When Joshua led the Israelites into the land of Canaan, the Levites were the only Israelite tribe that received cities but were not allowed to be landowners "because the Lord the God of Israel himself is their inheritance"...

,Who are the Samaritans? who have connections to ancient Samaria
Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

 from the period of their entry into the land of Canaan, while some suggest that it was from the beginning of the Babylonian Exile up to the Samaritan Kingdom of Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba, literally "The Great Gate", was one of the greatest of the Samaritan high priests. He is believed to have lived during the late third and early fourth century AD....

. The Samaritans, however, derive their name not from this geographical designation, but rather from the Hebrew term Shamerim שַמֶרִים, "Keepers [of the Law]".David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 5:941 (New York: Doubleday, 1996, c1992).

In the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, a central post-exilic religious text of Judaism, their claim of ancestral origin is disputed, and in those texts they are called Cutheans , allegedly from the ancient city of Cuthah
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 (Kutha), geographically located in what is today Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. Modern genetics has suggested some truth to both the claims of the Samaritans and Jewish accounts in the Talmud., Hum Mutat 24:248–260, 2004.

Historically, they were a large community — up to more than a million in late Roman times, but were then gradually reduced to several tens of thousands up to a few centuries ago — their unprecedented demographic
Demography
Demography is the statistical study of human population. It can be a very general science that can be applied to any kind of dynamic human population, that is, one that changes over time or space...

 shrinkage has been a result of various historical events, including, most notably, the bloody suppression of the Third Samaritan Revolt (529 AD) against the Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 rulers, and the mass conversion to Islam in the Early Muslim period of Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

. According to their tally, there were 745 Samaritans as of November 30, 2011, living exclusively in two localities, one in Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

 near the city of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

, and the other in the Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i city of Holon. There are, however, followers of various backgrounds adhering to Samaritan traditions outside of Israel, especially in the United States.

With the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language by Jews in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, and its growth and officialization following the establishment of the state, most Samaritans in Israel today speak Modern Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

. As with their counterpart Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

, Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

, Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 and other Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i religious communities, the most recent spoken mother tongue of the Samaritans was Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, and it still is for those in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 city of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

. For liturgical
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 purposes, Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic, and Samaritan Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 are used, all of which are written in the Samaritan alphabet
Samaritan alphabet
The Samaritan alphabet is used by the Samaritans for religious writings, including the Samaritan Pentateuch, writings in Samaritan Hebrew, and for commentaries and translations in Samaritan Aramaic and occasionally Arabic....

, a variant of the Old Hebrew alphabet
Paleo-Hebrew alphabet
The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet , is an abjad offshoot of the ancient Semitic alphabet, identical to the Phoenician alphabet. At the very least it dates to the 10th century BCE...

, distinct from the so-called square script "Hebrew alphabet
Hebrew alphabet
The Hebrew alphabet , known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. There have been two...

" of Jews and Judaism, which is a stylized form of the Aramaic alphabet
Aramaic alphabet
The Aramaic alphabet is adapted from the Phoenician alphabet and became distinctive from it by the 8th century BC. The letters all represent consonants, some of which are matres lectionis, which also indicate long vowels....

. Hebrew, and later Aramaic, were languages in use by the Jewish and Samaritan inhabitants of Judea prior to the Roman exile, and beyond."The Samaritans' Passover sacrifice", Ynetnews
Ynetnews
Ynetnews is the online English language Israeli news website of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s most-read newspaper, and the Hebrew Israel news portal, Ynet...

, May 2, 2007

Samaritan sources


According to Samaritan tradition, Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

 was the original Holy Place of the Israelites from the time that Joshua
Joshua
Joshua , is a minor figure in the Torah, being one of the spies for Israel and in few passages as Moses's assistant. He turns to be the central character in the Hebrew Bible's Book of Joshua...

 conquered Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

 and the tribes of Israel settled the land. The reference to Mount Gerizim derives from the biblical story of Moses ordering Joshua to take the Twelve Tribes of Israel, (the number of which did not include the priestly tribe of Levi) to the mountains by Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 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
Mount Ebal
Mount Ebal is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the Palestinian city of Nablus in the West Bank , and forms the northern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated, the southern side being formed by Mount Gerizim...

, 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 (Deut. 11:29; 27:12; Josh. 8:33).

The Samaritans have insisted that they are direct descendants of the Northern Israelite tribes of Ephraim
Ephraim
Ephraim ; was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan...

 and Manasseh
Tribe of Manasseh
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph....

, who survived the destruction of the Northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

ns in 722 BC. The inscription of Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

 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 tribes of Israel conquered and returned to the land of Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

, 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
Shiloh (Biblical)
Shiloh was an ancient city south of ancient Tirzah and mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Its site is at modern Khirbet Seilun, West Bank, and north of the Israeli settlement of Beth El in the West Bank....

. Thus, he established both an illegitimate priesthood and an illegitimate place of worship.

Abu l-Fath
Abu l-Fath
Abu l-Fath, or Ibn Abi al-Hasan al-Samiri al-Danafi, was a fourteen century Samaritan chronicler, writing in Arabic. His major work is Kitab al-Ta'rikh.The work was commissioned in 1352 by Pinḥas, Samaritan high priest, and begun in 1356...

, who in the 14th century AD wrote a major work of Samaritan history, comments on Samaritan origins as follows:The Keepers, An Introduction to the History and Culture of the Samaritans, by Robert T. Anderson and Terry Giles, Hendrickson Publishing, 2002, pages 11-12
Further, the Samaritan Chronicle Adler, or New Chronicle, believed to have been composed in the 18th century AD using earlier chronicles as sources states:

Jewish sources


The emergence of the Samaritans as an ethnic and religious community distinct from other Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 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 former kingdom.

Jewish tradition maintains a different origin for the Samaritans. The Talmud accounts for a people called "Cuthim"
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 on a number of occasions, mentioning their arrival by the hands of the Assyrians. According to 2 Kings
Books of Kings
The Book of Kings presents a narrative history of ancient Israel and Judah from the death of David to the release of his successor Jehoiachin from imprisonment in Babylon, a period of some 400 years...

 17 and Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 (Antiquities
Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquities of the Jews is a twenty volume historiographical work composed by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in the thirteenth year of the reign of Roman emperor Flavius Domitian which was around 93 or 94 AD. Antiquities of the Jews contains an account of history of the Jewish people,...

 9.277–91), the people of Israel were removed by the king of the Assyrians (Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

- see special wording of 2 Kings 17 which mentions Shalmaneser
Shalmaneser V
Shalmaneser V was king of Assyria from 727 to 722 BC. He first appears as governor of Zimirra in Phoenicia in the reign of his father, Tiglath-Pileser III....

 in verse 3 but the "king of the Assyrians" from verse 4 onward), to Halah
Halah
Halah is a city that is mentioned in the Bible. It is noted when the Assyrians invaded Israel and enslaved the people. They were sent into exile in Halah, in Gozan on the Khabur River, and in the towns of the Medes. Halah was in Assyria, which was a major power in northern Mesopotamia...

, to Gozan
Tell Halaf
Tell Halaf is an archaeological site in the Al Hasakah governorate of northeastern Syria, near the Turkish border, just opposite Ceylanpınar. It was the first find of a Neolithic culture, subsequently dubbed the Halaf culture, characterized by glazed pottery painted with geometric and animal designs...

 on the Khabur River
Khabur River
The Khabur River , , , ) is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrian territory. Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra's al-'Ayn are the river's main source of water. Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah, together creating...

 and to the towns of the Medes
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

. The king of the Assyrians then brought people from Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

, Cuthah
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

, 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
Rabbi Meir
Rabbi Meir or Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes was a Jewish sage who lived in the time of the Mishna. He was considered one of the greatest of the Tannaim of the fourth generation . According to legend , his father was a descendant of the Roman Emperor Nero who had converted to Judaism. His wife Bruriah is...

 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 figure?
  • 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
Nehemiah
Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which describes his work rebuilding Jerusalem and purifying the Jewish community. He was the son of Hachaliah, Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the...

, Ezra
Ezra
Ezra , also called Ezra the Scribe and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra. According to the Hebrew Bible he returned from the Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem...

, and the building of the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. Returning exiles considered the Samaritans to be non-Israelites 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:
Furthermore, even to this day the Samaritans still claim descent from the tribe of Joseph:

Tension between the Samaritans and the Jews


The narratives in Genesis about the rivalries among the twelve sons of Jacob describe tensions between north and south. Those were temporarily united under the strong kingship of David and Solomon, but at the death of Solomon, the kingdom split into two: northern Israel with its capital Samaria and southern Judea with its capital Jerusalem.

The Deuteronomistic Historians, writing in Judah, saw northern Israel as a sinful kingdom, divinely punished for its idolatry and iniquity by being destroyed by the Assyrians in 720 BC. (Ironically, the Chronicler is very generous to the south Judah and considers it God's will to recover the chosen people that they were destroyed by Babylon and exiled to Babylon.)

The tensions continued in the postexilic period. According to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, Ezra-Nehemiah is hostile toward its northern neighbors and considers the northern Israel except for the "true Israel". Chronicles is more inclusive than Ezra-Nehemiah since for the Chronicler the ideal is of one Israel with twelve tribes; the Chronicler concentrates on Judah and ignores northern Israel.Michael D. Coogan, "A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament" page 363, 2009.

Unlike the Chronicler, the Samaritans claimed that they were the true Israel who were descendants of the "lost" tribes taken into Assyrian captivity. They had their own temple on Mount Gerizim and claimed that it was the original sanctuary. Moreover, they claimed that their version of the Pentateuch was the original and that the Jews had a falsified text produced by Ezra during the Babylonian exile.

Both Jewish and Samaritan religious leaders taught that it was wrong to have any contact with the opposite group, and neither was to enter each other's territories or even to speak to one another. During the New Testament period, although the tensions went unrecognized by Roman authorities, Josephus reports numerous violent confrontations between Jews and Samaritans throughout the first half of the first century.Mark A. Powell, "Introduction the New Testament" 'Ch.01 The People of Palestine at the Time of Jesus', Baker Academic, 2009.

Rejection by Judeans


According to the Jewish version of events, when the Judean exile ended in 538 BC and the exiles began returning home from Babylon, they found their former homeland populated by other people who claimed the land as their own and Jerusalem, their former glorious capital, in ruins.

According to , the Persian emperor, Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 (reigned 559 BC – 530 BC), permitted the return of the exiles to their homeland and ordered the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem (Zion
Zion
Zion is a place name often used as a synonym for Jerusalem. The word is first found in Samuel II, 5:7 dating to c.630-540 BCE...

). The prophet Isaiah identified Cyrus as "the Lord's Messiah" (Meshiach; see ). The word "Messiah
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

" refers to an anointed one, such as a king or priest.

says that the local inhabitants of the land offered to assist with the building of the new temple during the time of Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Judah and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia . The date is generally thought to...

, 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 alienation increased, and that the Samaritans eventually built their own temple on Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, near Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

.

(The rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem took several decades. The project was first led by Sheshbazzar (about 538 BC), later by Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Judah and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia . The date is generally thought to...

 and Jeshua
Joshua the High Priest
Joshua the High Priest was, according to the Bible the first person chosen to be the High Priest for the reconstruction of the Jewish Temple after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity The name is also spelled 'Jeshua' in some English versions , and, as with the earlier Joshua, is...

, and later still by Haggai
Haggai
Haggai was a Hebrew prophet during the building of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and one of the twelve minor prophets in the Hebrew Bible and the author of the Book of Haggai. His name means "my holiday"...

 and Zechariah (520–515 BC). Work was completed in 515 BC.)

The term "Cuthim" applied by Jews to the Samaritans had clear pejorative
Pejorative
Pejoratives , including name slurs, are words or grammatical forms that connote negativity and express contempt or distaste. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social groups but not in others, e.g., hacker is a term used for computer criminals as well as quick and clever computer experts...

 connotations, implying that they were interlopers brought in from Kutha
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 in Mesopotamia and rejecting their claim of descent from the ancient Tribes of Israel. This claim, however, that the northern tribes of Israel were all exiled by the Assyrians and therefore those who occupied the land were of a non-Israelite origin is rejected by the Bible, 2 Chronicles 30:1-31:6, which states that not all of the people from the northern kingdom were exiled by the Assyrians and some still remained even after the Assyrian conquest of the land in the 8th century BC.

Assyrian Account of the Conquest and Settlement of Samaria


However, the following account of the Assyrian kings, which was among the archaeological discoveries in Babylon, differs from the Samaritan and Jewish Biblical accounts:
Also,

Temple on Mount Gerizim


Archaeological excavations at Mount Gerizim indicate that a Samaritan temple was built there in the first half of the 5th century BC.http://books.google.com.au/books?id=6NsxZRnxE70C&pg=PA75&lpg=PA75&dq=Lipschits+Yehud&source=bl&ots=ItiriRREm4&sig=8qiPIQOnJdojfacDoHFXFmM4muM&hl=en&ei=UoEUTMGlBcO9cYSd9JAM&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCAQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=Lipschits%20Yehud&f=falseYitzhak Magen, The Dating of the First Pahse of the Samaritan Temple on Mount Gerizim in the Light of the Archaeological Evidence (in Oded Lipschitz, Gary N. Knoppers, Rainer Albertz, eds, "Judah and Judeans in the Fourth Century BC", Eisenbrauns, 2007)] The date of the schism between Samaritans and Jews is unknown.

According to Samaritans, it was on Mount Gerizim that Abraham was commanded by God to offer Isaac, his son, as a sacrifice . In both narratives, God then causes the sacrifice to be interrupted, explaining that this was the ultimate test of Abraham's obedience, as a result of which all the world would receive blessing.

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
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, making it the focus of their spiritual values.

The legitimacy of the Samaritan temple was attacked by Jewish scholars including Andronicus ben Meshullam
Andronicus ben Meshullam
Andronicus ben Meshullam, a Jewish scholar of the 2nd century BCE. According to Josephus , he was the representative of the Jews in their religious dispute with the Samaritans, which was held before King Ptolemy VI Philometor, about the year 150 BCE...

.

In the Christian Bible, the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 relates an encounter between a Samaritan woman and Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 in which she asserts that the mountain was the center of their worship .

Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Hellenization


In the 2nd century BC a particularly bitter series of events eventually led to a revolution of the Israelites against their Greek oppressors.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne....

 was on the throne of the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 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 and their refusal to allow their homeland to be defiled.

The universal peril led the Samaritans, eager for safety, to repudiate all connection and kinship with the Jews. The request was granted. This was put forth as the final breach between the two groups, being alleged at a much later date in the Christian bible (John 4:9), "For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans."

Several centuries before Christ, the Samaritans had built their own temple on Mt. Gerizim to rival the Temple in Jerusalem. Here, they offered sacrifices according to the Mosaic code. Anderson notes that during the reign of Antiochus IV (175–164 BC):
Josephus Book 12, Chapter 5 quotes the Samaritans as saying:

In 167 BC the Seleucid ruler Antiochus Epiphanes defiled the Jewish temple by setting up an altar to Zeus over the holy altar of burnt offerings in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which was the center of Jewish religious life. Antiochus 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 Jews who refused to worship and kiss Antiochus' image, along with the desecration of the Holy Temple, ultimately led to a revolt led by Judah Maccabee
Judas Maccabeus
Judah Maccabee was a Kohen and a son of the Jewish priest Mattathias...

 (Judah the Hammer) and his family. Though quite outnumbered, the Israelites, led by the Maccabee family, managed to regain control of their land. This "miracle" restoration of Jewish sovereignty in the face of Greek dominance has been since observed by Jews in the winter "Festival of Lights" holiday known as Chanukah.

Judah'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
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

 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
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 until around 129 BC, when the Jewish Hasmonean
Hasmonean
The Hasmonean dynasty , was the ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE, the dynasty ruled semi-autonomously from the Seleucids in the region of Judea...

 king Yohanan Girhan (John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

) destroyed the Samaritan temple and devastated Samaria.

Roman period


Samaritans fared badly under the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, when Samaria was a part of the Roman-ruled province of Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

.

Samaritans appear briefly in the Christian gospels, most notable in the parable of the Good Samaritan
Parable of the Good Samaritan
The parable of the Good Samaritan is a parable told by Jesus and is mentioned in only one of the Canonical gospels. According to the Gospel of Luke a traveller is beaten, robbed, and left half dead along the road. First a priest and then a Levite come by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a...

. In this parable, told to Jews, a Samaritan helps a wounded Jew even though Jews and Samaritans despised each other.

However, this period is also considered as something of a golden age for the Samaritan community, the population thought to number up to a million.http://www.lonelyplanet.com/israel-and-the-palestinian-territories The Temple of Gerizim was rebuilt after the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans, around 135 AD. Much of Samaritan liturgy was set by the high priest Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba, literally "The Great Gate", was one of the greatest of the Samaritan high priests. He is believed to have lived during the late third and early fourth century AD....

 in the 4th century.

The oldest, known Samaritan synagogue, the Delos Synagogue
Delos Synagogue
The synagogue of Delos, Greece, is the oldest synagogue known today, its origin dating between 150 and 128 BCE. The building’s most recent use is widely agreed to have been an assembly hall for Jews or Samaritans. However, the first use for the building is more controversial...

 dates from between 150 and 128 BC, or earlier and is located on the island of Delos
Delos
The island of Delos , isolated in the centre of the roughly circular ring of islands called the Cyclades, near Mykonos, is one of the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece...

.

There were some Samaritans in the Persia
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

n Empire, where they served in the Sassanid army. Many Jews had also lived in Persia for millennia, after various exiles and captivities.

Byzantine times



According to Samaritan sources, Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno
Zeno (emperor)
Zeno , originally named Tarasis, was Byzantine Emperor from 474 to 475 and again from 476 to 491. Domestic revolts and religious dissension plagued his reign, which nevertheless succeeded to some extent in foreign issues...

 (who ruled 474-491 and whom the sources call "Zait the King of Edom") persecuted the Samaritans. The Emperor went to Sichem (Neapolis), gathered the elders and asked them to convert; when they refused, Zeno had many Samaritans killed, and re-built the synagogue to a church. Zeno then took for himself Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, where the Samaritans worshipped God, and built several edifices, among whom a tomb for his recently deceased son, on which he put a cross, so that the Samaritans, worshipping God, would prostrate in front of the tomb. Later, in 484, the Samaritans revolted. The rebels attacked Sichem, burnt five churches built on Samaritan holy places and cut the finger of bishop Terebinthus, who was officiating the ceremony of Pentecost
Pentecost
Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ after the Resurrection of Jesus...

. They elected a Justa
Justa (rebel)
Justa was elected by Samaritans as their king during the 484 CE Samaritan revolt. Following his ascent in Samaria, he moved on Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. There, many Christians were killed and the church of St. Procopius was destroyed...

 (or Justasa/Justasus) as their king and moved to Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. Here several Christians were killed and the church of St. Sebastian was destroyed. Justa celebrated the victory with games in the circus. According to John Malalas
John Malalas
John Malalas or Ioannes Malalas was a Greek chronicler from Antioch. Malalas is probably a Syriac word for "rhetor", "orator"; it is first applied to him by John of Damascus .-Life:Malalas was educated in Antioch, and probably was a jurist there, but moved to...

, the dux Palaestinae Asclepiades, whose troops were reinforced by the Caesarea-based Arcadiani of Rheges, defeated Justa, killed him and sent his head to Zeno.Malalas, 15. According to Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

, Terebinthus went to Zeno to ask for revenge; the Emperor personally went to Samaria to quell the rebellion.Procopius, Buildings, 5.7.

Modern historians believe that the order of the facts preserved by Samaritan sources should be inverted, as the persecution of Zeno was a consequence of the rebellion rather than its cause, and should have happened after 484, around 489. Zeno rebuilt the church of St. Procopius in Neapolis (Sichem) and the Samaritans were banned from Mount Gerizim, on whose top a signalling tower was built to alert in case of civil unrest.Alan David Crown, The Samaritans, Mohr Siebeck, 1989, ISBN 3161452372, pp. 72-73.

Under a charismatic
Charismatic authority
The sociologist Max Weber defined charismatic authority as "resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him." Charismatic authority is one of three forms of authority laid out...

, messianic figure named Julianus ben Sabar
Julianus ben Sabar
Julianus ben Sabar was a messianic leader of the Samaritans, who led a failed revolt against Byzantium during the early 6th century....

 (or ben Sahir), the Samaritans launched a war to create their own independent state in 529. With the help of the Ghassanid Arabs, Emperor Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

 crushed the revolt; tens of thousands of Samaritans died or were enslaved
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

. The Samaritan faith was virtually outlawed thereafter by the Christian Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

; from a population once at least in the hundreds of thousands, the Samaritan community dwindled to near extinction.

After the Muslim Conquests


By the time of the Muslim Conquests
Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power.They...

, Samaritans were living in an area stretching between Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. Like other non-Muslims in the empire, such as Jews, Samaritans were considered to be People of the Book
People of the Book
People of the Book is a term used to designate non-Muslim adherents to faiths which have a revealed scripture called, in Arabic, Al-Kitab . The three types of adherents to faiths that the Qur'an mentions as people of the book are the Jews, Sabians and Christians.In Islam, the Muslim scripture, the...

.

Their minority status was protected by the Muslim rulers, and they had the right to practice their religion, but, as dhimmi
Dhimmi
A , is a non-Muslim subject of a state governed in accordance with sharia law. Linguistically, the word means "one whose responsibility has been taken". This has to be understood in the context of the definition of state in Islam...

, adult males had to pay the jizya
Jizya
Under Islamic law, jizya or jizyah is a per capita tax levied on a section of an Islamic state's non-Muslim citizens, who meet certain criteria...

 or "protection tax".

It has been suggested that they were forced to wear red colored turbans as a result of the terms of a document known as the Pact of Umar II, but this stipulation is not explicitly mentioned in the document, the authenticity has been questioned by contemporary scholars, and the tradition cannot be independently verified.

During the Crusades, Samaritans, like the other non-Latin Christian inhabitants of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

, were second-class citizens, but they were tolerated and perhaps favoured because they were docile and had been mentioned positively in the Christian New Testament.Benjamin Z. Kedar, "The Frankish period", in The Samaritans, ed. Alan D. Cross (Tübingen, 1989), pp. 86-87.

Over the centuries of Byzantine, Arab and Turkish rule, the Samaritans suffered many hardships which included forced conversion to Christianity, forced conversion to Islam, harsh religious decrees, massacre and persecution.

While the majority of the Samaritan population in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 was killed or converted during the reign of the Ottoman Pasha Mardam Beq in the early 17th century, the remainder of the Samaritan communities from Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 and the other cities where they had a presence moved to Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

, due to its close proximity to Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

.

The Shechem community endured because most of the surviving diaspora returned, and they have maintained a tiny presence there to this day. In 1624, the last Samaritan High Priest
Samaritan High Priest
The Samaritan High Priest is the high priest of the Samaritan community in the Middle East.According to Samaritan tradition, the office has existed continuously since Aaron, the brother of Moses, and has been held by 132 people...

 of the line of Eleazar
Eleazar
Eleazar , was a priest in the Hebrew Bible, the second Kohen Gadol - succeeding his father Aaron. He was a nephew of Moses.-Life:...

 son of Aaron
Aaron
In the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, Aaron : Ααρών ), who is often called "'Aaron the Priest"' and once Aaron the Levite , was the older brother of Moses, and a prophet of God. He represented the priestly functions of his tribe, becoming the first High Priest of the Israelites...

 died without issue, but descendants of Aaron's other son, Ithamar
Ithamar
In the Torah, Ithamar is mentioned as the youngest son of Aaron the High Priest. After the death of his two eldest brothers Nadab and Abihu when they had been punished by the Lord for performing an unauthorized sacrificial offering, Ithamar served as a priest along with his elder brother, Eleazar...

, remained and took over the office.

The situation of the Samaritan community improved significantly during the British Mandate of Palestine. At that time, they began to work in the public sector, like many other groups. During the thirties one of the Samaritans, Tawfeek Khadir al-Kahen, was nominated as member of the Shechem Municipality.

Samaritan origins of Palestinian Muslims


Much of the local Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 population of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 is believed to be descended from Samaritans who converted to Islam. According to the historian Fayyad Altif, large numbers of Samaritans converted due to persecution under various Muslim rulers, and because the monotheistic nature of Islam made it easy for them to accept it. The Samaritans themselves describe the Ottoman period
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 as the worst period in their modern history, as many Samaritan families changed their religion during that time. Even today, certain Nabulsi family names such as Muslimani, Yaish, Sayeh, and Shakshir among others, are associated with Samaritan ancestry.

For the Samaritans in particular, the passing of the al-Hakem Edict by the Fatimids in 1021, under which all Jews and Christians in the Fatimid ruled southern Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 were ordered to either convert to Islam or leave, along with another notable forced conversion to Islam imposed at the hands of the rebel Ibn Firāsa, would contribute to their rapid unprecedented decrease, and ultimately almost complete extinction as a separate religious community. As a result, they have decreased from more than a million in Roman times to just 745 people today.

In 1940, the future Israeli president and historian Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi was a historian, Labor Zionist leader, the second and longest-serving President of Israel.-Biography:...

 wrote an article in which he stated that two thirds of the residents of Nablus and the surrounding neighboring villages are of Samaritan origin. He mentioned the name of several Palestinian Muslim families as having Samaritan origins, including the Buwarda and Kasem families who protected Samaritans from Muslim persecution in the 1850s. He further claimed that these families had written records testifying to their Samaritan ancestry, which were maintained by their priests and elders.

DNA and genetic studies


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
    Kohen
    A Kohen is the Hebrew word for priest. Jewish Kohens are traditionally believed and halachically required to be of direct patrilineal descent from the Biblical Aaron....

     lineage from the tribe of Levi.


Of the 12 Samaritan males used in the analysis, 10 (83%) had Y chromosones belonging to haplogroup J
Haplogroup J (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup J is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup. It is one of the major male lines of all living men...

, which includes three of the four Samaritan families. The Joshua-Marhiv family belongs to haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 J1
Haplogroup J1 (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Y DNA haplogroup J1, also known as J-M267, is a sub-haplogroup of Y DNA haplogroup J, along with its sibling clade Y DNA haplogroup J2. Men with this type of Y DNA share a common paternal ancestry, which is demonstrated and defined by the presence of the SNP mutation referred to...

, while the Danfi and Tsedakah families belong to haplogroup J2
Haplogroup J2 (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup J2 is a Y-chromosome haplogroup which is a subdivision of haplogroup J. It is further divided into two complementary clades, J2a-M410 and J2b-M12.-Origins:...

, 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
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 J
J
Ĵ or ĵ is a letter in Esperanto orthography representing the sound .While Esperanto orthography uses a diacritic for its four postalveolar consonants, as do the Latin-based Slavic alphabets, the base letters are Romano-Germanic...

 was the Cohen family (Tradition: Tribe of Levi) which was found in haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 E3b1a M78. This article predated the change of the classification 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.
{{Distinguish2|Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

}}
{{redirect6|Samaritans|the charity|Samaritans (charity)|other uses|Samaritan (disambiguation)}}
{{infobox religious group
| group = Samaritans
שומרונים
| flag =
| flag_caption =
| image =
| image_caption = Samaritans on the Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, 2006
| population = 745 {{smaller|(2007)}}
| founder =
| regions =  Israel - approximately 350
Palestinian territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

 - approximately 350
| tablehdr = Samaritan communities
| region1 =   Holon
| pop1 = {{ndash}}
| ref1 =
| region2 = Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, near Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...


| pop2 = {{ndash}}
| ref3 =
| religions = Samaritanism
| scriptures = Samaritan Torah
Samaritan Pentateuch
The Samaritan Pentateuch, sometimes called Samaritan Torah, , is a version of the Hebrew language Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, used by the Samaritans....


| languages = Modern Vernacular
Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew , also known as Israeli Hebrew or Modern Israeli Hebrew, is the language spoken in Israel and in some Jewish communities worldwide, from the early 20th century to the present....

, Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 
Past Vernacular
Arabic, preceded by Aramaic
Samaritan Aramaic language
Samaritan Aramaic, or Samaritan, is the dialect of Aramaic used by the Samaritans in their sacred and scholarly literature. This should not be confused with the Samaritan Hebrew language of the Scriptures...

 and earlier Hebrew
Samaritan Hebrew language
Samaritan Hebrew , is a reading tradition for Biblical Hebrew as used by the Samaritans for reading the Samaritan Pentateuch. Its pronunciation is highly similar to that of Samaritan Arabic, used by the Samaritans in prayer.-Orthography:...


Liturgical
Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic
Samaritan Aramaic language
Samaritan Aramaic, or Samaritan, is the dialect of Aramaic used by the Samaritans in their sacred and scholarly literature. This should not be confused with the Samaritan Hebrew language of the Scriptures...

, Samaritan Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...


| related-c = Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

, Palestinian people
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...


| notes =
}}

The Samaritans ({{lang-he|שומרונים}} Shomronim, {{lang-ar|السامريون}} as-Sāmariyyūn) are an ethnoreligious
Ethnoreligious
An ethnoreligious group is an ethnic group of people whose members are also unified by a common religious background...

 group of the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

. Religiously, they are the adherents to Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

. Based on the Samaritan Torah
Samaritan Pentateuch
The Samaritan Pentateuch, sometimes called Samaritan Torah, , is a version of the Hebrew language Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, used by the Samaritans....

, Samaritans claim their worship is the true religion of the ancient Israelites prior to the Babylonian Exile, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

, as opposed to Judaism, which they assert is a related but altered and amended religion brought back by those returning from exile.

Ancestrally, they claim descent from a group of Israelite
Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

 inhabitants from the tribes of Ephraim
Ephraim
Ephraim ; was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan...

 and Manasseh
Tribe of Manasseh
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph....

 (the two sons of Joseph) as well as some descendants from the priestly tribe of Levi
Levite
In Jewish tradition, a Levite is a member of the Hebrew tribe of Levi. When Joshua led the Israelites into the land of Canaan, the Levites were the only Israelite tribe that received cities but were not allowed to be landowners "because the Lord the God of Israel himself is their inheritance"...

, who have connections to ancient Samaria
Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

 from the period of their entry into the land of Canaan, while some suggest that it was from the beginning of the Babylonian Exile up to the Samaritan Kingdom of Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba, literally "The Great Gate", was one of the greatest of the Samaritan high priests. He is believed to have lived during the late third and early fourth century AD....

. The Samaritans, however, derive their name not from this geographical designation, but rather from the Hebrew term Shamerim שַמֶרִים, "Keepers [of the Law]".

In the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, a central post-exilic religious text of Judaism, their claim of ancestral origin is disputed, and in those texts they are called Cutheans ({{lang-he|כותים}}, Kuthim), allegedly from the ancient city of Cuthah
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 (Kutha), geographically located in what is today Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. Modern genetics has suggested some truth to both the claims of the Samaritans and Jewish accounts in the Talmud.

Historically, they were a large community — up to more than a million in late Roman times, but were then gradually reduced to several tens of thousands up to a few centuries ago — their unprecedented demographic
Demography
Demography is the statistical study of human population. It can be a very general science that can be applied to any kind of dynamic human population, that is, one that changes over time or space...

 shrinkage has been a result of various historical events, including, most notably, the bloody suppression of the Third Samaritan Revolt (529 AD) against the Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 rulers, and the mass conversion to Islam in the Early Muslim period of Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

. According to their tally, there were 745 Samaritans as of November 30, 2011, living exclusively in two localities, one in Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

 near the city of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

, and the other in the Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i city of Holon. There are, however, followers of various backgrounds adhering to Samaritan traditions outside of Israel, especially in the United States.

With the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language by Jews in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, and its growth and officialization following the establishment of the state, most Samaritans in Israel today speak Modern Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

. As with their counterpart Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

, Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

, Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 and other Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i religious communities, the most recent spoken mother tongue of the Samaritans was Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, and it still is for those in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 city of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

. For liturgical
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 purposes, Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic, and Samaritan Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 are used, all of which are written in the Samaritan alphabet
Samaritan alphabet
The Samaritan alphabet is used by the Samaritans for religious writings, including the Samaritan Pentateuch, writings in Samaritan Hebrew, and for commentaries and translations in Samaritan Aramaic and occasionally Arabic....

, a variant of the Old Hebrew alphabet
Paleo-Hebrew alphabet
The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet , is an abjad offshoot of the ancient Semitic alphabet, identical to the Phoenician alphabet. At the very least it dates to the 10th century BCE...

, distinct from the so-called square script "Hebrew alphabet
Hebrew alphabet
The Hebrew alphabet , known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. There have been two...

" of Jews and Judaism, which is a stylized form of the Aramaic alphabet
Aramaic alphabet
The Aramaic alphabet is adapted from the Phoenician alphabet and became distinctive from it by the 8th century BC. The letters all represent consonants, some of which are matres lectionis, which also indicate long vowels....

. Hebrew, and later Aramaic, were languages in use by the Jewish and Samaritan inhabitants of Judea prior to the Roman exile, and beyond.

{{Juddom}}

Samaritan sources


According to Samaritan tradition, Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

 was the original Holy Place of the Israelites from the time that Joshua
Joshua
Joshua , is a minor figure in the Torah, being one of the spies for Israel and in few passages as Moses's assistant. He turns to be the central character in the Hebrew Bible's Book of Joshua...

 conquered Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

 and the tribes of Israel settled the land. The reference to Mount Gerizim derives from the biblical story of Moses ordering Joshua to take the Twelve Tribes of Israel, (the number of which did not include the priestly tribe of Levi) to the mountains by Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 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
Mount Ebal
Mount Ebal is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the Palestinian city of Nablus in the West Bank , and forms the northern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated, the southern side being formed by Mount Gerizim...

, 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 (Deut. 11:29; 27:12; Josh. 8:33).

The Samaritans have insisted that they are direct descendants of the Northern Israelite tribes of Ephraim
Ephraim
Ephraim ; was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan...

 and Manasseh
Tribe of Manasseh
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph....

, who survived the destruction of the Northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

ns in 722 BC. The inscription of Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

 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 tribes of Israel conquered and returned to the land of Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

, 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
Shiloh (Biblical)
Shiloh was an ancient city south of ancient Tirzah and mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Its site is at modern Khirbet Seilun, West Bank, and north of the Israeli settlement of Beth El in the West Bank....

. Thus, he established both an illegitimate priesthood and an illegitimate place of worship.

Abu l-Fath
Abu l-Fath
Abu l-Fath, or Ibn Abi al-Hasan al-Samiri al-Danafi, was a fourteen century Samaritan chronicler, writing in Arabic. His major work is Kitab al-Ta'rikh.The work was commissioned in 1352 by Pinḥas, Samaritan high priest, and begun in 1356...

, who in the 14th century AD wrote a major work of Samaritan history, comments on Samaritan origins as follows:

{{quote|A terrible civil war broke out between Eli son of Yafni, of the line of Ithamar, and the sons of Pincus (Phinehas
Phinehas
-Biblical figures:*Phinehas, son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the High Priest*Phinehas, son of the High Priest Eli. He was a priest at Shiloh, and died when the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant-Other :*Pinchas, the 41st weekly Torah portion....

), because Eli son of Yafni resolved to usurp the High Priesthood from the descendants of Pincus. 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:

{{quote|And the children of Israel in his days divided into three groups. One did according to the abominations of the Gentile
Gentile
The term Gentile refers to non-Israelite peoples or nations in English translations of the Bible....

s 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.}}

Jewish sources


The emergence of the Samaritans as an ethnic and religious community distinct from other Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 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 former kingdom.

Jewish tradition maintains a different origin for the Samaritans. The Talmud accounts for a people called "Cuthim"
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 on a number of occasions, mentioning their arrival by the hands of the Assyrians. According to 2 Kings
Books of Kings
The Book of Kings presents a narrative history of ancient Israel and Judah from the death of David to the release of his successor Jehoiachin from imprisonment in Babylon, a period of some 400 years...

 17 and Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 (Antiquities
Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquities of the Jews is a twenty volume historiographical work composed by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in the thirteenth year of the reign of Roman emperor Flavius Domitian which was around 93 or 94 AD. Antiquities of the Jews contains an account of history of the Jewish people,...

 9.277–91), the people of Israel were removed by the king of the Assyrians (Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

- see special wording of 2 Kings 17 which mentions Shalmaneser
Shalmaneser V
Shalmaneser V was king of Assyria from 727 to 722 BC. He first appears as governor of Zimirra in Phoenicia in the reign of his father, Tiglath-Pileser III....

 in verse 3 but the "king of the Assyrians" from verse 4 onward), to Halah
Halah
Halah is a city that is mentioned in the Bible. It is noted when the Assyrians invaded Israel and enslaved the people. They were sent into exile in Halah, in Gozan on the Khabur River, and in the towns of the Medes. Halah was in Assyria, which was a major power in northern Mesopotamia...

, to Gozan
Tell Halaf
Tell Halaf is an archaeological site in the Al Hasakah governorate of northeastern Syria, near the Turkish border, just opposite Ceylanpınar. It was the first find of a Neolithic culture, subsequently dubbed the Halaf culture, characterized by glazed pottery painted with geometric and animal designs...

 on the Khabur River
Khabur River
The Khabur River , , , ) is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrian territory. Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra's al-'Ayn are the river's main source of water. Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah, together creating...

 and to the towns of the Medes
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

. The king of the Assyrians then brought people from Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

, Cuthah
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

, 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
Rabbi Meir
Rabbi Meir or Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes was a Jewish sage who lived in the time of the Mishna. He was considered one of the greatest of the Tannaim of the fourth generation . According to legend , his father was a descendant of the Roman Emperor Nero who had converted to Judaism. His wife Bruriah is...

 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 figure?
  • 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
Nehemiah
Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which describes his work rebuilding Jerusalem and purifying the Jewish community. He was the son of Hachaliah, Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the...

, Ezra
Ezra
Ezra , also called Ezra the Scribe and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra. According to the Hebrew Bible he returned from the Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem...

, and the building of the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. Returning exiles considered the Samaritans to be non-Israelites 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:

{{quote|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 (722–721 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 AD 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:

{{quote|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.)}}

Tension between the Samaritans and the Jews


The narratives in Genesis about the rivalries among the twelve sons of Jacob describe tensions between north and south. Those were temporarily united under the strong kingship of David and Solomon, but at the death of Solomon, the kingdom split into two: northern Israel with its capital Samaria and southern Judea with its capital Jerusalem.

The Deuteronomistic Historians, writing in Judah, saw northern Israel as a sinful kingdom, divinely punished for its idolatry and iniquity by being destroyed by the Assyrians in 720 BC. (Ironically, the Chronicler is very generous to the south Judah and considers it God's will to recover the chosen people that they were destroyed by Babylon and exiled to Babylon.)

The tensions continued in the postexilic period. According to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, Ezra-Nehemiah is hostile toward its northern neighbors and considers the northern Israel except for the "true Israel"{{huh?|date=October 2011}}. Chronicles is more inclusive than Ezra-Nehemiah since for the Chronicler the ideal is of one Israel with twelve tribes; the Chronicler concentrates on Judah and ignores northern Israel.

Unlike the Chronicler, the Samaritans claimed that they were the true Israel who were descendants of the "lost" tribes taken into Assyrian captivity. They had their own temple on Mount Gerizim and claimed that it was the original sanctuary. Moreover, they claimed that their version of the Pentateuch was the original and that the Jews had a falsified text produced by Ezra during the Babylonian exile.

Both Jewish and Samaritan religious leaders taught that it was wrong to have any contact with the opposite group, and neither was to enter each other's territories or even to speak to one another. During the New Testament period, although the tensions went unrecognized by Roman authorities, Josephus reports numerous violent confrontations between Jews and Samaritans throughout the first half of the first century.

Rejection by Judeans


According to the Jewish version of events, when the Judean exile ended in 538 BC and the exiles began returning home from Babylon, they found their former homeland populated by other people who claimed the land as their own and Jerusalem, their former glorious capital, in ruins.

According to {{bibleverse|2|Chronicles|36:22–23|HE}}, the Persian emperor, Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 (reigned 559 BC – 530 BC), permitted the return of the exiles to their homeland and ordered the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem (Zion
Zion
Zion is a place name often used as a synonym for Jerusalem. The word is first found in Samuel II, 5:7 dating to c.630-540 BCE...

). The prophet Isaiah identified Cyrus as "the Lord's Messiah" (Meshiach; see {{bibleverse||Isaiah|45:1|HE}}). The word "Messiah
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

" refers to an anointed one, such as a king or priest.

{{bibleverse||Ezra|4|HE}} says that the local inhabitants of the land offered to assist with the building of the new temple during the time of Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Judah and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia . The date is generally thought to...

, 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 alienation increased, and that the Samaritans eventually built their own temple on Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, near Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

.

(The rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem took several decades. The project was first led by Sheshbazzar (about 538 BC), later by Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Judah and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia . The date is generally thought to...

 and Jeshua
Joshua the High Priest
Joshua the High Priest was, according to the Bible the first person chosen to be the High Priest for the reconstruction of the Jewish Temple after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity The name is also spelled 'Jeshua' in some English versions , and, as with the earlier Joshua, is...

, and later still by Haggai
Haggai
Haggai was a Hebrew prophet during the building of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and one of the twelve minor prophets in the Hebrew Bible and the author of the Book of Haggai. His name means "my holiday"...

 and Zechariah (520–515 BC). Work was completed in 515 BC.)

The term "Cuthim" applied by Jews to the Samaritans had clear pejorative
Pejorative
Pejoratives , including name slurs, are words or grammatical forms that connote negativity and express contempt or distaste. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social groups but not in others, e.g., hacker is a term used for computer criminals as well as quick and clever computer experts...

 connotations, implying that they were interlopers brought in from Kutha
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 in Mesopotamia and rejecting their claim of descent from the ancient Tribes of Israel. This claim, however, that the northern tribes of Israel were all exiled by the Assyrians and therefore those who occupied the land were of a non-Israelite origin is rejected by the Bible, 2 Chronicles 30:1-31:6, which states that not all of the people from the northern kingdom were exiled by the Assyrians and some still remained even after the Assyrian conquest of the land in the 8th century BC.

Assyrian Account of the Conquest and Settlement of Samaria


However, the following account of the Assyrian kings, which was among the archaeological discoveries in Babylon, differs from the Samaritan and Jewish Biblical accounts:

{{quote|[the Samar]ians [who had agreed with a hostile king]...I fought with them and decisively defeated them]....carried off as spoil. 50 chariots for my royal force ...[the rest of them I settled in the midst of Assyria]....The Tamudi, Ibadidi, Marsimani and Hayappa, who live in distant Arabia, in the desert, who knew neither overseer nor commander, who never brought tribute to any king--with the help of Ashshur my lord, I defeated them. I deported the rest of them. I settled them in Samaria/Samerina.(Sargon II Inscriptions, COS 2.118A, p. 293)}}

Also,

{{quote|The inhabitants of Samaria/Samerina, who agreed [and plotted] with a king [hostile to] me, not to do service and not to bring tribute [to Ashshur] and who did battle, I fought against them with the power of the great gods, my lords. I counted as spoil 27,280 people, together with their chariots, and gods, in which they trusted. I formed a unit with 200 of [their] chariots for my royal force. I settled the rest of them in the midst of Assyria. I repopulated Samaria/Samerina more than before. I brought into it people from countries conquered by my hands. I appointed my eunuch as governor over them. And I counted them as Assyrians.(Nimrud Prisms, COS 2.118D, pp. 295-296)}}

Temple on Mount Gerizim


Archaeological excavations at Mount Gerizim indicate that a Samaritan temple was built there in the first half of the 5th century BC. The date of the schism between Samaritans and Jews is unknown.

According to Samaritans, it was on Mount Gerizim that Abraham was commanded by God to offer Isaac, his son, as a sacrifice {{Bible|Genesis 22:2}}. In both narratives, God then causes the sacrifice to be interrupted, explaining that this was the ultimate test of Abraham's obedience, as a result of which all the world would receive blessing.

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
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, making it the focus of their spiritual values.

The legitimacy of the Samaritan temple was attacked by Jewish scholars including Andronicus ben Meshullam
Andronicus ben Meshullam
Andronicus ben Meshullam, a Jewish scholar of the 2nd century BCE. According to Josephus , he was the representative of the Jews in their religious dispute with the Samaritans, which was held before King Ptolemy VI Philometor, about the year 150 BCE...

.

In the Christian Bible, the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 relates an encounter between a Samaritan woman and Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 in which she asserts that the mountain was the center of their worship {{Bible|John 4:20}}.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Hellenization


In the 2nd century BC a particularly bitter series of events eventually led to a revolution of the Israelites against their Greek oppressors.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne....

 was on the throne of the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 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 and their refusal to allow their homeland to be defiled.

The universal peril led the Samaritans, eager for safety, to repudiate all connection and kinship with the Jews. The request was granted. This was put forth as the final breach between the two groups, being alleged at a much later date in the Christian bible (John 4:9), "For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans."

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

{{quote|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:

{{quote|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.}}

{{quote|Shortly afterwards, the Greek king sent Gerontes the Athenian to force the Jews of Israel 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 defiled the Jewish temple by setting up an altar to Zeus over the holy altar of burnt offerings in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which was the center of Jewish religious life. Antiochus 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 Jews who refused to worship and kiss Antiochus' image, along with the desecration of the Holy Temple, ultimately led to a revolt led by Judah Maccabee
Judas Maccabeus
Judah Maccabee was a Kohen and a son of the Jewish priest Mattathias...

 (Judah the Hammer) and his family. Though quite outnumbered, the Israelites, led by the Maccabee family, managed to regain control of their land. This "miracle" restoration of Jewish sovereignty in the face of Greek dominance has been since observed by Jews in the winter "Festival of Lights" holiday known as Chanukah.

Judah'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
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

 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
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 until around 129 BC, when the Jewish Hasmonean
Hasmonean
The Hasmonean dynasty , was the ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE, the dynasty ruled semi-autonomously from the Seleucids in the region of Judea...

 king Yohanan Girhan (John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

) destroyed the Samaritan temple and devastated Samaria.

Roman period


Samaritans fared badly under the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, when Samaria was a part of the Roman-ruled province of Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

.

Samaritans appear briefly in the Christian gospels, most notable in the parable of the Good Samaritan
Parable of the Good Samaritan
The parable of the Good Samaritan is a parable told by Jesus and is mentioned in only one of the Canonical gospels. According to the Gospel of Luke a traveller is beaten, robbed, and left half dead along the road. First a priest and then a Levite come by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a...

. In this parable, told to Jews, a Samaritan helps a wounded Jew even though Jews and Samaritans despised each other.

However, this period is also considered as something of a golden age for the Samaritan community, the population thought to number up to a million. The Temple of Gerizim was rebuilt after the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans, around 135 AD. Much of Samaritan liturgy was set by the high priest Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba, literally "The Great Gate", was one of the greatest of the Samaritan high priests. He is believed to have lived during the late third and early fourth century AD....

 in the 4th century.

The oldest, known Samaritan synagogue, the Delos Synagogue
Delos Synagogue
The synagogue of Delos, Greece, is the oldest synagogue known today, its origin dating between 150 and 128 BCE. The building’s most recent use is widely agreed to have been an assembly hall for Jews or Samaritans. However, the first use for the building is more controversial...

 dates from between 150 and 128 BC, or earlier and is located on the island of Delos
Delos
The island of Delos , isolated in the centre of the roughly circular ring of islands called the Cyclades, near Mykonos, is one of the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece...

.

There were some Samaritans in the Persia
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

n Empire, where they served in the Sassanid army. Many Jews had also lived in Persia for millennia, after various exiles and captivities.

Byzantine times


{{see|Samaritan Revolts}}
According to Samaritan sources, Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno
Zeno (emperor)
Zeno , originally named Tarasis, was Byzantine Emperor from 474 to 475 and again from 476 to 491. Domestic revolts and religious dissension plagued his reign, which nevertheless succeeded to some extent in foreign issues...

 (who ruled 474-491 and whom the sources call "Zait the King of Edom") persecuted the Samaritans. The Emperor went to Sichem (Neapolis), gathered the elders and asked them to convert; when they refused, Zeno had many Samaritans killed, and re-built the synagogue to a church. Zeno then took for himself Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, where the Samaritans worshipped God, and built several edifices, among whom a tomb for his recently deceased son, on which he put a cross, so that the Samaritans, worshipping God, would prostrate in front of the tomb. Later, in 484, the Samaritans revolted. The rebels attacked Sichem, burnt five churches built on Samaritan holy places and cut the finger of bishop Terebinthus, who was officiating the ceremony of Pentecost
Pentecost
Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ after the Resurrection of Jesus...

. They elected a Justa
Justa (rebel)
Justa was elected by Samaritans as their king during the 484 CE Samaritan revolt. Following his ascent in Samaria, he moved on Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. There, many Christians were killed and the church of St. Procopius was destroyed...

 (or Justasa/Justasus) as their king and moved to Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. Here several Christians were killed and the church of St. Sebastian was destroyed. Justa celebrated the victory with games in the circus. According to John Malalas
John Malalas
John Malalas or Ioannes Malalas was a Greek chronicler from Antioch. Malalas is probably a Syriac word for "rhetor", "orator"; it is first applied to him by John of Damascus .-Life:Malalas was educated in Antioch, and probably was a jurist there, but moved to...

, the dux Palaestinae Asclepiades, whose troops were reinforced by the Caesarea-based Arcadiani of Rheges, defeated Justa, killed him and sent his head to Zeno. According to Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

, Terebinthus went to Zeno to ask for revenge; the Emperor personally went to Samaria to quell the rebellion.

Modern historians believe that the order of the facts preserved by Samaritan sources should be inverted, as the persecution of Zeno was a consequence of the rebellion rather than its cause, and should have happened after 484, around 489. Zeno rebuilt the church of St. Procopius in Neapolis (Sichem) and the Samaritans were banned from Mount Gerizim, on whose top a signalling tower was built to alert in case of civil unrest.

Under a charismatic
Charismatic authority
The sociologist Max Weber defined charismatic authority as "resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him." Charismatic authority is one of three forms of authority laid out...

, messianic figure named Julianus ben Sabar
Julianus ben Sabar
Julianus ben Sabar was a messianic leader of the Samaritans, who led a failed revolt against Byzantium during the early 6th century....

 (or ben Sahir), the Samaritans launched a war to create their own independent state in 529. With the help of the Ghassanid Arabs, Emperor Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

 crushed the revolt; tens of thousands of Samaritans died or were enslaved
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

. The Samaritan faith was virtually outlawed thereafter by the Christian Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

; from a population once at least in the hundreds of thousands, the Samaritan community dwindled to near extinction.

After the Muslim Conquests


By the time of the Muslim Conquests
Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power.They...

, Samaritans were living in an area stretching between Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. Like other non-Muslims in the empire, such as Jews, Samaritans were considered to be People of the Book
People of the Book
People of the Book is a term used to designate non-Muslim adherents to faiths which have a revealed scripture called, in Arabic, Al-Kitab . The three types of adherents to faiths that the Qur'an mentions as people of the book are the Jews, Sabians and Christians.In Islam, the Muslim scripture, the...

.

Their minority status was protected by the Muslim rulers, and they had the right to practice their religion, but, as dhimmi
Dhimmi
A , is a non-Muslim subject of a state governed in accordance with sharia law. Linguistically, the word means "one whose responsibility has been taken". This has to be understood in the context of the definition of state in Islam...

, adult males had to pay the jizya
Jizya
Under Islamic law, jizya or jizyah is a per capita tax levied on a section of an Islamic state's non-Muslim citizens, who meet certain criteria...

 or "protection tax".

It has been suggested that they were forced to wear red colored turbans as a result of the terms of a document known as the Pact of Umar II, but this stipulation is not explicitly mentioned in the document, the authenticity has been questioned by contemporary scholars, and the tradition cannot be independently verified.

During the Crusades, Samaritans, like the other non-Latin Christian inhabitants of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

, were second-class citizens, but they were tolerated and perhaps favoured because they were docile and had been mentioned positively in the Christian New Testament.

Over the centuries of Byzantine, Arab and Turkish rule, the Samaritans suffered many hardships which included forced conversion to Christianity, forced conversion to Islam, harsh religious decrees, massacre and persecution.

While the majority of the Samaritan population in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 was killed or converted during the reign of the Ottoman Pasha Mardam Beq in the early 17th century, the remainder of the Samaritan communities from Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 and the other cities where they had a presence moved to Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

, due to its close proximity to Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

.

The Shechem community endured because most of the surviving diaspora returned, and they have maintained a tiny presence there to this day. In 1624, the last Samaritan High Priest
Samaritan High Priest
The Samaritan High Priest is the high priest of the Samaritan community in the Middle East.According to Samaritan tradition, the office has existed continuously since Aaron, the brother of Moses, and has been held by 132 people...

 of the line of Eleazar
Eleazar
Eleazar , was a priest in the Hebrew Bible, the second Kohen Gadol - succeeding his father Aaron. He was a nephew of Moses.-Life:...

 son of Aaron
Aaron
In the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, Aaron : Ααρών ), who is often called "'Aaron the Priest"' and once Aaron the Levite , was the older brother of Moses, and a prophet of God. He represented the priestly functions of his tribe, becoming the first High Priest of the Israelites...

 died without issue, but descendants of Aaron's other son, Ithamar
Ithamar
In the Torah, Ithamar is mentioned as the youngest son of Aaron the High Priest. After the death of his two eldest brothers Nadab and Abihu when they had been punished by the Lord for performing an unauthorized sacrificial offering, Ithamar served as a priest along with his elder brother, Eleazar...

, remained and took over the office.

The situation of the Samaritan community improved significantly during the British Mandate of Palestine. At that time, they began to work in the public sector, like many other groups. During the thirties one of the Samaritans, Tawfeek Khadir al-Kahen, was nominated as member of the Shechem Municipality.

Samaritan origins of Palestinian Muslims


Much of the local Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 population of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 is believed to be descended from Samaritans who converted to Islam. According to the historian Fayyad Altif, large numbers of Samaritans converted due to persecution under various Muslim rulers, and because the monotheistic nature of Islam made it easy for them to accept it. The Samaritans themselves describe the Ottoman period
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 as the worst period in their modern history, as many Samaritan families changed their religion during that time. Even today, certain Nabulsi family names such as Muslimani, Yaish, Sayeh, and Shakshir among others, are associated with Samaritan ancestry.

For the Samaritans in particular, the passing of the al-Hakem Edict by the Fatimids in 1021, under which all Jews and Christians in the Fatimid ruled southern Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 were ordered to either convert to Islam or leave, along with another notable forced conversion to Islam imposed at the hands of the rebel Ibn Firāsa, would contribute to their rapid unprecedented decrease, and ultimately almost complete extinction as a separate religious community. As a result, they have decreased from more than a million in Roman times to just 745 people today.

In 1940, the future Israeli president and historian Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi was a historian, Labor Zionist leader, the second and longest-serving President of Israel.-Biography:...

 wrote an article in which he stated that two thirds of the residents of Nablus and the surrounding neighboring villages are of Samaritan origin. He mentioned the name of several Palestinian Muslim families as having Samaritan origins, including the Buwarda and Kasem families who protected Samaritans from Muslim persecution in the 1850s. He further claimed that these families had written records testifying to their Samaritan ancestry, which were maintained by their priests and elders.

DNA and genetic studies


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
    Kohen
    A Kohen is the Hebrew word for priest. Jewish Kohens are traditionally believed and halachically required to be of direct patrilineal descent from the Biblical Aaron....

     lineage from the tribe of Levi.


Of the 12 Samaritan males used in the analysis, 10 (83%) had Y chromosones belonging to haplogroup J
Haplogroup J (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup J is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup. It is one of the major male lines of all living men...

, which includes three of the four Samaritan families. The Joshua-Marhiv family belongs to haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 J1
Haplogroup J1 (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Y DNA haplogroup J1, also known as J-M267, is a sub-haplogroup of Y DNA haplogroup J, along with its sibling clade Y DNA haplogroup J2. Men with this type of Y DNA share a common paternal ancestry, which is demonstrated and defined by the presence of the SNP mutation referred to...

, while the Danfi and Tsedakah families belong to haplogroup J2
Haplogroup J2 (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup J2 is a Y-chromosome haplogroup which is a subdivision of haplogroup J. It is further divided into two complementary clades, J2a-M410 and J2b-M12.-Origins:...

, 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
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 J
J
Ĵ or ĵ is a letter in Esperanto orthography representing the sound .While Esperanto orthography uses a diacritic for its four postalveolar consonants, as do the Latin-based Slavic alphabets, the base letters are Romano-Germanic...

 was the Cohen family (Tradition: Tribe of Levi) which was found in haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 E3b1a M78. This article predated the change of the classification 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.
{{Distinguish2|Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

}}
{{redirect6|Samaritans|the charity|Samaritans (charity)|other uses|Samaritan (disambiguation)}}
{{infobox religious group
| group = Samaritans
שומרונים
| flag =
| flag_caption =
| image =
| image_caption = Samaritans on the Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, 2006
| population = 745 {{smaller|(2007)}}{{cite web|url=http://www.thesamaritanupdate.com/|}}
| founder =
| regions =  Israel - approximately 350
Palestinian territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

 - approximately 350
| tablehdr = Samaritan communities
| region1 =   Holon
| pop1 = {{ndash}}
| ref1 =
| region2 = Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, near Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...


| pop2 = {{ndash}}
| ref3 =
| religions = Samaritanism
| scriptures = Samaritan Torah
Samaritan Pentateuch
The Samaritan Pentateuch, sometimes called Samaritan Torah, , is a version of the Hebrew language Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, used by the Samaritans....


| languages = Modern Vernacular
Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew , also known as Israeli Hebrew or Modern Israeli Hebrew, is the language spoken in Israel and in some Jewish communities worldwide, from the early 20th century to the present....

, Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 
Past Vernacular
Arabic, preceded by Aramaic
Samaritan Aramaic language
Samaritan Aramaic, or Samaritan, is the dialect of Aramaic used by the Samaritans in their sacred and scholarly literature. This should not be confused with the Samaritan Hebrew language of the Scriptures...

 and earlier Hebrew
Samaritan Hebrew language
Samaritan Hebrew , is a reading tradition for Biblical Hebrew as used by the Samaritans for reading the Samaritan Pentateuch. Its pronunciation is highly similar to that of Samaritan Arabic, used by the Samaritans in prayer.-Orthography:...


Liturgical
Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic
Samaritan Aramaic language
Samaritan Aramaic, or Samaritan, is the dialect of Aramaic used by the Samaritans in their sacred and scholarly literature. This should not be confused with the Samaritan Hebrew language of the Scriptures...

, Samaritan Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

{{cite web|url=http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=546&letter=J&search=samaritan |title=Joshua, The Samaritan Book Of: |publisher=JewishEncyclopedia.com |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}
| related-c = Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

, Palestinian people
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...


| notes =
}}

The Samaritans ({{lang-he|שומרונים}} Shomronim, {{lang-ar|السامريون}} as-Sāmariyyūn) are an ethnoreligious
Ethnoreligious
An ethnoreligious group is an ethnic group of people whose members are also unified by a common religious background...

 group of the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

. Religiously, they are the adherents to Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

. Based on the Samaritan Torah
Samaritan Pentateuch
The Samaritan Pentateuch, sometimes called Samaritan Torah, , is a version of the Hebrew language Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, used by the Samaritans....

, Samaritans claim their worship is the true religion of the ancient Israelites prior to the Babylonian Exile, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

, as opposed to Judaism, which they assert is a related but altered and amended religion brought back by those returning from exile.

Ancestrally, they claim descent from a group of Israelite
Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

 inhabitants from the tribes of Ephraim
Ephraim
Ephraim ; was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan...

 and Manasseh
Tribe of Manasseh
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph....

 (the two sons of Joseph) as well as some descendants from the priestly tribe of Levi
Levite
In Jewish tradition, a Levite is a member of the Hebrew tribe of Levi. When Joshua led the Israelites into the land of Canaan, the Levites were the only Israelite tribe that received cities but were not allowed to be landowners "because the Lord the God of Israel himself is their inheritance"...

,Who are the Samaritans? who have connections to ancient Samaria
Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

 from the period of their entry into the land of Canaan, while some suggest that it was from the beginning of the Babylonian Exile up to the Samaritan Kingdom of Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba, literally "The Great Gate", was one of the greatest of the Samaritan high priests. He is believed to have lived during the late third and early fourth century AD....

. The Samaritans, however, derive their name not from this geographical designation, but rather from the Hebrew term Shamerim שַמֶרִים, "Keepers [of the Law]".David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 5:941 (New York: Doubleday, 1996, c1992).

In the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, a central post-exilic religious text of Judaism, their claim of ancestral origin is disputed, and in those texts they are called Cutheans ({{lang-he|כותים}}, Kuthim), allegedly from the ancient city of Cuthah
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 (Kutha), geographically located in what is today Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. Modern genetics has suggested some truth to both the claims of the Samaritans and Jewish accounts in the Talmud.{{PDFlink|Reconstruction of Patrilineages and Matrilineages of Samaritans and Other Israeli Populations From Y-Chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA Sequennce Variation|855 KB}}, Hum Mutat 24:248–260, 2004.

Historically, they were a large community — up to more than a million in late Roman times, but were then gradually reduced to several tens of thousands up to a few centuries ago — their unprecedented demographic
Demography
Demography is the statistical study of human population. It can be a very general science that can be applied to any kind of dynamic human population, that is, one that changes over time or space...

 shrinkage has been a result of various historical events, including, most notably, the bloody suppression of the Third Samaritan Revolt (529 AD) against the Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 rulers, and the mass conversion to Islam in the Early Muslim period of Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

. According to their tally, there were 745{{cite web|url=http://www.thesamaritanupdate.com/|}} Samaritans as of November 30, 2011, living exclusively in two localities, one in Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

 near the city of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

, and the other in the Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i city of Holon. There are, however, followers of various backgrounds adhering to Samaritan traditions outside of Israel, especially in the United States.

With the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language by Jews in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, and its growth and officialization following the establishment of the state, most Samaritans in Israel today speak Modern Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

. As with their counterpart Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

, Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

, Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 and other Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i religious communities, the most recent spoken mother tongue of the Samaritans was Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, and it still is for those in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 city of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

. For liturgical
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 purposes, Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic, and Samaritan Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 are used, all of which are written in the Samaritan alphabet
Samaritan alphabet
The Samaritan alphabet is used by the Samaritans for religious writings, including the Samaritan Pentateuch, writings in Samaritan Hebrew, and for commentaries and translations in Samaritan Aramaic and occasionally Arabic....

, a variant of the Old Hebrew alphabet
Paleo-Hebrew alphabet
The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet , is an abjad offshoot of the ancient Semitic alphabet, identical to the Phoenician alphabet. At the very least it dates to the 10th century BCE...

, distinct from the so-called square script "Hebrew alphabet
Hebrew alphabet
The Hebrew alphabet , known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. There have been two...

" of Jews and Judaism, which is a stylized form of the Aramaic alphabet
Aramaic alphabet
The Aramaic alphabet is adapted from the Phoenician alphabet and became distinctive from it by the 8th century BC. The letters all represent consonants, some of which are matres lectionis, which also indicate long vowels....

.{{cite book|year=1993 |title=A History of the Hebrew Language |publisher=Cambridge University Press |location=Cambridge, England |isbn=0-521-55634-1|author=Angel Sáenz-Badillos ; translated by John Elwolde.}} Hebrew, and later Aramaic, were languages in use by the Jewish and Samaritan inhabitants of Judea prior to the Roman exile, and beyond."The Samaritans' Passover sacrifice", Ynetnews
Ynetnews
Ynetnews is the online English language Israeli news website of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s most-read newspaper, and the Hebrew Israel news portal, Ynet...

, May 2, 2007


{{Juddom}}

Samaritan sources


According to Samaritan tradition, Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

 was the original Holy Place of the Israelites from the time that Joshua
Joshua
Joshua , is a minor figure in the Torah, being one of the spies for Israel and in few passages as Moses's assistant. He turns to be the central character in the Hebrew Bible's Book of Joshua...

 conquered Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

 and the tribes of Israel settled the land. The reference to Mount Gerizim derives from the biblical story of Moses ordering Joshua to take the Twelve Tribes of Israel, (the number of which did not include the priestly tribe of Levi) to the mountains by Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 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
Mount Ebal
Mount Ebal is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the Palestinian city of Nablus in the West Bank , and forms the northern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated, the southern side being formed by Mount Gerizim...

, 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 (Deut. 11:29; 27:12; Josh. 8:33).

The Samaritans have insisted that they are direct descendants of the Northern Israelite tribes of Ephraim
Ephraim
Ephraim ; was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan...

 and Manasseh
Tribe of Manasseh
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph....

, who survived the destruction of the Northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

ns in 722 BC. The inscription of Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

 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 tribes of Israel conquered and returned to the land of Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

, 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
Shiloh (Biblical)
Shiloh was an ancient city south of ancient Tirzah and mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Its site is at modern Khirbet Seilun, West Bank, and north of the Israeli settlement of Beth El in the West Bank....

. Thus, he established both an illegitimate priesthood and an illegitimate place of worship.

Abu l-Fath
Abu l-Fath
Abu l-Fath, or Ibn Abi al-Hasan al-Samiri al-Danafi, was a fourteen century Samaritan chronicler, writing in Arabic. His major work is Kitab al-Ta'rikh.The work was commissioned in 1352 by Pinḥas, Samaritan high priest, and begun in 1356...

, who in the 14th century AD wrote a major work of Samaritan history, comments on Samaritan origins as follows:The Keepers, An Introduction to the History and Culture of the Samaritans, by Robert T. Anderson and Terry Giles, Hendrickson Publishing, 2002, pages 11-12

{{quote|A terrible civil war broke out between Eli son of Yafni, of the line of Ithamar, and the sons of Pincus (Phinehas
Phinehas
-Biblical figures:*Phinehas, son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the High Priest*Phinehas, son of the High Priest Eli. He was a priest at Shiloh, and died when the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant-Other :*Pinchas, the 41st weekly Torah portion....

), because Eli son of Yafni resolved to usurp the High Priesthood from the descendants of Pincus. 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:

{{quote|And the children of Israel in his days divided into three groups. One did according to the abominations of the Gentile
Gentile
The term Gentile refers to non-Israelite peoples or nations in English translations of the Bible....

s 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.}}

Jewish sources


The emergence of the Samaritans as an ethnic and religious community distinct from other Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 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 former kingdom.

Jewish tradition maintains a different origin for the Samaritans. The Talmud accounts for a people called "Cuthim"
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 on a number of occasions, mentioning their arrival by the hands of the Assyrians. According to 2 Kings
Books of Kings
The Book of Kings presents a narrative history of ancient Israel and Judah from the death of David to the release of his successor Jehoiachin from imprisonment in Babylon, a period of some 400 years...

 17 and Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 (Antiquities
Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquities of the Jews is a twenty volume historiographical work composed by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in the thirteenth year of the reign of Roman emperor Flavius Domitian which was around 93 or 94 AD. Antiquities of the Jews contains an account of history of the Jewish people,...

 9.277–91), the people of Israel were removed by the king of the Assyrians (Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

- see special wording of 2 Kings 17 which mentions Shalmaneser
Shalmaneser V
Shalmaneser V was king of Assyria from 727 to 722 BC. He first appears as governor of Zimirra in Phoenicia in the reign of his father, Tiglath-Pileser III....

 in verse 3 but the "king of the Assyrians" from verse 4 onward), to Halah
Halah
Halah is a city that is mentioned in the Bible. It is noted when the Assyrians invaded Israel and enslaved the people. They were sent into exile in Halah, in Gozan on the Khabur River, and in the towns of the Medes. Halah was in Assyria, which was a major power in northern Mesopotamia...

, to Gozan
Tell Halaf
Tell Halaf is an archaeological site in the Al Hasakah governorate of northeastern Syria, near the Turkish border, just opposite Ceylanpınar. It was the first find of a Neolithic culture, subsequently dubbed the Halaf culture, characterized by glazed pottery painted with geometric and animal designs...

 on the Khabur River
Khabur River
The Khabur River , , , ) is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrian territory. Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra's al-'Ayn are the river's main source of water. Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah, together creating...

 and to the towns of the Medes
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

. The king of the Assyrians then brought people from Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

, Cuthah
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

, 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
Rabbi Meir
Rabbi Meir or Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes was a Jewish sage who lived in the time of the Mishna. He was considered one of the greatest of the Tannaim of the fourth generation . According to legend , his father was a descendant of the Roman Emperor Nero who had converted to Judaism. His wife Bruriah is...

 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 figure?
  • 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
Nehemiah
Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which describes his work rebuilding Jerusalem and purifying the Jewish community. He was the son of Hachaliah, Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the...

, Ezra
Ezra
Ezra , also called Ezra the Scribe and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra. According to the Hebrew Bible he returned from the Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem...

, and the building of the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. Returning exiles considered the Samaritans to be non-Israelites 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:

{{quote|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 (722–721 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 AD 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:

{{quote|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.)}}

Tension between the Samaritans and the Jews


The narratives in Genesis about the rivalries among the twelve sons of Jacob describe tensions between north and south. Those were temporarily united under the strong kingship of David and Solomon, but at the death of Solomon, the kingdom split into two: northern Israel with its capital Samaria and southern Judea with its capital Jerusalem.

The Deuteronomistic Historians, writing in Judah, saw northern Israel as a sinful kingdom, divinely punished for its idolatry and iniquity by being destroyed by the Assyrians in 720 BC. (Ironically, the Chronicler is very generous to the south Judah and considers it God's will to recover the chosen people that they were destroyed by Babylon and exiled to Babylon.)

The tensions continued in the postexilic period. According to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, Ezra-Nehemiah is hostile toward its northern neighbors and considers the northern Israel except for the "true Israel"{{huh?|date=October 2011}}. Chronicles is more inclusive than Ezra-Nehemiah since for the Chronicler the ideal is of one Israel with twelve tribes; the Chronicler concentrates on Judah and ignores northern Israel.Michael D. Coogan, "A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament" page 363, 2009.

Unlike the Chronicler, the Samaritans claimed that they were the true Israel who were descendants of the "lost" tribes taken into Assyrian captivity. They had their own temple on Mount Gerizim and claimed that it was the original sanctuary. Moreover, they claimed that their version of the Pentateuch was the original and that the Jews had a falsified text produced by Ezra during the Babylonian exile.

Both Jewish and Samaritan religious leaders taught that it was wrong to have any contact with the opposite group, and neither was to enter each other's territories or even to speak to one another. During the New Testament period, although the tensions went unrecognized by Roman authorities, Josephus reports numerous violent confrontations between Jews and Samaritans throughout the first half of the first century.Mark A. Powell, "Introduction the New Testament" 'Ch.01 The People of Palestine at the Time of Jesus', Baker Academic, 2009.

Rejection by Judeans


According to the Jewish version of events, when the Judean exile ended in 538 BC and the exiles began returning home from Babylon, they found their former homeland populated by other people who claimed the land as their own and Jerusalem, their former glorious capital, in ruins.

According to {{bibleverse|2|Chronicles|36:22–23|HE}}, the Persian emperor, Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 (reigned 559 BC – 530 BC), permitted the return of the exiles to their homeland and ordered the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem (Zion
Zion
Zion is a place name often used as a synonym for Jerusalem. The word is first found in Samuel II, 5:7 dating to c.630-540 BCE...

). The prophet Isaiah identified Cyrus as "the Lord's Messiah" (Meshiach; see {{bibleverse||Isaiah|45:1|HE}}). The word "Messiah
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

" refers to an anointed one, such as a king or priest.

{{bibleverse||Ezra|4|HE}} says that the local inhabitants of the land offered to assist with the building of the new temple during the time of Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Judah and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia . The date is generally thought to...

, 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 alienation increased, and that the Samaritans eventually built their own temple on Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, near Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

.

(The rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem took several decades. The project was first led by Sheshbazzar (about 538 BC), later by Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Judah and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia . The date is generally thought to...

 and Jeshua
Joshua the High Priest
Joshua the High Priest was, according to the Bible the first person chosen to be the High Priest for the reconstruction of the Jewish Temple after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity The name is also spelled 'Jeshua' in some English versions , and, as with the earlier Joshua, is...

, and later still by Haggai
Haggai
Haggai was a Hebrew prophet during the building of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and one of the twelve minor prophets in the Hebrew Bible and the author of the Book of Haggai. His name means "my holiday"...

 and Zechariah (520–515 BC). Work was completed in 515 BC.)

The term "Cuthim" applied by Jews to the Samaritans had clear pejorative
Pejorative
Pejoratives , including name slurs, are words or grammatical forms that connote negativity and express contempt or distaste. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social groups but not in others, e.g., hacker is a term used for computer criminals as well as quick and clever computer experts...

 connotations, implying that they were interlopers brought in from Kutha
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 in Mesopotamia and rejecting their claim of descent from the ancient Tribes of Israel. This claim, however, that the northern tribes of Israel were all exiled by the Assyrians and therefore those who occupied the land were of a non-Israelite origin is rejected by the Bible, 2 Chronicles 30:1-31:6, which states that not all of the people from the northern kingdom were exiled by the Assyrians and some still remained even after the Assyrian conquest of the land in the 8th century BC.

Assyrian Account of the Conquest and Settlement of Samaria


However, the following account of the Assyrian kings, which was among the archaeological discoveries in Babylon, differs from the Samaritan and Jewish Biblical accounts:

{{quote|[the Samar]ians [who had agreed with a hostile king]...I fought with them and decisively defeated them]....carried off as spoil. 50 chariots for my royal force ...[the rest of them I settled in the midst of Assyria]....The Tamudi, Ibadidi, Marsimani and Hayappa, who live in distant Arabia, in the desert, who knew neither overseer nor commander, who never brought tribute to any king--with the help of Ashshur my lord, I defeated them. I deported the rest of them. I settled them in Samaria/Samerina.(Sargon II Inscriptions, COS 2.118A, p. 293)}}

Also,

{{quote|The inhabitants of Samaria/Samerina, who agreed [and plotted] with a king [hostile to] me, not to do service and not to bring tribute [to Ashshur] and who did battle, I fought against them with the power of the great gods, my lords. I counted as spoil 27,280 people, together with their chariots, and gods, in which they trusted. I formed a unit with 200 of [their] chariots for my royal force. I settled the rest of them in the midst of Assyria. I repopulated Samaria/Samerina more than before. I brought into it people from countries conquered by my hands. I appointed my eunuch as governor over them. And I counted them as Assyrians.(Nimrud Prisms, COS 2.118D, pp. 295-296)}}

Temple on Mount Gerizim


Archaeological excavations at Mount Gerizim indicate that a Samaritan temple was built there in the first half of the 5th century BC.http://books.google.com.au/books?id=6NsxZRnxE70C&pg=PA75&lpg=PA75&dq=Lipschits+Yehud&source=bl&ots=ItiriRREm4&sig=8qiPIQOnJdojfacDoHFXFmM4muM&hl=en&ei=UoEUTMGlBcO9cYSd9JAM&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCAQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=Lipschits%20Yehud&f=falseYitzhak Magen, The Dating of the First Pahse of the Samaritan Temple on Mount Gerizim in the Light of the Archaeological Evidence (in Oded Lipschitz, Gary N. Knoppers, Rainer Albertz, eds, "Judah and Judeans in the Fourth Century BC", Eisenbrauns, 2007)] The date of the schism between Samaritans and Jews is unknown.

According to Samaritans,{{dead link|date=February 2010}} it was on Mount Gerizim that Abraham was commanded by God to offer Isaac, his son, as a sacrifice {{Bible|Genesis 22:2}}. In both narratives, God then causes the sacrifice to be interrupted, explaining that this was the ultimate test of Abraham's obedience, as a result of which all the world would receive blessing.

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
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, making it the focus of their spiritual values.

The legitimacy of the Samaritan temple was attacked by Jewish scholars including Andronicus ben Meshullam
Andronicus ben Meshullam
Andronicus ben Meshullam, a Jewish scholar of the 2nd century BCE. According to Josephus , he was the representative of the Jews in their religious dispute with the Samaritans, which was held before King Ptolemy VI Philometor, about the year 150 BCE...

.

In the Christian Bible, the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 relates an encounter between a Samaritan woman and Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 in which she asserts that the mountain was the center of their worship {{Bible|John 4:20}}.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Hellenization


In the 2nd century BC a particularly bitter series of events eventually led to a revolution of the Israelites against their Greek oppressors.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne....

 was on the throne of the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 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 and their refusal to allow their homeland to be defiled.

The universal peril led the Samaritans, eager for safety, to repudiate all connection and kinship with the Jews. The request was granted. This was put forth as the final breach between the two groups, being alleged at a much later date in the Christian bible (John 4:9), "For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans."{{cite web|url=http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=%20John%204:9,27 |title=NIV English translation of John |publisher=Biblegateway.com |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}

Several centuries before Christ, the Samaritans had built their own temple on Mt. Gerizim to rival the Temple in Jerusalem. Here, they offered sacrifices according to the Mosaic code. Anderson notes that during the reign of Antiochus IV (175–164 BC):{{cite web|url=http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/282-jesus-and-the-samaritan-woman |title=Jesus and the Samaritan Woman / A Samaritan Woman Approaches:1 |publisher=Christiancourier.com |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}

{{quote|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:

{{quote|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.}}

{{quote|Shortly afterwards, the Greek king sent Gerontes the Athenian to force the Jews of Israel 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 defiled the Jewish temple by setting up an altar to Zeus over the holy altar of burnt offerings in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which was the center of Jewish religious life. Antiochus also sacrificed a pig on the altar in the Temple in Jerusalem. This event is known as the "abomination of desolation".{{cite web|url=http://www.gotquestions.org/abomination-desolation.html |title=What is the Abomination of Desolation? |publisher=Gotquestions.org |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}

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 Jews who refused to worship and kiss Antiochus' image, along with the desecration of the Holy Temple, ultimately led to a revolt led by Judah Maccabee
Judas Maccabeus
Judah Maccabee was a Kohen and a son of the Jewish priest Mattathias...

 (Judah the Hammer) and his family. Though quite outnumbered, the Israelites, led by the Maccabee family, managed to regain control of their land. This "miracle" restoration of Jewish sovereignty in the face of Greek dominance has been since observed by Jews in the winter "Festival of Lights" holiday known as Chanukah.

Judah'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
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

 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
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 until around 129 BC, when the Jewish Hasmonean
Hasmonean
The Hasmonean dynasty , was the ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE, the dynasty ruled semi-autonomously from the Seleucids in the region of Judea...

 king Yohanan Girhan (John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

) destroyed the Samaritan temple and devastated Samaria.

Roman period


Samaritans fared badly under the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, when Samaria was a part of the Roman-ruled province of Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

.

Samaritans appear briefly in the Christian gospels, most notable in the parable of the Good Samaritan
Parable of the Good Samaritan
The parable of the Good Samaritan is a parable told by Jesus and is mentioned in only one of the Canonical gospels. According to the Gospel of Luke a traveller is beaten, robbed, and left half dead along the road. First a priest and then a Levite come by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a...

. In this parable, told to Jews, a Samaritan helps a wounded Jew even though Jews and Samaritans despised each other.

However, this period is also considered as something of a golden age for the Samaritan community, the population thought to number up to a million.http://www.lonelyplanet.com/israel-and-the-palestinian-territories The Temple of Gerizim was rebuilt after the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans, around 135 AD. Much of Samaritan liturgy was set by the high priest Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba, literally "The Great Gate", was one of the greatest of the Samaritan high priests. He is believed to have lived during the late third and early fourth century AD....

 in the 4th century.

The oldest, known Samaritan synagogue, the Delos Synagogue
Delos Synagogue
The synagogue of Delos, Greece, is the oldest synagogue known today, its origin dating between 150 and 128 BCE. The building’s most recent use is widely agreed to have been an assembly hall for Jews or Samaritans. However, the first use for the building is more controversial...

 dates from between 150 and 128 BC, or earlier and is located on the island of Delos
Delos
The island of Delos , isolated in the centre of the roughly circular ring of islands called the Cyclades, near Mykonos, is one of the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece...

.{{cite web|url=http://www.pohick.org/sts/delos.html |title=Delos |publisher=Pohick.org |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}

There were some Samaritans in the Persia
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

n Empire, where they served in the Sassanid army. Many Jews had also lived in Persia for millennia, after various exiles and captivities.

Byzantine times


{{see|Samaritan Revolts}}
According to Samaritan sources, Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno
Zeno (emperor)
Zeno , originally named Tarasis, was Byzantine Emperor from 474 to 475 and again from 476 to 491. Domestic revolts and religious dissension plagued his reign, which nevertheless succeeded to some extent in foreign issues...

 (who ruled 474-491 and whom the sources call "Zait the King of Edom") persecuted the Samaritans. The Emperor went to Sichem (Neapolis), gathered the elders and asked them to convert; when they refused, Zeno had many Samaritans killed, and re-built the synagogue to a church. Zeno then took for himself Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, where the Samaritans worshipped God, and built several edifices, among whom a tomb for his recently deceased son, on which he put a cross, so that the Samaritans, worshipping God, would prostrate in front of the tomb. Later, in 484, the Samaritans revolted. The rebels attacked Sichem, burnt five churches built on Samaritan holy places and cut the finger of bishop Terebinthus, who was officiating the ceremony of Pentecost
Pentecost
Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ after the Resurrection of Jesus...

. They elected a Justa
Justa (rebel)
Justa was elected by Samaritans as their king during the 484 CE Samaritan revolt. Following his ascent in Samaria, he moved on Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. There, many Christians were killed and the church of St. Procopius was destroyed...

 (or Justasa/Justasus) as their king and moved to Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. Here several Christians were killed and the church of St. Sebastian was destroyed. Justa celebrated the victory with games in the circus. According to John Malalas
John Malalas
John Malalas or Ioannes Malalas was a Greek chronicler from Antioch. Malalas is probably a Syriac word for "rhetor", "orator"; it is first applied to him by John of Damascus .-Life:Malalas was educated in Antioch, and probably was a jurist there, but moved to...

, the dux Palaestinae Asclepiades, whose troops were reinforced by the Caesarea-based Arcadiani of Rheges, defeated Justa, killed him and sent his head to Zeno.Malalas, 15. According to Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

, Terebinthus went to Zeno to ask for revenge; the Emperor personally went to Samaria to quell the rebellion.Procopius, Buildings, 5.7.

Modern historians believe that the order of the facts preserved by Samaritan sources should be inverted, as the persecution of Zeno was a consequence of the rebellion rather than its cause, and should have happened after 484, around 489. Zeno rebuilt the church of St. Procopius in Neapolis (Sichem) and the Samaritans were banned from Mount Gerizim, on whose top a signalling tower was built to alert in case of civil unrest.Alan David Crown, The Samaritans, Mohr Siebeck, 1989, ISBN 3161452372, pp. 72-73.

Under a charismatic
Charismatic authority
The sociologist Max Weber defined charismatic authority as "resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him." Charismatic authority is one of three forms of authority laid out...

, messianic figure named Julianus ben Sabar
Julianus ben Sabar
Julianus ben Sabar was a messianic leader of the Samaritans, who led a failed revolt against Byzantium during the early 6th century....

 (or ben Sahir), the Samaritans launched a war to create their own independent state in 529. With the help of the Ghassanid Arabs, Emperor Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

 crushed the revolt; tens of thousands of Samaritans died or were enslaved
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

. The Samaritan faith was virtually outlawed thereafter by the Christian Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

; from a population once at least in the hundreds of thousands, the Samaritan community dwindled to near extinction.

After the Muslim Conquests


By the time of the Muslim Conquests
Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power.They...

, Samaritans were living in an area stretching between Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. Like other non-Muslims in the empire, such as Jews, Samaritans were considered to be People of the Book
People of the Book
People of the Book is a term used to designate non-Muslim adherents to faiths which have a revealed scripture called, in Arabic, Al-Kitab . The three types of adherents to faiths that the Qur'an mentions as people of the book are the Jews, Sabians and Christians.In Islam, the Muslim scripture, the...

.

Their minority status was protected by the Muslim rulers, and they had the right to practice their religion, but, as dhimmi
Dhimmi
A , is a non-Muslim subject of a state governed in accordance with sharia law. Linguistically, the word means "one whose responsibility has been taken". This has to be understood in the context of the definition of state in Islam...

, adult males had to pay the jizya
Jizya
Under Islamic law, jizya or jizyah is a per capita tax levied on a section of an Islamic state's non-Muslim citizens, who meet certain criteria...

 or "protection tax".

It has been suggested that they were forced to wear red colored turbans as a result of the terms of a document known as the Pact of Umar II, but this stipulation is not explicitly mentioned in the document, the authenticity has been questioned by contemporary scholars, and the tradition cannot be independently verified.

During the Crusades, Samaritans, like the other non-Latin Christian inhabitants of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

, were second-class citizens, but they were tolerated and perhaps favoured because they were docile and had been mentioned positively in the Christian New Testament.Benjamin Z. Kedar, "The Frankish period", in The Samaritans, ed. Alan D. Cross (Tübingen, 1989), pp. 86-87.

Over the centuries of Byzantine, Arab and Turkish rule, the Samaritans suffered many hardships which included forced conversion to Christianity, forced conversion to Islam, harsh religious decrees, massacre and persecution.

While the majority of the Samaritan population in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 was killed or converted during the reign of the Ottoman Pasha Mardam Beq in the early 17th century, the remainder of the Samaritan communities from Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 and the other cities where they had a presence moved to Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

, due to its close proximity to Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

.

The Shechem community endured because most of the surviving diaspora returned, and they have maintained a tiny presence there to this day. In 1624, the last Samaritan High Priest
Samaritan High Priest
The Samaritan High Priest is the high priest of the Samaritan community in the Middle East.According to Samaritan tradition, the office has existed continuously since Aaron, the brother of Moses, and has been held by 132 people...

 of the line of Eleazar
Eleazar
Eleazar , was a priest in the Hebrew Bible, the second Kohen Gadol - succeeding his father Aaron. He was a nephew of Moses.-Life:...

 son of Aaron
Aaron
In the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, Aaron : Ααρών ), who is often called "'Aaron the Priest"' and once Aaron the Levite , was the older brother of Moses, and a prophet of God. He represented the priestly functions of his tribe, becoming the first High Priest of the Israelites...

 died without issue, but descendants of Aaron's other son, Ithamar
Ithamar
In the Torah, Ithamar is mentioned as the youngest son of Aaron the High Priest. After the death of his two eldest brothers Nadab and Abihu when they had been punished by the Lord for performing an unauthorized sacrificial offering, Ithamar served as a priest along with his elder brother, Eleazar...

, remained and took over the office.

The situation of the Samaritan community improved significantly during the British Mandate of Palestine. At that time, they began to work in the public sector, like many other groups. During the thirties one of the Samaritans, Tawfeek Khadir al-Kahen, was nominated as member of the Shechem Municipality.

Samaritan origins of Palestinian Muslims


Much of the local Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 population of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 is believed to be descended from Samaritans who converted to Islam. According to the historian Fayyad Altif, large numbers of Samaritans converted due to persecution under various Muslim rulers, and because the monotheistic nature of Islam made it easy for them to accept it. The Samaritans themselves describe the Ottoman period
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 as the worst period in their modern history, as many Samaritan families changed their religion during that time. Even today, certain Nabulsi family names such as Muslimani, Yaish, Sayeh, and Shakshir among others, are associated with Samaritan ancestry.

For the Samaritans in particular, the passing of the al-Hakem Edict by the Fatimids in 1021, under which all Jews and Christians in the Fatimid ruled southern Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 were ordered to either convert to Islam or leave, along with another notable forced conversion to Islam imposed at the hands of the rebel Ibn Firāsa, would contribute to their rapid unprecedented decrease, and ultimately almost complete extinction as a separate religious community. As a result, they have decreased from more than a million in Roman times to just 745 people today.

In 1940, the future Israeli president and historian Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi was a historian, Labor Zionist leader, the second and longest-serving President of Israel.-Biography:...

 wrote an article in which he stated that two thirds of the residents of Nablus and the surrounding neighboring villages are of Samaritan origin. He mentioned the name of several Palestinian Muslim families as having Samaritan origins, including the Buwarda and Kasem families who protected Samaritans from Muslim persecution in the 1850s. He further claimed that these families had written records testifying to their Samaritan ancestry, which were maintained by their priests and elders.

DNA and genetic studies


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
    Kohen
    A Kohen is the Hebrew word for priest. Jewish Kohens are traditionally believed and halachically required to be of direct patrilineal descent from the Biblical Aaron....

     lineage from the tribe of Levi.


Of the 12 Samaritan males used in the analysis, 10 (83%) had Y chromosones belonging to haplogroup J
Haplogroup J (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup J is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup. It is one of the major male lines of all living men...

, which includes three of the four Samaritan families. The Joshua-Marhiv family belongs to haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 J1
Haplogroup J1 (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Y DNA haplogroup J1, also known as J-M267, is a sub-haplogroup of Y DNA haplogroup J, along with its sibling clade Y DNA haplogroup J2. Men with this type of Y DNA share a common paternal ancestry, which is demonstrated and defined by the presence of the SNP mutation referred to...

, while the Danfi and Tsedakah families belong to haplogroup J2
Haplogroup J2 (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup J2 is a Y-chromosome haplogroup which is a subdivision of haplogroup J. It is further divided into two complementary clades, J2a-M410 and J2b-M12.-Origins:...

, 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
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 J
J
Ĵ or ĵ is a letter in Esperanto orthography representing the sound .While Esperanto orthography uses a diacritic for its four postalveolar consonants, as do the Latin-based Slavic alphabets, the base letters are Romano-Germanic...

 was the Cohen family (Tradition: Tribe of Levi) which was found in haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 E3b1a M78.{{cite journal |last=Shen |first=P | coauthors = Lavi T, Kivisild T, Chou V, Sengun D, Gefel D, Shpirer I, Woolf E, Hillel J, Feldman MW, Oefner PJ |year=2004 |url=http://evolutsioon.ut.ee/publications/Shen2004.pdf |title=Reconstruction of Patrilineages and Matrilineages of Samaritans and Other Israeli Populations From Y-Chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA Sequence Variation | journal = Human Mutation | volume = 24 |pages=248–260 | format= PDF | pmid = 15300852 | doi = 10.1002/humu.20077 |issue=3}} This article predated the change of the classification 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.
{{Distinguish2|Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

}}
{{redirect6|Samaritans|the charity|Samaritans (charity)|other uses|Samaritan (disambiguation)}}
{{infobox religious group
| group = Samaritans
שומרונים
| flag =
| flag_caption =
| image =
| image_caption = Samaritans on the Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, 2006
| population = 745 {{smaller|(2007)}}{{cite web|url=http://www.thesamaritanupdate.com/|}}
| founder =
| regions =  Israel - approximately 350
Palestinian territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

 - approximately 350
| tablehdr = Samaritan communities
| region1 =   Holon
| pop1 = {{ndash}}
| ref1 =
| region2 = Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, near Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...


| pop2 = {{ndash}}
| ref3 =
| religions = Samaritanism
| scriptures = Samaritan Torah
Samaritan Pentateuch
The Samaritan Pentateuch, sometimes called Samaritan Torah, , is a version of the Hebrew language Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, used by the Samaritans....


| languages = Modern Vernacular
Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew , also known as Israeli Hebrew or Modern Israeli Hebrew, is the language spoken in Israel and in some Jewish communities worldwide, from the early 20th century to the present....

, Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 
Past Vernacular
Arabic, preceded by Aramaic
Samaritan Aramaic language
Samaritan Aramaic, or Samaritan, is the dialect of Aramaic used by the Samaritans in their sacred and scholarly literature. This should not be confused with the Samaritan Hebrew language of the Scriptures...

 and earlier Hebrew
Samaritan Hebrew language
Samaritan Hebrew , is a reading tradition for Biblical Hebrew as used by the Samaritans for reading the Samaritan Pentateuch. Its pronunciation is highly similar to that of Samaritan Arabic, used by the Samaritans in prayer.-Orthography:...


Liturgical
Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic
Samaritan Aramaic language
Samaritan Aramaic, or Samaritan, is the dialect of Aramaic used by the Samaritans in their sacred and scholarly literature. This should not be confused with the Samaritan Hebrew language of the Scriptures...

, Samaritan Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

{{cite web|url=http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=546&letter=J&search=samaritan |title=Joshua, The Samaritan Book Of: |publisher=JewishEncyclopedia.com |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}
| related-c = Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

, Palestinian people
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...


| notes =
}}

The Samaritans ({{lang-he|שומרונים}} Shomronim, {{lang-ar|السامريون}} as-Sāmariyyūn) are an ethnoreligious
Ethnoreligious
An ethnoreligious group is an ethnic group of people whose members are also unified by a common religious background...

 group of the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

. Religiously, they are the adherents to Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

. Based on the Samaritan Torah
Samaritan Pentateuch
The Samaritan Pentateuch, sometimes called Samaritan Torah, , is a version of the Hebrew language Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, used by the Samaritans....

, Samaritans claim their worship is the true religion of the ancient Israelites prior to the Babylonian Exile, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

, as opposed to Judaism, which they assert is a related but altered and amended religion brought back by those returning from exile.

Ancestrally, they claim descent from a group of Israelite
Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

 inhabitants from the tribes of Ephraim
Ephraim
Ephraim ; was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan...

 and Manasseh
Tribe of Manasseh
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph....

 (the two sons of Joseph) as well as some descendants from the priestly tribe of Levi
Levite
In Jewish tradition, a Levite is a member of the Hebrew tribe of Levi. When Joshua led the Israelites into the land of Canaan, the Levites were the only Israelite tribe that received cities but were not allowed to be landowners "because the Lord the God of Israel himself is their inheritance"...

,Who are the Samaritans? who have connections to ancient Samaria
Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

 from the period of their entry into the land of Canaan, while some suggest that it was from the beginning of the Babylonian Exile up to the Samaritan Kingdom of Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba, literally "The Great Gate", was one of the greatest of the Samaritan high priests. He is believed to have lived during the late third and early fourth century AD....

. The Samaritans, however, derive their name not from this geographical designation, but rather from the Hebrew term Shamerim שַמֶרִים, "Keepers [of the Law]".David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 5:941 (New York: Doubleday, 1996, c1992).

In the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, a central post-exilic religious text of Judaism, their claim of ancestral origin is disputed, and in those texts they are called Cutheans ({{lang-he|כותים}}, Kuthim), allegedly from the ancient city of Cuthah
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 (Kutha), geographically located in what is today Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. Modern genetics has suggested some truth to both the claims of the Samaritans and Jewish accounts in the Talmud.{{PDFlink|Reconstruction of Patrilineages and Matrilineages of Samaritans and Other Israeli Populations From Y-Chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA Sequennce Variation|855 KB}}, Hum Mutat 24:248–260, 2004.

Historically, they were a large community — up to more than a million in late Roman times, but were then gradually reduced to several tens of thousands up to a few centuries ago — their unprecedented demographic
Demography
Demography is the statistical study of human population. It can be a very general science that can be applied to any kind of dynamic human population, that is, one that changes over time or space...

 shrinkage has been a result of various historical events, including, most notably, the bloody suppression of the Third Samaritan Revolt (529 AD) against the Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 rulers, and the mass conversion to Islam in the Early Muslim period of Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

. According to their tally, there were 745{{cite web|url=http://www.thesamaritanupdate.com/|}} Samaritans as of November 30, 2011, living exclusively in two localities, one in Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

 near the city of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

, and the other in the Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i city of Holon. There are, however, followers of various backgrounds adhering to Samaritan traditions outside of Israel, especially in the United States.

With the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language by Jews in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, and its growth and officialization following the establishment of the state, most Samaritans in Israel today speak Modern Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

. As with their counterpart Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

, Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

, Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 and other Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i religious communities, the most recent spoken mother tongue of the Samaritans was Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, and it still is for those in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 city of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

. For liturgical
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 purposes, Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic, and Samaritan Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 are used, all of which are written in the Samaritan alphabet
Samaritan alphabet
The Samaritan alphabet is used by the Samaritans for religious writings, including the Samaritan Pentateuch, writings in Samaritan Hebrew, and for commentaries and translations in Samaritan Aramaic and occasionally Arabic....

, a variant of the Old Hebrew alphabet
Paleo-Hebrew alphabet
The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet , is an abjad offshoot of the ancient Semitic alphabet, identical to the Phoenician alphabet. At the very least it dates to the 10th century BCE...

, distinct from the so-called square script "Hebrew alphabet
Hebrew alphabet
The Hebrew alphabet , known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. There have been two...

" of Jews and Judaism, which is a stylized form of the Aramaic alphabet
Aramaic alphabet
The Aramaic alphabet is adapted from the Phoenician alphabet and became distinctive from it by the 8th century BC. The letters all represent consonants, some of which are matres lectionis, which also indicate long vowels....

.{{cite book|year=1993 |title=A History of the Hebrew Language |publisher=Cambridge University Press |location=Cambridge, England |isbn=0-521-55634-1|author=Angel Sáenz-Badillos ; translated by John Elwolde.}} Hebrew, and later Aramaic, were languages in use by the Jewish and Samaritan inhabitants of Judea prior to the Roman exile, and beyond."The Samaritans' Passover sacrifice", Ynetnews
Ynetnews
Ynetnews is the online English language Israeli news website of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s most-read newspaper, and the Hebrew Israel news portal, Ynet...

, May 2, 2007


{{Juddom}}

Samaritan sources


According to Samaritan tradition, Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

 was the original Holy Place of the Israelites from the time that Joshua
Joshua
Joshua , is a minor figure in the Torah, being one of the spies for Israel and in few passages as Moses's assistant. He turns to be the central character in the Hebrew Bible's Book of Joshua...

 conquered Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

 and the tribes of Israel settled the land. The reference to Mount Gerizim derives from the biblical story of Moses ordering Joshua to take the Twelve Tribes of Israel, (the number of which did not include the priestly tribe of Levi) to the mountains by Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 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
Mount Ebal
Mount Ebal is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the Palestinian city of Nablus in the West Bank , and forms the northern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated, the southern side being formed by Mount Gerizim...

, 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 (Deut. 11:29; 27:12; Josh. 8:33).

The Samaritans have insisted that they are direct descendants of the Northern Israelite tribes of Ephraim
Ephraim
Ephraim ; was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan...

 and Manasseh
Tribe of Manasseh
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph....

, who survived the destruction of the Northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

ns in 722 BC. The inscription of Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

 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 tribes of Israel conquered and returned to the land of Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

, 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
Shiloh (Biblical)
Shiloh was an ancient city south of ancient Tirzah and mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Its site is at modern Khirbet Seilun, West Bank, and north of the Israeli settlement of Beth El in the West Bank....

. Thus, he established both an illegitimate priesthood and an illegitimate place of worship.

Abu l-Fath
Abu l-Fath
Abu l-Fath, or Ibn Abi al-Hasan al-Samiri al-Danafi, was a fourteen century Samaritan chronicler, writing in Arabic. His major work is Kitab al-Ta'rikh.The work was commissioned in 1352 by Pinḥas, Samaritan high priest, and begun in 1356...

, who in the 14th century AD wrote a major work of Samaritan history, comments on Samaritan origins as follows:The Keepers, An Introduction to the History and Culture of the Samaritans, by Robert T. Anderson and Terry Giles, Hendrickson Publishing, 2002, pages 11-12

{{quote|A terrible civil war broke out between Eli son of Yafni, of the line of Ithamar, and the sons of Pincus (Phinehas
Phinehas
-Biblical figures:*Phinehas, son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the High Priest*Phinehas, son of the High Priest Eli. He was a priest at Shiloh, and died when the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant-Other :*Pinchas, the 41st weekly Torah portion....

), because Eli son of Yafni resolved to usurp the High Priesthood from the descendants of Pincus. 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:

{{quote|And the children of Israel in his days divided into three groups. One did according to the abominations of the Gentile
Gentile
The term Gentile refers to non-Israelite peoples or nations in English translations of the Bible....

s 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.}}

Jewish sources


The emergence of the Samaritans as an ethnic and religious community distinct from other Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 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 former kingdom.

Jewish tradition maintains a different origin for the Samaritans. The Talmud accounts for a people called "Cuthim"
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 on a number of occasions, mentioning their arrival by the hands of the Assyrians. According to 2 Kings
Books of Kings
The Book of Kings presents a narrative history of ancient Israel and Judah from the death of David to the release of his successor Jehoiachin from imprisonment in Babylon, a period of some 400 years...

 17 and Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 (Antiquities
Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquities of the Jews is a twenty volume historiographical work composed by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in the thirteenth year of the reign of Roman emperor Flavius Domitian which was around 93 or 94 AD. Antiquities of the Jews contains an account of history of the Jewish people,...

 9.277–91), the people of Israel were removed by the king of the Assyrians (Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

- see special wording of 2 Kings 17 which mentions Shalmaneser
Shalmaneser V
Shalmaneser V was king of Assyria from 727 to 722 BC. He first appears as governor of Zimirra in Phoenicia in the reign of his father, Tiglath-Pileser III....

 in verse 3 but the "king of the Assyrians" from verse 4 onward), to Halah
Halah
Halah is a city that is mentioned in the Bible. It is noted when the Assyrians invaded Israel and enslaved the people. They were sent into exile in Halah, in Gozan on the Khabur River, and in the towns of the Medes. Halah was in Assyria, which was a major power in northern Mesopotamia...

, to Gozan
Tell Halaf
Tell Halaf is an archaeological site in the Al Hasakah governorate of northeastern Syria, near the Turkish border, just opposite Ceylanpınar. It was the first find of a Neolithic culture, subsequently dubbed the Halaf culture, characterized by glazed pottery painted with geometric and animal designs...

 on the Khabur River
Khabur River
The Khabur River , , , ) is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrian territory. Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra's al-'Ayn are the river's main source of water. Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah, together creating...

 and to the towns of the Medes
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

. The king of the Assyrians then brought people from Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

, Cuthah
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

, 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
Rabbi Meir
Rabbi Meir or Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes was a Jewish sage who lived in the time of the Mishna. He was considered one of the greatest of the Tannaim of the fourth generation . According to legend , his father was a descendant of the Roman Emperor Nero who had converted to Judaism. His wife Bruriah is...

 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 figure?
  • 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
Nehemiah
Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which describes his work rebuilding Jerusalem and purifying the Jewish community. He was the son of Hachaliah, Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the...

, Ezra
Ezra
Ezra , also called Ezra the Scribe and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra. According to the Hebrew Bible he returned from the Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem...

, and the building of the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. Returning exiles considered the Samaritans to be non-Israelites 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:

{{quote|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 (722–721 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 AD 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:

{{quote|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.)}}

Tension between the Samaritans and the Jews


The narratives in Genesis about the rivalries among the twelve sons of Jacob describe tensions between north and south. Those were temporarily united under the strong kingship of David and Solomon, but at the death of Solomon, the kingdom split into two: northern Israel with its capital Samaria and southern Judea with its capital Jerusalem.

The Deuteronomistic Historians, writing in Judah, saw northern Israel as a sinful kingdom, divinely punished for its idolatry and iniquity by being destroyed by the Assyrians in 720 BC. (Ironically, the Chronicler is very generous to the south Judah and considers it God's will to recover the chosen people that they were destroyed by Babylon and exiled to Babylon.)

The tensions continued in the postexilic period. According to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, Ezra-Nehemiah is hostile toward its northern neighbors and considers the northern Israel except for the "true Israel"{{huh?|date=October 2011}}. Chronicles is more inclusive than Ezra-Nehemiah since for the Chronicler the ideal is of one Israel with twelve tribes; the Chronicler concentrates on Judah and ignores northern Israel.Michael D. Coogan, "A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament" page 363, 2009.

Unlike the Chronicler, the Samaritans claimed that they were the true Israel who were descendants of the "lost" tribes taken into Assyrian captivity. They had their own temple on Mount Gerizim and claimed that it was the original sanctuary. Moreover, they claimed that their version of the Pentateuch was the original and that the Jews had a falsified text produced by Ezra during the Babylonian exile.

Both Jewish and Samaritan religious leaders taught that it was wrong to have any contact with the opposite group, and neither was to enter each other's territories or even to speak to one another. During the New Testament period, although the tensions went unrecognized by Roman authorities, Josephus reports numerous violent confrontations between Jews and Samaritans throughout the first half of the first century.Mark A. Powell, "Introduction the New Testament" 'Ch.01 The People of Palestine at the Time of Jesus', Baker Academic, 2009.

Rejection by Judeans


According to the Jewish version of events, when the Judean exile ended in 538 BC and the exiles began returning home from Babylon, they found their former homeland populated by other people who claimed the land as their own and Jerusalem, their former glorious capital, in ruins.

According to {{bibleverse|2|Chronicles|36:22–23|HE}}, the Persian emperor, Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 (reigned 559 BC – 530 BC), permitted the return of the exiles to their homeland and ordered the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem (Zion
Zion
Zion is a place name often used as a synonym for Jerusalem. The word is first found in Samuel II, 5:7 dating to c.630-540 BCE...

). The prophet Isaiah identified Cyrus as "the Lord's Messiah" (Meshiach; see {{bibleverse||Isaiah|45:1|HE}}). The word "Messiah
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

" refers to an anointed one, such as a king or priest.

{{bibleverse||Ezra|4|HE}} says that the local inhabitants of the land offered to assist with the building of the new temple during the time of Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Judah and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia . The date is generally thought to...

, 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 alienation increased, and that the Samaritans eventually built their own temple on Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, near Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

.

(The rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem took several decades. The project was first led by Sheshbazzar (about 538 BC), later by Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Judah and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia . The date is generally thought to...

 and Jeshua
Joshua the High Priest
Joshua the High Priest was, according to the Bible the first person chosen to be the High Priest for the reconstruction of the Jewish Temple after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity The name is also spelled 'Jeshua' in some English versions , and, as with the earlier Joshua, is...

, and later still by Haggai
Haggai
Haggai was a Hebrew prophet during the building of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and one of the twelve minor prophets in the Hebrew Bible and the author of the Book of Haggai. His name means "my holiday"...

 and Zechariah (520–515 BC). Work was completed in 515 BC.)

The term "Cuthim" applied by Jews to the Samaritans had clear pejorative
Pejorative
Pejoratives , including name slurs, are words or grammatical forms that connote negativity and express contempt or distaste. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social groups but not in others, e.g., hacker is a term used for computer criminals as well as quick and clever computer experts...

 connotations, implying that they were interlopers brought in from Kutha
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 in Mesopotamia and rejecting their claim of descent from the ancient Tribes of Israel. This claim, however, that the northern tribes of Israel were all exiled by the Assyrians and therefore those who occupied the land were of a non-Israelite origin is rejected by the Bible, 2 Chronicles 30:1-31:6, which states that not all of the people from the northern kingdom were exiled by the Assyrians and some still remained even after the Assyrian conquest of the land in the 8th century BC.

Assyrian Account of the Conquest and Settlement of Samaria


However, the following account of the Assyrian kings, which was among the archaeological discoveries in Babylon, differs from the Samaritan and Jewish Biblical accounts:

{{quote|[the Samar]ians [who had agreed with a hostile king]...I fought with them and decisively defeated them]....carried off as spoil. 50 chariots for my royal force ...[the rest of them I settled in the midst of Assyria]....The Tamudi, Ibadidi, Marsimani and Hayappa, who live in distant Arabia, in the desert, who knew neither overseer nor commander, who never brought tribute to any king--with the help of Ashshur my lord, I defeated them. I deported the rest of them. I settled them in Samaria/Samerina.(Sargon II Inscriptions, COS 2.118A, p. 293)}}

Also,

{{quote|The inhabitants of Samaria/Samerina, who agreed [and plotted] with a king [hostile to] me, not to do service and not to bring tribute [to Ashshur] and who did battle, I fought against them with the power of the great gods, my lords. I counted as spoil 27,280 people, together with their chariots, and gods, in which they trusted. I formed a unit with 200 of [their] chariots for my royal force. I settled the rest of them in the midst of Assyria. I repopulated Samaria/Samerina more than before. I brought into it people from countries conquered by my hands. I appointed my eunuch as governor over them. And I counted them as Assyrians.(Nimrud Prisms, COS 2.118D, pp. 295-296)}}

Temple on Mount Gerizim


Archaeological excavations at Mount Gerizim indicate that a Samaritan temple was built there in the first half of the 5th century BC.http://books.google.com.au/books?id=6NsxZRnxE70C&pg=PA75&lpg=PA75&dq=Lipschits+Yehud&source=bl&ots=ItiriRREm4&sig=8qiPIQOnJdojfacDoHFXFmM4muM&hl=en&ei=UoEUTMGlBcO9cYSd9JAM&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCAQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=Lipschits%20Yehud&f=falseYitzhak Magen, The Dating of the First Pahse of the Samaritan Temple on Mount Gerizim in the Light of the Archaeological Evidence (in Oded Lipschitz, Gary N. Knoppers, Rainer Albertz, eds, "Judah and Judeans in the Fourth Century BC", Eisenbrauns, 2007)] The date of the schism between Samaritans and Jews is unknown.

According to Samaritans,{{dead link|date=February 2010}} it was on Mount Gerizim that Abraham was commanded by God to offer Isaac, his son, as a sacrifice {{Bible|Genesis 22:2}}. In both narratives, God then causes the sacrifice to be interrupted, explaining that this was the ultimate test of Abraham's obedience, as a result of which all the world would receive blessing.

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
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, making it the focus of their spiritual values.

The legitimacy of the Samaritan temple was attacked by Jewish scholars including Andronicus ben Meshullam
Andronicus ben Meshullam
Andronicus ben Meshullam, a Jewish scholar of the 2nd century BCE. According to Josephus , he was the representative of the Jews in their religious dispute with the Samaritans, which was held before King Ptolemy VI Philometor, about the year 150 BCE...

.

In the Christian Bible, the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 relates an encounter between a Samaritan woman and Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 in which she asserts that the mountain was the center of their worship {{Bible|John 4:20}}.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Hellenization


In the 2nd century BC a particularly bitter series of events eventually led to a revolution of the Israelites against their Greek oppressors.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne....

 was on the throne of the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 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 and their refusal to allow their homeland to be defiled.

The universal peril led the Samaritans, eager for safety, to repudiate all connection and kinship with the Jews. The request was granted. This was put forth as the final breach between the two groups, being alleged at a much later date in the Christian bible (John 4:9), "For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans."{{cite web|url=http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=%20John%204:9,27 |title=NIV English translation of John |publisher=Biblegateway.com |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}

Several centuries before Christ, the Samaritans had built their own temple on Mt. Gerizim to rival the Temple in Jerusalem. Here, they offered sacrifices according to the Mosaic code. Anderson notes that during the reign of Antiochus IV (175–164 BC):{{cite web|url=http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/282-jesus-and-the-samaritan-woman |title=Jesus and the Samaritan Woman / A Samaritan Woman Approaches:1 |publisher=Christiancourier.com |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}

{{quote|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:

{{quote|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.}}

{{quote|Shortly afterwards, the Greek king sent Gerontes the Athenian to force the Jews of Israel 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 defiled the Jewish temple by setting up an altar to Zeus over the holy altar of burnt offerings in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which was the center of Jewish religious life. Antiochus also sacrificed a pig on the altar in the Temple in Jerusalem. This event is known as the "abomination of desolation".{{cite web|url=http://www.gotquestions.org/abomination-desolation.html |title=What is the Abomination of Desolation? |publisher=Gotquestions.org |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}

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 Jews who refused to worship and kiss Antiochus' image, along with the desecration of the Holy Temple, ultimately led to a revolt led by Judah Maccabee
Judas Maccabeus
Judah Maccabee was a Kohen and a son of the Jewish priest Mattathias...

 (Judah the Hammer) and his family. Though quite outnumbered, the Israelites, led by the Maccabee family, managed to regain control of their land. This "miracle" restoration of Jewish sovereignty in the face of Greek dominance has been since observed by Jews in the winter "Festival of Lights" holiday known as Chanukah.

Judah'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
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

 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
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 until around 129 BC, when the Jewish Hasmonean
Hasmonean
The Hasmonean dynasty , was the ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE, the dynasty ruled semi-autonomously from the Seleucids in the region of Judea...

 king Yohanan Girhan (John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

) destroyed the Samaritan temple and devastated Samaria.

Roman period


Samaritans fared badly under the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, when Samaria was a part of the Roman-ruled province of Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

.

Samaritans appear briefly in the Christian gospels, most notable in the parable of the Good Samaritan
Parable of the Good Samaritan
The parable of the Good Samaritan is a parable told by Jesus and is mentioned in only one of the Canonical gospels. According to the Gospel of Luke a traveller is beaten, robbed, and left half dead along the road. First a priest and then a Levite come by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a...

. In this parable, told to Jews, a Samaritan helps a wounded Jew even though Jews and Samaritans despised each other.

However, this period is also considered as something of a golden age for the Samaritan community, the population thought to number up to a million.http://www.lonelyplanet.com/israel-and-the-palestinian-territories The Temple of Gerizim was rebuilt after the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans, around 135 AD. Much of Samaritan liturgy was set by the high priest Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba, literally "The Great Gate", was one of the greatest of the Samaritan high priests. He is believed to have lived during the late third and early fourth century AD....

 in the 4th century.

The oldest, known Samaritan synagogue, the Delos Synagogue
Delos Synagogue
The synagogue of Delos, Greece, is the oldest synagogue known today, its origin dating between 150 and 128 BCE. The building’s most recent use is widely agreed to have been an assembly hall for Jews or Samaritans. However, the first use for the building is more controversial...

 dates from between 150 and 128 BC, or earlier and is located on the island of Delos
Delos
The island of Delos , isolated in the centre of the roughly circular ring of islands called the Cyclades, near Mykonos, is one of the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece...

.{{cite web|url=http://www.pohick.org/sts/delos.html |title=Delos |publisher=Pohick.org |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}

There were some Samaritans in the Persia
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

n Empire, where they served in the Sassanid army. Many Jews had also lived in Persia for millennia, after various exiles and captivities.

Byzantine times


{{see|Samaritan Revolts}}
According to Samaritan sources, Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno
Zeno (emperor)
Zeno , originally named Tarasis, was Byzantine Emperor from 474 to 475 and again from 476 to 491. Domestic revolts and religious dissension plagued his reign, which nevertheless succeeded to some extent in foreign issues...

 (who ruled 474-491 and whom the sources call "Zait the King of Edom") persecuted the Samaritans. The Emperor went to Sichem (Neapolis), gathered the elders and asked them to convert; when they refused, Zeno had many Samaritans killed, and re-built the synagogue to a church. Zeno then took for himself Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, where the Samaritans worshipped God, and built several edifices, among whom a tomb for his recently deceased son, on which he put a cross, so that the Samaritans, worshipping God, would prostrate in front of the tomb. Later, in 484, the Samaritans revolted. The rebels attacked Sichem, burnt five churches built on Samaritan holy places and cut the finger of bishop Terebinthus, who was officiating the ceremony of Pentecost
Pentecost
Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ after the Resurrection of Jesus...

. They elected a Justa
Justa (rebel)
Justa was elected by Samaritans as their king during the 484 CE Samaritan revolt. Following his ascent in Samaria, he moved on Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. There, many Christians were killed and the church of St. Procopius was destroyed...

 (or Justasa/Justasus) as their king and moved to Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. Here several Christians were killed and the church of St. Sebastian was destroyed. Justa celebrated the victory with games in the circus. According to John Malalas
John Malalas
John Malalas or Ioannes Malalas was a Greek chronicler from Antioch. Malalas is probably a Syriac word for "rhetor", "orator"; it is first applied to him by John of Damascus .-Life:Malalas was educated in Antioch, and probably was a jurist there, but moved to...

, the dux Palaestinae Asclepiades, whose troops were reinforced by the Caesarea-based Arcadiani of Rheges, defeated Justa, killed him and sent his head to Zeno.Malalas, 15. According to Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

, Terebinthus went to Zeno to ask for revenge; the Emperor personally went to Samaria to quell the rebellion.Procopius, Buildings, 5.7.

Modern historians believe that the order of the facts preserved by Samaritan sources should be inverted, as the persecution of Zeno was a consequence of the rebellion rather than its cause, and should have happened after 484, around 489. Zeno rebuilt the church of St. Procopius in Neapolis (Sichem) and the Samaritans were banned from Mount Gerizim, on whose top a signalling tower was built to alert in case of civil unrest.Alan David Crown, The Samaritans, Mohr Siebeck, 1989, ISBN 3161452372, pp. 72-73.

Under a charismatic
Charismatic authority
The sociologist Max Weber defined charismatic authority as "resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him." Charismatic authority is one of three forms of authority laid out...

, messianic figure named Julianus ben Sabar
Julianus ben Sabar
Julianus ben Sabar was a messianic leader of the Samaritans, who led a failed revolt against Byzantium during the early 6th century....

 (or ben Sahir), the Samaritans launched a war to create their own independent state in 529. With the help of the Ghassanid Arabs, Emperor Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

 crushed the revolt; tens of thousands of Samaritans died or were enslaved
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

. The Samaritan faith was virtually outlawed thereafter by the Christian Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

; from a population once at least in the hundreds of thousands, the Samaritan community dwindled to near extinction.

After the Muslim Conquests


By the time of the Muslim Conquests
Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power.They...

, Samaritans were living in an area stretching between Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. Like other non-Muslims in the empire, such as Jews, Samaritans were considered to be People of the Book
People of the Book
People of the Book is a term used to designate non-Muslim adherents to faiths which have a revealed scripture called, in Arabic, Al-Kitab . The three types of adherents to faiths that the Qur'an mentions as people of the book are the Jews, Sabians and Christians.In Islam, the Muslim scripture, the...

.

Their minority status was protected by the Muslim rulers, and they had the right to practice their religion, but, as dhimmi
Dhimmi
A , is a non-Muslim subject of a state governed in accordance with sharia law. Linguistically, the word means "one whose responsibility has been taken". This has to be understood in the context of the definition of state in Islam...

, adult males had to pay the jizya
Jizya
Under Islamic law, jizya or jizyah is a per capita tax levied on a section of an Islamic state's non-Muslim citizens, who meet certain criteria...

 or "protection tax".

It has been suggested that they were forced to wear red colored turbans as a result of the terms of a document known as the Pact of Umar II, but this stipulation is not explicitly mentioned in the document, the authenticity has been questioned by contemporary scholars, and the tradition cannot be independently verified.

During the Crusades, Samaritans, like the other non-Latin Christian inhabitants of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

, were second-class citizens, but they were tolerated and perhaps favoured because they were docile and had been mentioned positively in the Christian New Testament.Benjamin Z. Kedar, "The Frankish period", in The Samaritans, ed. Alan D. Cross (Tübingen, 1989), pp. 86-87.

Over the centuries of Byzantine, Arab and Turkish rule, the Samaritans suffered many hardships which included forced conversion to Christianity, forced conversion to Islam, harsh religious decrees, massacre and persecution.

While the majority of the Samaritan population in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 was killed or converted during the reign of the Ottoman Pasha Mardam Beq in the early 17th century, the remainder of the Samaritan communities from Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 and the other cities where they had a presence moved to Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

, due to its close proximity to Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

.

The Shechem community endured because most of the surviving diaspora returned, and they have maintained a tiny presence there to this day. In 1624, the last Samaritan High Priest
Samaritan High Priest
The Samaritan High Priest is the high priest of the Samaritan community in the Middle East.According to Samaritan tradition, the office has existed continuously since Aaron, the brother of Moses, and has been held by 132 people...

 of the line of Eleazar
Eleazar
Eleazar , was a priest in the Hebrew Bible, the second Kohen Gadol - succeeding his father Aaron. He was a nephew of Moses.-Life:...

 son of Aaron
Aaron
In the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, Aaron : Ααρών ), who is often called "'Aaron the Priest"' and once Aaron the Levite , was the older brother of Moses, and a prophet of God. He represented the priestly functions of his tribe, becoming the first High Priest of the Israelites...

 died without issue, but descendants of Aaron's other son, Ithamar
Ithamar
In the Torah, Ithamar is mentioned as the youngest son of Aaron the High Priest. After the death of his two eldest brothers Nadab and Abihu when they had been punished by the Lord for performing an unauthorized sacrificial offering, Ithamar served as a priest along with his elder brother, Eleazar...

, remained and took over the office.

The situation of the Samaritan community improved significantly during the British Mandate of Palestine. At that time, they began to work in the public sector, like many other groups. During the thirties one of the Samaritans, Tawfeek Khadir al-Kahen, was nominated as member of the Shechem Municipality.

Samaritan origins of Palestinian Muslims


Much of the local Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 population of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 is believed to be descended from Samaritans who converted to Islam. According to the historian Fayyad Altif, large numbers of Samaritans converted due to persecution under various Muslim rulers, and because the monotheistic nature of Islam made it easy for them to accept it. The Samaritans themselves describe the Ottoman period
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 as the worst period in their modern history, as many Samaritan families changed their religion during that time. Even today, certain Nabulsi family names such as Muslimani, Yaish, Sayeh, and Shakshir among others, are associated with Samaritan ancestry.

For the Samaritans in particular, the passing of the al-Hakem Edict by the Fatimids in 1021, under which all Jews and Christians in the Fatimid ruled southern Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 were ordered to either convert to Islam or leave, along with another notable forced conversion to Islam imposed at the hands of the rebel Ibn Firāsa, would contribute to their rapid unprecedented decrease, and ultimately almost complete extinction as a separate religious community. As a result, they have decreased from more than a million in Roman times to just 745 people today.

In 1940, the future Israeli president and historian Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi was a historian, Labor Zionist leader, the second and longest-serving President of Israel.-Biography:...

 wrote an article in which he stated that two thirds of the residents of Nablus and the surrounding neighboring villages are of Samaritan origin. He mentioned the name of several Palestinian Muslim families as having Samaritan origins, including the Buwarda and Kasem families who protected Samaritans from Muslim persecution in the 1850s. He further claimed that these families had written records testifying to their Samaritan ancestry, which were maintained by their priests and elders.

DNA and genetic studies


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
    Kohen
    A Kohen is the Hebrew word for priest. Jewish Kohens are traditionally believed and halachically required to be of direct patrilineal descent from the Biblical Aaron....

     lineage from the tribe of Levi.


Of the 12 Samaritan males used in the analysis, 10 (83%) had Y chromosones belonging to haplogroup J
Haplogroup J (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup J is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup. It is one of the major male lines of all living men...

, which includes three of the four Samaritan families. The Joshua-Marhiv family belongs to haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 J1
Haplogroup J1 (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Y DNA haplogroup J1, also known as J-M267, is a sub-haplogroup of Y DNA haplogroup J, along with its sibling clade Y DNA haplogroup J2. Men with this type of Y DNA share a common paternal ancestry, which is demonstrated and defined by the presence of the SNP mutation referred to...

, while the Danfi and Tsedakah families belong to haplogroup J2
Haplogroup J2 (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup J2 is a Y-chromosome haplogroup which is a subdivision of haplogroup J. It is further divided into two complementary clades, J2a-M410 and J2b-M12.-Origins:...

, 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
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 J
J
Ĵ or ĵ is a letter in Esperanto orthography representing the sound .While Esperanto orthography uses a diacritic for its four postalveolar consonants, as do the Latin-based Slavic alphabets, the base letters are Romano-Germanic...

 was the Cohen family (Tradition: Tribe of Levi) which was found in haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 E3b1a M78.{{cite journal |last=Shen |first=P | coauthors = Lavi T, Kivisild T, Chou V, Sengun D, Gefel D, Shpirer I, Woolf E, Hillel J, Feldman MW, Oefner PJ |year=2004 |url=http://evolutsioon.ut.ee/publications/Shen2004.pdf |title=Reconstruction of Patrilineages and Matrilineages of Samaritans and Other Israeli Populations From Y-Chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA Sequence Variation | journal = Human Mutation | volume = 24 |pages=248–260 | format= PDF | pmid = 15300852 | doi = 10.1002/humu.20077 |issue=3}} This article predated the change of the classification 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.
{{Distinguish2|Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

}}
{{redirect6|Samaritans|the charity|Samaritans (charity)|other uses|Samaritan (disambiguation)}}
{{infobox religious group
| group = Samaritans
שומרונים
| flag =
| flag_caption =
| image =
| image_caption = Samaritans on the Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, 2006
| population = 745 {{smaller|(2007)}}
| founder =
| regions =  Israel - approximately 350
Palestinian territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

 - approximately 350
| tablehdr = Samaritan communities
| region1 =   Holon
| pop1 = {{ndash}}
| ref1 =
| region2 = Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, near Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...


| pop2 = {{ndash}}
| ref3 =
| religions = Samaritanism
| scriptures = Samaritan Torah
Samaritan Pentateuch
The Samaritan Pentateuch, sometimes called Samaritan Torah, , is a version of the Hebrew language Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, used by the Samaritans....


| languages = Modern Vernacular
Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew , also known as Israeli Hebrew or Modern Israeli Hebrew, is the language spoken in Israel and in some Jewish communities worldwide, from the early 20th century to the present....

, Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 
Past Vernacular
Arabic, preceded by Aramaic
Samaritan Aramaic language
Samaritan Aramaic, or Samaritan, is the dialect of Aramaic used by the Samaritans in their sacred and scholarly literature. This should not be confused with the Samaritan Hebrew language of the Scriptures...

 and earlier Hebrew
Samaritan Hebrew language
Samaritan Hebrew , is a reading tradition for Biblical Hebrew as used by the Samaritans for reading the Samaritan Pentateuch. Its pronunciation is highly similar to that of Samaritan Arabic, used by the Samaritans in prayer.-Orthography:...


Liturgical
Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic
Samaritan Aramaic language
Samaritan Aramaic, or Samaritan, is the dialect of Aramaic used by the Samaritans in their sacred and scholarly literature. This should not be confused with the Samaritan Hebrew language of the Scriptures...

, Samaritan Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...


| related-c = Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

, Palestinian people
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...


| notes =
}}

The Samaritans ({{lang-he|שומרונים}} Shomronim, {{lang-ar|السامريون}} as-Sāmariyyūn) are an ethnoreligious
Ethnoreligious
An ethnoreligious group is an ethnic group of people whose members are also unified by a common religious background...

 group of the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

. Religiously, they are the adherents to Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

. Based on the Samaritan Torah
Samaritan Pentateuch
The Samaritan Pentateuch, sometimes called Samaritan Torah, , is a version of the Hebrew language Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, used by the Samaritans....

, Samaritans claim their worship is the true religion of the ancient Israelites prior to the Babylonian Exile, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

, as opposed to Judaism, which they assert is a related but altered and amended religion brought back by those returning from exile.

Ancestrally, they claim descent from a group of Israelite
Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

 inhabitants from the tribes of Ephraim
Ephraim
Ephraim ; was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan...

 and Manasseh
Tribe of Manasseh
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph....

 (the two sons of Joseph) as well as some descendants from the priestly tribe of Levi
Levite
In Jewish tradition, a Levite is a member of the Hebrew tribe of Levi. When Joshua led the Israelites into the land of Canaan, the Levites were the only Israelite tribe that received cities but were not allowed to be landowners "because the Lord the God of Israel himself is their inheritance"...

, who have connections to ancient Samaria
Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

 from the period of their entry into the land of Canaan, while some suggest that it was from the beginning of the Babylonian Exile up to the Samaritan Kingdom of Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba, literally "The Great Gate", was one of the greatest of the Samaritan high priests. He is believed to have lived during the late third and early fourth century AD....

. The Samaritans, however, derive their name not from this geographical designation, but rather from the Hebrew term Shamerim שַמֶרִים, "Keepers [of the Law]".

In the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, a central post-exilic religious text of Judaism, their claim of ancestral origin is disputed, and in those texts they are called Cutheans ({{lang-he|כותים}}, Kuthim), allegedly from the ancient city of Cuthah
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 (Kutha), geographically located in what is today Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. Modern genetics has suggested some truth to both the claims of the Samaritans and Jewish accounts in the Talmud.

Historically, they were a large community — up to more than a million in late Roman times, but were then gradually reduced to several tens of thousands up to a few centuries ago — their unprecedented demographic
Demography
Demography is the statistical study of human population. It can be a very general science that can be applied to any kind of dynamic human population, that is, one that changes over time or space...

 shrinkage has been a result of various historical events, including, most notably, the bloody suppression of the Third Samaritan Revolt (529 AD) against the Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 rulers, and the mass conversion to Islam in the Early Muslim period of Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

. According to their tally, there were 745 Samaritans as of November 30, 2011, living exclusively in two localities, one in Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

 near the city of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

, and the other in the Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i city of Holon. There are, however, followers of various backgrounds adhering to Samaritan traditions outside of Israel, especially in the United States.

With the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language by Jews in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, and its growth and officialization following the establishment of the state, most Samaritans in Israel today speak Modern Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

. As with their counterpart Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

, Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

, Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 and other Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i religious communities, the most recent spoken mother tongue of the Samaritans was Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, and it still is for those in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 city of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

. For liturgical
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 purposes, Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic, and Samaritan Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 are used, all of which are written in the Samaritan alphabet
Samaritan alphabet
The Samaritan alphabet is used by the Samaritans for religious writings, including the Samaritan Pentateuch, writings in Samaritan Hebrew, and for commentaries and translations in Samaritan Aramaic and occasionally Arabic....

, a variant of the Old Hebrew alphabet
Paleo-Hebrew alphabet
The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet , is an abjad offshoot of the ancient Semitic alphabet, identical to the Phoenician alphabet. At the very least it dates to the 10th century BCE...

, distinct from the so-called square script "Hebrew alphabet
Hebrew alphabet
The Hebrew alphabet , known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. There have been two...

" of Jews and Judaism, which is a stylized form of the Aramaic alphabet
Aramaic alphabet
The Aramaic alphabet is adapted from the Phoenician alphabet and became distinctive from it by the 8th century BC. The letters all represent consonants, some of which are matres lectionis, which also indicate long vowels....

. Hebrew, and later Aramaic, were languages in use by the Jewish and Samaritan inhabitants of Judea prior to the Roman exile, and beyond.

{{Juddom}}

Samaritan sources


According to Samaritan tradition, Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

 was the original Holy Place of the Israelites from the time that Joshua
Joshua
Joshua , is a minor figure in the Torah, being one of the spies for Israel and in few passages as Moses's assistant. He turns to be the central character in the Hebrew Bible's Book of Joshua...

 conquered Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

 and the tribes of Israel settled the land. The reference to Mount Gerizim derives from the biblical story of Moses ordering Joshua to take the Twelve Tribes of Israel, (the number of which did not include the priestly tribe of Levi) to the mountains by Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 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
Mount Ebal
Mount Ebal is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the Palestinian city of Nablus in the West Bank , and forms the northern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated, the southern side being formed by Mount Gerizim...

, 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 (Deut. 11:29; 27:12; Josh. 8:33).

The Samaritans have insisted that they are direct descendants of the Northern Israelite tribes of Ephraim
Ephraim
Ephraim ; was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan...

 and Manasseh
Tribe of Manasseh
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph....

, who survived the destruction of the Northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

ns in 722 BC. The inscription of Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

 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 tribes of Israel conquered and returned to the land of Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

, 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
Shiloh (Biblical)
Shiloh was an ancient city south of ancient Tirzah and mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Its site is at modern Khirbet Seilun, West Bank, and north of the Israeli settlement of Beth El in the West Bank....

. Thus, he established both an illegitimate priesthood and an illegitimate place of worship.

Abu l-Fath
Abu l-Fath
Abu l-Fath, or Ibn Abi al-Hasan al-Samiri al-Danafi, was a fourteen century Samaritan chronicler, writing in Arabic. His major work is Kitab al-Ta'rikh.The work was commissioned in 1352 by Pinḥas, Samaritan high priest, and begun in 1356...

, who in the 14th century AD wrote a major work of Samaritan history, comments on Samaritan origins as follows:

{{quote|A terrible civil war broke out between Eli son of Yafni, of the line of Ithamar, and the sons of Pincus (Phinehas
Phinehas
-Biblical figures:*Phinehas, son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the High Priest*Phinehas, son of the High Priest Eli. He was a priest at Shiloh, and died when the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant-Other :*Pinchas, the 41st weekly Torah portion....

), because Eli son of Yafni resolved to usurp the High Priesthood from the descendants of Pincus. 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:

{{quote|And the children of Israel in his days divided into three groups. One did according to the abominations of the Gentile
Gentile
The term Gentile refers to non-Israelite peoples or nations in English translations of the Bible....

s 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.}}

Jewish sources


The emergence of the Samaritans as an ethnic and religious community distinct from other Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 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 former kingdom.

Jewish tradition maintains a different origin for the Samaritans. The Talmud accounts for a people called "Cuthim"
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 on a number of occasions, mentioning their arrival by the hands of the Assyrians. According to 2 Kings
Books of Kings
The Book of Kings presents a narrative history of ancient Israel and Judah from the death of David to the release of his successor Jehoiachin from imprisonment in Babylon, a period of some 400 years...

 17 and Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 (Antiquities
Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquities of the Jews is a twenty volume historiographical work composed by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in the thirteenth year of the reign of Roman emperor Flavius Domitian which was around 93 or 94 AD. Antiquities of the Jews contains an account of history of the Jewish people,...

 9.277–91), the people of Israel were removed by the king of the Assyrians (Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

- see special wording of 2 Kings 17 which mentions Shalmaneser
Shalmaneser V
Shalmaneser V was king of Assyria from 727 to 722 BC. He first appears as governor of Zimirra in Phoenicia in the reign of his father, Tiglath-Pileser III....

 in verse 3 but the "king of the Assyrians" from verse 4 onward), to Halah
Halah
Halah is a city that is mentioned in the Bible. It is noted when the Assyrians invaded Israel and enslaved the people. They were sent into exile in Halah, in Gozan on the Khabur River, and in the towns of the Medes. Halah was in Assyria, which was a major power in northern Mesopotamia...

, to Gozan
Tell Halaf
Tell Halaf is an archaeological site in the Al Hasakah governorate of northeastern Syria, near the Turkish border, just opposite Ceylanpınar. It was the first find of a Neolithic culture, subsequently dubbed the Halaf culture, characterized by glazed pottery painted with geometric and animal designs...

 on the Khabur River
Khabur River
The Khabur River , , , ) is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrian territory. Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra's al-'Ayn are the river's main source of water. Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah, together creating...

 and to the towns of the Medes
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

. The king of the Assyrians then brought people from Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

, Cuthah
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

, 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
Rabbi Meir
Rabbi Meir or Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes was a Jewish sage who lived in the time of the Mishna. He was considered one of the greatest of the Tannaim of the fourth generation . According to legend , his father was a descendant of the Roman Emperor Nero who had converted to Judaism. His wife Bruriah is...

 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 figure?
  • 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
Nehemiah
Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which describes his work rebuilding Jerusalem and purifying the Jewish community. He was the son of Hachaliah, Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the...

, Ezra
Ezra
Ezra , also called Ezra the Scribe and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra. According to the Hebrew Bible he returned from the Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem...

, and the building of the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. Returning exiles considered the Samaritans to be non-Israelites 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:

{{quote|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 (722–721 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 AD 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:

{{quote|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.)}}

Tension between the Samaritans and the Jews


The narratives in Genesis about the rivalries among the twelve sons of Jacob describe tensions between north and south. Those were temporarily united under the strong kingship of David and Solomon, but at the death of Solomon, the kingdom split into two: northern Israel with its capital Samaria and southern Judea with its capital Jerusalem.

The Deuteronomistic Historians, writing in Judah, saw northern Israel as a sinful kingdom, divinely punished for its idolatry and iniquity by being destroyed by the Assyrians in 720 BC. (Ironically, the Chronicler is very generous to the south Judah and considers it God's will to recover the chosen people that they were destroyed by Babylon and exiled to Babylon.)

The tensions continued in the postexilic period. According to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, Ezra-Nehemiah is hostile toward its northern neighbors and considers the northern Israel except for the "true Israel"{{huh?|date=October 2011}}. Chronicles is more inclusive than Ezra-Nehemiah since for the Chronicler the ideal is of one Israel with twelve tribes; the Chronicler concentrates on Judah and ignores northern Israel.

Unlike the Chronicler, the Samaritans claimed that they were the true Israel who were descendants of the "lost" tribes taken into Assyrian captivity. They had their own temple on Mount Gerizim and claimed that it was the original sanctuary. Moreover, they claimed that their version of the Pentateuch was the original and that the Jews had a falsified text produced by Ezra during the Babylonian exile.

Both Jewish and Samaritan religious leaders taught that it was wrong to have any contact with the opposite group, and neither was to enter each other's territories or even to speak to one another. During the New Testament period, although the tensions went unrecognized by Roman authorities, Josephus reports numerous violent confrontations between Jews and Samaritans throughout the first half of the first century.

Rejection by Judeans


According to the Jewish version of events, when the Judean exile ended in 538 BC and the exiles began returning home from Babylon, they found their former homeland populated by other people who claimed the land as their own and Jerusalem, their former glorious capital, in ruins.

According to {{bibleverse|2|Chronicles|36:22–23|HE}}, the Persian emperor, Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 (reigned 559 BC – 530 BC), permitted the return of the exiles to their homeland and ordered the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem (Zion
Zion
Zion is a place name often used as a synonym for Jerusalem. The word is first found in Samuel II, 5:7 dating to c.630-540 BCE...

). The prophet Isaiah identified Cyrus as "the Lord's Messiah" (Meshiach; see {{bibleverse||Isaiah|45:1|HE}}). The word "Messiah
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

" refers to an anointed one, such as a king or priest.

{{bibleverse||Ezra|4|HE}} says that the local inhabitants of the land offered to assist with the building of the new temple during the time of Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Judah and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia . The date is generally thought to...

, 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 alienation increased, and that the Samaritans eventually built their own temple on Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, near Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

.

(The rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem took several decades. The project was first led by Sheshbazzar (about 538 BC), later by Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Judah and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia . The date is generally thought to...

 and Jeshua
Joshua the High Priest
Joshua the High Priest was, according to the Bible the first person chosen to be the High Priest for the reconstruction of the Jewish Temple after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity The name is also spelled 'Jeshua' in some English versions , and, as with the earlier Joshua, is...

, and later still by Haggai
Haggai
Haggai was a Hebrew prophet during the building of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and one of the twelve minor prophets in the Hebrew Bible and the author of the Book of Haggai. His name means "my holiday"...

 and Zechariah (520–515 BC). Work was completed in 515 BC.)

The term "Cuthim" applied by Jews to the Samaritans had clear pejorative
Pejorative
Pejoratives , including name slurs, are words or grammatical forms that connote negativity and express contempt or distaste. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social groups but not in others, e.g., hacker is a term used for computer criminals as well as quick and clever computer experts...

 connotations, implying that they were interlopers brought in from Kutha
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 in Mesopotamia and rejecting their claim of descent from the ancient Tribes of Israel. This claim, however, that the northern tribes of Israel were all exiled by the Assyrians and therefore those who occupied the land were of a non-Israelite origin is rejected by the Bible, 2 Chronicles 30:1-31:6, which states that not all of the people from the northern kingdom were exiled by the Assyrians and some still remained even after the Assyrian conquest of the land in the 8th century BC.

Assyrian Account of the Conquest and Settlement of Samaria


However, the following account of the Assyrian kings, which was among the archaeological discoveries in Babylon, differs from the Samaritan and Jewish Biblical accounts:

{{quote|[the Samar]ians [who had agreed with a hostile king]...I fought with them and decisively defeated them]....carried off as spoil. 50 chariots for my royal force ...[the rest of them I settled in the midst of Assyria]....The Tamudi, Ibadidi, Marsimani and Hayappa, who live in distant Arabia, in the desert, who knew neither overseer nor commander, who never brought tribute to any king--with the help of Ashshur my lord, I defeated them. I deported the rest of them. I settled them in Samaria/Samerina.(Sargon II Inscriptions, COS 2.118A, p. 293)}}

Also,

{{quote|The inhabitants of Samaria/Samerina, who agreed [and plotted] with a king [hostile to] me, not to do service and not to bring tribute [to Ashshur] and who did battle, I fought against them with the power of the great gods, my lords. I counted as spoil 27,280 people, together with their chariots, and gods, in which they trusted. I formed a unit with 200 of [their] chariots for my royal force. I settled the rest of them in the midst of Assyria. I repopulated Samaria/Samerina more than before. I brought into it people from countries conquered by my hands. I appointed my eunuch as governor over them. And I counted them as Assyrians.(Nimrud Prisms, COS 2.118D, pp. 295-296)}}

Temple on Mount Gerizim


Archaeological excavations at Mount Gerizim indicate that a Samaritan temple was built there in the first half of the 5th century BC. The date of the schism between Samaritans and Jews is unknown.

According to Samaritans, it was on Mount Gerizim that Abraham was commanded by God to offer Isaac, his son, as a sacrifice {{Bible|Genesis 22:2}}. In both narratives, God then causes the sacrifice to be interrupted, explaining that this was the ultimate test of Abraham's obedience, as a result of which all the world would receive blessing.

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
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, making it the focus of their spiritual values.

The legitimacy of the Samaritan temple was attacked by Jewish scholars including Andronicus ben Meshullam
Andronicus ben Meshullam
Andronicus ben Meshullam, a Jewish scholar of the 2nd century BCE. According to Josephus , he was the representative of the Jews in their religious dispute with the Samaritans, which was held before King Ptolemy VI Philometor, about the year 150 BCE...

.

In the Christian Bible, the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 relates an encounter between a Samaritan woman and Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 in which she asserts that the mountain was the center of their worship {{Bible|John 4:20}}.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Hellenization


In the 2nd century BC a particularly bitter series of events eventually led to a revolution of the Israelites against their Greek oppressors.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne....

 was on the throne of the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 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 and their refusal to allow their homeland to be defiled.

The universal peril led the Samaritans, eager for safety, to repudiate all connection and kinship with the Jews. The request was granted. This was put forth as the final breach between the two groups, being alleged at a much later date in the Christian bible (John 4:9), "For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans."

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

{{quote|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:

{{quote|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.}}

{{quote|Shortly afterwards, the Greek king sent Gerontes the Athenian to force the Jews of Israel 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 defiled the Jewish temple by setting up an altar to Zeus over the holy altar of burnt offerings in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which was the center of Jewish religious life. Antiochus 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 Jews who refused to worship and kiss Antiochus' image, along with the desecration of the Holy Temple, ultimately led to a revolt led by Judah Maccabee
Judas Maccabeus
Judah Maccabee was a Kohen and a son of the Jewish priest Mattathias...

 (Judah the Hammer) and his family. Though quite outnumbered, the Israelites, led by the Maccabee family, managed to regain control of their land. This "miracle" restoration of Jewish sovereignty in the face of Greek dominance has been since observed by Jews in the winter "Festival of Lights" holiday known as Chanukah.

Judah'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
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

 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
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 until around 129 BC, when the Jewish Hasmonean
Hasmonean
The Hasmonean dynasty , was the ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE, the dynasty ruled semi-autonomously from the Seleucids in the region of Judea...

 king Yohanan Girhan (John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

) destroyed the Samaritan temple and devastated Samaria.

Roman period


Samaritans fared badly under the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, when Samaria was a part of the Roman-ruled province of Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

.

Samaritans appear briefly in the Christian gospels, most notable in the parable of the Good Samaritan
Parable of the Good Samaritan
The parable of the Good Samaritan is a parable told by Jesus and is mentioned in only one of the Canonical gospels. According to the Gospel of Luke a traveller is beaten, robbed, and left half dead along the road. First a priest and then a Levite come by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a...

. In this parable, told to Jews, a Samaritan helps a wounded Jew even though Jews and Samaritans despised each other.

However, this period is also considered as something of a golden age for the Samaritan community, the population thought to number up to a million. The Temple of Gerizim was rebuilt after the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans, around 135 AD. Much of Samaritan liturgy was set by the high priest Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba, literally "The Great Gate", was one of the greatest of the Samaritan high priests. He is believed to have lived during the late third and early fourth century AD....

 in the 4th century.

The oldest, known Samaritan synagogue, the Delos Synagogue
Delos Synagogue
The synagogue of Delos, Greece, is the oldest synagogue known today, its origin dating between 150 and 128 BCE. The building’s most recent use is widely agreed to have been an assembly hall for Jews or Samaritans. However, the first use for the building is more controversial...

 dates from between 150 and 128 BC, or earlier and is located on the island of Delos
Delos
The island of Delos , isolated in the centre of the roughly circular ring of islands called the Cyclades, near Mykonos, is one of the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece...

.

There were some Samaritans in the Persia
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

n Empire, where they served in the Sassanid army. Many Jews had also lived in Persia for millennia, after various exiles and captivities.

Byzantine times


{{see|Samaritan Revolts}}
According to Samaritan sources, Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno
Zeno (emperor)
Zeno , originally named Tarasis, was Byzantine Emperor from 474 to 475 and again from 476 to 491. Domestic revolts and religious dissension plagued his reign, which nevertheless succeeded to some extent in foreign issues...

 (who ruled 474-491 and whom the sources call "Zait the King of Edom") persecuted the Samaritans. The Emperor went to Sichem (Neapolis), gathered the elders and asked them to convert; when they refused, Zeno had many Samaritans killed, and re-built the synagogue to a church. Zeno then took for himself Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, where the Samaritans worshipped God, and built several edifices, among whom a tomb for his recently deceased son, on which he put a cross, so that the Samaritans, worshipping God, would prostrate in front of the tomb. Later, in 484, the Samaritans revolted. The rebels attacked Sichem, burnt five churches built on Samaritan holy places and cut the finger of bishop Terebinthus, who was officiating the ceremony of Pentecost
Pentecost
Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ after the Resurrection of Jesus...

. They elected a Justa
Justa (rebel)
Justa was elected by Samaritans as their king during the 484 CE Samaritan revolt. Following his ascent in Samaria, he moved on Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. There, many Christians were killed and the church of St. Procopius was destroyed...

 (or Justasa/Justasus) as their king and moved to Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. Here several Christians were killed and the church of St. Sebastian was destroyed. Justa celebrated the victory with games in the circus. According to John Malalas
John Malalas
John Malalas or Ioannes Malalas was a Greek chronicler from Antioch. Malalas is probably a Syriac word for "rhetor", "orator"; it is first applied to him by John of Damascus .-Life:Malalas was educated in Antioch, and probably was a jurist there, but moved to...

, the dux Palaestinae Asclepiades, whose troops were reinforced by the Caesarea-based Arcadiani of Rheges, defeated Justa, killed him and sent his head to Zeno. According to Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

, Terebinthus went to Zeno to ask for revenge; the Emperor personally went to Samaria to quell the rebellion.

Modern historians believe that the order of the facts preserved by Samaritan sources should be inverted, as the persecution of Zeno was a consequence of the rebellion rather than its cause, and should have happened after 484, around 489. Zeno rebuilt the church of St. Procopius in Neapolis (Sichem) and the Samaritans were banned from Mount Gerizim, on whose top a signalling tower was built to alert in case of civil unrest.

Under a charismatic
Charismatic authority
The sociologist Max Weber defined charismatic authority as "resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him." Charismatic authority is one of three forms of authority laid out...

, messianic figure named Julianus ben Sabar
Julianus ben Sabar
Julianus ben Sabar was a messianic leader of the Samaritans, who led a failed revolt against Byzantium during the early 6th century....

 (or ben Sahir), the Samaritans launched a war to create their own independent state in 529. With the help of the Ghassanid Arabs, Emperor Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

 crushed the revolt; tens of thousands of Samaritans died or were enslaved
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

. The Samaritan faith was virtually outlawed thereafter by the Christian Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

; from a population once at least in the hundreds of thousands, the Samaritan community dwindled to near extinction.

After the Muslim Conquests


By the time of the Muslim Conquests
Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power.They...

, Samaritans were living in an area stretching between Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. Like other non-Muslims in the empire, such as Jews, Samaritans were considered to be People of the Book
People of the Book
People of the Book is a term used to designate non-Muslim adherents to faiths which have a revealed scripture called, in Arabic, Al-Kitab . The three types of adherents to faiths that the Qur'an mentions as people of the book are the Jews, Sabians and Christians.In Islam, the Muslim scripture, the...

.

Their minority status was protected by the Muslim rulers, and they had the right to practice their religion, but, as dhimmi
Dhimmi
A , is a non-Muslim subject of a state governed in accordance with sharia law. Linguistically, the word means "one whose responsibility has been taken". This has to be understood in the context of the definition of state in Islam...

, adult males had to pay the jizya
Jizya
Under Islamic law, jizya or jizyah is a per capita tax levied on a section of an Islamic state's non-Muslim citizens, who meet certain criteria...

 or "protection tax".

It has been suggested that they were forced to wear red colored turbans as a result of the terms of a document known as the Pact of Umar II, but this stipulation is not explicitly mentioned in the document, the authenticity has been questioned by contemporary scholars, and the tradition cannot be independently verified.

During the Crusades, Samaritans, like the other non-Latin Christian inhabitants of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

, were second-class citizens, but they were tolerated and perhaps favoured because they were docile and had been mentioned positively in the Christian New Testament.

Over the centuries of Byzantine, Arab and Turkish rule, the Samaritans suffered many hardships which included forced conversion to Christianity, forced conversion to Islam, harsh religious decrees, massacre and persecution.

While the majority of the Samaritan population in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 was killed or converted during the reign of the Ottoman Pasha Mardam Beq in the early 17th century, the remainder of the Samaritan communities from Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 and the other cities where they had a presence moved to Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

, due to its close proximity to Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

.

The Shechem community endured because most of the surviving diaspora returned, and they have maintained a tiny presence there to this day. In 1624, the last Samaritan High Priest
Samaritan High Priest
The Samaritan High Priest is the high priest of the Samaritan community in the Middle East.According to Samaritan tradition, the office has existed continuously since Aaron, the brother of Moses, and has been held by 132 people...

 of the line of Eleazar
Eleazar
Eleazar , was a priest in the Hebrew Bible, the second Kohen Gadol - succeeding his father Aaron. He was a nephew of Moses.-Life:...

 son of Aaron
Aaron
In the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, Aaron : Ααρών ), who is often called "'Aaron the Priest"' and once Aaron the Levite , was the older brother of Moses, and a prophet of God. He represented the priestly functions of his tribe, becoming the first High Priest of the Israelites...

 died without issue, but descendants of Aaron's other son, Ithamar
Ithamar
In the Torah, Ithamar is mentioned as the youngest son of Aaron the High Priest. After the death of his two eldest brothers Nadab and Abihu when they had been punished by the Lord for performing an unauthorized sacrificial offering, Ithamar served as a priest along with his elder brother, Eleazar...

, remained and took over the office.

The situation of the Samaritan community improved significantly during the British Mandate of Palestine. At that time, they began to work in the public sector, like many other groups. During the thirties one of the Samaritans, Tawfeek Khadir al-Kahen, was nominated as member of the Shechem Municipality.

Samaritan origins of Palestinian Muslims


Much of the local Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 population of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 is believed to be descended from Samaritans who converted to Islam. According to the historian Fayyad Altif, large numbers of Samaritans converted due to persecution under various Muslim rulers, and because the monotheistic nature of Islam made it easy for them to accept it. The Samaritans themselves describe the Ottoman period
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 as the worst period in their modern history, as many Samaritan families changed their religion during that time. Even today, certain Nabulsi family names such as Muslimani, Yaish, Sayeh, and Shakshir among others, are associated with Samaritan ancestry.

For the Samaritans in particular, the passing of the al-Hakem Edict by the Fatimids in 1021, under which all Jews and Christians in the Fatimid ruled southern Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 were ordered to either convert to Islam or leave, along with another notable forced conversion to Islam imposed at the hands of the rebel Ibn Firāsa, would contribute to their rapid unprecedented decrease, and ultimately almost complete extinction as a separate religious community. As a result, they have decreased from more than a million in Roman times to just 745 people today.

In 1940, the future Israeli president and historian Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi was a historian, Labor Zionist leader, the second and longest-serving President of Israel.-Biography:...

 wrote an article in which he stated that two thirds of the residents of Nablus and the surrounding neighboring villages are of Samaritan origin. He mentioned the name of several Palestinian Muslim families as having Samaritan origins, including the Buwarda and Kasem families who protected Samaritans from Muslim persecution in the 1850s. He further claimed that these families had written records testifying to their Samaritan ancestry, which were maintained by their priests and elders.

DNA and genetic studies


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
    Kohen
    A Kohen is the Hebrew word for priest. Jewish Kohens are traditionally believed and halachically required to be of direct patrilineal descent from the Biblical Aaron....

     lineage from the tribe of Levi.


Of the 12 Samaritan males used in the analysis, 10 (83%) had Y chromosones belonging to haplogroup J
Haplogroup J (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup J is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup. It is one of the major male lines of all living men...

, which includes three of the four Samaritan families. The Joshua-Marhiv family belongs to haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 J1
Haplogroup J1 (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Y DNA haplogroup J1, also known as J-M267, is a sub-haplogroup of Y DNA haplogroup J, along with its sibling clade Y DNA haplogroup J2. Men with this type of Y DNA share a common paternal ancestry, which is demonstrated and defined by the presence of the SNP mutation referred to...

, while the Danfi and Tsedakah families belong to haplogroup J2
Haplogroup J2 (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup J2 is a Y-chromosome haplogroup which is a subdivision of haplogroup J. It is further divided into two complementary clades, J2a-M410 and J2b-M12.-Origins:...

, 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
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 J
J
Ĵ or ĵ is a letter in Esperanto orthography representing the sound .While Esperanto orthography uses a diacritic for its four postalveolar consonants, as do the Latin-based Slavic alphabets, the base letters are Romano-Germanic...

 was the Cohen family (Tradition: Tribe of Levi) which was found in haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 E3b1a M78. This article predated the change of the classification 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.
{{Distinguish2|Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

}}
{{redirect6|Samaritans|the charity|Samaritans (charity)|other uses|Samaritan (disambiguation)}}
{{infobox religious group
| group = Samaritans
שומרונים
| flag =
| flag_caption =
| image =
| image_caption = Samaritans on the Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, 2006
| population = 745 {{smaller|(2007)}}{{cite web|url=http://www.thesamaritanupdate.com/|}}
| founder =
| regions =  Israel - approximately 350
Palestinian territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

 - approximately 350
| tablehdr = Samaritan communities
| region1 =   Holon
| pop1 = {{ndash}}
| ref1 =
| region2 = Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, near Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...


| pop2 = {{ndash}}
| ref3 =
| religions = Samaritanism
| scriptures = Samaritan Torah
Samaritan Pentateuch
The Samaritan Pentateuch, sometimes called Samaritan Torah, , is a version of the Hebrew language Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, used by the Samaritans....


| languages = Modern Vernacular
Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew , also known as Israeli Hebrew or Modern Israeli Hebrew, is the language spoken in Israel and in some Jewish communities worldwide, from the early 20th century to the present....

, Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 
Past Vernacular
Arabic, preceded by Aramaic
Samaritan Aramaic language
Samaritan Aramaic, or Samaritan, is the dialect of Aramaic used by the Samaritans in their sacred and scholarly literature. This should not be confused with the Samaritan Hebrew language of the Scriptures...

 and earlier Hebrew
Samaritan Hebrew language
Samaritan Hebrew , is a reading tradition for Biblical Hebrew as used by the Samaritans for reading the Samaritan Pentateuch. Its pronunciation is highly similar to that of Samaritan Arabic, used by the Samaritans in prayer.-Orthography:...


Liturgical
Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic
Samaritan Aramaic language
Samaritan Aramaic, or Samaritan, is the dialect of Aramaic used by the Samaritans in their sacred and scholarly literature. This should not be confused with the Samaritan Hebrew language of the Scriptures...

, Samaritan Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

{{cite web|url=http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=546&letter=J&search=samaritan |title=Joshua, The Samaritan Book Of: |publisher=JewishEncyclopedia.com |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}
| related-c = Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

, Palestinian people
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...


| notes =
}}

The Samaritans ({{lang-he|שומרונים}} Shomronim, {{lang-ar|السامريون}} as-Sāmariyyūn) are an ethnoreligious
Ethnoreligious
An ethnoreligious group is an ethnic group of people whose members are also unified by a common religious background...

 group of the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

. Religiously, they are the adherents to Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

. Based on the Samaritan Torah
Samaritan Pentateuch
The Samaritan Pentateuch, sometimes called Samaritan Torah, , is a version of the Hebrew language Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, used by the Samaritans....

, Samaritans claim their worship is the true religion of the ancient Israelites prior to the Babylonian Exile, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

, as opposed to Judaism, which they assert is a related but altered and amended religion brought back by those returning from exile.

Ancestrally, they claim descent from a group of Israelite
Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

 inhabitants from the tribes of Ephraim
Ephraim
Ephraim ; was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan...

 and Manasseh
Tribe of Manasseh
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph....

 (the two sons of Joseph) as well as some descendants from the priestly tribe of Levi
Levite
In Jewish tradition, a Levite is a member of the Hebrew tribe of Levi. When Joshua led the Israelites into the land of Canaan, the Levites were the only Israelite tribe that received cities but were not allowed to be landowners "because the Lord the God of Israel himself is their inheritance"...

,Who are the Samaritans? who have connections to ancient Samaria
Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

 from the period of their entry into the land of Canaan, while some suggest that it was from the beginning of the Babylonian Exile up to the Samaritan Kingdom of Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba, literally "The Great Gate", was one of the greatest of the Samaritan high priests. He is believed to have lived during the late third and early fourth century AD....

. The Samaritans, however, derive their name not from this geographical designation, but rather from the Hebrew term Shamerim שַמֶרִים, "Keepers [of the Law]".David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 5:941 (New York: Doubleday, 1996, c1992).

In the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, a central post-exilic religious text of Judaism, their claim of ancestral origin is disputed, and in those texts they are called Cutheans ({{lang-he|כותים}}, Kuthim), allegedly from the ancient city of Cuthah
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 (Kutha), geographically located in what is today Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. Modern genetics has suggested some truth to both the claims of the Samaritans and Jewish accounts in the Talmud.{{PDFlink|Reconstruction of Patrilineages and Matrilineages of Samaritans and Other Israeli Populations From Y-Chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA Sequennce Variation|855 KB}}, Hum Mutat 24:248–260, 2004.

Historically, they were a large community — up to more than a million in late Roman times, but were then gradually reduced to several tens of thousands up to a few centuries ago — their unprecedented demographic
Demography
Demography is the statistical study of human population. It can be a very general science that can be applied to any kind of dynamic human population, that is, one that changes over time or space...

 shrinkage has been a result of various historical events, including, most notably, the bloody suppression of the Third Samaritan Revolt (529 AD) against the Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 rulers, and the mass conversion to Islam in the Early Muslim period of Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

. According to their tally, there were 745{{cite web|url=http://www.thesamaritanupdate.com/|}} Samaritans as of November 30, 2011, living exclusively in two localities, one in Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

 near the city of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

, and the other in the Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i city of Holon. There are, however, followers of various backgrounds adhering to Samaritan traditions outside of Israel, especially in the United States.

With the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language by Jews in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, and its growth and officialization following the establishment of the state, most Samaritans in Israel today speak Modern Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

. As with their counterpart Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

, Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

, Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 and other Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i religious communities, the most recent spoken mother tongue of the Samaritans was Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, and it still is for those in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 city of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

. For liturgical
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 purposes, Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic, and Samaritan Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 are used, all of which are written in the Samaritan alphabet
Samaritan alphabet
The Samaritan alphabet is used by the Samaritans for religious writings, including the Samaritan Pentateuch, writings in Samaritan Hebrew, and for commentaries and translations in Samaritan Aramaic and occasionally Arabic....

, a variant of the Old Hebrew alphabet
Paleo-Hebrew alphabet
The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet , is an abjad offshoot of the ancient Semitic alphabet, identical to the Phoenician alphabet. At the very least it dates to the 10th century BCE...

, distinct from the so-called square script "Hebrew alphabet
Hebrew alphabet
The Hebrew alphabet , known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. There have been two...

" of Jews and Judaism, which is a stylized form of the Aramaic alphabet
Aramaic alphabet
The Aramaic alphabet is adapted from the Phoenician alphabet and became distinctive from it by the 8th century BC. The letters all represent consonants, some of which are matres lectionis, which also indicate long vowels....

.{{cite book|year=1993 |title=A History of the Hebrew Language |publisher=Cambridge University Press |location=Cambridge, England |isbn=0-521-55634-1|author=Angel Sáenz-Badillos ; translated by John Elwolde.}} Hebrew, and later Aramaic, were languages in use by the Jewish and Samaritan inhabitants of Judea prior to the Roman exile, and beyond."The Samaritans' Passover sacrifice", Ynetnews
Ynetnews
Ynetnews is the online English language Israeli news website of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s most-read newspaper, and the Hebrew Israel news portal, Ynet...

, May 2, 2007


{{Juddom}}

Samaritan sources


According to Samaritan tradition, Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

 was the original Holy Place of the Israelites from the time that Joshua
Joshua
Joshua , is a minor figure in the Torah, being one of the spies for Israel and in few passages as Moses's assistant. He turns to be the central character in the Hebrew Bible's Book of Joshua...

 conquered Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

 and the tribes of Israel settled the land. The reference to Mount Gerizim derives from the biblical story of Moses ordering Joshua to take the Twelve Tribes of Israel, (the number of which did not include the priestly tribe of Levi) to the mountains by Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 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
Mount Ebal
Mount Ebal is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the Palestinian city of Nablus in the West Bank , and forms the northern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated, the southern side being formed by Mount Gerizim...

, 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 (Deut. 11:29; 27:12; Josh. 8:33).

The Samaritans have insisted that they are direct descendants of the Northern Israelite tribes of Ephraim
Ephraim
Ephraim ; was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan...

 and Manasseh
Tribe of Manasseh
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph....

, who survived the destruction of the Northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

ns in 722 BC. The inscription of Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

 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 tribes of Israel conquered and returned to the land of Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

, 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
Shiloh (Biblical)
Shiloh was an ancient city south of ancient Tirzah and mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Its site is at modern Khirbet Seilun, West Bank, and north of the Israeli settlement of Beth El in the West Bank....

. Thus, he established both an illegitimate priesthood and an illegitimate place of worship.

Abu l-Fath
Abu l-Fath
Abu l-Fath, or Ibn Abi al-Hasan al-Samiri al-Danafi, was a fourteen century Samaritan chronicler, writing in Arabic. His major work is Kitab al-Ta'rikh.The work was commissioned in 1352 by Pinḥas, Samaritan high priest, and begun in 1356...

, who in the 14th century AD wrote a major work of Samaritan history, comments on Samaritan origins as follows:The Keepers, An Introduction to the History and Culture of the Samaritans, by Robert T. Anderson and Terry Giles, Hendrickson Publishing, 2002, pages 11-12

{{quote|A terrible civil war broke out between Eli son of Yafni, of the line of Ithamar, and the sons of Pincus (Phinehas
Phinehas
-Biblical figures:*Phinehas, son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the High Priest*Phinehas, son of the High Priest Eli. He was a priest at Shiloh, and died when the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant-Other :*Pinchas, the 41st weekly Torah portion....

), because Eli son of Yafni resolved to usurp the High Priesthood from the descendants of Pincus. 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:

{{quote|And the children of Israel in his days divided into three groups. One did according to the abominations of the Gentile
Gentile
The term Gentile refers to non-Israelite peoples or nations in English translations of the Bible....

s 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.}}

Jewish sources


The emergence of the Samaritans as an ethnic and religious community distinct from other Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 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 former kingdom.

Jewish tradition maintains a different origin for the Samaritans. The Talmud accounts for a people called "Cuthim"
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 on a number of occasions, mentioning their arrival by the hands of the Assyrians. According to 2 Kings
Books of Kings
The Book of Kings presents a narrative history of ancient Israel and Judah from the death of David to the release of his successor Jehoiachin from imprisonment in Babylon, a period of some 400 years...

 17 and Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 (Antiquities
Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquities of the Jews is a twenty volume historiographical work composed by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in the thirteenth year of the reign of Roman emperor Flavius Domitian which was around 93 or 94 AD. Antiquities of the Jews contains an account of history of the Jewish people,...

 9.277–91), the people of Israel were removed by the king of the Assyrians (Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

- see special wording of 2 Kings 17 which mentions Shalmaneser
Shalmaneser V
Shalmaneser V was king of Assyria from 727 to 722 BC. He first appears as governor of Zimirra in Phoenicia in the reign of his father, Tiglath-Pileser III....

 in verse 3 but the "king of the Assyrians" from verse 4 onward), to Halah
Halah
Halah is a city that is mentioned in the Bible. It is noted when the Assyrians invaded Israel and enslaved the people. They were sent into exile in Halah, in Gozan on the Khabur River, and in the towns of the Medes. Halah was in Assyria, which was a major power in northern Mesopotamia...

, to Gozan
Tell Halaf
Tell Halaf is an archaeological site in the Al Hasakah governorate of northeastern Syria, near the Turkish border, just opposite Ceylanpınar. It was the first find of a Neolithic culture, subsequently dubbed the Halaf culture, characterized by glazed pottery painted with geometric and animal designs...

 on the Khabur River
Khabur River
The Khabur River , , , ) is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrian territory. Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra's al-'Ayn are the river's main source of water. Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah, together creating...

 and to the towns of the Medes
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

. The king of the Assyrians then brought people from Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

, Cuthah
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

, 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
Rabbi Meir
Rabbi Meir or Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes was a Jewish sage who lived in the time of the Mishna. He was considered one of the greatest of the Tannaim of the fourth generation . According to legend , his father was a descendant of the Roman Emperor Nero who had converted to Judaism. His wife Bruriah is...

 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 figure?
  • 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
Nehemiah
Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which describes his work rebuilding Jerusalem and purifying the Jewish community. He was the son of Hachaliah, Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the...

, Ezra
Ezra
Ezra , also called Ezra the Scribe and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra. According to the Hebrew Bible he returned from the Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem...

, and the building of the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. Returning exiles considered the Samaritans to be non-Israelites 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:

{{quote|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 (722–721 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 AD 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:

{{quote|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.)}}

Tension between the Samaritans and the Jews


The narratives in Genesis about the rivalries among the twelve sons of Jacob describe tensions between north and south. Those were temporarily united under the strong kingship of David and Solomon, but at the death of Solomon, the kingdom split into two: northern Israel with its capital Samaria and southern Judea with its capital Jerusalem.

The Deuteronomistic Historians, writing in Judah, saw northern Israel as a sinful kingdom, divinely punished for its idolatry and iniquity by being destroyed by the Assyrians in 720 BC. (Ironically, the Chronicler is very generous to the south Judah and considers it God's will to recover the chosen people that they were destroyed by Babylon and exiled to Babylon.)

The tensions continued in the postexilic period. According to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, Ezra-Nehemiah is hostile toward its northern neighbors and considers the northern Israel except for the "true Israel"{{huh?|date=October 2011}}. Chronicles is more inclusive than Ezra-Nehemiah since for the Chronicler the ideal is of one Israel with twelve tribes; the Chronicler concentrates on Judah and ignores northern Israel.Michael D. Coogan, "A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament" page 363, 2009.

Unlike the Chronicler, the Samaritans claimed that they were the true Israel who were descendants of the "lost" tribes taken into Assyrian captivity. They had their own temple on Mount Gerizim and claimed that it was the original sanctuary. Moreover, they claimed that their version of the Pentateuch was the original and that the Jews had a falsified text produced by Ezra during the Babylonian exile.

Both Jewish and Samaritan religious leaders taught that it was wrong to have any contact with the opposite group, and neither was to enter each other's territories or even to speak to one another. During the New Testament period, although the tensions went unrecognized by Roman authorities, Josephus reports numerous violent confrontations between Jews and Samaritans throughout the first half of the first century.Mark A. Powell, "Introduction the New Testament" 'Ch.01 The People of Palestine at the Time of Jesus', Baker Academic, 2009.

Rejection by Judeans


According to the Jewish version of events, when the Judean exile ended in 538 BC and the exiles began returning home from Babylon, they found their former homeland populated by other people who claimed the land as their own and Jerusalem, their former glorious capital, in ruins.

According to {{bibleverse|2|Chronicles|36:22–23|HE}}, the Persian emperor, Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 (reigned 559 BC – 530 BC), permitted the return of the exiles to their homeland and ordered the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem (Zion
Zion
Zion is a place name often used as a synonym for Jerusalem. The word is first found in Samuel II, 5:7 dating to c.630-540 BCE...

). The prophet Isaiah identified Cyrus as "the Lord's Messiah" (Meshiach; see {{bibleverse||Isaiah|45:1|HE}}). The word "Messiah
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

" refers to an anointed one, such as a king or priest.

{{bibleverse||Ezra|4|HE}} says that the local inhabitants of the land offered to assist with the building of the new temple during the time of Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Judah and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia . The date is generally thought to...

, 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 alienation increased, and that the Samaritans eventually built their own temple on Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, near Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

.

(The rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem took several decades. The project was first led by Sheshbazzar (about 538 BC), later by Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Judah and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia . The date is generally thought to...

 and Jeshua
Joshua the High Priest
Joshua the High Priest was, according to the Bible the first person chosen to be the High Priest for the reconstruction of the Jewish Temple after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity The name is also spelled 'Jeshua' in some English versions , and, as with the earlier Joshua, is...

, and later still by Haggai
Haggai
Haggai was a Hebrew prophet during the building of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and one of the twelve minor prophets in the Hebrew Bible and the author of the Book of Haggai. His name means "my holiday"...

 and Zechariah (520–515 BC). Work was completed in 515 BC.)

The term "Cuthim" applied by Jews to the Samaritans had clear pejorative
Pejorative
Pejoratives , including name slurs, are words or grammatical forms that connote negativity and express contempt or distaste. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social groups but not in others, e.g., hacker is a term used for computer criminals as well as quick and clever computer experts...

 connotations, implying that they were interlopers brought in from Kutha
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 in Mesopotamia and rejecting their claim of descent from the ancient Tribes of Israel. This claim, however, that the northern tribes of Israel were all exiled by the Assyrians and therefore those who occupied the land were of a non-Israelite origin is rejected by the Bible, 2 Chronicles 30:1-31:6, which states that not all of the people from the northern kingdom were exiled by the Assyrians and some still remained even after the Assyrian conquest of the land in the 8th century BC.

Assyrian Account of the Conquest and Settlement of Samaria


However, the following account of the Assyrian kings, which was among the archaeological discoveries in Babylon, differs from the Samaritan and Jewish Biblical accounts:

{{quote|[the Samar]ians [who had agreed with a hostile king]...I fought with them and decisively defeated them]....carried off as spoil. 50 chariots for my royal force ...[the rest of them I settled in the midst of Assyria]....The Tamudi, Ibadidi, Marsimani and Hayappa, who live in distant Arabia, in the desert, who knew neither overseer nor commander, who never brought tribute to any king--with the help of Ashshur my lord, I defeated them. I deported the rest of them. I settled them in Samaria/Samerina.(Sargon II Inscriptions, COS 2.118A, p. 293)}}

Also,

{{quote|The inhabitants of Samaria/Samerina, who agreed [and plotted] with a king [hostile to] me, not to do service and not to bring tribute [to Ashshur] and who did battle, I fought against them with the power of the great gods, my lords. I counted as spoil 27,280 people, together with their chariots, and gods, in which they trusted. I formed a unit with 200 of [their] chariots for my royal force. I settled the rest of them in the midst of Assyria. I repopulated Samaria/Samerina more than before. I brought into it people from countries conquered by my hands. I appointed my eunuch as governor over them. And I counted them as Assyrians.(Nimrud Prisms, COS 2.118D, pp. 295-296)}}

Temple on Mount Gerizim


Archaeological excavations at Mount Gerizim indicate that a Samaritan temple was built there in the first half of the 5th century BC.http://books.google.com.au/books?id=6NsxZRnxE70C&pg=PA75&lpg=PA75&dq=Lipschits+Yehud&source=bl&ots=ItiriRREm4&sig=8qiPIQOnJdojfacDoHFXFmM4muM&hl=en&ei=UoEUTMGlBcO9cYSd9JAM&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCAQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=Lipschits%20Yehud&f=falseYitzhak Magen, The Dating of the First Pahse of the Samaritan Temple on Mount Gerizim in the Light of the Archaeological Evidence (in Oded Lipschitz, Gary N. Knoppers, Rainer Albertz, eds, "Judah and Judeans in the Fourth Century BC", Eisenbrauns, 2007)] The date of the schism between Samaritans and Jews is unknown.

According to Samaritans,{{dead link|date=February 2010}} it was on Mount Gerizim that Abraham was commanded by God to offer Isaac, his son, as a sacrifice {{Bible|Genesis 22:2}}. In both narratives, God then causes the sacrifice to be interrupted, explaining that this was the ultimate test of Abraham's obedience, as a result of which all the world would receive blessing.

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
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, making it the focus of their spiritual values.

The legitimacy of the Samaritan temple was attacked by Jewish scholars including Andronicus ben Meshullam
Andronicus ben Meshullam
Andronicus ben Meshullam, a Jewish scholar of the 2nd century BCE. According to Josephus , he was the representative of the Jews in their religious dispute with the Samaritans, which was held before King Ptolemy VI Philometor, about the year 150 BCE...

.

In the Christian Bible, the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 relates an encounter between a Samaritan woman and Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 in which she asserts that the mountain was the center of their worship {{Bible|John 4:20}}.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Hellenization


In the 2nd century BC a particularly bitter series of events eventually led to a revolution of the Israelites against their Greek oppressors.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne....

 was on the throne of the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 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 and their refusal to allow their homeland to be defiled.

The universal peril led the Samaritans, eager for safety, to repudiate all connection and kinship with the Jews. The request was granted. This was put forth as the final breach between the two groups, being alleged at a much later date in the Christian bible (John 4:9), "For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans."{{cite web|url=http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=%20John%204:9,27 |title=NIV English translation of John |publisher=Biblegateway.com |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}

Several centuries before Christ, the Samaritans had built their own temple on Mt. Gerizim to rival the Temple in Jerusalem. Here, they offered sacrifices according to the Mosaic code. Anderson notes that during the reign of Antiochus IV (175–164 BC):{{cite web|url=http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/282-jesus-and-the-samaritan-woman |title=Jesus and the Samaritan Woman / A Samaritan Woman Approaches:1 |publisher=Christiancourier.com |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}

{{quote|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:

{{quote|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.}}

{{quote|Shortly afterwards, the Greek king sent Gerontes the Athenian to force the Jews of Israel 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 defiled the Jewish temple by setting up an altar to Zeus over the holy altar of burnt offerings in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which was the center of Jewish religious life. Antiochus also sacrificed a pig on the altar in the Temple in Jerusalem. This event is known as the "abomination of desolation".{{cite web|url=http://www.gotquestions.org/abomination-desolation.html |title=What is the Abomination of Desolation? |publisher=Gotquestions.org |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}

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 Jews who refused to worship and kiss Antiochus' image, along with the desecration of the Holy Temple, ultimately led to a revolt led by Judah Maccabee
Judas Maccabeus
Judah Maccabee was a Kohen and a son of the Jewish priest Mattathias...

 (Judah the Hammer) and his family. Though quite outnumbered, the Israelites, led by the Maccabee family, managed to regain control of their land. This "miracle" restoration of Jewish sovereignty in the face of Greek dominance has been since observed by Jews in the winter "Festival of Lights" holiday known as Chanukah.

Judah'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
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

 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
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 until around 129 BC, when the Jewish Hasmonean
Hasmonean
The Hasmonean dynasty , was the ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE, the dynasty ruled semi-autonomously from the Seleucids in the region of Judea...

 king Yohanan Girhan (John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

) destroyed the Samaritan temple and devastated Samaria.

Roman period


Samaritans fared badly under the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, when Samaria was a part of the Roman-ruled province of Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

.

Samaritans appear briefly in the Christian gospels, most notable in the parable of the Good Samaritan
Parable of the Good Samaritan
The parable of the Good Samaritan is a parable told by Jesus and is mentioned in only one of the Canonical gospels. According to the Gospel of Luke a traveller is beaten, robbed, and left half dead along the road. First a priest and then a Levite come by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a...

. In this parable, told to Jews, a Samaritan helps a wounded Jew even though Jews and Samaritans despised each other.

However, this period is also considered as something of a golden age for the Samaritan community, the population thought to number up to a million.http://www.lonelyplanet.com/israel-and-the-palestinian-territories The Temple of Gerizim was rebuilt after the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans, around 135 AD. Much of Samaritan liturgy was set by the high priest Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba, literally "The Great Gate", was one of the greatest of the Samaritan high priests. He is believed to have lived during the late third and early fourth century AD....

 in the 4th century.

The oldest, known Samaritan synagogue, the Delos Synagogue
Delos Synagogue
The synagogue of Delos, Greece, is the oldest synagogue known today, its origin dating between 150 and 128 BCE. The building’s most recent use is widely agreed to have been an assembly hall for Jews or Samaritans. However, the first use for the building is more controversial...

 dates from between 150 and 128 BC, or earlier and is located on the island of Delos
Delos
The island of Delos , isolated in the centre of the roughly circular ring of islands called the Cyclades, near Mykonos, is one of the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece...

.{{cite web|url=http://www.pohick.org/sts/delos.html |title=Delos |publisher=Pohick.org |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}

There were some Samaritans in the Persia
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

n Empire, where they served in the Sassanid army. Many Jews had also lived in Persia for millennia, after various exiles and captivities.

Byzantine times


{{see|Samaritan Revolts}}
According to Samaritan sources, Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno
Zeno (emperor)
Zeno , originally named Tarasis, was Byzantine Emperor from 474 to 475 and again from 476 to 491. Domestic revolts and religious dissension plagued his reign, which nevertheless succeeded to some extent in foreign issues...

 (who ruled 474-491 and whom the sources call "Zait the King of Edom") persecuted the Samaritans. The Emperor went to Sichem (Neapolis), gathered the elders and asked them to convert; when they refused, Zeno had many Samaritans killed, and re-built the synagogue to a church. Zeno then took for himself Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, where the Samaritans worshipped God, and built several edifices, among whom a tomb for his recently deceased son, on which he put a cross, so that the Samaritans, worshipping God, would prostrate in front of the tomb. Later, in 484, the Samaritans revolted. The rebels attacked Sichem, burnt five churches built on Samaritan holy places and cut the finger of bishop Terebinthus, who was officiating the ceremony of Pentecost
Pentecost
Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ after the Resurrection of Jesus...

. They elected a Justa
Justa (rebel)
Justa was elected by Samaritans as their king during the 484 CE Samaritan revolt. Following his ascent in Samaria, he moved on Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. There, many Christians were killed and the church of St. Procopius was destroyed...

 (or Justasa/Justasus) as their king and moved to Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. Here several Christians were killed and the church of St. Sebastian was destroyed. Justa celebrated the victory with games in the circus. According to John Malalas
John Malalas
John Malalas or Ioannes Malalas was a Greek chronicler from Antioch. Malalas is probably a Syriac word for "rhetor", "orator"; it is first applied to him by John of Damascus .-Life:Malalas was educated in Antioch, and probably was a jurist there, but moved to...

, the dux Palaestinae Asclepiades, whose troops were reinforced by the Caesarea-based Arcadiani of Rheges, defeated Justa, killed him and sent his head to Zeno.Malalas, 15. According to Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

, Terebinthus went to Zeno to ask for revenge; the Emperor personally went to Samaria to quell the rebellion.Procopius, Buildings, 5.7.

Modern historians believe that the order of the facts preserved by Samaritan sources should be inverted, as the persecution of Zeno was a consequence of the rebellion rather than its cause, and should have happened after 484, around 489. Zeno rebuilt the church of St. Procopius in Neapolis (Sichem) and the Samaritans were banned from Mount Gerizim, on whose top a signalling tower was built to alert in case of civil unrest.Alan David Crown, The Samaritans, Mohr Siebeck, 1989, ISBN 3161452372, pp. 72-73.

Under a charismatic
Charismatic authority
The sociologist Max Weber defined charismatic authority as "resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him." Charismatic authority is one of three forms of authority laid out...

, messianic figure named Julianus ben Sabar
Julianus ben Sabar
Julianus ben Sabar was a messianic leader of the Samaritans, who led a failed revolt against Byzantium during the early 6th century....

 (or ben Sahir), the Samaritans launched a war to create their own independent state in 529. With the help of the Ghassanid Arabs, Emperor Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

 crushed the revolt; tens of thousands of Samaritans died or were enslaved
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

. The Samaritan faith was virtually outlawed thereafter by the Christian Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

; from a population once at least in the hundreds of thousands, the Samaritan community dwindled to near extinction.

After the Muslim Conquests


By the time of the Muslim Conquests
Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power.They...

, Samaritans were living in an area stretching between Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. Like other non-Muslims in the empire, such as Jews, Samaritans were considered to be People of the Book
People of the Book
People of the Book is a term used to designate non-Muslim adherents to faiths which have a revealed scripture called, in Arabic, Al-Kitab . The three types of adherents to faiths that the Qur'an mentions as people of the book are the Jews, Sabians and Christians.In Islam, the Muslim scripture, the...

.

Their minority status was protected by the Muslim rulers, and they had the right to practice their religion, but, as dhimmi
Dhimmi
A , is a non-Muslim subject of a state governed in accordance with sharia law. Linguistically, the word means "one whose responsibility has been taken". This has to be understood in the context of the definition of state in Islam...

, adult males had to pay the jizya
Jizya
Under Islamic law, jizya or jizyah is a per capita tax levied on a section of an Islamic state's non-Muslim citizens, who meet certain criteria...

 or "protection tax".

It has been suggested that they were forced to wear red colored turbans as a result of the terms of a document known as the Pact of Umar II, but this stipulation is not explicitly mentioned in the document, the authenticity has been questioned by contemporary scholars, and the tradition cannot be independently verified.

During the Crusades, Samaritans, like the other non-Latin Christian inhabitants of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

, were second-class citizens, but they were tolerated and perhaps favoured because they were docile and had been mentioned positively in the Christian New Testament.Benjamin Z. Kedar, "The Frankish period", in The Samaritans, ed. Alan D. Cross (Tübingen, 1989), pp. 86-87.

Over the centuries of Byzantine, Arab and Turkish rule, the Samaritans suffered many hardships which included forced conversion to Christianity, forced conversion to Islam, harsh religious decrees, massacre and persecution.

While the majority of the Samaritan population in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 was killed or converted during the reign of the Ottoman Pasha Mardam Beq in the early 17th century, the remainder of the Samaritan communities from Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 and the other cities where they had a presence moved to Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

, due to its close proximity to Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

.

The Shechem community endured because most of the surviving diaspora returned, and they have maintained a tiny presence there to this day. In 1624, the last Samaritan High Priest
Samaritan High Priest
The Samaritan High Priest is the high priest of the Samaritan community in the Middle East.According to Samaritan tradition, the office has existed continuously since Aaron, the brother of Moses, and has been held by 132 people...

 of the line of Eleazar
Eleazar
Eleazar , was a priest in the Hebrew Bible, the second Kohen Gadol - succeeding his father Aaron. He was a nephew of Moses.-Life:...

 son of Aaron
Aaron
In the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, Aaron : Ααρών ), who is often called "'Aaron the Priest"' and once Aaron the Levite , was the older brother of Moses, and a prophet of God. He represented the priestly functions of his tribe, becoming the first High Priest of the Israelites...

 died without issue, but descendants of Aaron's other son, Ithamar
Ithamar
In the Torah, Ithamar is mentioned as the youngest son of Aaron the High Priest. After the death of his two eldest brothers Nadab and Abihu when they had been punished by the Lord for performing an unauthorized sacrificial offering, Ithamar served as a priest along with his elder brother, Eleazar...

, remained and took over the office.

The situation of the Samaritan community improved significantly during the British Mandate of Palestine. At that time, they began to work in the public sector, like many other groups. During the thirties one of the Samaritans, Tawfeek Khadir al-Kahen, was nominated as member of the Shechem Municipality.

Samaritan origins of Palestinian Muslims


Much of the local Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 population of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 is believed to be descended from Samaritans who converted to Islam. According to the historian Fayyad Altif, large numbers of Samaritans converted due to persecution under various Muslim rulers, and because the monotheistic nature of Islam made it easy for them to accept it. The Samaritans themselves describe the Ottoman period
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 as the worst period in their modern history, as many Samaritan families changed their religion during that time. Even today, certain Nabulsi family names such as Muslimani, Yaish, Sayeh, and Shakshir among others, are associated with Samaritan ancestry.

For the Samaritans in particular, the passing of the al-Hakem Edict by the Fatimids in 1021, under which all Jews and Christians in the Fatimid ruled southern Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 were ordered to either convert to Islam or leave, along with another notable forced conversion to Islam imposed at the hands of the rebel Ibn Firāsa, would contribute to their rapid unprecedented decrease, and ultimately almost complete extinction as a separate religious community. As a result, they have decreased from more than a million in Roman times to just 745 people today.

In 1940, the future Israeli president and historian Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi was a historian, Labor Zionist leader, the second and longest-serving President of Israel.-Biography:...

 wrote an article in which he stated that two thirds of the residents of Nablus and the surrounding neighboring villages are of Samaritan origin. He mentioned the name of several Palestinian Muslim families as having Samaritan origins, including the Buwarda and Kasem families who protected Samaritans from Muslim persecution in the 1850s. He further claimed that these families had written records testifying to their Samaritan ancestry, which were maintained by their priests and elders.

DNA and genetic studies


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
    Kohen
    A Kohen is the Hebrew word for priest. Jewish Kohens are traditionally believed and halachically required to be of direct patrilineal descent from the Biblical Aaron....

     lineage from the tribe of Levi.


Of the 12 Samaritan males used in the analysis, 10 (83%) had Y chromosones belonging to haplogroup J
Haplogroup J (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup J is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup. It is one of the major male lines of all living men...

, which includes three of the four Samaritan families. The Joshua-Marhiv family belongs to haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 J1
Haplogroup J1 (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Y DNA haplogroup J1, also known as J-M267, is a sub-haplogroup of Y DNA haplogroup J, along with its sibling clade Y DNA haplogroup J2. Men with this type of Y DNA share a common paternal ancestry, which is demonstrated and defined by the presence of the SNP mutation referred to...

, while the Danfi and Tsedakah families belong to haplogroup J2
Haplogroup J2 (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup J2 is a Y-chromosome haplogroup which is a subdivision of haplogroup J. It is further divided into two complementary clades, J2a-M410 and J2b-M12.-Origins:...

, 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
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 J
J
Ĵ or ĵ is a letter in Esperanto orthography representing the sound .While Esperanto orthography uses a diacritic for its four postalveolar consonants, as do the Latin-based Slavic alphabets, the base letters are Romano-Germanic...

 was the Cohen family (Tradition: Tribe of Levi) which was found in haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 E3b1a M78.{{cite journal |last=Shen |first=P | coauthors = Lavi T, Kivisild T, Chou V, Sengun D, Gefel D, Shpirer I, Woolf E, Hillel J, Feldman MW, Oefner PJ |year=2004 |url=http://evolutsioon.ut.ee/publications/Shen2004.pdf |title=Reconstruction of Patrilineages and Matrilineages of Samaritans and Other Israeli Populations From Y-Chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA Sequence Variation | journal = Human Mutation | volume = 24 |pages=248–260 | format= PDF | pmid = 15300852 | doi = 10.1002/humu.20077 |issue=3}} This article predated the change of the classification 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.
{{Distinguish2|Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

}}
{{redirect6|Samaritans|the charity|Samaritans (charity)|other uses|Samaritan (disambiguation)}}
{{infobox religious group
| group = Samaritans
שומרונים
| flag =
| flag_caption =
| image =
| image_caption = Samaritans on the Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, 2006
| population = 745 {{smaller|(2007)}}{{cite web|url=http://www.thesamaritanupdate.com/|}}
| founder =
| regions =  Israel - approximately 350
Palestinian territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

 - approximately 350
| tablehdr = Samaritan communities
| region1 =   Holon
| pop1 = {{ndash}}
| ref1 =
| region2 = Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, near Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...


| pop2 = {{ndash}}
| ref3 =
| religions = Samaritanism
| scriptures = Samaritan Torah
Samaritan Pentateuch
The Samaritan Pentateuch, sometimes called Samaritan Torah, , is a version of the Hebrew language Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, used by the Samaritans....


| languages = Modern Vernacular
Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew , also known as Israeli Hebrew or Modern Israeli Hebrew, is the language spoken in Israel and in some Jewish communities worldwide, from the early 20th century to the present....

, Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 
Past Vernacular
Arabic, preceded by Aramaic
Samaritan Aramaic language
Samaritan Aramaic, or Samaritan, is the dialect of Aramaic used by the Samaritans in their sacred and scholarly literature. This should not be confused with the Samaritan Hebrew language of the Scriptures...

 and earlier Hebrew
Samaritan Hebrew language
Samaritan Hebrew , is a reading tradition for Biblical Hebrew as used by the Samaritans for reading the Samaritan Pentateuch. Its pronunciation is highly similar to that of Samaritan Arabic, used by the Samaritans in prayer.-Orthography:...


Liturgical
Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic
Samaritan Aramaic language
Samaritan Aramaic, or Samaritan, is the dialect of Aramaic used by the Samaritans in their sacred and scholarly literature. This should not be confused with the Samaritan Hebrew language of the Scriptures...

, Samaritan Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

{{cite web|url=http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=546&letter=J&search=samaritan |title=Joshua, The Samaritan Book Of: |publisher=JewishEncyclopedia.com |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}
| related-c = Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

, Palestinian people
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...


| notes =
}}

The Samaritans ({{lang-he|שומרונים}} Shomronim, {{lang-ar|السامريون}} as-Sāmariyyūn) are an ethnoreligious
Ethnoreligious
An ethnoreligious group is an ethnic group of people whose members are also unified by a common religious background...

 group of the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

. Religiously, they are the adherents to Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

. Based on the Samaritan Torah
Samaritan Pentateuch
The Samaritan Pentateuch, sometimes called Samaritan Torah, , is a version of the Hebrew language Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, used by the Samaritans....

, Samaritans claim their worship is the true religion of the ancient Israelites prior to the Babylonian Exile, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

, as opposed to Judaism, which they assert is a related but altered and amended religion brought back by those returning from exile.

Ancestrally, they claim descent from a group of Israelite
Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

 inhabitants from the tribes of Ephraim
Ephraim
Ephraim ; was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan...

 and Manasseh
Tribe of Manasseh
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph....

 (the two sons of Joseph) as well as some descendants from the priestly tribe of Levi
Levite
In Jewish tradition, a Levite is a member of the Hebrew tribe of Levi. When Joshua led the Israelites into the land of Canaan, the Levites were the only Israelite tribe that received cities but were not allowed to be landowners "because the Lord the God of Israel himself is their inheritance"...

,Who are the Samaritans? who have connections to ancient Samaria
Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

 from the period of their entry into the land of Canaan, while some suggest that it was from the beginning of the Babylonian Exile up to the Samaritan Kingdom of Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba, literally "The Great Gate", was one of the greatest of the Samaritan high priests. He is believed to have lived during the late third and early fourth century AD....

. The Samaritans, however, derive their name not from this geographical designation, but rather from the Hebrew term Shamerim שַמֶרִים, "Keepers [of the Law]".David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 5:941 (New York: Doubleday, 1996, c1992).

In the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, a central post-exilic religious text of Judaism, their claim of ancestral origin is disputed, and in those texts they are called Cutheans ({{lang-he|כותים}}, Kuthim), allegedly from the ancient city of Cuthah
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 (Kutha), geographically located in what is today Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. Modern genetics has suggested some truth to both the claims of the Samaritans and Jewish accounts in the Talmud.{{PDFlink|Reconstruction of Patrilineages and Matrilineages of Samaritans and Other Israeli Populations From Y-Chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA Sequennce Variation|855 KB}}, Hum Mutat 24:248–260, 2004.

Historically, they were a large community — up to more than a million in late Roman times, but were then gradually reduced to several tens of thousands up to a few centuries ago — their unprecedented demographic
Demography
Demography is the statistical study of human population. It can be a very general science that can be applied to any kind of dynamic human population, that is, one that changes over time or space...

 shrinkage has been a result of various historical events, including, most notably, the bloody suppression of the Third Samaritan Revolt (529 AD) against the Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 rulers, and the mass conversion to Islam in the Early Muslim period of Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

. According to their tally, there were 745{{cite web|url=http://www.thesamaritanupdate.com/|}} Samaritans as of November 30, 2011, living exclusively in two localities, one in Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

 near the city of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

, and the other in the Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i city of Holon. There are, however, followers of various backgrounds adhering to Samaritan traditions outside of Israel, especially in the United States.

With the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language by Jews in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, and its growth and officialization following the establishment of the state, most Samaritans in Israel today speak Modern Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

. As with their counterpart Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

, Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

, Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 and other Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i religious communities, the most recent spoken mother tongue of the Samaritans was Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

, and it still is for those in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 city of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

. For liturgical
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 purposes, Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic, and Samaritan Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 are used, all of which are written in the Samaritan alphabet
Samaritan alphabet
The Samaritan alphabet is used by the Samaritans for religious writings, including the Samaritan Pentateuch, writings in Samaritan Hebrew, and for commentaries and translations in Samaritan Aramaic and occasionally Arabic....

, a variant of the Old Hebrew alphabet
Paleo-Hebrew alphabet
The Paleo-Hebrew alphabet , is an abjad offshoot of the ancient Semitic alphabet, identical to the Phoenician alphabet. At the very least it dates to the 10th century BCE...

, distinct from the so-called square script "Hebrew alphabet
Hebrew alphabet
The Hebrew alphabet , known variously by scholars as the Jewish script, square script, block script, or more historically, the Assyrian script, is used in the writing of the Hebrew language, as well as other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, and Judeo-Arabic. There have been two...

" of Jews and Judaism, which is a stylized form of the Aramaic alphabet
Aramaic alphabet
The Aramaic alphabet is adapted from the Phoenician alphabet and became distinctive from it by the 8th century BC. The letters all represent consonants, some of which are matres lectionis, which also indicate long vowels....

.{{cite book|year=1993 |title=A History of the Hebrew Language |publisher=Cambridge University Press |location=Cambridge, England |isbn=0-521-55634-1|author=Angel Sáenz-Badillos ; translated by John Elwolde.}} Hebrew, and later Aramaic, were languages in use by the Jewish and Samaritan inhabitants of Judea prior to the Roman exile, and beyond."The Samaritans' Passover sacrifice", Ynetnews
Ynetnews
Ynetnews is the online English language Israeli news website of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s most-read newspaper, and the Hebrew Israel news portal, Ynet...

, May 2, 2007


{{Juddom}}

Samaritan sources


According to Samaritan tradition, Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

 was the original Holy Place of the Israelites from the time that Joshua
Joshua
Joshua , is a minor figure in the Torah, being one of the spies for Israel and in few passages as Moses's assistant. He turns to be the central character in the Hebrew Bible's Book of Joshua...

 conquered Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

 and the tribes of Israel settled the land. The reference to Mount Gerizim derives from the biblical story of Moses ordering Joshua to take the Twelve Tribes of Israel, (the number of which did not include the priestly tribe of Levi) to the mountains by Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 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
Mount Ebal
Mount Ebal is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the Palestinian city of Nablus in the West Bank , and forms the northern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated, the southern side being formed by Mount Gerizim...

, 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 (Deut. 11:29; 27:12; Josh. 8:33).

The Samaritans have insisted that they are direct descendants of the Northern Israelite tribes of Ephraim
Ephraim
Ephraim ; was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan...

 and Manasseh
Tribe of Manasseh
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph....

, who survived the destruction of the Northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

ns in 722 BC. The inscription of Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

 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 tribes of Israel conquered and returned to the land of Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

, 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
Shiloh (Biblical)
Shiloh was an ancient city south of ancient Tirzah and mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Its site is at modern Khirbet Seilun, West Bank, and north of the Israeli settlement of Beth El in the West Bank....

. Thus, he established both an illegitimate priesthood and an illegitimate place of worship.

Abu l-Fath
Abu l-Fath
Abu l-Fath, or Ibn Abi al-Hasan al-Samiri al-Danafi, was a fourteen century Samaritan chronicler, writing in Arabic. His major work is Kitab al-Ta'rikh.The work was commissioned in 1352 by Pinḥas, Samaritan high priest, and begun in 1356...

, who in the 14th century AD wrote a major work of Samaritan history, comments on Samaritan origins as follows:The Keepers, An Introduction to the History and Culture of the Samaritans, by Robert T. Anderson and Terry Giles, Hendrickson Publishing, 2002, pages 11-12

{{quote|A terrible civil war broke out between Eli son of Yafni, of the line of Ithamar, and the sons of Pincus (Phinehas
Phinehas
-Biblical figures:*Phinehas, son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the High Priest*Phinehas, son of the High Priest Eli. He was a priest at Shiloh, and died when the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant-Other :*Pinchas, the 41st weekly Torah portion....

), because Eli son of Yafni resolved to usurp the High Priesthood from the descendants of Pincus. 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:

{{quote|And the children of Israel in his days divided into three groups. One did according to the abominations of the Gentile
Gentile
The term Gentile refers to non-Israelite peoples or nations in English translations of the Bible....

s 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.}}

Jewish sources


The emergence of the Samaritans as an ethnic and religious community distinct from other Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 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 former kingdom.

Jewish tradition maintains a different origin for the Samaritans. The Talmud accounts for a people called "Cuthim"
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 on a number of occasions, mentioning their arrival by the hands of the Assyrians. According to 2 Kings
Books of Kings
The Book of Kings presents a narrative history of ancient Israel and Judah from the death of David to the release of his successor Jehoiachin from imprisonment in Babylon, a period of some 400 years...

 17 and Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 (Antiquities
Antiquities of the Jews
Antiquities of the Jews is a twenty volume historiographical work composed by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in the thirteenth year of the reign of Roman emperor Flavius Domitian which was around 93 or 94 AD. Antiquities of the Jews contains an account of history of the Jewish people,...

 9.277–91), the people of Israel were removed by the king of the Assyrians (Sargon II
Sargon II
Sargon II was an Assyrian king. Sargon II became co-regent with Shalmaneser V in 722 BC, and became the sole ruler of the kingdom of Assyria in 722 BC after the death of Shalmaneser V. It is not clear whether he was the son of Tiglath-Pileser III or a usurper unrelated to the royal family...

- see special wording of 2 Kings 17 which mentions Shalmaneser
Shalmaneser V
Shalmaneser V was king of Assyria from 727 to 722 BC. He first appears as governor of Zimirra in Phoenicia in the reign of his father, Tiglath-Pileser III....

 in verse 3 but the "king of the Assyrians" from verse 4 onward), to Halah
Halah
Halah is a city that is mentioned in the Bible. It is noted when the Assyrians invaded Israel and enslaved the people. They were sent into exile in Halah, in Gozan on the Khabur River, and in the towns of the Medes. Halah was in Assyria, which was a major power in northern Mesopotamia...

, to Gozan
Tell Halaf
Tell Halaf is an archaeological site in the Al Hasakah governorate of northeastern Syria, near the Turkish border, just opposite Ceylanpınar. It was the first find of a Neolithic culture, subsequently dubbed the Halaf culture, characterized by glazed pottery painted with geometric and animal designs...

 on the Khabur River
Khabur River
The Khabur River , , , ) is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrian territory. Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra's al-'Ayn are the river's main source of water. Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah, together creating...

 and to the towns of the Medes
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

. The king of the Assyrians then brought people from Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

, Cuthah
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

, 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
Rabbi Meir
Rabbi Meir or Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes was a Jewish sage who lived in the time of the Mishna. He was considered one of the greatest of the Tannaim of the fourth generation . According to legend , his father was a descendant of the Roman Emperor Nero who had converted to Judaism. His wife Bruriah is...

 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 figure?
  • 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
Nehemiah
Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which describes his work rebuilding Jerusalem and purifying the Jewish community. He was the son of Hachaliah, Nehemiah ]]," Standard Hebrew Nəḥemya, Tiberian Hebrew Nəḥemyāh) is the...

, Ezra
Ezra
Ezra , also called Ezra the Scribe and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra. According to the Hebrew Bible he returned from the Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem...

, and the building of the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile. Returning exiles considered the Samaritans to be non-Israelites 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:

{{quote|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 (722–721 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 AD 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:

{{quote|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.)}}

Tension between the Samaritans and the Jews


The narratives in Genesis about the rivalries among the twelve sons of Jacob describe tensions between north and south. Those were temporarily united under the strong kingship of David and Solomon, but at the death of Solomon, the kingdom split into two: northern Israel with its capital Samaria and southern Judea with its capital Jerusalem.

The Deuteronomistic Historians, writing in Judah, saw northern Israel as a sinful kingdom, divinely punished for its idolatry and iniquity by being destroyed by the Assyrians in 720 BC. (Ironically, the Chronicler is very generous to the south Judah and considers it God's will to recover the chosen people that they were destroyed by Babylon and exiled to Babylon.)

The tensions continued in the postexilic period. According to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, Ezra-Nehemiah is hostile toward its northern neighbors and considers the northern Israel except for the "true Israel"{{huh?|date=October 2011}}. Chronicles is more inclusive than Ezra-Nehemiah since for the Chronicler the ideal is of one Israel with twelve tribes; the Chronicler concentrates on Judah and ignores northern Israel.Michael D. Coogan, "A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament" page 363, 2009.

Unlike the Chronicler, the Samaritans claimed that they were the true Israel who were descendants of the "lost" tribes taken into Assyrian captivity. They had their own temple on Mount Gerizim and claimed that it was the original sanctuary. Moreover, they claimed that their version of the Pentateuch was the original and that the Jews had a falsified text produced by Ezra during the Babylonian exile.

Both Jewish and Samaritan religious leaders taught that it was wrong to have any contact with the opposite group, and neither was to enter each other's territories or even to speak to one another. During the New Testament period, although the tensions went unrecognized by Roman authorities, Josephus reports numerous violent confrontations between Jews and Samaritans throughout the first half of the first century.Mark A. Powell, "Introduction the New Testament" 'Ch.01 The People of Palestine at the Time of Jesus', Baker Academic, 2009.

Rejection by Judeans


According to the Jewish version of events, when the Judean exile ended in 538 BC and the exiles began returning home from Babylon, they found their former homeland populated by other people who claimed the land as their own and Jerusalem, their former glorious capital, in ruins.

According to {{bibleverse|2|Chronicles|36:22–23|HE}}, the Persian emperor, Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 (reigned 559 BC – 530 BC), permitted the return of the exiles to their homeland and ordered the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem (Zion
Zion
Zion is a place name often used as a synonym for Jerusalem. The word is first found in Samuel II, 5:7 dating to c.630-540 BCE...

). The prophet Isaiah identified Cyrus as "the Lord's Messiah" (Meshiach; see {{bibleverse||Isaiah|45:1|HE}}). The word "Messiah
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

" refers to an anointed one, such as a king or priest.

{{bibleverse||Ezra|4|HE}} says that the local inhabitants of the land offered to assist with the building of the new temple during the time of Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Judah and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia . The date is generally thought to...

, 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 alienation increased, and that the Samaritans eventually built their own temple on Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, near Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

.

(The rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem took several decades. The project was first led by Sheshbazzar (about 538 BC), later by Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel
Zerubbabel was a governor of the Persian Province of Judah and the grandson of Jehoiachin, penultimate king of Judah. Zerubbabel led the first group of Jews, numbering 42,360, who returned from the Babylonian Captivity in the first year of Cyrus, King of Persia . The date is generally thought to...

 and Jeshua
Joshua the High Priest
Joshua the High Priest was, according to the Bible the first person chosen to be the High Priest for the reconstruction of the Jewish Temple after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity The name is also spelled 'Jeshua' in some English versions , and, as with the earlier Joshua, is...

, and later still by Haggai
Haggai
Haggai was a Hebrew prophet during the building of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and one of the twelve minor prophets in the Hebrew Bible and the author of the Book of Haggai. His name means "my holiday"...

 and Zechariah (520–515 BC). Work was completed in 515 BC.)

The term "Cuthim" applied by Jews to the Samaritans had clear pejorative
Pejorative
Pejoratives , including name slurs, are words or grammatical forms that connote negativity and express contempt or distaste. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social groups but not in others, e.g., hacker is a term used for computer criminals as well as quick and clever computer experts...

 connotations, implying that they were interlopers brought in from Kutha
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 in Mesopotamia and rejecting their claim of descent from the ancient Tribes of Israel. This claim, however, that the northern tribes of Israel were all exiled by the Assyrians and therefore those who occupied the land were of a non-Israelite origin is rejected by the Bible, 2 Chronicles 30:1-31:6, which states that not all of the people from the northern kingdom were exiled by the Assyrians and some still remained even after the Assyrian conquest of the land in the 8th century BC.

Assyrian Account of the Conquest and Settlement of Samaria


However, the following account of the Assyrian kings, which was among the archaeological discoveries in Babylon, differs from the Samaritan and Jewish Biblical accounts:

{{quote|[the Samar]ians [who had agreed with a hostile king]...I fought with them and decisively defeated them]....carried off as spoil. 50 chariots for my royal force ...[the rest of them I settled in the midst of Assyria]....The Tamudi, Ibadidi, Marsimani and Hayappa, who live in distant Arabia, in the desert, who knew neither overseer nor commander, who never brought tribute to any king--with the help of Ashshur my lord, I defeated them. I deported the rest of them. I settled them in Samaria/Samerina.(Sargon II Inscriptions, COS 2.118A, p. 293)}}

Also,

{{quote|The inhabitants of Samaria/Samerina, who agreed [and plotted] with a king [hostile to] me, not to do service and not to bring tribute [to Ashshur] and who did battle, I fought against them with the power of the great gods, my lords. I counted as spoil 27,280 people, together with their chariots, and gods, in which they trusted. I formed a unit with 200 of [their] chariots for my royal force. I settled the rest of them in the midst of Assyria. I repopulated Samaria/Samerina more than before. I brought into it people from countries conquered by my hands. I appointed my eunuch as governor over them. And I counted them as Assyrians.(Nimrud Prisms, COS 2.118D, pp. 295-296)}}

Temple on Mount Gerizim


Archaeological excavations at Mount Gerizim indicate that a Samaritan temple was built there in the first half of the 5th century BC.http://books.google.com.au/books?id=6NsxZRnxE70C&pg=PA75&lpg=PA75&dq=Lipschits+Yehud&source=bl&ots=ItiriRREm4&sig=8qiPIQOnJdojfacDoHFXFmM4muM&hl=en&ei=UoEUTMGlBcO9cYSd9JAM&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCAQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=Lipschits%20Yehud&f=falseYitzhak Magen, The Dating of the First Pahse of the Samaritan Temple on Mount Gerizim in the Light of the Archaeological Evidence (in Oded Lipschitz, Gary N. Knoppers, Rainer Albertz, eds, "Judah and Judeans in the Fourth Century BC", Eisenbrauns, 2007)] The date of the schism between Samaritans and Jews is unknown.

According to Samaritans,{{dead link|date=February 2010}} it was on Mount Gerizim that Abraham was commanded by God to offer Isaac, his son, as a sacrifice {{Bible|Genesis 22:2}}. In both narratives, God then causes the sacrifice to be interrupted, explaining that this was the ultimate test of Abraham's obedience, as a result of which all the world would receive blessing.

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
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, making it the focus of their spiritual values.

The legitimacy of the Samaritan temple was attacked by Jewish scholars including Andronicus ben Meshullam
Andronicus ben Meshullam
Andronicus ben Meshullam, a Jewish scholar of the 2nd century BCE. According to Josephus , he was the representative of the Jews in their religious dispute with the Samaritans, which was held before King Ptolemy VI Philometor, about the year 150 BCE...

.

In the Christian Bible, the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 relates an encounter between a Samaritan woman and Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 in which she asserts that the mountain was the center of their worship {{Bible|John 4:20}}.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Hellenization


In the 2nd century BC a particularly bitter series of events eventually led to a revolution of the Israelites against their Greek oppressors.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes ruled the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great. His original name was Mithridates; he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne....

 was on the throne of the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 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 and their refusal to allow their homeland to be defiled.

The universal peril led the Samaritans, eager for safety, to repudiate all connection and kinship with the Jews. The request was granted. This was put forth as the final breach between the two groups, being alleged at a much later date in the Christian bible (John 4:9), "For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans."{{cite web|url=http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=%20John%204:9,27 |title=NIV English translation of John |publisher=Biblegateway.com |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}

Several centuries before Christ, the Samaritans had built their own temple on Mt. Gerizim to rival the Temple in Jerusalem. Here, they offered sacrifices according to the Mosaic code. Anderson notes that during the reign of Antiochus IV (175–164 BC):{{cite web|url=http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/282-jesus-and-the-samaritan-woman |title=Jesus and the Samaritan Woman / A Samaritan Woman Approaches:1 |publisher=Christiancourier.com |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}

{{quote|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:

{{quote|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.}}

{{quote|Shortly afterwards, the Greek king sent Gerontes the Athenian to force the Jews of Israel 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 defiled the Jewish temple by setting up an altar to Zeus over the holy altar of burnt offerings in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which was the center of Jewish religious life. Antiochus also sacrificed a pig on the altar in the Temple in Jerusalem. This event is known as the "abomination of desolation".{{cite web|url=http://www.gotquestions.org/abomination-desolation.html |title=What is the Abomination of Desolation? |publisher=Gotquestions.org |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}

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 Jews who refused to worship and kiss Antiochus' image, along with the desecration of the Holy Temple, ultimately led to a revolt led by Judah Maccabee
Judas Maccabeus
Judah Maccabee was a Kohen and a son of the Jewish priest Mattathias...

 (Judah the Hammer) and his family. Though quite outnumbered, the Israelites, led by the Maccabee family, managed to regain control of their land. This "miracle" restoration of Jewish sovereignty in the face of Greek dominance has been since observed by Jews in the winter "Festival of Lights" holiday known as Chanukah.

Judah'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
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

 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
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 until around 129 BC, when the Jewish Hasmonean
Hasmonean
The Hasmonean dynasty , was the ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE, the dynasty ruled semi-autonomously from the Seleucids in the region of Judea...

 king Yohanan Girhan (John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus
John Hyrcanus was a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC.-Name:...

) destroyed the Samaritan temple and devastated Samaria.

Roman period


Samaritans fared badly under the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, when Samaria was a part of the Roman-ruled province of Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

.

Samaritans appear briefly in the Christian gospels, most notable in the parable of the Good Samaritan
Parable of the Good Samaritan
The parable of the Good Samaritan is a parable told by Jesus and is mentioned in only one of the Canonical gospels. According to the Gospel of Luke a traveller is beaten, robbed, and left half dead along the road. First a priest and then a Levite come by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a...

. In this parable, told to Jews, a Samaritan helps a wounded Jew even though Jews and Samaritans despised each other.

However, this period is also considered as something of a golden age for the Samaritan community, the population thought to number up to a million.http://www.lonelyplanet.com/israel-and-the-palestinian-territories The Temple of Gerizim was rebuilt after the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans, around 135 AD. Much of Samaritan liturgy was set by the high priest Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba, literally "The Great Gate", was one of the greatest of the Samaritan high priests. He is believed to have lived during the late third and early fourth century AD....

 in the 4th century.

The oldest, known Samaritan synagogue, the Delos Synagogue
Delos Synagogue
The synagogue of Delos, Greece, is the oldest synagogue known today, its origin dating between 150 and 128 BCE. The building’s most recent use is widely agreed to have been an assembly hall for Jews or Samaritans. However, the first use for the building is more controversial...

 dates from between 150 and 128 BC, or earlier and is located on the island of Delos
Delos
The island of Delos , isolated in the centre of the roughly circular ring of islands called the Cyclades, near Mykonos, is one of the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece...

.{{cite web|url=http://www.pohick.org/sts/delos.html |title=Delos |publisher=Pohick.org |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}

There were some Samaritans in the Persia
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

n Empire, where they served in the Sassanid army. Many Jews had also lived in Persia for millennia, after various exiles and captivities.

Byzantine times


{{see|Samaritan Revolts}}
According to Samaritan sources, Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno
Zeno (emperor)
Zeno , originally named Tarasis, was Byzantine Emperor from 474 to 475 and again from 476 to 491. Domestic revolts and religious dissension plagued his reign, which nevertheless succeeded to some extent in foreign issues...

 (who ruled 474-491 and whom the sources call "Zait the King of Edom") persecuted the Samaritans. The Emperor went to Sichem (Neapolis), gathered the elders and asked them to convert; when they refused, Zeno had many Samaritans killed, and re-built the synagogue to a church. Zeno then took for himself Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, where the Samaritans worshipped God, and built several edifices, among whom a tomb for his recently deceased son, on which he put a cross, so that the Samaritans, worshipping God, would prostrate in front of the tomb. Later, in 484, the Samaritans revolted. The rebels attacked Sichem, burnt five churches built on Samaritan holy places and cut the finger of bishop Terebinthus, who was officiating the ceremony of Pentecost
Pentecost
Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ after the Resurrection of Jesus...

. They elected a Justa
Justa (rebel)
Justa was elected by Samaritans as their king during the 484 CE Samaritan revolt. Following his ascent in Samaria, he moved on Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. There, many Christians were killed and the church of St. Procopius was destroyed...

 (or Justasa/Justasus) as their king and moved to Caesarea, where a noteworthy Samaritan community lived. Here several Christians were killed and the church of St. Sebastian was destroyed. Justa celebrated the victory with games in the circus. According to John Malalas
John Malalas
John Malalas or Ioannes Malalas was a Greek chronicler from Antioch. Malalas is probably a Syriac word for "rhetor", "orator"; it is first applied to him by John of Damascus .-Life:Malalas was educated in Antioch, and probably was a jurist there, but moved to...

, the dux Palaestinae Asclepiades, whose troops were reinforced by the Caesarea-based Arcadiani of Rheges, defeated Justa, killed him and sent his head to Zeno.Malalas, 15. According to Procopius
Procopius
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent Byzantine scholar from Palestine. Accompanying the general Belisarius in the wars of the Emperor Justinian I, he became the principal historian of the 6th century, writing the Wars of Justinian, the Buildings of Justinian and the celebrated Secret History...

, Terebinthus went to Zeno to ask for revenge; the Emperor personally went to Samaria to quell the rebellion.Procopius, Buildings, 5.7.

Modern historians believe that the order of the facts preserved by Samaritan sources should be inverted, as the persecution of Zeno was a consequence of the rebellion rather than its cause, and should have happened after 484, around 489. Zeno rebuilt the church of St. Procopius in Neapolis (Sichem) and the Samaritans were banned from Mount Gerizim, on whose top a signalling tower was built to alert in case of civil unrest.Alan David Crown, The Samaritans, Mohr Siebeck, 1989, ISBN 3161452372, pp. 72-73.

Under a charismatic
Charismatic authority
The sociologist Max Weber defined charismatic authority as "resting on devotion to the exceptional sanctity, heroism or exemplary character of an individual person, and of the normative patterns or order revealed or ordained by him." Charismatic authority is one of three forms of authority laid out...

, messianic figure named Julianus ben Sabar
Julianus ben Sabar
Julianus ben Sabar was a messianic leader of the Samaritans, who led a failed revolt against Byzantium during the early 6th century....

 (or ben Sahir), the Samaritans launched a war to create their own independent state in 529. With the help of the Ghassanid Arabs, Emperor Justinian I
Justinian I
Justinian I ; , ; 483– 13 or 14 November 565), commonly known as Justinian the Great, was Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565. During his reign, Justinian sought to revive the Empire's greatness and reconquer the lost western half of the classical Roman Empire.One of the most important figures of...

 crushed the revolt; tens of thousands of Samaritans died or were enslaved
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

. The Samaritan faith was virtually outlawed thereafter by the Christian Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

; from a population once at least in the hundreds of thousands, the Samaritan community dwindled to near extinction.

After the Muslim Conquests


By the time of the Muslim Conquests
Muslim conquests
Muslim conquests also referred to as the Islamic conquests or Arab conquests, began with the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He established a new unified polity in the Arabian Peninsula which under the subsequent Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates saw a century of rapid expansion of Muslim power.They...

, Samaritans were living in an area stretching between Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. Like other non-Muslims in the empire, such as Jews, Samaritans were considered to be People of the Book
People of the Book
People of the Book is a term used to designate non-Muslim adherents to faiths which have a revealed scripture called, in Arabic, Al-Kitab . The three types of adherents to faiths that the Qur'an mentions as people of the book are the Jews, Sabians and Christians.In Islam, the Muslim scripture, the...

.

Their minority status was protected by the Muslim rulers, and they had the right to practice their religion, but, as dhimmi
Dhimmi
A , is a non-Muslim subject of a state governed in accordance with sharia law. Linguistically, the word means "one whose responsibility has been taken". This has to be understood in the context of the definition of state in Islam...

, adult males had to pay the jizya
Jizya
Under Islamic law, jizya or jizyah is a per capita tax levied on a section of an Islamic state's non-Muslim citizens, who meet certain criteria...

 or "protection tax".

It has been suggested that they were forced to wear red colored turbans as a result of the terms of a document known as the Pact of Umar II, but this stipulation is not explicitly mentioned in the document, the authenticity has been questioned by contemporary scholars, and the tradition cannot be independently verified.

During the Crusades, Samaritans, like the other non-Latin Christian inhabitants of the Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

, were second-class citizens, but they were tolerated and perhaps favoured because they were docile and had been mentioned positively in the Christian New Testament.Benjamin Z. Kedar, "The Frankish period", in The Samaritans, ed. Alan D. Cross (Tübingen, 1989), pp. 86-87.

Over the centuries of Byzantine, Arab and Turkish rule, the Samaritans suffered many hardships which included forced conversion to Christianity, forced conversion to Islam, harsh religious decrees, massacre and persecution.

While the majority of the Samaritan population in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 was killed or converted during the reign of the Ottoman Pasha Mardam Beq in the early 17th century, the remainder of the Samaritan communities from Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 and the other cities where they had a presence moved to Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

, due to its close proximity to Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

.

The Shechem community endured because most of the surviving diaspora returned, and they have maintained a tiny presence there to this day. In 1624, the last Samaritan High Priest
Samaritan High Priest
The Samaritan High Priest is the high priest of the Samaritan community in the Middle East.According to Samaritan tradition, the office has existed continuously since Aaron, the brother of Moses, and has been held by 132 people...

 of the line of Eleazar
Eleazar
Eleazar , was a priest in the Hebrew Bible, the second Kohen Gadol - succeeding his father Aaron. He was a nephew of Moses.-Life:...

 son of Aaron
Aaron
In the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, Aaron : Ααρών ), who is often called "'Aaron the Priest"' and once Aaron the Levite , was the older brother of Moses, and a prophet of God. He represented the priestly functions of his tribe, becoming the first High Priest of the Israelites...

 died without issue, but descendants of Aaron's other son, Ithamar
Ithamar
In the Torah, Ithamar is mentioned as the youngest son of Aaron the High Priest. After the death of his two eldest brothers Nadab and Abihu when they had been punished by the Lord for performing an unauthorized sacrificial offering, Ithamar served as a priest along with his elder brother, Eleazar...

, remained and took over the office.

The situation of the Samaritan community improved significantly during the British Mandate of Palestine. At that time, they began to work in the public sector, like many other groups. During the thirties one of the Samaritans, Tawfeek Khadir al-Kahen, was nominated as member of the Shechem Municipality.

Samaritan origins of Palestinian Muslims


Much of the local Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 population of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 is believed to be descended from Samaritans who converted to Islam. According to the historian Fayyad Altif, large numbers of Samaritans converted due to persecution under various Muslim rulers, and because the monotheistic nature of Islam made it easy for them to accept it. The Samaritans themselves describe the Ottoman period
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 as the worst period in their modern history, as many Samaritan families changed their religion during that time. Even today, certain Nabulsi family names such as Muslimani, Yaish, Sayeh, and Shakshir among others, are associated with Samaritan ancestry.

For the Samaritans in particular, the passing of the al-Hakem Edict by the Fatimids in 1021, under which all Jews and Christians in the Fatimid ruled southern Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 were ordered to either convert to Islam or leave, along with another notable forced conversion to Islam imposed at the hands of the rebel Ibn Firāsa, would contribute to their rapid unprecedented decrease, and ultimately almost complete extinction as a separate religious community. As a result, they have decreased from more than a million in Roman times to just 745 people today.

In 1940, the future Israeli president and historian Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi was a historian, Labor Zionist leader, the second and longest-serving President of Israel.-Biography:...

 wrote an article in which he stated that two thirds of the residents of Nablus and the surrounding neighboring villages are of Samaritan origin. He mentioned the name of several Palestinian Muslim families as having Samaritan origins, including the Buwarda and Kasem families who protected Samaritans from Muslim persecution in the 1850s. He further claimed that these families had written records testifying to their Samaritan ancestry, which were maintained by their priests and elders.

DNA and genetic studies


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
    Kohen
    A Kohen is the Hebrew word for priest. Jewish Kohens are traditionally believed and halachically required to be of direct patrilineal descent from the Biblical Aaron....

     lineage from the tribe of Levi.


Of the 12 Samaritan males used in the analysis, 10 (83%) had Y chromosones belonging to haplogroup J
Haplogroup J (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup J is a Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup. It is one of the major male lines of all living men...

, which includes three of the four Samaritan families. The Joshua-Marhiv family belongs to haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 J1
Haplogroup J1 (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Y DNA haplogroup J1, also known as J-M267, is a sub-haplogroup of Y DNA haplogroup J, along with its sibling clade Y DNA haplogroup J2. Men with this type of Y DNA share a common paternal ancestry, which is demonstrated and defined by the presence of the SNP mutation referred to...

, while the Danfi and Tsedakah families belong to haplogroup J2
Haplogroup J2 (Y-DNA)
In human genetics, Haplogroup J2 is a Y-chromosome haplogroup which is a subdivision of haplogroup J. It is further divided into two complementary clades, J2a-M410 and J2b-M12.-Origins:...

, 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
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 J
J
Ĵ or ĵ is a letter in Esperanto orthography representing the sound .While Esperanto orthography uses a diacritic for its four postalveolar consonants, as do the Latin-based Slavic alphabets, the base letters are Romano-Germanic...

 was the Cohen family (Tradition: Tribe of Levi) which was found in haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

 E3b1a M78.{{cite journal |last=Shen |first=P | coauthors = Lavi T, Kivisild T, Chou V, Sengun D, Gefel D, Shpirer I, Woolf E, Hillel J, Feldman MW, Oefner PJ |year=2004 |url=http://evolutsioon.ut.ee/publications/Shen2004.pdf |title=Reconstruction of Patrilineages and Matrilineages of Samaritans and Other Israeli Populations From Y-Chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA Sequence Variation | journal = Human Mutation | volume = 24 |pages=248–260 | format= PDF | pmid = 15300852 | doi = 10.1002/humu.20077 |issue=3}} This article predated the change of the classification 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.{{cite journal |doi=10.1002/humu.9445 |last=Cruciani |first=F. | coauthors = La Fratta, R., Torroni, A., Underhill, P. A., Scozzari, R. |year=2006 |url=http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/abstract/112696808/ABSTRACT?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0 |pages=831–2 |issue=8 |title=Molecular Dissection of the Y Chromosome Haplogroup E-M78 (E3b1a): A Posteriori Evaluation of a Microsatellite-Network-Based Approach Through Six New Biallelic Markers | journal = Human Mutation | volume = 916 April 2006
{{Distinguish2|Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

}}
{{redirect6|Samaritans|the charity|Samaritans (charity)|other uses|Samaritan (disambiguation)}}
{{infobox religious group
| group = Samaritans
שומרונים
| flag =
| flag_caption =
| image =
| image_caption = Samaritans on the Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, 2006
| population = 745 {{smaller|(2007)}}{{cite web|url=http://www.thesamaritanupdate.com/|}}
| founder =
| regions =  Israel - approximately 350
Palestinian territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

 - approximately 350
| tablehdr = Samaritan communities
| region1 =   Holon
| pop1 = {{ndash}}
| ref1 =
| region2 = Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

, near Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...


| pop2 = {{ndash}}
| ref3 =
| religions = Samaritanism
| scriptures = Samaritan Torah
Samaritan Pentateuch
The Samaritan Pentateuch, sometimes called Samaritan Torah, , is a version of the Hebrew language Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, used by the Samaritans....


| languages = Modern Vernacular
Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew , also known as Israeli Hebrew or Modern Israeli Hebrew, is the language spoken in Israel and in some Jewish communities worldwide, from the early 20th century to the present....

, Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 
Past Vernacular
Arabic, preceded by Aramaic
Samaritan Aramaic language
Samaritan Aramaic, or Samaritan, is the dialect of Aramaic used by the Samaritans in their sacred and scholarly literature. This should not be confused with the Samaritan Hebrew language of the Scriptures...

 and earlier Hebrew
Samaritan Hebrew language
Samaritan Hebrew , is a reading tradition for Biblical Hebrew as used by the Samaritans for reading the Samaritan Pentateuch. Its pronunciation is highly similar to that of Samaritan Arabic, used by the Samaritans in prayer.-Orthography:...


Liturgical
Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic
Samaritan Aramaic language
Samaritan Aramaic, or Samaritan, is the dialect of Aramaic used by the Samaritans in their sacred and scholarly literature. This should not be confused with the Samaritan Hebrew language of the Scriptures...

, Samaritan Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

{{cite web|url=http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=546&letter=J&search=samaritan |title=Joshua, The Samaritan Book Of: |publisher=JewishEncyclopedia.com |date= |accessdate=2010-02-25}}
| related-c = Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

, Palestinian people
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...


| notes =
}}

The Samaritans ({{lang-he|שומרונים}} Shomronim, {{lang-ar|السامريون}} as-Sāmariyyūn) are an ethnoreligious
Ethnoreligious
An ethnoreligious group is an ethnic group of people whose members are also unified by a common religious background...

 group of the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

. Religiously, they are the adherents to Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

. Based on the Samaritan Torah
Samaritan Pentateuch
The Samaritan Pentateuch, sometimes called Samaritan Torah, , is a version of the Hebrew language Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, used by the Samaritans....

, Samaritans claim their worship is the true religion of the ancient Israelites prior to the Babylonian Exile, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

, as opposed to Judaism, which they assert is a related but altered and amended religion brought back by those returning from exile.

Ancestrally, they claim descent from a group of Israelite
Israelite
According to the Bible the Israelites were a Hebrew-speaking people of the Ancient Near East who inhabited the Land of Canaan during the monarchic period .The word "Israelite" derives from the Biblical Hebrew ישראל...

 inhabitants from the tribes of Ephraim
Ephraim
Ephraim ; was, according to the Book of Genesis, the second son of Joseph and Asenath. Asenath was an Egyptian woman whom Pharaoh gave to Joseph as wife, and the daughter of Potipherah, a priest of On. Ephraim was born in Egypt before the arrival of the children of Israel from Canaan...

 and Manasseh
Tribe of Manasseh
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph....

 (the two sons of Joseph) as well as some descendants from the priestly tribe of Levi
Levite
In Jewish tradition, a Levite is a member of the Hebrew tribe of Levi. When Joshua led the Israelites into the land of Canaan, the Levites were the only Israelite tribe that received cities but were not allowed to be landowners "because the Lord the God of Israel himself is their inheritance"...

,Who are the Samaritans? who have connections to ancient Samaria
Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

 from the period of their entry into the land of Canaan, while some suggest that it was from the beginning of the Babylonian Exile up to the Samaritan Kingdom of Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba
Baba Rabba, literally "The Great Gate", was one of the greatest of the Samaritan high priests. He is believed to have lived during the late third and early fourth century AD....

. The Samaritans, however, derive their name not from this geographical designation, but rather from the Hebrew term Shamerim שַמֶרִים, "Keepers [of the Law]".David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 5:941 (New York: Doubleday, 1996, c1992).

In the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, a central post-exilic religious text of Judaism, their claim of ancestral origin is disputed, and in those texts they are called Cutheans ({{lang-he|כותים}}, Kuthim), allegedly from the ancient city of Cuthah
Kutha
Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha was an ancient city of Sumer on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles northeast of Babylon...

 (Kutha), geographically located in what is today Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. Modern genetics has suggested some truth to both the claims of the Samaritans and Jewish accounts in the Talmud.{{PDFlink|Reconstruction of Patrilineages and Matrilineages of Samaritans and Other Israeli Populations From Y-Chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA Sequennce Variation|855 KB}}, Hum Mutat 24:248–260, 2004.

Historically, they were a large community — up to more than a million in late Roman times, but were then gradually reduced to several tens of thousands up to a few centuries ago — their unprecedented demographic
Demography
Demography is the statistical study of human population. It can be a very general science that can be applied to any kind of dynamic human population, that is, one that changes over time or space...

 shrinkage has been a result of various historical events, including, most notably, the bloody suppression of the Third Samaritan Revolt (529 AD) against the Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 rulers, and the mass conversion to Islam in the Early Muslim period of Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

. According to their tally, there were 745{{cite web|url=http://www.thesamaritanupdate.com/|}} Samaritans as of November 30, 2011, living exclusively in two localities, one in Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim
Mount Gerizim is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus , and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated,...

 near the city of Nablus
Nablus
Nablus is a Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, approximately north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located in a strategic position between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a Palestinian commercial and cultural center.Founded by the...

 in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

, and the other in the Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i city of Holon. There are, however, followers of various backgrounds adhering to Samaritan traditions outside of Israel, especially in the United States.

With the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language by Jews in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, and its growth and officialization following the establishment of the state, most Samaritans in Israel today speak Modern Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

. As with their counterpart Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

, Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

, Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 and other Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i religious communities, the most recent spoken mother tongue of the Samaritans was Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Q