1. Samaritans in Midrashic Literature
2. The Rabbi Me’ir Dialogues
Bereshit Rabbah 4,4 (ed. Theodor and Albeck 1965, p. 27)A Samaritan (Kuti) asked Rabbi Me’ir: ‘Is it possible that the upper water is suspended by (God’s) word?’Said he to him: ‘Yes.’ And he asked him to bring him a water clock15.(He filled it with water and) placed a gold plate upon it,16 but the water did not stand still in the funnel.But as soon as he put a finger upon (the opening of the funnel), the water stood still.He objected: ‘But you have put your finger there.’He said to him: ‘If my finger stays the water, though I am but flesh and blood, how much more so the finger of the Holy one blessed be he!’
Bereshit Rabbah 4,4 (ed. Theodor and Albeck 1965, pp. 27–28)Said he to him: ‘Is it possible that He of whom it is written: For I fill both heaven and earth (Jeremiah 23:24) spoke to Moses from between the two staves of the Ark?’ (see Exodus 25:13).Said he to him: ‘Bring me a magnifying mirror (מראות גדולות)’. He brought it.He said to him: ‘Look at your reflection.’ And he saw it large.(Said he to him): ‘Bring me a diminishing mirror.’ He brought it.‘Look at your reflection.’ He did so and saw it small.Said to him (Rabbi Me’ir): ‘If you, who are but flesh and blood, can change yourself at will, how much more so He at whose word the world came into existence! Thus, when he so wishes do I not fill both heaven and earth, while when he wishes, he speaks to Moses from between the staves of the Ark.’
Rabbi Ḥanina bar Susai (said): At times the world and its fullness cannot contain His glory, yet at times He speaks to man from between the hairs of his head, as it is written: And the Lord replied to Job out of the se’ara [tempest/hair] (Job 38:1)—which means from the hairs of his head.30
Said he (the Samaritan) to him: ‘Is it possible that The river of God is full of water (Psalm 65:10) since the six days of Creation and it has not been diminished at all: it is incredible.’He said to him: ‘Go in and bathe, and weigh yourself before you enter and after you have gone in’.He went and weighed himself, and his weight had not diminished at all.He said to him: ‘Now all that perspiration, did it not ooze from you?’He answered: ‘Yes’.Said he to him: ‘Then, if your fountain (of perspiration) did not in any way diminish, though you are but a mere mortal, how much more is this true of a fountain of the Holy One, blessed be He! Hence The river of God is full of water (Psalm 65:10) since the six days of Creation and it has not been diminished at all.’
Bereshit Rabba 70,7 (ed. Theodor and Albeck 1965, pp. 803–5)And this stone (Genesis 28:22):A principal (of the Samaritans)33 asked Rabbi Me’ir: ‘With what is the firstling of an ass redeemed?’He answered him: ‘With a lamb’, for it is written, but the firstling of an ass you shall redeem with a lamb (Exodus 34:20).He said to him: ‘But what if one has no lamb?’Said he to him: ‘Then with a goat.’He said: ‘Whence do you know this?’(It is written): You may take it from the lamb or the goats (Exodus 12:5).Said he to him: But this (verse) refers to Pesaḥ?He answered him: A goat too is called a lamb. How do we know it? Because it is written: These are the animals that you may eat: the ox, the lamb, and the goat (Deuteronomy 14:4).Thereupon he arose and kissed his head.
Rabbi Yehoshua‘ from Sikhnin37 (said) in the name of Rabbi Lewi:A Samaritan (Kuti) asked Rabbi Me’ir and said to him: ‘Do you not maintain that Jacob was truthful (אמיתי)?’38He replied: ‘Certainly!’He said to him: ‘And did he not say thus: And of all that You give me, I will set aside a tithe for You (Genesis 28:22)?’‘Yes.’(Said the Samaritan): ‘And so he has separated the tribe of Levi, which is one in ten. But why did he not separate a tenth of the two remaining tribes?’He said to him: ‘Were there then only ten tribes? Surely there were fourteen, for it says: Ephraim and Manasseh even as Ruben and Simon shall be mine (Genesis 48:5)’.Said he to him: ‘Then the difficulty is all the greater. If you add water, you must add flour.’[Said he to him]: ‘Will you not admit that there were four matriarchs?’39He said: ‘Yes!’He said40: ‘Then deduct the four firstborns of the four matriarchs from these (fourteen), since the firstborn is holy, and what is holy does not exempt what is holy.’Said (the Samaritan) to him: ‘Happy the people in whose midst you dwell.’41
Bereshit Rabbah 94,7 (ed. Theodor and Albeck 1965, pp. 1178–79)These are the names of the sons of Israel, who came to Egypt etc., and Issachars sons (Genesis 46:8–13).Rabbi Me’ir saw a Samaritan (Shamrai) and asked him: ‘Whence are you descended?’He replied: ‘From Joseph.’Said he to him: ‘No!’‘Then from whom?’Said he to him: ‘From Issachar.’Said he to him: How do you know this?Said he: It is written: The children of Issachar are Tola, Fua, Yov and Shimron (Genesis 46:13)—the last-named referring to the Samaritans (Shomronim).Thereupon he went to the Patriarch46 and said to him: A Jewish teacher47 had told me an astonishing thing, and this puzzles me.Said he: ‘What is it?’He asked (me): ‘Whence are you descended?’ I replied: ‘From Joseph.’But he told me: ‘From Issachar’, as it is written: The children of Issachar are Tola, Fua, Yov and Shimron (Genesis 46:13).He explained to him: By your life! He has excluded you from (the tribe) of Joseph and yet has not brought you in to Issachar.’
3. Summary and Outlook
Conflicts of Interest
The term ‘Amoraic Midrashim’ is to be understood as an auxiliary term. The dating of the corresponding works in Amoraic times and their literary development is much more complex. The point here is merely to indicate that the examined texts can be distinguished from the earlier Halakhic (or ‘Tannaitic’) Midrashim. See on this also Stemberger (2011, pp. 264–65), and further on Reizel (2011, pp. 105–45).
Compare Billerbeck and Strack (1994, pp. 558–60); Zangenberg (1994, pp. 109, 126–28). On the methodological question, see also the studies by Lavee (2010a, 2010b); see also Ophir and Rosen-Zvi (2018, pp. 185–92). While I would agree that some parallel traditions transmitted, for example, in the Talmudim and in certain Amoraic Midrashim, should be interpreted together, I still hold on to the claim (like G. Stemberger) that certain rabbinical writings reflect specific redactional interests in their specific way of transmitting older aggadic material.
For the only text in question see Sifre Bemidbar 112 (ed. Horovitz/Rabin, p. 122), where the question of the resurrection is at stake. In this text certain Sifre Kutiim, ‘books of the Samaritans’, are mentioned. Two textual witnesses read however ‘Minim’ (i.e., Heretics) instead of the word ‘Kutim’. The reading ‘Minim’ is now accepted by Kahana (2011 vol. 1, p.14), as the more reasonable varia lectio. In another short text in Sifre Devarim 331 (ed. Finkelstein, 381) Kutim are differentiated from Minim. However, also this passage is problematic since it has been preserved incomplete and must be conjectured on the basis of a parallel in Midrash ha-Gadol. In Mekhilta Mishpatim 12 on Exodus 21:35 the cattle of a Samaritan are mentioned as exempt from the provision due to the formulation ‘shor ish’, besides the ox of a stranger and that of a proselyte.
See Theodor and Albeck (1965, vol. 1, p. 27). For the translation of the texts see Midrash Rabbah (1983), and see also https://www.sefaria.org/Bereishit_Rabbah.4?lang=bi (accessed on 11 November 2020).
i.e., on the upper opening.
Compare Midrash Tehillim on Psalm 19:4 (ed. Buber, 83a).
To interpret the phrase מראות גדולות compare Exodus 38:8 and the commentary Mattnot Kehuna by Rabbi Y Issachar Baer ben Naftali ha-Kohen on Bereshit Rabbah. See also the remarks by Jehuda Theodor in his Minḥat Yehuda on the passage. Billerbeck and Strack (1994, p. 559, translates with ‘Vergrößerungsglas’). However, what is meant is real mirrors, the use of which is mentioned in many places in rabbinical literature. See Rosenzweig (1905, pp. 122–23).
See Tal and Florentin (2010, p. 443). Compare also the interpretation of this verse in Wayiqra Rabbah 1,14 (ed. Margaliut, 31), where with reference to Ezekiel 43:3 nine mirrors are mentioned which helped the prophets to look out into the future. Moses, according to Numbers 12:8, had only one mirror. See on this also Midrash Tanhuma Tzaw 13 (192b).
According to Ms Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica 30. See also the variae lectiones in the edition of Theodor, p. 28. Compare also the quotation of this passage in Yalkut Shim‘oni Jeremiah 23 § 306 (414a; ed. Hyman/Shiloni, p. 457), mentioning Rabbi Abba bar Sissi. See also Yalkut Shim‘oni Iyov 38 § 923 (510b): ‘Ravina bar Sissi’.
Sa‘arot rosho—a difficult word game, not to be translated.
On the meaning of the word אמם see Mirkin (1992, p. 102): following the old printed editions he reads עובד כוכבים (star worshiper). Ms Oxford of this Midrash reads אמן, ‘artist’; Ms Vatican 30 and Editio princeps 1545 read גוי, ‘non-Jew’. Probably a priestly leader or the high priest of the Samaritans is meant. Already Se‘adya Ga’on translated in his Tafsir כהן, ‘priest’, with the Arabic term إمام, אמם, Imam.
See also the parallel texts in Midrash Tanhuma Re’e 14 (322a); Tanhuma (Buber) Re’e 12 (12b); and see also Yalkut Mekhiri Michah 7:20 (ed. Greenup, pp. 65–66).
In the Editio princeps from Venice and in a Yemenite manuscript the following is added: ‘As it is written: You will keep faith with Jacob (Micha 7:20).’ See also Pesikta de-Rav Kahana 10:66 (ed. Mandelbaum 167), where in addition the Aramaic term קושט instead of אמיתי is inserted.
See also bBekhorot 53b; Pirke de-Rabbi Eli‘ezer 37 (ed. Börner-Klein 470).
It remains not clear who is the grammatical subject in the sentence: Yehoshua‘ from Sikhnin or Rabbi Me’ir? Wünsche (1880, p. 339) adds here the name ‘Josua’. He paraphrases according to the underlying Al-tiqre-Midrash on Proverbs 6:20: ‘Do not forsake your mother’s teaching [immatekha]—(do not read immekha but) umatekha [your people].
This is translated differently by Theodor in his commentary Minḥat Yehuda: ‘Hail your people, what is there under them?!’ I.e., what Torah and wisdom there is in Israel. But see also the parallel in Pesikta de-Rav Kahane 10:6 (ed. Mandelbaum 167): ‘Praised be your people that they have someone like you.’
See Midrash Tanhuma Wa-yehi 15 (79a).
See, e.g., bEruvin 18b.
According to Krauss ( 1966), vol. 2, 100 the word אפוטרכא can be derived from the Greek ‘Toparch’. Theodor and Wünsche translate with ‘Patriarch’. The relative pronoun דידהון, ‘yours’, is probably related to a Samaritan dignitary. See on this Bacher (1890, p. 188), and see also Kohut (1878, vol. 1, p. 212) s. v., who translates into German ‘Kirchenoberhaupt der Samaritaner’.
Some textual witnesses have סבהון דיהודאי, ‘one of the elders of the Jews’. Midrash ha-Gadol Bereshit 46:13 (ed. Margaliot 778) cites this passage and reads כהנא דיהודאי, ‘one of the Jewish priests.’ Whether the use of a Greek title for a Samaritan scholar in this text reflects contemporary Samaritan usage remains unclear. Perhaps this wording expresses simply the author’s interest in using a foreign word. See on this also Emanuel Löw’s remarks in: Krauss ( 1966, vol. 2, p. 620), and see also Hirshman (2010, pp. 21–34, especially 23).
See Midrash Bereshit Rabbah 14:17 (ed. Theodor and Albeck 1965, p. 1222).
On the Aramaic name Shamrai (שמריי) in a different context compare Bereshit Rabbah 81:3 (ed. Theodor and Albeck 1965, p. 974). There the term Shamrai is used without any special connotations.
See on this the methodological observations by (Alon 1977, p. 354; Stern 1994, pp. 99–105; Magen 2008, pp. 71–75); see also Schiffman (2012). On a similar anti-Samaritan interpretation referring to genealogical details see Midrash Bereshit Rabbah 37,1 (ed. Theodor and Albeck 1965 p. 344) and see on this also Bohak (2001, pp. 301–3).
Compare Midrash Devarim Rabbah 3,6 (106a) and the slightly different version in Midrash Debarim Rabbah (ed. Lieberman, 79). A Samaritan tries to convince Rabbi Yonatan about the chosenness of Mount Gerizim, since according to his view the top of this mountain had not been covered by the primordial floods. See on this episode Heinemann (1974, p. 95).
See, e.g., tDemai 5,21 (ed. Lieberman, pp. 92–93); tAvodah Zarah 2,4 (ed. Zuckermandel, p. 462); bAvodah Zarah 20b; tAvodah Zarah 3,12 (ed. Zuckermandel, p. 464).
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