[b-hebrew] Author of the Torah

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Fri Jul 29 22:33:39 EDT 2005

>As far as the "Samaritan schism" is concerned, the evidence of the 
>text-types does not really allow for pushing the divergence between 
>the proto-MT and the pre-Samaritan text-type earlier than the 5th 
>century, and actual exemplars of the pre-Samaritan text-type are not
>attested, if my data is correct, before the Hasmonean period.

HH: It's clear in the Bible what the 
circumstances were under which the Samaritan 
religion came about:

2Kings 17:24 ¶ The king of Assyria brought people 
from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim 
and settled them in the towns of Samaria to 
replace the Israelites. They took over Samaria 
and lived in its towns.
2Kings 17:26 It was reported to the king of 
Assyria:  "The people you deported and resettled 
in the towns of Samaria do not know what the god 
of that country requires. He has sent lions among 
them, which are killing them off, because the 
people do not know what he requires."
2Kings 17:28 So one of the priests who had been 
exiled from Samaria came to live in Bethel and 
taught them how to worship the LORD.

HH: Presumably they gained their copy of the Scriptures at that point.

>The Elephantine papyri are interesting to bring up in this regard. 
>The correspondence going back and forth between Elephantine, Samaria, 
>and Jerusalem certainly suggests that there was a rather high degree 
>of cooperation between those three center of Jewish worship at the 
>end of the 5th century BCE. Bagavahya and Sanballat write a *joint* 
>letter recommending the rebuilding of the Elephantine temple. This 
>shows a degree of unity between Samaria and Jerusalem that can hardly 
>be called a "schism." It also shows that Deuteronomism was not 
>normative for Judaism in this period, at least as practiced in 
>Jerusalem, Samaria, and Elephantine, for sacrifices (albeit only of 
>grain and incense) at Elephantine were approved by Sanballat and 
>Bagavahya, over against Deuteronomic cultic centralization. Moreover, 
>Hananiah's instructions concerning Pesach and Shavuot are not 
>identical to the Torah's, and the fact that Hananiah has to bring 
>instructions for these festivals from outside Egypt may in fact imply 
>that the Elephantine Jews did not have a copy of the Torah. I would 
>say that the evidence from Ezra-Nehemiah and Elephantine, read 
>generously, suggests that the Torah was nearing its canonical form in
>the 5th century, but not there yet.

HH: The origins of the Elephantine community are 
obscure, but a leading theory is that they left 
Judah under the Babylonian threat. From a 
biblical perspective the people who lived in 
Egypt, having gone there at the time of the 
Exile, were under a curse. So if that was their 
origin, it is not surprising that they did not do 
things in an orthodox way.

					Harold Holmyard

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