Samaritans in Wikipedia

The Samaritans (Hebrew: שומרונים‎ Shomronim, Arabic: السامريون‎ as-Sāmariyyūn) are an ethnoreligious group of the Levant. Religiously, they are the adherents to Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism. Based on the Samaritan Torah, 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, as opposed to Judaism, which they assert is a related but altered and amended religion brought back by the exiled returnees. Ancestrally, they claim descent from a group of Israelite inhabitants from the tribes of Joseph and Levi (another Benjamin tribe branch went exinct in the 20th century), who have connections to ancient Samaria from the beginning of the Babylonian Exile up to the Samaritan Kingdom of Baba Rabba. The Samaritans, however, derive their name not from this geographical designation, but rather from the Hebrew term שַמֶרִים, "Keepers [of the Law]".[3] In the Talmud, a central post-exilic religious text of Judaism, their claim of ancestral origin is disputed, and in those texts they are called Cutheans (Hebrew: כותים‎, Kuthim), allegedly from the ancient city of Cuthah (Kutha), geographically located in what is today Iraq. Modern genetics has suggested some truth to both the claims of the Samaritans and Jewish accounts in the Talmud.[4] Although historically they were a large community - up to more than a million in late Roman times, then gradually reduced to several tens of thousands up to a few centuries ago - their unprecedented demographic shrinkage has been a result of various historical events, including most notably the bloody repression of the Third Samaritan Revolt (529 CE) against the Byzantine Christian rulers and the mass conversion to Islam in the Early Muslim period of Palestine.[5][6] According to their tally, as of November 1, 2007, there were 712[1] Samaritans living almost exclusively in two localities, one in Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim near the city of Nablus in the West Bank, and the other in the Israeli city of Holon.[7] 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 Jewish immigrants to Ottoman and Mandate Palestine, and its growth and officialization following the establishment of the state, most Samaritans today speak Modern Hebrew, especially in Israel. As with their counterpart Muslim, Christian, Druze and other Israeli religious communities, the most recent spoken mother tongue of the Samaritans was Arabic, and it still is for those in the West Bank city of Nablus. For liturgical purposes, Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic, and Samaritan Arabic are used, all of which are written in the Samaritan alphabet, a variant of the Old Hebrew alphabet, distinct from the so-called square script "Hebrew alphabet" of Jews and Judaism, which is a stylized form of the Aramaic alphabet.[8] Hebrew, and later Aramaic, were languages in use by the Israelites of Judea prior to the Roman exile, and beyond.[9] History and origin - Samaritan sources According to Samaritan tradition, Mount Gerizim was the original Holy Place of the Israelites from the time that Joshua conquered Canaan and the twelve tribes of Israel settled the land. The reference to Mount Gerizim takes us back to the biblical story of the time when Moses ordered Joshua to take the Twelve Tribes of Israel to the mountains by Nablus 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, 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 and Manasseh, who survived the destruction of the Northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in 722 BCE. The inscription of Sargon II 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 twelve tribes conquered and returned to the land of Canaan, 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 (1 Samuel 1:1-3 ; 2:12-17 ). Thus, he established both an illegitimate priesthood and an illegitimate place of worship. Abu l-Fath, who in the 14th century CE wrote a major work of Samaritan history, comments on Samaritan origins as follows:[10] A terrible civil war broke out between Eli son of Yafni, of the line of Ithamar, and the sons of Pincus (Phinehas), 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 CE using earlier chronicles as sources states: And the children of Israel in his days divided into three groups. One did according to the abominations of the Gentiles 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...

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