Friday, April 18, 2014

The "Other" Passover Commemoration --
The Samaritans Still Sacrifice the Pascal Lamb
(Updated from two years ago)

Samaritan high priest Yitzhak ben Amram
ben Shalma ben Tabia (circa 1900). View
other pictures of priests here and here
The Samaritan population in the Land of Israel numbered more than a million people 1,500 years ago, according to some estimates.  This ancient people lived in northern Israel and claimed to have been descendants of those tribes of Israel which were not sent out into the Babylonian exile.  One line of Samaritans traces their lineage back to Aaron the priest, and they consider their "holy mountain" to be Mt. Gerizim outside of Nablus (Shechem) -- not Jerusalem.  

Samaritan family (1899)

The Samaritans worship the God of Abraham, revere a scroll comparable to the five books of Moses, and maintain Passover customs, including the sacrifice of the Pascal Lamb. 

Samaritan synagogue in Shechem
(1899). Also view here

Jews ceased the Passover sacrifice with the destruction of the second Temple.

Already in Talmudic days, Jewish authorities rejected the Samaritans' claims to be part of the Jewish people. The Cutim, according to rabbinic authorities, arrived in the Land of Israel around 720 BCE with the Assyrians from Cuth, believed to be located in today's Iraq.

Over the millennia, the Samaritans almost disappeared.  Persecuted, massacred and forcibly converted by Byzantine Christians and by Islamic authorities, the Samaritans' community today numbers fewer than 1,000 who are located on Mount Gerizim near Nablus (Shechem) and in Holon, Israel.

Baking matza on Mt. Gerizim (circa 1900)

 This year, the Samaritans celebrated their Passover on Sunday, April, 13, 2014.

Preparing a lamb (1900)

The photographers of the American Colony photographed dozens of pictures of the Samaritans' sacrificial service.  Their photos, and other early photographers can be found in the Library of Congress online archives.

"The prepared carcasses
ready for the oven" (1900)

Praying on Mt. Gerizim (1900)

According to Samaritan officials, the community totals 751 persons.  Here is the breakdown with the first figure showing the number near Nablus (Shechem) and the second number showing the number living in Holon.

On January 1, 2012, the Community numbered 751 persons [353 in Kiryat Luza-Mount Gerizim, Samaria; 398 primarily in Holon in the State of Israel: 396 males [190:206] and 355 females [170: 185].  These included 350 married persons [158:192], 215 unmarried males [104:111], 153 unmarried females [70:83];  7 widowed men [4:3]; 23 widowed women [15:8]; 2 Divorced Men [0:2]; 1 Divorced Woman [0:1].

 Color photographs of a recent Passover sacrifice on Mt. Gerizim can be viewed here.

1 comment:

  1. Their "holy mountain"?
    Interesting, not because it isn't Mount Sinai, but because
    NO mountain - other than Har Habayit in Yeruhalayim -
    is holy.