The Samaritans during the Hasmonean Period: The Affirmation of a Discrete Identity?
1. Overview of the Situation of the Samaritans on the Eve of the Hasmonean revolt
1.1. In the Land of Israel
1.2. Evidence for Diasporic Samaritan Communities in the Second Century BCE
1.3. Early Evidence for Jewish Anti-Samaritan Hostility? The Case of Ben Sira 50:25–26
Two nations my soul detests, and the third is not even a people (והשלישית איננו עם):Those who live in Seir, and the Philistines, and the foolish nation that live in Shechem (וגוי נבל הדר בשכם) (NRSA).
2. The Samaritans at the Outbreak of the Hasmonean Revolt
2.1. Antiochus IV’s Decrees against Judaism
He (sc. Antiochus) went so far as to leave officials in charge of maltreating our race (τὸ γένος): at Jerusalem, Philip, a Phrygian by birth, but by character more barbaric than the man who appointed him; and at Mount Gerizim, Andronikos; and in addition, Menelaus, who was worse than the others inasmuch as he lorded it over his compatriots.30
Not long thereafter, the king sent Geron the Athenian to compel the Jews (τοὺς Ιουδαίους) to depart from their ancestral laws (τῶν πατρίων νόμων) and to cease living by the laws of God. He was also to defile both the temple in Jerusalem and the temple on Mount Gerizim and to proclaim the former to be the temple of Zeus Olympios and the latter (in accordance with the...of the inhabitants of the place) to be the temple of Zeus Xenios (καὶ τὸν ἐν Γαριζιν, καθὼς ἐτύγχανον οἱ τὸν τόπον οἰκοῦντες, Διὸς Ξενίου)34.
- They imply that the readers of 2 Macc. had a thorough understanding of traditions related to Mt. Gerizim and the Samaritans, which is dubious.
- They suppose that the renaming of the Mt. Gerizim temple suited the inhabitants of the place, whereas Antiochus’ measures are portrayed as having been imposed against the will of the Yahweh worshippers in Jerusalem and on Mount Gerizim (we should note that this argument invalidates the first explanation mentioned above as well);
- In order to mean “happened to be,” ἐτύγχανον would have had to be supplemented by a participle of a verb of being.
2.2. The “Sidonians in Shechem”
The Sidonians in Shechem… have represented to us sitting in council with our friends that they are in no way concerned in the complaints brought against the Jews, but choose to live in accordance with Greek customs, we acquit them of these charges, and permit their temple to be known as that of Zeus Hellenios, as they have petitioned.43
3. The Samaritans under Hasmonean Rule
3.1. Under Jonathan (161–142 BCE)
3.2. Under John Hyrcanus (134–104 BCE)
[Hyrcanus took] Shechem and Garizein and the Cuthaean nation, which lives near the temple built after the model of the sanctuary at Jerusalem, which Alexander permitted their governor Sanaballetes to build for the sake of his son-in-law Manasses, the brother of the high priest Jaddua as we have related before. Now it was two hundred years later that this temple was laid waste.56
4. The Production of the Samaritan Pentateuch
5. Literary Evidence for a Jewish Anti-Samaritan Polemic in the Hasmonean Period?
My soul was offended at two nations, and the third is not a nation (τὸ τρίτον οὐκ ἔστιν ἔθνος): those who settled on Mount Samaria (οἱ καθήμενοι ἐν ὄρει Σαμαρείας) and Phylistiim, and the foolish people who live in Sikima (ὁ λαὸς ὁ μωρὸς ὁ κατοικῶν ἐν Σικιμοις).89
6. Samaritan Mikva’ot: Evidence for Judaization of the Samaritans in the Hasmonean Period?
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An early advocate of this view was James D. Purvis (Purvis 1968, p. 5), according to whom: “The so-called Samaritan schism, or withdrawal from the mainstream of Judaism, was not so much an event as a process—a process extending over several centuries and involving a series of events which eventually brought about estrangement between the two communities.” See also (Coggins 1975, p. 163; Hjelm 2004, p. 15; Pummer 2007, p. 247).
See for instance (Kippenberg 1971, p. 52).
See (Magen et al. 2004, pp. 28–30).
See (Magness 2001).
See (Pummer 2018, p. 70).
Trans. Ralph Marcus (LCL 365; 1943, p. 5).
See (Isser 1976, p. 9).
See for instance (Kartveit 2009a, p. 126; Eshel 2012, p. 519). Bruce W. Hall has adopted a more cautious line, alleging that: “while it is quite probable that in hellenistic times Egyptian Jews and Samaritans disputed about the relative merits of Jerusalem and Mount Gerizim, we have no means of determining the historical basis of this particular narrative,” (Hall 1987, p. 293).
(Pummer 2016, p. 86). On the “Sidonians in Shechem,” see below.
See (Bourgel 2017, p. 386).
2 Maccabees (2:23) describes itself as an epitome of Jason of Cyrene’s lost five-volume work. Jason’s original writings are usually dated to the first Hasmonaean generation, whereas the time of composition of its abridgement has been variously dated to the period between the rule of John Hyrcanus (134–104 BCE) and the conquest of Judea by Pompey (63 BCE). 2 Maccabees depicts the Jewish revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes from its beginning until the overthrow of the Seleucid general Nicanor (161 BCE). On the Second Book of Maccabees, see (Goldstein 1983, pp. 3–188; D.R. Schwartz 2008, pp. 3–126; Babota 2014, pp. 15–20).
Trans. (Goldstein 1983, p. 245).
Trans. (Goldstein 1983, p. 268).
This proposition rests on the twofold assumption that τυγχάνω renders “happen to be” and Διὸς Ξενίου refers to “Zeus the protector of strangers”; accordingly, 2 Macc 6:2 should be translated as follows: “(the temple on Mount Gerizim was renamed after) Zeus the protector of strangers, as were they that dwelt in the place.” See (Hanhart 1982, pp. 108*–10*; Kartveit 2009a, pp. 239–40).
See: Eusebius, Praep. Ev. 9.17.2–9 (GCS 43.1:502–04); on Pseudo-Eupolemus, see below no. 102.
The “Sidonians in Shechem” are first referred to in Ant 11:340–47. According to this account, the Samaritans, in an attempt to obtain Alexander the Great’s favors, said that “they were Hebrews but were called the Sidonians of Shechem.” But after Alexander asked them whether they were really Jews, they confessed that they were not.
Ant 12:262–64. Trans. Ralph Marcus (LCL 365; 1943, pp. 133–35).
On the Sidonian colonies at Marisa, see (Oren and Rappaport 1984).
Interestingly enough, the name of the god Kos appears in several theophoric names from the Sidonian tombs of Marisa. See (Peters et al. 1905, pp. 44–47, 54, 62–63).
In this respect it should be noted that, a few years earlier (152 BCE), Demetrius I Soter (161–150 BCE), in an attempt to win the support of Jonathan, assured him that the dwellers of the three Samarian “nomes” would recognize no other authority than that of the Jerusalem high priest (i.e., Jonathan; 1 Macc 10:38). It is likely that those areas were already militarily controlled by Jonathan and his followers. At any rate, Jonathan gave no credence to Demetrius I’s promises (1 Macc 10:46). See (Goldstein 1983, pp. 410–11).
On the term Cuthean, see e.g., (Schiffman 1993).
Trans. Marcus (Trans. Ralph Marcus (LCL 365; 1943, pp. 355–57).
BJ 1.64–65; Ant. 13.275–81.
Megillat Ta‘anit (Scroll of Fasting) is a treatise originating in the late Second Temple period; it lists thirty-five festival days on which fasting was forbidden, many of which were commemorations of victories of the Hasmonaean period. See (Noam 2003).
See: (Noam 2003, pp. 262–65).
This was the case for at least some of the Idumeans; on this see for instance (Faust and Erlich 2008, pp. 10–18, 22).
This was the case for the inhabitants of the city of Samaria (BJ 1.65).
(Campbell 1991; Finkelstein et al. 1997, pp. 2:907–19, 2:953–54; Zertal 2004, p. 63). An important exception is the environs of the Hellenistic city of Samaria (the “Sebastiyeh section”) which experienced a sharp fall in the number of settlements during the transition from the Hellenistic to the Roman period (Zertal 2004, p. 93).
See (Knoppers 2011, p. 507).
See e.g.,: 4QpaleoExodm, 4QExod-Levf, 4QNumb and 4QDeutn. About five percent of the Pentateuch texts from Qumran are categorized as so-called pre-Samaritan or harmonizing texts. See for instance (Anderson and Giles 2002, pp. 43–58).
See for instance (Baillet 1971).
See inter alia (Crawford 2011; Tov 2013). Esther and Hanan Eshel have deemed it inappropriate to call the scrolls under discussion “pre-Samaritan” and “proto-Samaritan,” for they do not include specifically Samaritan readings; they prefer to label them “harmonistic texts.” See (Eshel and Eshel 2003, pp. 220–21). See also (Anderson and Giles 2012, pp. 34–35, no. 36).
Most illustrative in this respect is the Samaritan Tenth Commandment that emphasizes the sanctity of Mount Gerizim as God’s chosen place of worship. It is composed of: Exod 13:11a, Deut 11:29b, 27:2b–3a, 4a, 5–7, and 11:30. For lists of other readings in the SP considered to be specific to the Samaritans, see inter alia (Margain 1991, cols. 767–68; Knoppers 2011, pp. 514–16). The specific Samaritan character of most these readings has recently been questioned by Edmond L. Gallagher (Gallagher 2015, pp. 99–101).
According to Moshe Florentin, Samaritan Hebrew postdates not only the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls, “but the Hebrew reflected in the good manuscripts of the Mishnah as well;” See (Florentin 2005, pp. 15–16).
This section is an abridged version of certain passages of my article: (Bourgel 2017).
Trans. (Pietersma and Wright 2007, p. 761).
As Pummer has pointed out, ὄρει Σαμαρείας can refer either to the mountains in the area of Samaria in general, or to the mountain of the Hellenistic city of Samaria (Pummer 2009, p. 11).
See for instance: Jubilees (30,4) as well as the Book of Judith (9).
See, for instance (Charlesworth 1985, pp. 38–41).
On the link between the Aramaic Levi and the text in Greek of the Testament of Levi, see (DeJonge 1988).
See (Fallon 1985a, p. 788).
Similar observations can be made about the mid-second century BCE writer commonly called Pseudo-Eupolemus. Eusebius’ extensive excerpts from Alexander Polyhistor’s work include a fragment on Abraham’s life, from a work by the Jewish historian Eupolemus entitled “On the Jews”; Praep. Ev. 9.17.2–9 (GCS 43.1:502–504). Eupolemus is frequently identified with the envoy of Judas Maccabeus to Rome, who is referred to in 1 Macc 8,17 and 2 Macc 4,11; (Fallon 1985b). Jakob Freudenthal was the first to reject the attribution of the fragment to a Jewish writer because it says that Abraham was received as a guest at the city at the temple Argarizin, which is interpreted as “mountain of the Most High”; (Freudenthal 1875, pp. 85–87). Furthermore, Freudenthal saw such a depiction as incompatible with the laudatory representation of the Jerusalem Temple in other of Eupolemus’ accounts. Accordingly, Freudenthal assigned this fragment to an unknown Samaritan author he called Pseudo-Eupolemus; henceforth, his proposition has been widely accepted. But as is the case with Theodotus, it may well be that discussions of Eupolemus are based on an anachronistic perception of Jews and Samaritans as already fully separate categories.
4Q372 is part of a Hebrew text known as 4QNarrative and Poetic Composition (or “Joseph Apocryphon”), that is contained in four more manuscripts (4Q371, 2Q22, 4Q373, and 4Q373a).
According to Shuller, Joseph’s commitment to teach God’s law to “all who abandon” the Torah (l. 27), could be interpreted “more specifically and polemically in reference to the Samaritans” (Schuller 1989–1990, p. 366). If this is right, it would mean that the author of 4Q372 considered the Gerizim worshippers to be apostates who had forsaken God’s law.
It is commonly accepted that the Samaritans took up the use of miqwa’ot from the Jews sometime in the first centuries of the common era. See for instance (Pummer 2016, p. 116).
On this passage, see for instance (Pummer 2009, pp. 222–30).
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Bourgel, J. The Samaritans during the Hasmonean Period: The Affirmation of a Discrete Identity? Religions 2019, 10, 628. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10110628
Bourgel J. The Samaritans during the Hasmonean Period: The Affirmation of a Discrete Identity? Religions. 2019; 10(11):628. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10110628Chicago/Turabian Style
Bourgel, Jonathan. 2019. "The Samaritans during the Hasmonean Period: The Affirmation of a Discrete Identity?" Religions 10, no. 11: 628. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10110628