[b-hebrew] Samaritan script/proto-hebrew

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Sun Mar 20 12:27:58 EST 2005

Kevin P. Edgecomb wrote:
> Reference has been made by several to Yitzhak Magen's 
> excavations on Mount Gerizim, where the remains of the 
> Samaritan Temple have been discovered.  I read somewhere
> that he was (is?) assembling a book for publication at the
> end of 2004 dealing with the around 500 discovered Samaritan 
> inscriptions, and around 13,000 coins, which date the precinct
> from early 6th century (!) to its late 2nd century destruction by 
> the Hasmoneans. 

I think this is misleading.  These 13000 coins etc include coins
from the Byzantine periods and onwards, it seems.

> The most comprehensive of the articles so far appears to be 
> Magen, Y. "Mt. Gerizim -A Temple City," Qadmoniot 33.2 
> (2000), 74-119 (in Hebrew).

This volume has additional articles relating to the finds at Mt.
Gerizim.  From the article on the inscriptions, it seems that
the Aramaic ones are in Jewish script, ie, after the Persian
period.  It's unclear what inscriptions there are from the Persian
period, and the dating to the Persian period of the Temple
seems to be based on pottery and coins.

Prof. Thompson wrote:

> From Ingrid Hjelm's larger article on recent Samaritan studies, I 
> would like to cite her abstract from p. 9:

> "Apart from the later period of the Hasmonean kingdom, 
> Samaritans and Jews were always separate peoples who had 
> either Gerizim or Jerusalem [respectively] as their main cult 
> place. 

I tried to read in the two books by Hjelm that were available to
me about her views, but I had limited time to read through
them.  I don't think of them as ever having been unified to the
point of a single cult center and a single administration.  Rather,
it seems more of imposed and voluntary peace treaties and
occupations between the two, as well as the development of a 
shared heritage due to those "treaties."  In the Persian period,
I believe they had agree to accept as authoritative a common
Pentateuch, including all sources, each of which had its
history in one or the other community.  Based on a
reconstruction of calendarical elements, I believe that the
Pentateuch makes reference to a 12x30 day calendar with
an intercalated 30 day month every 6 years.  This calendar,
in my opinion, is the first one to employ a spring New Year,
at least in Judea, and it was accepted with Persian
influence in the 4th century.  This is based, among other
things, by references to this calendar in Daniel and 
Henoch, which indicate it must have existed by the 3rd
century.  This would date the redaction of the Pentateuch
to the mid-4th century and since both Samaritans and
Jews accepted the Pentateuch largely as a redacted
complete document, it seems to me that at this date might
also be a good date for a "peace treaty" between the two
to accept common religious motives, while perhaps 
agreeing to disagree on a location for the Sanctuary.  I 
realize it is problematic to rest a theory on a reconstruction 
of a calendar that is extremely speculative, but in the end,
this date of the redaction does not differ greatly from the
more common dates of redaction proposed on other 
grounds for the Pentateuch, as far as I know.

In my view, then, both were separate peoples, both had 
origins in the First Temple period, that due to wars and 
geographical proximity had caused them to develop 
common religious motives.  Perhaps, in light of this, the 
Edomites should be considered a third group as well, but
one that did not survive conquest in the Second Temple
period.  In any case, in the 4th century, both accepted 
upon them the Pentateuch as authoritative, and this
period of 4th - 2nd century may have been the most
peaceful amongst them.

It was unclear to me what her view on the Pentateuch is, 
from my skimming of the books.  (Again, I had little time). 
It seems she accepts Van Seters' argument that J is 
post-exilic, as well as various arguments that Qumran is 
not Essene.  She also seemed to mention that the Jews 
borrowed a Samaritan Pentateuch.  This would seem to 
mean that all J, E, P, D, and the redactor were Samaritan 
in origin. I am not sure if her theory of reconstruction 
requires all that, but I generally believe that reconstructions, 
especially where they differ from previous consensus, 
should depend least on other similar "revolutionary" 
reconstructions, because if one "revolutionary" view turns 
out to be misled, it would mean that the whole theory 
falls apart.  Anyway, in all these arguments regarding
the Deuteronomist vs the Yahwist, I got confused as to
what is her date for the compilation for the Pentateuch,
what is her date for the borrowing or mutual acceptance
by both Jews and Samaritans of the Pentateuch, and
what is the background for this.  Most of the above is 
based on comments in her "Jerusalem's Rise to
Sovereignty."  Perhaps you can point me to a specific
place where she addresses these questions?

Anyhow, thanks again for the summary of her views, as
well as for the Magen excavation report that is
unfortunately not available to me now (the Qadmoniot
volume was).

Yitzhak Sapir

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