Pentateuch, the Samaritan



1. In Older Times

2. Revived Knowledge


1. Nablus Roll

2. The Script

3. Peculiarities of Writing

4. The Tarikh

5. The Mode of Pronunciation

6. Age of the Nablus Roll


1. Relation to the Massoretic Text: Classification of Differences

(1) Examples of Accidental Variations

(a) Due to Mistakes of Sight

(b) Variations Due to Mistakes of Hearing

(c) Changes Due to Deficient Attention

(2) Intentional

(a) Grammatical

(b) Logical

(c) Doctrinal

2. Relation of Samaritan Recension to Septuagint

(1) Statement of Hypotheses

(2) Review of These Hypotheses




The existence of a Samaritan community in Nablus is generally known, and the fact that they have a recension of the Pentateuch which differs in some respects from the Massoretic has been long recognized as important.

I. Knowledge of Samaritan Pentateuch.

1. In Older Times:

Of the Greek Fathers Origen knew of it and notes two insertions which do not appear in the Massoretic Text--Nu 13:1 and Nu 21:12, drawn from De 1:2 and De 2:18. Eusebius of Caesarea in his Chronicon compares the ages of the patriarchs before Abraham in the Septuagint with those in the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Massoretic Text. Epiphanius is aware that the Samaritans acknowledged the Pentateuch alone as canonical. Cyril of Jerusalem notes agreement of Septuagint and Samaritan in Ge 4:8. These are the principal evidences of knowledge of this recension among the Greek Fathers. Jerome notes some omissions in the Massoretic Text and supplies them from the Samaritan Text. The Talmud shows that the Jews retained a knowledge of the Samaritan Pentateuch longer, and speaks contemptuously of the points in which it differs from the Massoretic Text. Since the differences observed by the Fathers and the Talmudists are to be seen in the Samaritan Pentateuch before us, they afford evidence of its authenticity.

2. Revived Knowledge:

After nearly a millennium of oblivion the Samaritan Pentateuch was restored to the knowledge of Christendom by Pietro de la Valle who in 1616 purchased a copy from the Samaritan community which then existed in Damascus. This copy was presented in 1623 to the Paris Oratory and shortly after published in the Paris Polyglot under the editorship of Morinus, a priest of the Oratory who had been a Protestant. He emphasized the difference between the Massoretic Text and Samaritan Pentateuch for argumentative reasons, in order to prove the necessity for the intervention of the church to settle which was Scripture. A fierce controversy resulted, in which various divines, Protestant and Catholic, took part. Since then copies of this recension have multiplied in Europe and America. All of them may be regarded as copies ultimately of the Nablus roll. These copies are in the form, not of rolls, but of codices or bound volumes. They are usually written in two columns to the page, one being the Targum or interpretation and this is sometimes in Aramaic and sometimes in Arabic. Some codices show three columns with both Targums. There are probably nearly 100 of these codices in various libraries in Europe and America. These are all written in the Samaritan script and differ only by scribal blunders.

II. Codices and Script.

1. Nablus Roll:

The visitor to the Samaritans is usually shown an ancient roll, but only rarely is the most ancient exhibited, and when so exhibited still more rarely is it in circumstances in which it may be examined.

Dr. Mills, who spent three months in the Samaritan community, was able to make a careful though interrupted study of it. His description (Nablus and the Modern Samaritans, 312) is that "the roll is of parchment, written in columns, 13 inches deep, and 7 1/2 inches wide. The writing is in a fair hand, rather small; each column contains from 70 to 72 lines, and the whole roll contains 110 columns. The name of the scribe is written in a kind of acrostic, running through these columns, and is found in the Book of Deuteronomy The roll has the appearance of very great antiquity, but is wonderfully well preserved, considering its venerable age. It is worn out and torn in many places and patched with re-written parchment; in many other places, where not torn, the writing is unreadable. It seemed to me that about two-thirds of the original is still readable. The skins of which the roll is composed are of equal size and measure each 25 inches long by 15 inches wide." Dr. Rosen's account on the authority of Kraus (Zeitschr. der deulschmorgenl. Gesellsch., XVIII, 582) agrees with this, adding that the "breadth of the writing is a line and the space between is similar." Both observers have noted that the parchment has been written only on the "hair" side. It is preserved in a silk covering enclosed in a silver case embossed with arabesque ornaments.

2. The Script:

The reader on opening one of the codices of the Samaritan Pentateuch recognizes at once the difference of the writing from the characters in an ordinary Hebrew Bible. The Jews admit that the character in which the Samaritan Pentateuch is written is older than their square character. It is said in the Talmud (Sanhedhrin 21b): "The law at first was given to Israel in `ibhri letters and in the holy tongue and again by Ezra in the square ('ashurith) character and the Aramaic tongue. Israel chose for themselves the 'ashurith character and the holy tongue: they left to the hedhyoToth ("uncultured") the `ibhri character and the Aramaic tongue--`the Cuthaeans are the hedhyoToth,' said Rabbi Chasda." When Jewish hatred of the Samaritans, and the contempt of the Pharisees for them are remembered, this admission amounts to a demonstration. The Samaritan script resembles that on the Maccabean coins, but is not identical with it. It may be regarded as between the square character and the angular, the latter as is seen in the manuscript and the Siloam inscription. Another intermediate form, that found on the Assouan papyri, owes the differences it presents to having been written with a reed on papyrus. As the chronology of these scripts is of importance we subjoin those principally in question.

The study of these alphabets. will confirm the statement above made that the Samaritan alphabet is, in evolution, between the square character and the angular, nearer the latter than the former, while the characters of the Assouan papyri are nearer the former than the latter. Another point to be observed is that the letters which resemble each other in one alphabet do not always resemble in another. We can thus, from comparison of the letters liable to be confused, form a guess as to the script in which the document containing the confusion written.

3. Peculiarities in Writing:

In inscriptions the lapidary had no hesitation, irrespective of syllables, in completing in the next line any word for which he had not sufficient room. Thus, the beginnings and endings of lines were directly under each other, as on the MS. In the papyri the words are not divided, but the scribe was not particular to have the ends of lines directly under each other. The scribe of the square character by use of literae dilatabiles secured this without dividing the words. The Samaritan secured this end by wider spacing. The first letter or couple of letters of each line are placed directly under the first letter or letters of the preceding line--so with the last letters--two or three--of the line, while the other words are spread out to fill up the space. The only exception to this is a paragraph ending. Words are separated from each other by dots; sentences by a sign like our colon. The Torah is divided into 966 qisam or paragraphs. The termination of these is shown by the colon having a dot added to it, thus:. Sometimes this is reinforced by a line and an angle. These qisam are often enumerated on the margin; sometimes, in later manuscripts in Arabic numerals. A blank space sometimes separates one of these qisam from the next.

4. The Tarikh:

When the scribe wished to inform the reader of his personality and the place where he had written the manuscript he made use of a peculiar device. In copying he left a space vacant in the middle of a column. The space thus left is every now and then bridged by a single letter. These letters read down the column form words and sentences which convey the information. In the case of the Nablus roll this tarikh occurs in Deuteronomy and occupies three columns. In this it is said, "I Abishua, son of Pinhas (Phinehas), son of Eleazar, son of Aharun (Aaron) the priest, have written this holy book in the door of the tabernacle of the congregation in Mt. Gerizim in the 13th year of the rule of the children of Israel in the land of Canaan." Most of the codices in the libraries of Europe and America have like information given in a similar manner. This tarikh is usually Hebrew, but sometimes it is in the Samaritan Aramaic. Falsification of the date merely is practically impossible; the forgery must be the work of the first scribe.

5. The Mode of Pronunciation:

Not only has the difference of script to be considered, but also the different values assigned to the letters. The names given to the letters differ considerably from the Hebrew, as may be seen above. There are no vowel points or signs of reduplication. Only B and P of the BeGaDH-KePHaTH letters are aspirated. The most singular peculiarity is that none of the gutturals is pronounced at all--a peculiarity which explains some of the names given to the letters. This characteristic appears all the more striking when it is remembered how prominent gutturals are in Arabic, the everyday language of the Samaritans. The Ge 1:1-5 are subjoined according to the Samaritan pronunciation, as taken down by Petermann (Versuch einer hebr. Formenlehre, 161), from the reading of Amram the high priest: Barashet bara Eluwem it ashshamem wit aarets. Waarets ayata-te'u ube'u waashek al fani .... turn uru Eluwem amra, efet al fani ammem waya'mer Eluwem ya'i or way'ai or wayere Eluwem it a' or ki tov wayabdel Eluwem bin a'ir ubin aashek uyikra Eluwem la'or yom ula 'ashek qara lila. Uyai `erev uyai beqar yom a'ad.

6. Age of the Nablus Roll:

There is no doubt that if the inscription given above is really in the manuscript it is a forgery written on the skin at the first. Of its falsity also there is no doubt. The Tell el-Amarna Letters sent from Canaan and nearly contemporary with the Israelite conquest of the land were impressed with cuneiform characters and the language was Babylonian. Neglecting the tarikh, we may examine the matter independently and come to certain conclusions. If it is the original from which the other manuscripts have been copied we are forced to assume a date earlier at least than the 10th century AD, which is the date of the earliest Hebrew MS. The script dates from the Hasmoneans. The reason of this mode of writing being perpetuated in copying the Law must be found in some special sanctity in the document from which the copies were made originally. Dr. Mills seems almost inclined to believe the authenticity of the tarikh. His reasons, however, have been rendered valueless by recent discoveries. Dr. Cowley, on the other hand, would date it somewhere about the 12th century AD, or from that to the 14th. With all the respect due to such a scholar we venture to think his view untenable. His hypothesis is that an old manuscript was found and the tarikh now seen in it was afterward added. That, however, is impossible unless a new skin--the newness of which would be obvious--had been written over and inserted. Even the comparatively slight change implied in turning Ishmael into Israel in the tarikh in the Nablus roll necessitates a great adjustment of lines, as the letters of the tarikh must read horizontally as well as perpendicularly. If that change were made, the date would then be approximately 650 AD, much older than Cowley's 12th century. There is, however, nothing in this to explain the sanctity given to this MS. There is a tradition that the roll was saved from fire, that, it leaped out of the fire in the presence of Nebuchadnezzar. If it were found unconsumed when the temple on Mt. Gerizim was burned by John Hyrcanus I, this would account for the veneration in which it is held. It would account also for the stereotyping of the script. The angular script prevailed until near the time of Alexander the Great. In it or in a script akin to it the copy of the Law must have been written which Manasseh, the son-in-law of Sanballat, brought to Samaria. The preservation of such a copy would be ascribed to miracle and the script consecrated.

III. Relation of the Samaritan Recension to the Massoretic Text and to the Septuagint.

1. Relation to Massoretic Text: Classification of Differences:

While the reader of the Samaritan Pentateuch will not fail to observe its practical identity with the Massoretic Text, closer study reveals numerous, if minor, differences.

These differences were classified by Gesenius. Besides being illogical, his classification is faulty, as founded on the assumption that the Samaritan Pentateuch text is the later. The same may be said of Kohn's. We would venture on another classification of these variations, deriving the principle of division from their origin. These variations were due either to (1) accident or (2) intention. (1) The first of these classes arose from the way in which books were multiplied in ancient days. Most commonly one read and a score of scribes, probably slaves, wrote to this dictation. Hence, errors might arise (a) when from similarity of letters the reader mistook one word for another. (b) If the reader's pronunciation was not distinct the scribes might mis-hear and therefore write the word amiss. (c) Further, if the reader began a sentence which opened in a way that generally was followed by certain words or phrases, he might inadvertently conclude it, not in the way it was written before him, but in the customary phrase. In the same way the scribe through defective attention might also blunder. Thus the accidental variations may be regarded as due to mistakes of sight, hearing and attention. (2) Variations due to intention are either (a) grammatical, the removal of peculiarities and conforming them to usage, or (b) logical, as when a command having been given, the fulfillment is felt to follow as a logical necessity and so is narrated, or, if narrated, is omitted according to the ideas of the scribe; (c) doctrinal changes introduced into the text to suit the doctrinal position of one side or other. Questions of propriety also lead to alterations--these may be regarded as quasi-doctrinal.

(1) Examples of Accidental Variations.

(a) Due to Mistakes of Sight:

The cause of mistakes of sight is the likeness of differing letters. These, however, differ in different scripts, as may be proved by consideration of the table of alphabets. Some of these mistakes found in connection with the Samaritan Pentateuch appear to be mistakes due to the resemblance of letters in the Samaritan script. Most of these are obvious blunders; thus, in Ge 19:32, we have the meaningless tabhinu instead of 'abhini, "our father," from the likeness of the Samaritan "t" to "a." In Ge 25:29 we have tsazedh instead of yazedh, "to seethe," because of the likeness of a Samaritan "ts", to "y" or "i". These, while in Blayney's transcription of Walton's text, are not in Petermann or the Samaritan Targum. The above examples are mistakes in Samaritan manuscripts, but there are mistakes also in the Massoretic Text. In Ge 27:40 the Revised Version (British and American) rendering is "When thou shalt break loose, thou shalt shake his yoke from off thy neck." This rendering does violence to the sense of both verbs and results in a tautology. In the Hiphil the first verb rudh ought to mean "to cause to wander," not "to break loose," and the second verb paraq means "to break," not "to shake off." The Samaritan has "When thou shalt be mighty, thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck." The Massoretic Text mistake may be due to the confounding of the Samaritan "a" with a "t", and the transposition of a Samaritan "d" and "b". The verb 'adhar, "to be strong," is rare and poetic, and so unlikely to suggest itself to reader or scribe. The renderings of the Septuagint and Peshitta indicate confusion. There are numerous cases, however, where the resembling letters are not in the Samaritan script, but sometimes in the square character and sometimes in the angular. Some characters resemble each other in both, but not in the Samaritan. The cases in which the resemblance is only in letters in the square script may all be ascribed to variation in the Massoretic Text. Cases involving the confusion of waw and yodh are instances in point. It may be said that every one of the instances of variation which depends on confusion of these letters is due to a blunder of a Jewish scribe, e.g. Ge 25:13, where the Jewish scribe has written nebhith instead of nebhdyoth (Nebaioth) as usual; Ge 36:5, where the Jewish scribe has ye`ish instead of ye`ush (Jeush), as in the Qere. In Ge 46:30, by writing re'othi instead of ra'ithi, the Jewish scribe in regard to the same letters has made a blunder which the Samaritan scribe has avoided. When d and r are confused, it must not be ascribed to the likeness in the square script, for those letters are alike in the angular also. As the square is admitted to be later than the date of the Samaritan script, these confusions point to a manuscript in angular. There are, however, confusions which apply only to letters alike in angular. Thus, binyamim, invariably in the Samaritan Pentateuch Benjamin, binyamin, is written Benjamin; also in Ex 1:11 pithon instead of pithom, but "m" and "n" are alike only in the script of the Siloam inscription. In De 12:21, the Samaritan has leshakken, as the Massoretic Text has in De 12:11, whereas the Massoretic Text has lasum. A study of the alphabets on p. 2314 will show the close resemblance between waw (w) and kaph (k) in the Siloam script, as well as the likeness above mentioned between "m" and "n". This points to the fact that the manuscripts from which the Massoretic Text and the Samaritan were transcribed in some period of their history were written in angular of the type of the Siloam inscription, that is to say of the age of Hezekiah.

(b) Variations Due to Mistakes of Hearing:

The great mass of these are due to one of two sources, either on the one hand the insertion or omission of waw and yodh, so that the vowel is written plenum or the reverse, or, on the other hand, to the mistake of the gutturals. Of the former class of variations there are dozens in every chapter. The latter also is fairly frequent, and is due doubtless to the fact that in the time when the originals of the present manuscripts were transcribed the gutturals were not pronounced at all. Ge 27:36 shows 'aleph (') and he (h) interchanged, he (h) and cheth (ch) in Ge 41:45, cheth (ch) for `ayin (`) in Ge 49:7, and 'aleph (') and `ayin (`) in Ge 23:18, in many Samaritan manuscripts, but the result is meaningless. This inability to pronounce the gutturals points to a date considerably before the Arab domination. Possibly this avoidance of the gutturals became fashionable during the Roman rule, when the language of law was Latin, a language without gutturals. A parallel instance may be seen in Aquila, who does not transliterate any gutturals. This loss of the gutturals may be connected with the fact that in Assyrian 'aleph (') is practically the only guttural. The colonists from Assyria might not unlikely be unable to pronounce the gutturals.

(c) Changes Due to Deficient Attention:

Another cause of variation is to be found in reader or scribe not attending sufficiently to the actual word or sentence seen or heard. This is manifested in putting for a word its equivalent. In Ge 26:31 the Samaritan has lere`ehu, "to his friend," instead of as the Massoretic Text le'achiw, "to his brother," and in Ex 2:10 Samaritan has na`ar for yeledh in Massoretic Text. In such cases it is impossible to determine which represents the original text. We may remark that the assumption of Gesenius and of such Jewish writers as Kohn that the Massoretic Text is always correct is due to mere prejudice. More important is the occasional interchange of YHWH and 'Elohim, as in Ge 28:4, where Samaritan has YHWH and the Massoretic Text 'Elohim, and Ge 7:1 where it has 'Elohim against YHWH in the Massoretic Text. This last instance is the more singular, in that in the 9th verse of the same chapter the Massoretic Text has 'Elohim and the Samaritan YHWH. Another class of instances which may be due to the same cause is the completion of a sentence by adding a clause or, it may be, dropping it from failure to observe it to be incomplete, as Ge 24:45. If the Massoretic Text be the original text, the Samaritan adds the clause "a little water from thy pitcher"; if the Samaritan, then the Massoretic Text has dropped it.

(2) Intentional.

(a) Grammatical:

The variations from the Massoretic Text most frequently met with in reading the Samaritan Pentateuch are those necessary to conform the language to the rules of ordinary grammar. In this the Samaritan frequently coincides with the Qere of the Massoretic Text. The Kethibh of the Massoretic Text has no distinction in gender between hu' in the 3rd personal pronoun singular--in both masculine and feminine it is hu'. The Samaritan with the Qere corrects this to hi'. So with na`ar, "a youth"--this is common in the Kethibh, but in the Qere when a young woman is in question the feminine termination is added, and so the Samaritan writers also. It is a possible supposition that this characteristic of the Torah is late and due to blundering peculiar to the manuscript from which the Massoretes copied the Kethibh. That it is systematic is against its being due to blunder, and as the latest Hebrew books maintain distinction of gender, we must regard this as an evidence of antiquity. This is confirmed by another set of variations between the Samaritan and the Massoretic Text. There are, in the latter, traces of case-endings which have disappeared in later Hebrew. These are removed in the Samaritan. That case terminations have a tendency to disappear is to be seen in English and French The sign of the accusative, 'eth, frequently omitted in the Massoretic Text, is generally supplied in Samaritan. A short form of the demonstrative pronoun plural ('el instead of 'ellah) is restricted to the Pentateuch and 1Ch 20:8. The syntax of the cohortative is different in Samaritan from that in the Massoretic Hebrew. It is not to be assumed that the Jewish was the only correct or primitive use. There are cases where, with colloquial inexactitude, the Massoretic Text has joined a plural noun to a singular verb, and vice versa; these are corrected in Samaritan. Conjugations which in later Hebrew have a definite meaning in relation to the root, but are used in the Massoretic Text of the Torah in quite other senses, are brought in the Samaritan Pentateuch into harmony with later use. It ought in passing to be noted that these pentateuchal forms do not occur in the Prophets; even in Jos 2:15 we have the feminine Jos 3:1-17rd personal pronoun; in Jg 19:3 we have na`arah.

(b) Logical:

Sometimes the context or the circumstances implied have led to a change on one side or another. This may involve only the change of a word, as in Ge 2:2, where the Samaritan has "sixth" instead of "seventh" (Massoretic Text), in this agreeing with the Septuagint and Peshitta, the Jewish scribe thinking the "sixth day" could only be reckoned ended when the "seventh' had begun. In Ge 4:8, after the clause, "And Cain talked with (said to) Abel his brother," the Samaritan, Septuagint and Peshitta add, "Let us go into the field." From the evidence of the VSS, from the natural meaning of the verb 'amar, "to say," not "to speak," from the natural meaning also of the preposition 'el, "to," not "with" (see Gesenius), it is clear that the Massoretic Text has dropped the clause and that the Samaritan represents the true text. If this is not the case, it is a case of logical completion on the part of the Samaritan. Another instance is the addition to each name in the genealogy in Ge 11:10-24 of the sum of the years of his life. In the case of the narrative of the plagues of Egypt a whole paragraph is added frequently. What has been commanded Moses and Aaron is repeated as history when they obey.

(c) Doctrinal:

There are cases in which the text so suits the special views of the Samaritans concerning the sanctity of Gerizim that alteration of the original in that direction may be supposed to be the likeliest explanation. Thus there is inserted at Ge 20:18 a passage from De 27:2 slightly modified: Gerizim being put for Ebal, the object of the addition being to give the consecration of Gerizim the sanction of the Torah. Kennicott, however, defends the authenticity of this passage as against the Massoretic Text. Insertion or omission appears to be the result of doctrinal predilection. In Nu 25:4-5 the Samaritan harmonizes the command of Yahweh with the action of Moses. The passage removed has a bloodthirsty Moloch-like look that might seem difficult to defend. On the other hand, the Jewish hatred of idolatry might express itself in the command to "take all the heads of the people and hang them up before the Lord against the sun," and so might be inserted. There are cases also where the language is altered for reasons of propriety. In these cases the Samaritan agrees with the Qere of the Massoretic Text.

These variations are of unequal value as evidences of the relative date of the Samaritan recension of the Pentateuch. The intentional are for this purpose of little value; they are evidence of the views prevalent in the northern and southern districts of Palestine respectively. Only visual blunders are of real importance, and they point to a date about the days of Hezekiah as the time at which the two recensions began to diverge. One thing is obvious, that the Samaritan, at least as often as the Massoretic Text, represents the primitive text.

2. Relation of Samaritan Recension to Septuagint:

(1) Statement of Hypotheses.

The frequency with which the points in which the Samaritan Pentateuch differs from the Massoretic Text agree with those in which the Septuagint also differs has exercised scholars. Castelli asserts that there are a thousand such instances. It may be noted that in one instance, at any rate, a passage in which the Samaritan and the Septuagint agree against the Massoretic Text has the support of the New Testament. In Ga 3:17, the apostle Paul, following the Samaritan and Septuagint against the Massoretic Text, makes the "430 years" which terminated with the exodus begin with Abraham. As a rule the attention of Biblical scholars has been so directed to the resemblances between the Samaritan and the Septuagint that they have neglected the more numerous points of difference. So impressed have scholars been, especially when Jews, by these resemblances that they have assumed that the one was dependent on the other. Frankel has maintained that the Samaritan was translated from the Septuagint. Against this is the fact that in all their insulting remarks against them the Talmudists never assert that the "Cuthaeans" (Samaritans) got their Torah from the Greeks. Further, even if they only got the Law through Manasseh, the son-in-law of Sanballat, and even if he lived in the time of Alexander the Great, yet this was nearly half a century before the earliest date of the Septuagint. Again, while there are many evidences in the Septuagint that it has been translated from Hebrew, there are none in the Samaritan that it has been translated from Greek The converse hypothesis is maintained by Dr. Kohn with all the emphasis of extended type. His hypothesis is that before the Septuagint was thought of a Greek translation was made from a Samaritan copy of the Law for the benefit of Samaritans resident in Egypt. The Jews made use of this at first, but when they found it wrong in many points, they purposed a new translation, but were so much influenced by that to which they were accustomed that it was only an improved edition of the Samaritan which resulted. But it is improbable that the Samaritans, who were few and who had comparatively little intercourse with Egypt, should precede the more numerous Jews with their huge colonies in Egypt, in making a Greek translation. It is further against the Jewish tradition as preserved to us by Josephus. It is against the Samaritan tradition as learned by the present writer from the Samaritan high priest. According to him, the Samaritans had no independent translation, beyond the fact that five of the Septuagint were Samaritan. Had there been any excuse for asserting that the Samaritans were the first translators, that would not have disappeared from their traditions.

(2) Review of These Hypotheses.

The above unsatisfactory explanations result from deficient observation and unwarranted assumption. That there are many cases where the Samaritan variations from the Massoretic Text are identical with those of the Septuagint is indubitable. It has, however, not been observed by those Jewish scholars that the cases in which the Samaritan alone or the Septuagint alone (one or the other) agrees with the Massoretic Text against the other, are equally numerous. Besides, there are not a few cases in which all three differ. It ought to be observed that the cases in which the Septuagint differs from the Massoretic Text are much more numerous than those in which the Samaritan differs from it. One has only to compare the Samaritan, Septuagint and Massoretic Text of any half a dozen consecutive chapters in the Pentateuch to prove this. Thus neither is dependent on the others. Further, there is the unwarranted assumption that the Massoretic Text represents the primitive text of the Law. If the Massoretic Text is compared with the VSS, it is found that the Septuagint, despite the misdirected efforts of Origen to harmonize it to the Palestinian text, differs in very many cases from the Massoretic Text. Theodotion is nearer, but still differs in not a few cases. Jerome is nearer still, though even the text behind the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) is not identical with the Massoretic Text. It follows that the Massoretic Text is the result of a process which stopped somewhere about the end of the 5th century AD. The origin of the Massoretic Text appears to have been somewhat the result of accident. A manuscript which had acquired a special sanctity as belonging to a famous rabbi is copied with fastidious accuracy, so that even its blunders are perpetuated. This supplies the Kethibh. Corrections are made from other manuscripts, and these form the Qere. If our hypothesis as to the age of the Nablus roll is correct, it is older than the Massoretic Text by more than half a millennium, and the manuscript from which the Septuagint was translated was nearly a couple of centuries older still. So far then from its being a reasonable assumption that the Septuagint and Samaritan differ from the Massoretic Text only by blundering or willful corruption on the part of the former, the converse is at least as probable. The conclusion then to which we are led is that of Kennicott (State of Hebrew Text Dissertation, II, 164) that the Samaritan and Septuagint being independent, "each copy is invaluable--each copy demands our pious veneration and attentive study." It further ought to be observed that though Dr. Kohn points to certain cases where the difference between the Massoretic Text and the Septuagint is due to confusion of letters only possible in Samaritan character, this does not prove the Septuagint to have been translated from a Samaritan MS, but that the manuscripts of the Massoretic Text used by the Septuagint were written in that script. Kohn also exhibits the relation of the Samaritan to the Peshitta. While the Peshitta sometimes agrees with the Samaritan where it differs from the Massoretic Text, more frequently it supports the Massoretic Text against the Samaritan.

IV. Bearing on the Pentateuchal Question.

Josephus (Ant., XI, viii, 2) makes Sanballat contemporary with Alexander the Great, and states that his son-in-law Manasseh came to Samaria and became the high priest. Although it is not said by Josephus, it is assumed by critics that he brought the completed Torah with him. This Manasseh is according to Josephus the grandson of Eliashib the high priest, the contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah, and therefore contemporary with Artaxerxes Longimanus. Nehemiah (13:28) mentions, without naming him, a grandson of Eliashib, who was son-in-law of Sanballat, whom he chased from him. It is clear that Josephus had dropped a century out of his history, and that the migration of Manasseh is to be placed not circa 335 BC, but circa 435 BC. Ezra is reputed to be, if not the author of the Priestly Code in the Pentateuch, at all events its introducer to the Palestinians, and to have edited the whole, so that it assumed the form in which we now have it. But he was the contemporary of Manasseh, and had been, by his denunciation of foreign marriages, the cause of the banishment of Manasseh and his friends. Is it probable that he, Manasseh, would receive as Mosaic the enactments of Ezra, or convey them to Samaria? The date of the introduction of the Priestly Code (P), the latest portion of the Law, must accordingly be put considerably earlier than it is placed at present. We have seen that there are visual blunders that can be explained only on the assumption that the manuscript from which the mother Samaritan roll was copied was written in some variety of angular script. We have seen, further, that the peculiarities suit those of the Siloam inscription executed in the reign of Hezekiah, therefore approximately contemporary with the priest sent by Esarhaddon to Samaria to teach the people "the manner of the God of the land." As Amos and Hosea manifest a knowledge of the whole Pentateuch before the captivity, it would seem that this "Book of the Law" that was "read (Am 4:5, the Septuagint) without," which would be the source from which the priest sent from Assyria taught as above "the manner of the God of the land," would contain all the portions--J, E, D, and P--of the Law. If so, it did not contain the Book of Josh; notwithstanding the honor they give the conqueror of Canaan, the Samaritans have not retained the book which relates his exploits. This is confirmed by the fact that the archaisms in the Massoretic Text of the Pentateuch are not found in Josh. It is singular, if the Prophets were before the Law, that in the Law there should be archaisms which are not found in the Prophets. From the way the divine names are interchanged, as we saw, sometimes 'Elohim in the Samaritan represents YHWH in the Massoretic Text, sometimes vice versa, it becomes obviously impossible to lay any stress on this. This conclusion is confirmed by the yet greater frequency with which this interchange occurs in the Septuagint. The result of investigation of the Samaritan Pentateuch is to throw very considerable doubt on the validity of the critical opinions as to the date, origin and structure of the Pentateuch

V. Targums and Chronicle.

As above noted, there are two Targums or interpretations of the Samaritan Pentateuch, an Aramaic and an Arabic. The Aramaic is a dialect related to the Western Aramaic, in which the Jewish Targums were written, sometimes called Chaldee. It has in it many strange words, some of which may be due to the language of the Assyrian colonists, but many are the result of blunders of copyists ignorant of the language. It is pretty close to the original and is little given to paraphrase. Much the same may be said of the Arabic Targum. It is usually attributed to Abu Said of the 13th century, but according to Dr. Cowley only revised by him from the Targum of Abulhassan of the 11th century. There is reference occasionally in the Fathers to a Samaritikon which has been taken to mean a Greek version. No indubitable quotations from it survive--what seem to be so being really translations of the text of the Samaritan recension. There is in Arabic a wordy chronicle called "The Book of Joshua." It has been edited by Juynboll. It may be dated in the 13th century. More recently a "Book of Joshua" in Hebrew and written in Samaritan characters was alleged to be discovered. It is, however, a manifest forgery; the characters in which it is written are very late. It is partly borrowed rom the canonical Josh, and partly from the older Samaritan Book of Joshua with fabulous additions. The Chronicle of Abulfatach is a tolerably accurate account of the history of the Samaritans after Alexander the Great to the 4th century AD.


The text in the Samaritan script is found in the polyglots--Paris and London. Walton's text in the London Polyglot is transcribed in square characters by Blayney, Oxford, 1790. The English works of importance of recent times are Mills, Nablus and the Samaritans, London, 1864; Nutt, Fragments of a Samaritan Targum, London, 1874; Montgomery, The Samaritans, Philadelphia, 1907 (this has a very full bibliography which includes articles in periodicals); Iverach Munro. The Samaritan Pentateuch and Modern Criticism, 1911, London. In Germany, Gesenius' dissertation, De Pentateuchi Samaritani origine, etc., Jena, 1815, has not quite lost its value; Kohn, De Pentateucho Samaritano, Leipzig, 1865; Petermann, Versuch einer hebr. Formenlehre nach der Aussprache der heutigen Samaritaner, Leipzig, 1868. There are besides articles on this in the various Biblical Dictionaries and Encyclodedias. In the numerous religious and theological periodicals there have been articles on the Samaritan Pentateuch of varying worth. The Aramaic Targum has been transcribed in square characters and edited by Brull (Frankfort, 1875).

J. E. H. Thompson

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