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The Samaritan Torah (Samaritan Hebrew: Tōrāʾ Shamaeriym; Hebrew: תוֹרה שַמֶרִים), also called the Samaritan Pentateuch, is a text of the Torah written in the Samaritan script and used as sacred scripture by the Samaritans. It dates back to one of the ancient versions of the Hebrew Bible that existed during the Second Temple period and constitutes the entire biblical canon in Samaritanism.
After the deportation of inhabitants of Samaria and the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel by Assyria in the middle of the 8th century B.C.E., pagans from other territories of the Assyrian Empire were settled there by Assyria. (2 Ki. 17:22-33) In time they came to be called “Samaritans.” They accepted the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures and in about the fourth century B.C.E. they produced the Samaritan Pentateuch, not really a translation of the original Hebrew Pentateuch, but a transliteration of its text into Samaritan characters, mixed with Samaritan idioms. Few of the extant manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch are older than the thirteenth century C.E. Of about 6,000 differences between the Samaritan and the Hebrew texts, by far the majority are unimportant. One variation of interest appears in Exodus 12:40, where the Samaritan Pentateuch corresponds to the Septuagint.
Exodus 12:40 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
40 And the time of dwelling of the sons of Israel, who had dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.
 SP adds, “and their fathers”
 MT “Who had dwelt.” The Hebrew verb (יָשְׁבוּ) is plural. The relative pronoun (אֲשֶׁר asher), “who,” can apply to the “sons of Israel” instead of the “dwelling.” LXX SP adds “and the land of Canaan” after “Egypt.” LXX “And the dwelling of the sons of Israel which they dwelt in the land of Egypt and the land of Chanaan, was four hundred and thirty years.” SP “in the land of Canaan and in the land of Egypt.” The sons of Israel “set out from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month.” (Ex 12:37; Nu 33:3, 5) SP LXX and Josephus show us that the four hundred and thirty years should be counted from the time Abraham came into the land of Canaan until the time the sons of Israel set out of Egypt. See Gal. 3:17.
Some six thousand differences exist between the Samaritan and the Jewish Masoretic Text. Most are minor variations in the spelling of words or grammatical constructions, but others involve significant semantic changes, such as the uniquely Samaritan commandment to construct an altar on Mount Gerizim. Nearly two thousand of these textual variations agree with the Koine (“common”) Greek Septuagint and some are shared with the Latin Vulgate. Throughout their history, Samaritans have made use of translations of the Samaritan Pentateuch into Aramaic, Greek, and Arabic, as well as liturgical and exegetical works based upon it.
It first became known to the Western world in 1631, proving the first example of the Samaritan alphabet and sparking an intense theological debate regarding its relative age versus the Masoretic Text. This first published copy, much later labelled as Codex B by August von Gall, became the source of most Western critical editions of the Samaritan Pentateuch until the latter half of the 20th century; today the codex is held in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
Some Pentateuchal manuscripts discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls have been identified as bearing a “pre-Samaritan” text type. Wide agreement now exists among textual critics that the Samaritan Pentateuch represents an authentic ancient textual tradition of the Torah.
Origin and Canonical Significance
Quotations from the Torah in Samaritan script. Niche from a Samaritan’s house in Damascus, Syria. 15th-16th century CE. Islamic Art Museum, Berlin.
Quotations from the Torah in Samaritan script. Niche from a Samaritan’s house in Damascus, Syria. 15th-16th century CE. Islamic Art Museum, Berlin
Samaritans believe that God authored their Pentateuch and gave Moses the first copy, along with the two tablets containing the Ten Commandments. They believe that they preserve this divinely composed text uncorrupted to the present day. Samaritans commonly refer to their Pentateuch as (Qushta, Aramaic for “Truth”).
Samaritans include only the Pentateuch in their biblical canon. They do not recognize divine authorship or inspiration in any other book in the Jewish Tanakh. A Samaritan Book of Joshua partly based upon the Tanakh’s Book of Joshua exists, but Samaritans regard it as a non-canonical secular historical chronicle.
According to a view based on the biblical Book of Ezra (Ezra 4:11), the Samaritans are the people of Samaria who parted ways with the people of Judah (the Judahites) in the Persian period. The Samaritans believe that it was not they, but the Jews, who separated from the authentic stream of the Israelite tradition and law, around the time of Eli, in the 11th century BCE. Jews have traditionally connected the origin of the Samaritans with the later events described in 2 Kings 17:24–41 claiming that the Samaritans are not related to the Israelites, but to those brought to Samaria by the Assyrians.
Modern scholarship connects the formation of the Samaritan community with events that followed the Babylonian captivity. One view is that the Samaritans are the people of the Kingdom of Israel who separated from the Kingdom of Judah. Another view is that the event happened somewhere around 432 BCE, when Manasseh, the son-in-law of Sanballat, went off to found a community in Samaria, as related in the Book of Nehemiah 13:28 and Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus. Josephus himself, however, dates this event and the building of the temple at Shechem to the time of Alexander the Great. Others believe that the real schism between the peoples did not take place until Hasmonean times when the Gerizim temple was destroyed in 128 BCE by John Hyrcanus. The script of the Samaritan Pentateuch, its close connections at many points with the Septuagint, and its even closer agreements with the present Hebrew text, all suggest a date of about 122 BCE.
Excavation work undertaken since 1982 by Yitzhak Magen has firmly dated the temple structures on Gerizim to the middle of the 5th century BCE, built by Sanballat the Horonite, a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah, who lived more than one hundred years before the Sanballat that is mentioned by Josephus.
The adoption of the Pentateuch as the sacred text of the Samaritans before their final schism with the Palestinian Jewish community provides evidence that it was already widely accepted as a canonical authority in that region.
Comparison with other versions
Comparison with the Masoretic
Manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch are written in a different script than the one used in the Masoretic Pentateuch, used by Jews. The Samaritan text is written with the Samaritan alphabet, derived from the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet used by the Israelite community prior to the Babylonian captivity. During the exile in Babylon, Jews adopted the Ashuri script, based on the Babylonians’ Aramaic alphabet, which was developed into the modern Hebrew alphabet. Originally, all manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch consisted of unvocalized text written using only the letters of the Samaritan alphabet. Beginning in the 12th century, some manuscripts show a partial vocalization resembling the Jewish Tiberian vocalization used in Masoretic manuscripts. More recently, manuscripts have been produced with full vocalization. The Samaritan Pentateuchal text is divided into 904 paragraphs. Divisions between sections of text are marked with various combinations of lines, dots or an asterisk; a dot is used to indicate the separation between words.
The London Polyglot lists six thousand instances where the Samaritan Pentateuch differs from the Masoretic (Jewish) text. As different printed editions of the Samaritan Pentateuch are based upon different sets of manuscripts; the precise number varies significantly from one edition to another.
Only a minority of such differences are significant. Most are simply spelling differences, usually concerning Hebrew letters of similar appearance; the use of more matres lectionis (symbols indicating vowels) in the Samaritan Pentateuch, compared with the Masoretic; different placement of words in a sentence; and the replacement of some verbal constructions with equivalent ones. A comparison between both versions shows a preference in the Samaritan version for the Hebrew preposition al where the Masoretic text has el.
The most notable substantial differences between both texts are those related to Mount Gerizim, the Samaritans’ place of worship. The Samaritan version of the Ten Commandments includes the command that an altar be built on Mount Gerizim on which all sacrifices should be offered. The Samaritan Pentateuch contains the following paragraph, which is absent from the Jewish version:
And when it so happens that LORD God brings you to the land of Canaan, which you are coming to possess, you shall set up there for you great stones and plaster them with plaster and you write on the stones all words of this law. And it becomes for you that across the Jordan you shall raise these stones, which I command you today, in mountain Gerizim. And you build there the altar to the LORD God of you. Altar of stones. Not you shall wave on them iron. With whole stones you shall build the altar to LORD God of you. And you bring on it ascend offerings to LORD God of you, and you sacrifice peace offerings, and you eat there and you rejoice before the face of the LORD God of you. The mountain this is across the Jordan behind the way of the rising of the sun, in the land of Canaan who is dwelling in the desert before the Galgal, beside Alvin-Mara, before Sechem.
Another important difference between the Samaritan Torah and the Jewish (Masoretic) Torah is in Deuteronomy 27:4. According to the Jewish text, the Israelites were told to enter the Promised Land and build an altar on Mount Ebal, while the Samaritan text says that such altar, the first built by the Israelites in the Promised Land, should be built on Mount Gerizim.
A few verses afterwards, both the Jewish and the Samaritan texts contain instructions for the Israelites to perform two ceremonies upon entering the Promised Land: one of blessings, to be held on Mount Gerizim, and one of cursings, to take place on Mount Ebal.
In 1946, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, which include the oldest known versions of the Torah. In Deuteronomy 27:4–7, the Dead Sea scroll fragments bring “Gerizim” instead of “Ebal”, indicating that the Samaritan version was likely the original reading.
Other differences between the Samaritan and the Masoretic (Jewish) texts include:
In Numbers 12:1, the Samaritan Pentateuch refers to Moses’ wife as “kaashet,” which translates as “the beautiful woman”, while the Jewish version and the Jewish commentaries suggest that the word used was “Kushi”, meaning “black woman” or “Cushite woman.” For the Samaritans, therefore, Moses had only one wife, Zipporah, throughout his whole life, while Jewish sources generally understand that Moses had two wives, Zipporah and a second, unnamed Cushite woman.
In Exodus 23:19, the verse in which God forbids “the boiling of a kid in its mother’s milk”, the Samaritan text has one addition after it ([כי עשה זאת כזבח שכח ועברה היא לאלהי יעקב]) that is absent from the Jewish text, and which roughly translates as “for he who does so as a sacrifice forgets and enrages the God of Jacob.”
In Numbers 4:14, the Samaritan Pentateuch contains the following passage, absent from the Jewish text: [ולקחו בגד ארגמן וכסו את הכיור ואת כנו ונתנו אתם אל מכסה עור תחש ונתנו על המוט], which roughly translates “And they will take a purple covering and cover the laver and his foot, and they cover it in Tachash skins, and they put it upon a bar.”
Several other differences are found. The Samaritan Pentateuch uses less anthropomorphic language in descriptions of God, with intermediaries performing actions that the Jewish version attributes directly to God. Where the Jewish text describes Jehovah as a “man of war” (Exodus 15:3), the Samaritan has “hero of war”, a phrase applied to spiritual beings. In Numbers 23:4, the Samaritan text reads “The Angel of God found Balaam,” in contrast with the Jewish text, which reads “And God met Balaam.”
In Genesis 50:23, the Jewish text says that Joseph’s grandchildren were born “upon the knees of Joseph”, while the Samaritan text says they were born “in the days of Joseph.”
In about thirty-four instances, the Samaritan Pentateuch has repetitions in one section of text that was also found in other parts of the Pentateuch. Such repetitions are also implied or presupposed in the Jewish text, but not explicitly recorded in it. For example, the Samaritan text in the Book of Exodus on multiple occasions records Moses repeating to Pharaoh exactly what both God had previously instructed Moses to tell him, which makes the text look repetitious, in comparison with the Jewish text. In other occasions, the Samaritan Pentateuch has subjects, prepositions, particles, and appositives, including the repetition of words and phrases within a single passage, that are absent from the Jewish text.
Comparison with the Septuagint and Latin Vulgate
The Samaritan Torah contains frequent agreements with the Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate, the two Bible translations to which Catholics have traditionally ascribed considerable authority.
The Septuagint text agrees with the Samaritan version in approximately 1,900 of the 6,000 instances in which it differs from the Masoretic (Jewish) text. Many of these agreements reflect inconsequential grammatical details, but some are significant. For example, Exodus 12:40 in both the Samaritan and the Septuagint reads:
“Now the sojourning of the children of Israel and of their fathers which they had dwelt in the land of Canaan and in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years.”
In the Masoretic (Jewish) text, the passage reads:
“Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.”
Passages in the Latin Vulgate also show agreements with the Samaritan version, in contrast with the Masoretic (Jewish) version.
In Genesis 22:2, the Samaritan Pentateuch places the binding and near-sacrifice of Isaac in the “land of Moreh” (Hebrew: מוראה), while the Jewish Pentateuch has “land of Moriah” (Hebrew: מריה). Jews claim the land is the same as Mount Moriah, in Jerusalem, while the Samaritan “Moreh” describes the region around Shechem and modern-day Nablus, where the Samaritans’ holy Mount Gerizim is situated. The Vulgate translates this phrase as in terram visionis (“in the land of vision”) which implies that Jerome was familiar with the reading “Moreh,” a Hebrew word whose triliteral root suggests “vision.”
Evaluations of its Relevance for Textual Criticism
The earliest recorded assessments of the Samaritan Pentateuch are found in rabbinical literature and Christian patristic writings of the first millennium CE. The Talmud records Jewish Rabbi Eleazar b. Simeon condemning the Samaritan scribes: “You have falsified your Pentateuch … and you have not profited aught by it.” Some early Christian writers found the Samaritan Pentateuch useful for textual criticism. Cyril of Alexandria, Procopius of Gaza and others spoke of certain words missing from the Jewish Bible, but present in the Samaritan Pentateuch. Eusebius of Caesarea wrote that the “Greek translation [of the Bible] also differs from the Hebrew, though not so much from the Samaritan” and noted that the Septuagint agrees with the Samaritan Pentateuch in the number of years elapsed from Noah’s Flood to Abraham. Christian interest in the Samaritan Pentateuch fell into neglect during the Middle Ages.
The publication of a manuscript of the Samaritan Pentateuch in 17th-century Europe reawakened interest in the text and fueled a controversy between Protestants and Roman Catholics over which Old Testament textual traditions are authoritative. Roman Catholics showed a particular interest in the study of the Samaritan Pentateuch on account of the antiquity of the text and its frequent agreements with the Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate, two Bible translations to which Catholics have traditionally ascribed considerable authority. Some Catholics including Jean Morin, a convert from Calvinism to Catholicism, argued that the Samaritan Pentateuch’s correspondences with the Latin Vulgate and Septuagint indicated that it represents a more authentic Hebrew text than the Masoretic. Several Protestants replied with a defense of the Masoretic text’s authority and argued that the Samaritan text is a late and unreliable derivation from the Masoretic.
The 18th-century Protestant Hebrew scholar Benjamin Kennicott’s analysis of the Samaritan Pentateuch stands as a notable exception to the general trend of early Protestant research on the text. He questioned the underlying assumption that the Masoretic text must be more authentic simply because it has been more widely accepted as the authoritative Hebrew version of the Pentateuch:
“We see then that as the evidence of one text destroys the evidence of the other and as there is in fact the authority of versions to oppose to the authority of versions no certain argument or rather no argument at all can be drawn from hence to fix the corruption on either side.”
Kennicott also states that the reading Gerizim may actually be the original reading, since that is the mountain for proclaiming blessings, and that it is very green and rich of vegetation (as opposed to Mt. Ebal, which is barren and the mountain for proclaiming curses) amongst other arguments.
German scholar Wilhelm Gesenius published a study of the Samaritan Pentateuch in 1815 which biblical scholars widely embraced during the next century. He argued that the Septuagint and the Samaritan Pentateuch share a common source in a family of Hebrew manuscripts which he named the “Alexandrino-Samaritanus.” In contrast to the proto-Masoretic “Judean” manuscripts carefully preserved and copied in Jerusalem, he regarded the Alexandrino-Samaritanus as having been carelessly handled by scribal copyists who popularized, simplified, and expanded the text. Gesenius concluded that the Samaritan text contained only four valid variants when compared to the Masoretic text.
In 1915, Paul Kahle published a paper that compared passages from the Samaritan text to Pentateuchal quotations in the New Testament and pseudepigraphal texts including the Book of Jubilees, the First Book of Enoch, and the Assumption of Moses. He concluded that the Samaritan Pentateuch preserves “many genuine old readings and an ancient form of the Pentateuch.”
Support for Kahle’s thesis was bolstered by the discovery of biblical manuscripts among the Dead Sea Scrolls, which contain a text similar to the Samaritan Pentateuch. The Dead Sea Scroll texts have demonstrated that a Pentateuchal text type resembling the Samaritan Pentateuch goes back to the second century BCE and perhaps even earlier.
These discoveries have demonstrated that manuscripts bearing a “pre-Samaritan” text of at least some portions of the Pentateuch such as Exodus and Numbers circulated alongside other manuscripts with a “pre-Masoretic” text. One Dead Sea Scroll copy of the Book of Exodus, conventionally named 4QpaleoExodm, shows a particularly close relation to the Samaritan Pentateuch:
The scroll shares all the major typological features with the SP, including all the major expansions of that tradition where it is extant (twelve), with the single exception of the new tenth commandment inserted in Exodus 20 from Deuteronomy 11 and 27 regarding the altar on Mount Gerizim.
Frank Moore Cross has described the origin of the Samaritan Pentateuch within the context of his local texts hypothesis. He views the Samaritan Pentateuch as having emerged from a manuscript tradition local to the Land of Israel. The Hebrew texts that form the underlying basis for the Septuagint branched from the Israelite tradition as Israelites emigrated to Egypt and took copies of the Pentateuch with them. Cross states that the Samaritan and the Septuagint share a nearer common ancestor than either does with the Masoretic, which he suggested developed from local texts used by the Babylonian Jewish community. His explanation accounts for the Samaritan and the Septuagint sharing variants not found in the Masoretic and their differences reflecting the period of their independent development as distinct local text traditions. On the basis of archaizing and pseudo-archaic forms, Cross dates the emergence of the Samaritan Pentateuch as a uniquely Samaritan textual tradition to the post-Maccabean age.
Scholars widely agree that many textual elements previously classified as “Samaritan variants” actually derive from the earlier phases of the Pentateuch’s textual history.
Regarding the controversy between the Samaritan and Masoretic versions of Deuteronomy 27:4–7, the Dead Sea Scrolls texts agree with the Samaritan version, in that, in them, the Israelites were instructed to build their first altar in the Promised Land on Mount Gerizim, as stated in the Samaritan Torah, and not on Mount Ebal, as stated in the Masoretic text.
The Samaritan Targum, composed in the Samaritan dialect of Aramaic, is the earliest translation of the Samaritan Pentateuch. Its creation was motivated by the same need to translate the Pentateuch into the Aramaic language spoken by the community which led to the creation of Jewish Targums such as Targum Onkelos. Samaritans have traditionally ascribed the Targum to Nathanael, a Samaritan priest who died circa 20 BCE. The Samaritan Targum has a complex textual tradition represented by manuscripts belonging to one of three fundamental text types exhibiting substantial divergences from one another. Affinities that the oldest of these textual traditions share with the Dead Sea Scrolls and Onkelos suggest that the Targum may originate from the same school which finalized the Samaritan Pentateuch itself. Others have placed the origin of the Targum around the beginning of the third century or even later. Extant manuscripts of the Targum are “extremely difficult to use” on account of scribal errors caused by a faulty understanding of Hebrew on the part of the Targum’s translators and a faulty understanding of Aramaic on the part of later copyists.
Scholia of Origen’s Hexapla and the writings of some church fathers contain references to “the Samareitikon” (Greek: το Σαμαρειτικόν), a work that is no longer extant. Despite earlier suggestions that it was merely a series of Greek scholia translated from the Samaritan Pentateuch, scholars now concur that it was a complete Greek translation of the Samaritan Pentateuch either directly translated from it or via the Samaritan Targum. It may have been composed for the use of a Greek-speaking Samaritan community residing in Egypt.
With the displacement of Samaritan Aramaic by Arabic as the language of the Samaritan community in the centuries following the Arab conquest of Syria, they employed several Arabic translations of the Pentateuch. The oldest was an adaptation of Saadia Gaon’s Arabic translation of the Jewish Torah. Although the text was modified to suit the Samaritan community, it still retained many unaltered Jewish readings. By the 11th or 12th centuries, a new Arabic translation directly based upon the Samaritan Pentateuch had appeared in Nablus. Manuscripts containing this translation are notable for their bilingual or trilingual character; the Arabic text is accompanied by the original Samaritan Hebrew in a parallel column and sometimes the Aramaic text of the Samaritan Targum in a third. Later Arabic translations also appeared; one featured a further Samaritan revision of Saadia Gaon’s translation to bring it into greater conformity with the Samaritan Pentateuch, and others were based upon Arabic Pentateuchal translations used by Christians.
In April 2013, a complete English translation of the Samaritan Pentateuch, comparing it to the Masoretic version, was published.
Exegetical and Liturgical Texts
Several biblical commentaries and other theological texts based upon the Samaritan Pentateuch have been composed by members of the Samaritan community from the fourth century CE onwards. Samaritans also employ liturgical texts containing catenae extracted from their Pentateuch.
Manuscripts and Printed Edition
Samaritans attach special importance to the Abisha Scroll used in the Samaritan synagogue of Nablus. It consists of a continuous length of parchment sewn together from the skins of rams that, according to a Samaritan tradition, were ritually sacrificed. The text is written in gold letters. Rollers tipped with ornamental knobs are attached to both ends of the parchment and the whole is kept in a cylindrical silver case when not in use. Samaritans claim it was penned by Abishua, great-grandson of Aaron (1 Chronicles 6:35), thirteen years after the entry into the land of Israel under the leadership of Joshua, son of Nun, although contemporary scholars describe it as a composite of several fragmentary scrolls each penned between the 12th and 14th centuries CE. Other manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch consist of vellum or cotton paper written upon with black ink. Numerous manuscripts of the text exist, but none written in the original Hebrew or in translation predates the Middle Ages. The scroll contains a cryptogram, dubbed the tashqil by scholars, which Samaritans consider to be Abishua’s ancient colophon:
I, Abishua,—the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, unto them be accorded the grace of JHVH and His glory—wrote the holy book at the entrance of the tabernacle of the congregation, at Mount Gerizim, in the year thirteen of the possession by the children of Israel, of the Land of Canaan according to its boundaries [all] around; I praise JHVH.
Interest in the Samaritan Pentateuch was awakened in 1616 when the traveler Pietro della Valle purchased a copy of the text in Damascus. This manuscript, now known as Codex B, was deposited in a Parisian library. In 1631, an edited copy of Codex B was published in Le Jay’s (Paris) Polyglot by Jean Morin. It was republished in Walton’s Polyglot in 1657. Subsequently, Archbishop Ussher and others procured additional copies which were brought to Europe and, later, America.
Until the latter half of the 20th century, critical editions of the Samaritan Pentateuch were largely based upon Codex B. The most notable of these is Der Hebräische Pentateuch der Samaritaner (The Hebrew Pentateuch of the Samaritans) compiled by August von Gall and published in 1918. An extensive critical apparatus is included listing variant readings found in previously published manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch. His work is still regarded as being generally accurate despite the presence of some errors, but it neglects important manuscripts including the Abisha Scroll which had not yet been published at the time. Textual variants found in the Abisha scroll were published in 1959 by Federico Pérez Castro and between 1961 and 1965 by A. and R. Sadaqa in Jewish and Samaritan Versions of the Pentateuch – With Particular Stress on the Differences Between Both Texts. In 1976 L.F. Giron-Blanc published Codex Add. 1846, a Samaritan Pentateuch codex dating to 1100 CE in the critical edition Pentateuco Hebreo-Samaritano: Génesis supplemented with variants found in fifteen previously unpublished manuscripts. Certain recently published critical editions of Pentateuchal books take Samaritan variants into account, including D.L. Phillips’ edition of Exodus.
The Arabic translation of the Samaritan Pentateuch has been edited and published at the beginning of the 21st century.
Several publications containing the text of the Samaritan Targum have appeared. In 1875, the German scholar Adolf Brüll published his Das samaritanische Targum zum Pentateuch (The Samaritan Targum to the Pentateuch). More recently a two-volume set edited by Abraham Tal appeared featuring the first critical edition based upon all extant manuscripts containing the Targumic text.
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 Samaritan Hebrew (Hebrew: עברית שומרונית) is a reading tradition used liturgically by the Samaritans for reading the Ancient Hebrew language of the Samaritan Pentateuch, in contrast to Tiberian Hebrew among the Jews. For the Samaritans, Ancient Hebrew ceased to be a spoken everyday language and was succeeded by Samaritan Aramaic, which itself ceased to be a spoken language some time between the 10th and 12th centuries and was succeeded by Arabic (or more specifically Samaritan Palestinian Arabic).
 Florentin, Moshe (2013). “Samaritan Pentateuch”. In Khan, Geoffrey; Bolozky, Shmuel; Fassberg, Steven; Rendsburg, Gary A.; Rubin, Aaron D.; Schwarzwald, Ora R.; Zewi, Tamar (eds.). Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics. Leiden and Boston: Brill Publishers. doi:10.1163/2212-4241_ehll_EHLL_COM_00000282. ISBN 978-90-04-17642-3.
Samaritanism is the Abrahamic, monotheistic, ethnic religion of the Samaritan people, an ethnoreligious group who, alongside Jews, originate from the ancient Israelites. Its central holy text is the Samaritan Pentateuch, which Samaritans believe is the original, unchanged version of the Torah.
 The Masoretic Text (MT or 𝕸; Hebrew: נוסח המסורה, romanized: Nusakh Ham’mas’sora) is the authoritative Hebrew and Aramaic text of the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) in Rabbinic Judaism. The Masoretic Text defines the Jewish canon and its precise letter-text, with its vocalization and accentuation known as the mas’sora.
 Mount Gerizim (; Samaritan Hebrew: ʾĀ̊rgā̊rīzēm; Hebrew: הַר גְּרִזִים Har Gərīzīm; Arabic: جَبَل جَرِزِيم Jabal Jarizīm or جبل الطور Jabal al-Ṭūr) is one of two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus and biblical city of Shechem. It forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated, the northern side being formed by Mount Ebal.
 The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, US also; from the Latin: septuaginta, lit. ’seventy’; often abbreviated 70; in Roman numerals, LXX), is the earliest extant Greek translation of books from the Hebrew Bible. It includes several books beyond those contained in the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible as canonically used in the tradition of mainstream Rabbinical Judaism.
 The Vulgate (; also called Biblia Vulgata (Bible in common tongue), Latin: [ˈbɪbli.a wʊlˈɡaːta]) is a late-4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. The Vulgate is largely the work of St Jerome who, in 382, had been commissioned by Pope Damasus I to revise the Vetus Latina Gospels used by the Roman Church.
 Aramaic (Classical Syriac: ܐܪܡܝܐ Arāmāyā; Old Aramaic 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; Imperial Aramaic 𐡀𐡓𐡌𐡉𐡀; Jewish Babylonian Aramaic אַרָמָיָא) is a Semitic language that originated among the Arameans in the ancient region of Syria. For over three thousand years, Aramaic served as a language of public life and administration of ancient kingdoms and empires, and also as a language of divine worship and religious study.
 The Samaritan script 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. Samaritan is a direct descendant of the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet, which was a variety of the Phoenician alphabet.
 August Freiherr von Gall ( September 18, 1872, in Lemgo – October 4, 1946 in Scheuern ) was a German theologian and orientalist . He was an associate professor of theology at the University of Giessen.
 The Dead Sea Scrolls (also the Qumran Caves Scrolls) are ancient Jewish and Hebrew religious manuscripts discovered in 1946/47 at the Qumran Caves in what was then Mandatory Palestine, near Ein Feshkha in the West Bank, on the northern shore of the Dead Sea. Dating from the 3rd century BCE to the 1st century CE, the Dead Sea Scrolls are considered to be a keystone in the history of archaeology with great historical, religious, and linguistic significance because they include the oldest surviving manuscripts of entire books later included in the biblical canons, along with deuterocanonical and extra-biblical manuscripts which preserve evidence of the diversity of religious thought in late Second Temple Judaism.
 The Torah (Biblical Hebrew: תּוֹרָה Tōrā, “Instruction,” “Teaching” or “Law”) is the compilation of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, namely the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. In that sense, Torah means the same as Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses.
 The Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile is the period in Jewish history during which a large number of Judeans from the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon, the capital city of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, following their defeat in the Jewish–Babylonian War and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. The event is described in the Hebrew Bible, and its historicity is supported by archaeological and non-biblical evidence.
 The Kingdom of Israel (Hebrew: מַמְלֶכֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל, Modern: Mamleḵet Yīsra’ēl, Tiberian: Mamléḵeṯ Yīśrāʼēl), or the Kingdom of Samaria, was an Israelite kingdom of the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. The kingdom controlled the regions of Samaria, Galilee and parts of the Transjordan.
 The Kingdom of Judah (Hebrew: יְהוּדָה, Yəhūdā; Akkadian: Ya’údâ [ia-ú-da-a-a]; Aramaic: Bēyt Dāwīḏ, “House of David”) was an Israelite kingdom of the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. Centered in Judea, the kingdom’s capital was Jerusalem.
 Antiquities of the Jews (Latin: Antiquitates Iudaicae; Greek: Ἰουδαϊκὴ ἀρχαιολογία, Ioudaikē archaiologia) is a 20-volume historiographical work, written in Greek, by historian Flavius Josephus in the 13th year of the reign of Roman emperor Flavius Domitian which was around AD 93 or 94. Antiquities of the Jews contains an account of history of the Jewish people for Josephus’ gentile patrons.
 First century Jewish Historian Flavius Josephus (; Greek: Ἰώσηπος, Iṓsēpos; c. 37 – c. 100 C.E.)
 Alexander III of Macedon (Greek: Ἀλέξανδρος Alexandros; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon. He succeeded his father Philip II to the throne in 336 BC at the age of 20 and spent most of his ruling years conducting a lengthy military campaign throughout Western Asia and Egypt.
 The Hasmonean dynasty ( (audio); Hebrew: חַשְׁמוֹנָאִים Ḥašmōnaʾīm) was a ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity, from c. 140 BCE to 37 BCE. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE the dynasty ruled Judea semi-autonomously from the Seleucid Empire, and from roughly 110 BCE, with the empire disintegrating, Judea gained further autonomy and expanded into the neighboring regions of Samaria, Galilee, Iturea, Perea, and Idumea. Some modern scholars regard the Hasmonean realm as an independent Israel.
 John Hyrcanus (; יוחנן הרקנוס Yōḥānān Hurqanōs; Ancient Greek: Ἰωάννης Ὑρκανός, romanized: Iōánnēs Hurkanós) was a Hasmonean (Maccabean) leader and Jewish high priest of the 2nd century BCE (born 164 BCE, reigned from 134 BCE until his death in 104 BCE). In rabbinic literature he is often referred to as Yoḥanan Cohen Gadol (יוחנן כהן גדול), “John the High Priest.”
 Sanballat the Horonite (Hebrew: סַנְבַלַּט Sanḇallaṭ) – or Sanballat I – was a Samaritan leader and official of the Persian Achaemenid Empire who lived in the mid to late 5th century BC and was a contemporary of Nehemiah.
 The Paleo-Hebrew script (Hebrew: הכתב העברי הקדום), also Palaeo-Hebrew, Proto-Hebrew or Old Hebrew, is the writing system found in Canaanite inscriptions from the region of biblical Israel and Judah. It is considered to be the script used to record the original texts of the Hebrew Bible due to its similarity to the Samaritan script, as the Talmud stated that the Hebrew ancient script was still used by the Samaritans.
 Ktav Ashuri (Hebrew: כְּתָב אַשּׁוּרִי, ktav ashurí “Assyrian script”; also Ashurit) is the traditional Hebrew language name of the Hebrew alphabet, used to write both Hebrew and Jewish Babylonian Aramaic. It is also sometimes called the “square script,” the term is used to distinguish the Ashuri script from the Paleo-Hebrew script.
 The ancient Aramaic alphabet was adapted by Arameans from the Phoenician alphabet and became a distinct script by the 8th century BC. It was used to write the Aramaic language and had displaced the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet, itself a derivative of the Phoenician alphabet, for the writing of Hebrew. The letters all represent consonants, some of which are also used as matres lectionis to indicate long vowels.
 The Hebrew alphabet (Hebrew: אָלֶף־בֵּית עִבְרִי, Alefbet ivri), known variously by scholars as the Ktav Ashuri, Jewish script, square script and block script, is an abjad script used in the writing of the Hebrew language and other Jewish languages, most notably Yiddish, Ladino, Judeo-Arabic, and Judeo-Persian. It is also used informally in Israel to write Levantine Arabic, especially among Druze.
 The Tiberian vocalization, Tiberian pointing, or Tiberian niqqud (Hebrew: הַנִּקּוּד הַטְבֶרְיָנִי haNiqud haTveryani) is a system of diacritics (niqqud) devised by the Masoretes of Tiberias to add to the consonantal text of the Hebrew Bible to produce the Masoretic Text. The system soon became used to vocalize other Hebrew texts, as well.
 A polyglot is a book that contains side-by-side versions of the same text in several different languages. Some editions of the Bible or its parts are polyglots, in which the Hebrew and Greek originals are exhibited along with historical translations.
 Matres lectionis (from Latin “mothers of reading,” singular form: mater lectionis, from Hebrew: אֵם קְרִיאָה ’em kri’a) are consonants that are used to indicate a vowel, primarily in the writing down of Semitic languages such as Arabic, Hebrew and Syriac. The letters that do this in Hebrew are aleph א, he ה, waw ו and yod י, and in Arabic, the matres lectionis (though they are much less often referred to thus) are ʾalif ا, wāw و and yāʾ ي.
 Mount Gerizim (; Samaritan Hebrew: ʾĀ̊rgā̊rīzēm; Hebrew: הַר גְּרִזִים Har Gərīzīm; Arabic: جَبَل جَرِزِيم Jabal Jarizīm or جبل الطور Jabal al-Ṭūr) is one of two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the West Bank city of Nablus and biblical city of Shechem. It forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated, the northern side being formed by Mount Ebal.
 Shechem (), also spelled Sichem (; Hebrew: שְׁכֶם, Modern: Šeḵem, Tiberian: Šəḵem, lit. ’shoulder’; Ancient Greek: Συχέμ, Sykhém; Samaritan Hebrew: Šăkēm), was a Canaanite and Israelite city mentioned in the Amarna Letters, later appearing in the Hebrew Bible as the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel following the split of the United Monarchy. According to Joshua 21:20–21, it was located in the tribal territorial allotment of the tribe of Ephraim.
 Mount Ebal (Hebrew: הַר עֵיבָל Har ʿĒyḇāl; Arabic: جبل عيبال Jabal ‘Aybāl) is one of the two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the city of Nablus in the West Bank (biblical Shechem), and forms the northern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated, the southern side being formed by Mount Gerizim. The mountain is one of the highest peaks in the West Bank and rises to 940 m (3,080 ft) above sea level, some 60 m (200 ft) higher than Mount Gerizim.
 The Cushitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They are spoken primarily in the Horn of Africa, with minorities speaking Cushitic languages to the north in Egypt and the Sudan, and to the south in Kenya and Tanzania.
 The (or an) angel of Jehovah (Hebrew: מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה malakh YHWH “messenger of Yahweh”) is an entity appearing repeatedly in the Tanakh (Old Testament) on behalf of the God of Israel. The term malakh JHVH, which occurs 65 times in the text of the Hebrew Bible, can be translated either as “the angel of the Lord” or “an angel of the Lord.”
 Jerome (; Latin: Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus; Greek: Εὐσέβιος Σωφρόνιος Ἱερώνυμος; c. 342 – c. 347 – 30 September 420), also known as Jerome of Stridon, was a Christian priest, confessor, theologian, and historian; he is commonly known as Saint Jerome. Jerome was born at Stridon, a village near Emona on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia.
 Rabbinic literature, in its broadest sense, is the entire spectrum of rabbinic writings throughout Jewish history. However, the term often refers specifically to literature from the Talmudic era, as opposed to medieval and modern rabbinic writing, and thus corresponds with the Hebrew term Sifrut Chazal (Hebrew: ספרות חז״ל “Literature [of our] sages,” where Hazal normally refers only to the sages of the Talmudic era).
 Eleazar b. Simeon (or Eleazar ben Simeon or R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon; Hebrew: אלעזר ברבי שמעון, lit. Eleazar beRabbi [son of Rabbi] Shimon, or רבי אלעזר בן שמעון, lit. Rabbi Eleazar ben [son of] Shimon) was a Jewish Tanna sage of the fifth generation, contemporary of R. Judah ha-Nasi.
 Cyril of Alexandria (Ancient Greek: Κύριλλος Ἀλεξανδρείας; Coptic: Ⲡⲁⲡⲁ Ⲕⲩⲣⲓⲗⲗⲟⲩ ⲁ̅ also ⲡⲓ̀ⲁⲅⲓⲟⲥ Ⲕⲓⲣⲓⲗⲗⲟⲥ; c. 376 – 444) was the Patriarch of Alexandria from 412 to 444.
 Procopius of Gaza (c. 465–528 AD) was a Christian sophist and rhetorician, one of the most important representatives of the famous school of his native place.
 Eusebius of Caesarea (; Greek: Εὐσέβιος Eusebios; c. 260/265 – 30 May 339), also known as Eusebius Pamphilus (from the Greek: Εὐσέβιος τοῦ Παμφίλου), was a Greek historian of Christianity, exegete, and Christian polemicist.
 In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and transitioned into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery.
 Calvinism (also called the Reformed Tradition, Reformed Protestantism or Reformed Christianity) is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice set down by John Calvin and other Reformation-era theologians. It emphasizes the sovereignty of God and the authority of the Bible.
 Benjamin Kennicott (4 April 1718 – 18 September 1783) was an English churchman and Hebrew scholar.
 Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Gesenius (3 February 1786 – 23 October 1842) was a German orientalist, lexicographer, Christian Hebraist, Lutheran theologian, Biblical scholar, and critic.
 Paul Ernst Kahle (January 21, 1875, in Hohenstein, Prussia – September 24, 1964 in Düsseldorf) was a German orientalist and scholar.
 Pseudepigrapha (also anglicized as “pseudepigraph” or “pseudepigraphs”) are falsely attributed works, texts whose claimed author is not the true author, or a work whose real author attributed it to a figure of the past.In biblical studies, the term pseudepigrapha can refer to an assorted collection of Jewish religious works thought to be written c. 300 BCE to 300 CE. They are distinguished by Protestants from the deuterocanonical books (Catholic and Orthodox) or Apocrypha (Protestant), the books that appear in extant copies of the Septuagint in the fourth century or later and the Vulgate, but not in the Hebrew Bible or in Protestant Bibles.
 The Book of Jubilees, sometimes called Lesser Genesis (Leptogenesis), is an ancient Jewish religious work of 50 chapters, considered canonical by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as well as Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jews), where it is known as the Book of Division (Ge’ez: መጽሐፈ ኩፋሌ Mets’hafe Kufale). Jubilees is considered one of the pseudepigrapha by Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant Churches.
 The Book of Enoch (also 1 Enoch; Ge’ez: መጽሐፈ ሄኖክ, maṣḥafa hēnok) is an ancient Hebrew apocalyptic religious text, ascribed by tradition to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah. Enoch contains unique material on the origins of demons and Nephilim, why some angels fell from heaven, an explanation of why the Genesis flood was morally necessary, and prophetic exposition of the thousand-year reign of the Messiah.
 The Assumption of Moses (otherwise called the Testament of Moses, Heb.:עליית משה) is a 1st century Jewish apocryphal pseudepigraphical work. It purports to contain secret prophecies Moses revealed to Joshua before passing leadership of the Israelites to him.
 Frank Moore Cross Jr. (1921–2012) was the Hancock Professor of Hebrew and Other Oriental Languages Emeritus at Harvard University, notable for his work in the interpretation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, his 1973 magnum opus Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, and his work in Northwest Semitic epigraphy.
 The Maccabees, also spelled Machabees (Hebrew: מַכַּבִּים, Makabīm or מַקַבִּים, Maqabīm; Latin: Machabaei or Maccabaei; Ancient Greek: Μακκαβαῖοι, Makkabaioi), were a group of Jewish rebel warriors who took control of Judea, which at the time was part of the Seleucid Empire. They founded the Hasmonean dynasty, which ruled from 167 BCE to 37 BCE, being a fully independent kingdom from about 110 to 63 BCE. They reasserted the Jewish religion, partly by forced conversion, expanded the boundaries of Judea by conquest and reduced the influence of Hellenism and Hellenistic Judaism.
 A targum (Aramaic: תרגום ‘interpretation, translation, version’) was an originally spoken translation of the Hebrew Bible (also called the Tanakh) that a professional translator (מְתוּרגְמָן mǝturgǝmān) would give in the common language of the listeners when that was not Hebrew. This had become necessary near the end of the first century BCE, as the common language was Aramaic and Hebrew was used for little more than schooling and worship.
 Targum Onkelos (or Onqelos; Hebrew: תַּרְגּוּם אֻנְקְלוֹס, Targūm ’Unqəlōs) is the primary Jewish Aramaic targum (“translation”) of the Torah, accepted as an authoritative translated text of the Five Books of Moses and thought to have been written in the early second century CE.
 Scholia (singular scholium or scholion, from Ancient Greek: σχόλιον, “comment, interpretation”) are grammatical, critical, or explanatory comments – original or copied from prior commentaries – which are inserted in the margin of the manuscript of ancient authors, as glosses. One who writes scholia is a scholiast.
 Hexapla (Ancient Greek: Ἑξαπλᾶ, “sixfold”) is the term for a critical edition of the Hebrew Bible in six versions, four of them translated into Greek, preserved only in fragments. It was an immense and complex word-for-word comparison of the original Hebrew Scriptures with the Greek Septuagint translation and with other Greek translations.
 The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were ancient and influential Christian theologians and writers who established the intellectual and doctrinal foundations of Christianity. The historical period in which they worked became known as the Patristic Era and spans approximately from the late 1st to mid-8th centuries, flourishing in particular during the 4th and 5th centuries, when Christianity was in the process of establishing itself as the state church of the Roman Empire.
 The Muslim conquest of the Levant (Arabic: الْـفَـتْـحُ الإٍسْـلامِيُّ لِـلـشَّـام, el-Fethül-İslâmiyyü liş-Şâm), also known as the Arab conquest of the Levant (Arabic: الْـفَـتْـحُ الْـعَـرَبِيُّ لِـلـشَّـام, el-Fethül-Arabiyyü liş-Şâm), occurred in the first half of the 7th century, shortly after the rise of Islam. As part of the larger military campaign known as the early Muslim conquests, the Levant was brought under the rule of the Rashidun Caliphate and developed into the provincial region of Bilad al-Sham.
 Sa’adiah ben Yosef Gaon (Arabic: سعيد بن يوسف الفيومي Saʻīd bin Yūsuf al-Fayyūmi; Hebrew: סעדיה בן יוסף אלפיומי גאון; alternative English names: Rabbeinu Sa’adiah Gaon (“our Rabbi [the] Saadia Gaon”), often abbreviated RSG (RaSaG); Saadia b. Joseph; Saadia ben Joseph; Saadia ben Joseph of Faym; or Saadia ben Joseph Al-Fayyumi; 882/892 – 942) was a prominent rabbi, gaon, Jewish philosopher, and exegete who was active in the Abbasid Caliphate.
 Nablus ( NA(H)B-ləs; Arabic: نابلس, romanized: Nābulus [ˈnæːblʊs] (listen); Samaritan Hebrew: ࠔࠬࠥࠊࠝࠌ Šăkēm; Jewish Hebrew: שכם, romanized: Šəḵem, ISO 259-3 Škem; Greek: Νεάπολις, romanized: Νeápolis) is a Palestinian city in the West Bank, located approximately 49 kilometres (30 mi) north of Jerusalem, with a population of 126,132. Located between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, it is the capital of the Nablus Governorate and a commercial and cultural centre of the State of Palestine, home to An-Najah National University, one of the largest Palestinian institutions of higher learning, and the Palestine Stock Exchange.
 Parchment is a writing material made from specially prepared untanned skins of animals—primarily sheep, calves, and goats. It has been used as a writing medium for over two millennia.
 Vellum is prepared animal skin or membrane, typically used as writing material. Parchment is another term for this material, and if vellum is distinguished from this, it is by its being made from calfskin, as opposed to that from other animals, or otherwise being of higher quality.
 Pietro Della Valle (2 April 1586 – 21 April 1652) was an Italian composer, musicologist, and author who travelled throughout Asia during the Renaissance period. His travels took him to the Holy Land, the Middle East, Northern Africa, and as far as India.
 Damascus ( də-MASS-kəs, UK also də-MAH-skəs; Arabic: دمشق, romanized: Dimashq, IPA: [diˈmaʃq] is the capital of Syria, the oldest capital in the world and, according to some, the fourth holiest city in Islam.It is colloquially known in Syria as aš-Šām (الشَّام) and titled the “City of Jasmine” (مَدِينَةُ الْيَاسْمِينِ Madīnat al-Yāsmīn). Damascus is a major cultural center of the Levant and the Arab world.
 Paris (French pronunciation: [paʁi] (listen)) is the capital and most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,165,423 residents in 2019 in an area of more than 105 km² (41 sq mi), making it the 34th most densely populated city in the world in 2020. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of the world’s major centers of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, gastronomy, science, and arts, and has sometimes been referred to as the capital of the world.
 James Ussher (or Usher; 4 January 1581 – 21 March 1656) was the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland between 1625 and 1656. He was a prolific scholar and church leader, who today is most famous for his identification of the genuine letters of the church father, Ignatius of Antioch, and for his chronology that sought to establish the time and date of the creation as “the entrance of the night preceding the 23rd day of October …