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Samaritan Pentateuch.

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This is one of the:most important relics of the Samaritan literature that have come down to our times. We therefore give it a large critical treatment, following the results of Gesenius's investigations, as they have been presented by Lee in his Prolegomena; Davidson, in Kitto's Cyclop.; and Deutsch, in Smith's Dict. of the Bible. The latter two, also giving the results of Kirchheim, we have especially used in this abstract, making such corrections and additions as appeared necessary. (See PENTATEUCH).

I. History It had been well known to early Jewish and Christian writers that a recension of the Pentateuch, differing in important respects from that in use among the Jews, was in possession of the Samaritan community. But these writers regarded it in a different light respectively. Thus the Jews treated it with contempt as a forgery. "You have falsified your law" תורתכ ם זייפת ם says R. Eliezer ben-Simeon (Jeremiah Sotah, 7, 3; Sotah, p. 33 b), "and you have not profited aught by it," referring to the insertion of the words "opposite Shechem" in Deuteronomy 11:30. On another occasion they are ridiculed on account of their ignorance of one of the simplest rules of Hebrew grammar, displayed in their Pentateuch, viz. the use of the ה locale (unknown, however, according to Jeremiah Meg. 6, 2, also to the people of Jerusalem). "Who has caused you to blunder?" said R. Simeon ben-Eliezer to them; referring to their abolition of the Mosaic ordinance of marrying the deceased brother's wife (Deuteronomy 25:5 sq.) through a misinterpretation of the passage in question, which enjoins that the wife of the dead man shall not be "without" to a stranger, but that the brother should marry her: they however, taking החוצה (=לחווֹ ) to be an epithet of אשת, "wife," translated "the outer wife," i.e. the betrothed only (Jeremiah Jebam. 1, 6; comp. Frankel, Vorstudien, p. 197 sq.).

Early Christian writers, on the other hand, speak of it with respect, in some cases even preferring its authority to that of the Mosaic text. Origen quotes it under the name of τὸ τῶν Σαμαρειτῶν ῾Εβραικόν, giving its various readings in the margin of his Hexapla (e.g. on Numbers 13:1; comp. 21:13, and Montfaucon, Hexapl. Prelim. p. 18 sq.). Eusebius of Caesarea, noticing the agreement in the chronology of the Sept. and Samaritan text as against the Hebrew, remarks that it was written in a character confessedly more ancient than that of the latter (1 Chronicles 16:1-11). Jerome (in Preface to Kings) also mentions this fact, and in his comment on Galatians 3:10 he upholds the genuineness of its text over that of the Masoretic one, but in his Quoest. in Genesis 4:8 he speaks more favorably of the Hebrew; while Georgius Syncellus, the chronologist of the 8th century, is most outspoken in his praise of it, terming it "the earliest and best even by the testimony of the Jews themselves" (τὸ τῶν Σαμαρείτῶν ἀρχαιότατον καὶ χαρακτῆρσι διάλλαττον καὶ ἀληθὲς ειναι καὶ πρῶτον ῾Εβραῖοι καθομολογοῦσιν [Chronogr. p. 851]).

Down to within the last two hundred and fifty years, however, no copy of this divergent code of laws had reached Europe, and it began to be pronounced a fiction, and the plain words of the Church fathers the better known authorities who quoted it were subjected to subtle interpretations. Suddenly, in 1616, Pietro della Valle, one of the first discoverers also of the cuneiform inscriptions, acquired a complete codex from the Samaritans in Damascus. In 1623 it was presented by Achille Harley de Sancy to the Library of the Oratory in Paris, and in 1628 there appeared a brief description of it by J. Morinus in his preface to the Roman text of the Sept. Three years later, shortly before it was published in the Paris Polyglot whence it was copied, with a few emendations from other codices, by Walton-Morinus, the first editor, wrote his Exercitationes Ecclesiasticoe in utrumque Samaritanorum Pentateuchum, in which he pronounced the newly found codex, with all its innumerable variants from the Masoretic text, to be infinitely superior to the latter; in fact, the unconditional and speedy emendation of the received text thereby was urged most authoritatively. And now the impulse was given to one of the fiercest and most barren literary and theological controversies, of which more anon. Between 1620 and 1630 six additional copies, partly complete, partly incomplete, were acquired by Usher; five of which he deposited in English libraries, while one was sent to De Dieu, and has disappeared mysteriously. Another codex, now in the Ambrosian Library at Milan, was brought to Italy in 1621. Peiresc procured two more, one of which was placed in the Royal Library of Paris, and one in the Barberini at Rome. Thus the number of MSS. in Europe gradually grew to sixteen. During the present century another, but very fragmentary, copy was acquired by the Gotha Library. A copy of the entire (?) Pentateuch, with Targum (? Samaritan version), in parallel columns (4to), on parchment, was brought from Nablus by Mr. Grove in 1861, for the count of Paris, in whose library it is. Single portions of the Samaritan Pentateuch, in a more or less defective state, are now of no rare occurrence in Europe. Of late the St. Petersburg Library has secured fragments of about three hundred Pentateuch MSS.

II. Description. Respecting the external condition of these MSS., it may be observed that their sizes vary from 12mo to folio, and that no scroll, such as the Jews and the Samaritans use in their synagogues, is to be found among them. The letters, which are of a size corresponding to that of the book, exhibit none of those varieties of shape so frequent in the Masoretic text; such as majuscules, minuscules, suspended, inverted letters, etc. Their material is vellum or cotton paper; the ink used is black in all cases save in the oldest scroll of the Samaritans at Nablits, the letters of which are in purple. There are neither vowels, accents, nor diacritical points. The individual words are separated from each other by a dot. Greater or smaller divisions of the text are marked by two dots placed one above the other, and by an asterisk. A small line above a consonant indicates a peculiar meaning of the word, an unusual form, a passive, and the like; it is, in fact, a contrivance to bespeak attention. For example, הֵנָה and הַנֵּה, עִר and עֵד, דֶבֶר and דָבָר, אִל and אֵל, יֵאָכֵל and יאֹכִל, יַקָרֵא and יַקְיָא, ש ׁ and שׂ, the suffixes at the end of a word, the ה without a dagesh, etc., are thus pointed out to the reader (comp. Kirchheim, p. 34).

The whole Pentateuch is divided into nine hundred and sixty-four paragraphs, or Kazzin, the termination of which is indicated by these figures, =, .., or <. At the end of each book the number of its divisions is stated thus:

(250) nv, vtam ]yjq . ]v>arh rpc hzh

(200), ytam " yn>h " "

(130), y>vl>v ham " y>yl>h " "

(218) xyv1 y " yiybrh " "

(166) ycv1 q " y>ymxh " "

The Samaritan Pentateuch is halved in Leviticus 7:15 (8:8, in Hebrew text), * where the words "Middle of the Torah" (פלגא דארהותא ) are found. At the end of each MS. the year of the copying, the name of the scribe, and also that of the proprietor are usually stated. Yet their dates are not always trustworthy when given, and very difficult to be conjectured when entirely omitted, since the Samaritan letters afford no internal evidence of the period in which they were written. To none of the MSS., however, which have as yet reached Europe can be assigned a higher date than the 10th Christian century. The scroll used in Nabls bears so the Samaritans pretend the following inscription:

"I, Abisha, son of Phinchas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest upon them be the grace of Jehovah in his honor have I written this Holy Law at the entrance of the Tabernacle of Testimony on the Mount Gerizim, even Beth El, in the thirteenth year of the taking possession of the land of Canaan, and all its boundaries around it, by the children of Israel. I praise Jehovah."

* Mr. Deutsch, who copied here Kirchheim (p. 36), has overlooked the latter's note, viz. that Leviticus 8:8 contains the two words which, according to the Masorites, constitute the middle of all the words in the Pentateuch. As it stands now it would lead to the supposition that Leviticus 7:15 of the Samaritan Pentateuch corresponds to 8:8 in the Hebrew text. (Letter of Meshalmah ben-Ab Sechuah, Cod. 19, 791, Add. MSS. Brit. Mus. in Heidenheim, 1, 88. Comp. Epist. Samuel Sichemitarum ad Jobusn Ludolphum [Cize, 1688]; Antiq. Eccl. Orient. p. 123; Huntingtoni Epist. p. 49, 56; Eichhorn, Repertorium f. bibl. und morg. Lit. vol. 9, etc.) But no European has fully succeeded in finding it in this scroll, however great the pains bestowed upon the search (comp. Eichhorn, Einleit. 2, 599); and even if it had been found, it would not have deserved the slightest credence. It would appear, however (see archdeacon Tattam's notice in the Parthenon, No. 4, May 24, 1862), that Mr. Levysohn, who was attached to the Russian staff in Jerusalem, has found the inscription in question "going through the middle of the body of the text of the Decalogue, and extending through three columns." Considering that the Samaritans themselves told Huntington "that this inscription had beeon in their scroll once, but must have been erased by some wicked hand" (comp. Eichhorn, ibid.), this startling piece of information must be received with extreme caution. Nevertheless, Lieut. Conder speaks as if he had actually seen the inscription on the venerable MS. (Tent Work in Palestine, 1, 50).

This venerable roll is written on parchment, in columns thirteen inches deep and seven and a half inches wide. The writing is in a good hand, but not nearly so large or beautiful as in many book copies which they possess. Each column contains from seventy to seventy-two lines, and the whole roll contains a hundred and ten columns. The skins of which the roll is made are of equal size, and each measures twenty-five inches in length by fifteen inches in width. In many places it is worn out and patched with rewritten parchment, and in many other places where not torn the writing is illegible. About two thirds of the original writing is still readable. The name of the scribe, we are told, is written in a kind of acrostic, and forms part of the text running through three columns of the book of Deuteronomy. In whatever light this statement may be regarded, the roll has the appearance of very great antiquity.

III. Critical Character. We have briefly stated above that the Exercitationes of J. Morin, which placed the Samaritan Pentateuch far above the received text in point of genuineness partly on account of its agreeing in many places with the Sept., and partly on account of its superior "lucidity and harmony" excited and kept up for nearly two hundred years one of the most extraordinary controversies on record. Characteristically enough, however, this was set at rest once for all by the very first systematic investigation of the point at issue. It would now appear as if the unquestioning rapture with which every new literary discovery was formerly hailed, the innate animosity against the Masoretic (Jewish) text, the general preference for the Sept., the defective state of Shemitic studies as if, we say, all these put together were not sufficient to account for the phenomenon that men of any critical acumen could for one moment not only place the Samaritan Pentateuch on a par with the Masoretic text, but even raise it, unconditionally, far above it. There was, indeed, another cause at work, especially in the first period of the dispute; it was a controversial spirit which prompted J. Morin and his followers, Cappellus and others, to prove to the Reformers what kind of value was to be attached to their authority the received form of the Bible, upon which, and which alone, they professed to take their stand. It was now evident that nothing short of the Divine Spirit, under the influence and inspiration of which the Scriptures were interpreted and expounded by the Roman Church, could be relied upon. On the other hand, most of the "Antimorinians" De Muis, Hottinger, Stephen Morin, Buxtorf, Fuller, Leusden, Pfeiffer, etc. instead of patiently and critically examining the subject and refuting their adversaries by arguments which were within their reach, as they are within ours, directed their attacks against the persons of the Morinians, and thus their misguided zeal left the question of the superiority of the new document over the old where they found it. Of higher value were. it is true, the labors of Simon, Le Clerc, Walton, etc., at a later period, who proceeded eclectically, rejecting many readings, and adopting others which seemed preferable to those of the old text. Houbigant, however, with unexampled ignorance and obstinacy, returned to Morinus's first notion already generally abandoned of the unquestionable and thorough superiority. He, again, was followed more or less closely by Kennicott, Alex. a St. Aquilino, Lobstein, Geddes, Bertholdt, and others. The discussion was taken up once more on the other side, chiefly by Ravius, who succeeded in finally disposing of this point of the superiority (Exercitatt. Phil. in Houbig. Prol. [Lugd. Bat. 1755]). It was from his day forward allowed, almost on all hands, that the Masoretic text was the genuine one; but that in doubtful cases, when the Samaritan had an "unquestionably clearer" reading, this was to be adopted, since a certain amount of value, however limited, did attach to it. Michaelis, Eichhorn, Jahn, and the majority of modern critics adhered to this opinion, Here the matter rested until 1815, when Gesenius (De Pent. Samuel Origine, Indole, et Auctoritate) abolished the remnant of the authority of the Samaritan Pentateuch. So masterly, lucid, and full are his arguments and his proofs that there has been, and will be, no further question as to the absence of all value in this recension, and in its pretended emendations. In fact, a glance at the systematic arrangement of the variations, of which he first of all bethought himself, is quite sufficient to convince the reader at once that they are for the most part mere blunders, arising from an imperfect knowledge of the first elements of grammar and exegesis. That others owe their existence to a studied design of conforming certain passages to the Samaritan mode of thought, speech, and faith more especially to show that the Mount Gerizim, upon which their temple stood, was the spot chosen and indicated by God to Moses as the one upon which he desired to be worshipped. Finally, that others are due to a tendency towards removing, as well as linguistic shortcomings would allow, all that seemed obscure or in any way doubtful, and towards filling up all apparent imperfections either by repetitions or by means of newly invented and badly fitting words and phrases. It must, however, be premised that, except two alterations (Exodus 13:6, where the Samaritan reads "Six days shalt thou eat unleavened bread," instead of the received "Seven days," and the change of the word תהיה "There shall not be," into תחיה, "live," Deuteronomy 23:18), the Mosaic laws and ordinances themselves are nowhere tampered with.

We will now proceed to lay specimens of these once so highly prized variants before the reader, in order that he may judge for himself. We shall follow in this the commonly received arrangement of Gesenius, who divides all these readings into eight classes:

1. The first class, then, consists of readings by which emendations of a grammatical nature have been attempted.

(a.) The quiescent letters, or so called matres lectionis, are supplied. Thus יַ ם is found in the Samar for אַּ ם of the Masoretic text; ות for אֹּת; יָו for אָּו; אליה ם for אֲלֵהֶ ם; מאורות for מאֹרֹת, etc.; sometimes a ו is put even where the Heb. text has, in accordance with the grammatical rules, only a short vowel or a sheva: חופניו is found for חָפְניו (Leviticus 16:12); אוניות for אַניות (Deuteronomy 28:68).

(b.) The more poetical forms of the pronouns, probably less known to the Samuel, are altered into the more common ones. Thus נחנו, ה ם, הָאֵל, become אנחנו, המה, האלה .

(c.) The same propensity for completing apparently incomplete forms is noticeable in the flexion of the verbs. The apocopated or short future is altered into the regular future. In this manner וִתִּגֵּד becomes ותגיד (Genesis 24:22); וִיָּמָת is emendated into וימות (Genesis 35:18); יֵרֶא (verb ל ה ) into יראה (Genesis 41:33); the final ן, of the 3d pers. fem. plur. fut., into נָה .

(d.) On the other hand, the paragogical letters ו and י at the end of nouns are almost universally struck out by the Samuel corrector; e.g. שוכני (Deuteronomy 33:16) is shortened into שוכן, חיתו into הית (Genesis 1:24); and, in the ignorance of the existence of nouns of a common gender, he has given them genders according to his fancy. Thus masculine are made the words לח ם (Genesis 49:20), שער (Deuteronomy 15:7, etc.), מהנה (Genesis 32:9); feminine the words אר וֹ (Genesis 13:6),! דר (Deuteronomy 28:25), נפש (Genesis 46:25. etc.); wherever the word נער . occurs in the sense of "girl," a ה is added at the end (24:14, etc.).

(e.) The infin. absol. is, in the quaintest manner possible, reduced to the form of the finite verb; so הלווִשוב וישובו, "the waters returned continually," is transformed into וישובו הלכו ושבו, "they returned, they went and they returned" (Genesis 8:3). Where the infin. is used as an adverb, e.g. הרחק (Genesis 21:16), "far off," it is altered into הרחיקה, "she went far away," which renders the passage almost unintelligible; or it is changed into a participle, as היודוע נדע (Genesis 43:7) into the meaningless הידע נ 8.

For obsolete or rare forms, the modern and more common ones have been substituted in a great number of places. Thus ערי ם for עיר ם (Genesis 3:10-11); ילד for ולד (Genesis 11:30); צפורי ם for the collective צפור (Genesis 15:10); אמות, "female servants," for אמהות (Genesis 20:18); וירא מנוחה כי טובה for the adverbial טוב (Genesis 49:15); בריחי for בריחי ם (Exodus 26:26, making it depend from עצי ); מַשָּׁ ם, in the unusual sense of "from it" (comp. 1 Kings 17:13), is altered into מַמֶּנָּה (Leviticus 2:2); חיה is wrongly put for חי (3d pers. sing. masc. of חיי =-is>); עי, the obsolete form, is replaced by the more recent עַיר (Numbers 21:15); the unusual fem. termination אַּי (comp. אביטל, אביגיל ) is elongated into אּית; שהו is the emendation for שֵׂיו . (Deuteronomy 22:1); הרי for הִרְרֵי (Deuteronomy 33:15), etc.

2. The second class of variations consists of glosses or interpretations received into the text glosses, moreover, in which the Samuel not unfrequently coincides with the Sept., the various versions, and Jewish commentaries, most of them therefore the result of exegetical tradition. Thus איש ואשה, "man and woman," used by Genesis 7:2 of animals, is changed into זכר ונקבה, "male and female;" שנאיו (Genesis 24:60), "his haters," becomes אויביו, "his enemies;" for מה (indefin.) is substituted מאומה; ירא, "he will see, choose," is amplified by לוֹ, "for himself;" הִגָּר, הִגֵּר is transformed into הגר אשר יגור (Leviticus 17:10); בלע ם וִיקָּר אלה 8 אל (Numbers 23:4), "And God met Bileam," becomes with the Samuel וימצִא מלאאִל את ב, "and an angel of the Lord found Bileam; על האשה (Genesis 20:3) for the woman," is amplified into האשה על אודת, "for the sake of the woman;" for ולנכדי, from נכד (obsol., comp. < >), is put לנגדי, "those that are before me,"in contradistinction to " those who will come after me;" וִתְּעִר,"and she emptied" (her pitcher into the trough, Genesis 24:20), has made room for ותוריד, "and she took down;" נועדתי שמה, "I will meet there" (A.V. Exodus 29:43), is made נדרשתי ש ם, "I shall be [searched] found there;" Numbers 31:15, before the words ההיית ם כל נקכה, "Have you spared the life of every female?" a לָמָּה, "Why," is inserted (Sept.); for כי ש ם יהוה אקרא (Deuteronomy 32:3), "If I call the name of Jehovah," the Samuel has בש ם, "In the name," etc.

3. The third class consists of conjectural emendations of difficulties; e.g. the elliptic use of ילד, frequent both in Hebrew and Arabic, being evidently unknown to the emendator, he alters the הלבן מאה שנה יַוָּלֵד (Genesis 17:17), "shall a child be born unto him that is a hundred years old?" into אוליד, "shall I beget?" Genesis 24:62, בא מבוא, "he came from going" (A.V. "from the way") to the well of Lahai-roi, the Samuel alters into בא במדבר, "in or through the desert" (Sept. διὰτῆς ἐρήμου ). In Genesis 30:34,!הֵן לו יהי כדברי, "Behold, may it be according to thy word," the לו (Arab. J) is transformed into לא, "and if not let it be like thy word." Genesis 41:32, ועל הַשָּׁנות החלו ם, "And for that the dream was doubled," becomes שנית ה ועלה, "The dream rose a second time," which is beth un-Hebrew and diametrically opposed to the sense and construction of the passage. Better is the emendation, Genesis 49:10, מַבֵּין רִגְלָיו, "from between his feet," into "from among his banners." מבין דגליו . Exodus 15:18, all but five of the Sam. codd. read ם ועוד לעול, "forever and longer," instead of ועד, the common form, "evermore." Exodus 34:7, יְנִקֶּה וְנִקֵּה לֹא, "that will by no means clear the sin," becomes וְנֹקֶה לוֹ יַנָּקֶה, "and the innocent to him shall be innocent," against both the parallel passages and the obvious sense. The somewhat difficult ולא יָסָפוּ, "and they did not cease" (A.V. Numbers 11:25), reappears as a still more obscure conjectural יֵאָסְפוּ, which we would venture to translate, "they were not gathered in," in the sense of "killed:" instead of either the אכנשו, "congregated," of the Samuel Vers., or Castell's "continuerunt," or Houbigant's and Dathe's "convenant." Numbers 21:28, the עָר, "Ar" (Moab), is emendated into עִד, "as far as," a perfectly meaningless reading; except that the עָר, "city," it seems, was a word unknown to the Samaritan. The somewhat uncommon words (Numbers 11:32) וישטחו לה ם שטוח, "and they (the people) spread them all abroad," are transposed into וישחטו לה ם שחוטה, "and they slaughtered for themselves a slaughter." Deuteronomy 28:37, the word לְשִׁמָּה, "an astonishment" (A.V.), very rarely used in this sense (Jeremiah 19:8; Jeremiah 25:9), becomes לְשֵׁ ם . "to a name," i.e. a bad name. Deuteronomy 33:6, מְתָיו מספר ויהי, "May his men be a multitude," the Samuel, with its characteristic aversion to, or, rather, ignorance of, the use of poetical diction, reads ויהי מֵאַתּו מספר, "May there be from him a multitude," thereby trying perhaps to encounter also the apparent difficulty of the word מספר, standing for "a great number." Anything more absurd than the מאתו in this place could hardly be imagined. A few verses farther on, the uncommon use of מַן. in the phrase מַן יְקוּמוּן (Deuteronomy 33:11), as "lest," "not," caused the no less unfortunate alteration מַי יְקַימֶנוּ, so that the latter part of the passage, "smite through the loins of them that rise against him, and of them that hate him, that they rise not again," becomes "who will raise them?" barren alike of meaning and of poetry. For the unusual and poetical דָּבְאֶךָ (Deuteronomy 33:25; A.V. "thy strength"),! רבי is suggested; a word about the significance of which the commentators are at a greater loss even than about that of the original.

4. The fourth class consists of those readings where the Samuel is corrected or supplied from parallel passages. Thus לא אעשה (Genesis 18:29) becomes אשחית לא, according to Genesis 18:28. Proper names, which are variously written in Hebrew, are all conformed to one orthography, as יתרו, Moses's father-in-law. In Genesis 11:8, "and the tower" is added to the Hebrew text, taken from the fourth verse.

5. The fifth class consists of larger interpolations taken from parallels, in which whatever was said or done by Moses as recorded in a preceding passage is repeated; and whatever is said to have been commanded by God is repeated in as many words where it is recorded to have been carried into effect. In this way Exodus is much enlarged by interpolations from itself, or from Deuteronomy. Gesenius thinks that these insertions were made between the date of the Sept. and Origen, because the Alexandrian father mentions a passage of the kind (Pick, Horoe Samarit.).

6. The sixth class consists of corrections made in order to remove what was offensive in sentiment to the Samaritans, or what conveyed an improbable meaning in their view. Thus in the antediluvian times none begets his first son after he is 150 years of age. Hence, from Jared, Methuselah, and Lamech, 100 years are subtracted at the time they are said to have their first son. In the postdiluvian times none is allowed to beget a son till after he is fifty years old. Accordingly some years are subtracted from several patriarchs and added to others. To make this intelligible, we subjoin from our Horoe Samaritanoe the following table of the Hebrew and Samaritan chronology, and where the first column, marked A, gives the years before birth of son; the second, B, the rest of life; the third, C, the extent of whole life: ANTEDILUVIANS.
























































































Under this head falls the passage in Exodus 12:40 : "Now the sojourning of the children of Israel who dwelt in Egypt was 430 years." The Samuel has "The sojourning of the children of Israel and their fathers who dwelt in the land of Canaan and in the land of Egypt was 430 years." The same reading is in the Sept. (cod. Alex. and Josephus; comp. also Galatians 3:17). In Copyright Statement
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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Samaritan Pentateuch.'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​s/samaritan-pentateuch.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
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