Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Samaritans and Kenites

 

Samaritan Aramaic, or Samaritan, is the dialect of Aramaic used by the Samaritans in their sacred and scholarly literature. This should not be confused with the Samaritan Hebrew language of the Scriptures. It ceased to be a spoken language some time between the 10th and the 12th centuries. In form it resembles the Aramaic of the Targumim, the Aramaic word for "interpretation" or "paraphrase", and is written in the Samaritan alphabet. Important works written in Samaritan include the Samaritan translation of the Samaritan Hebrew Pentateuch in the form of the targum paraphrased version. There are also legal, exegetical and liturgical texts, though later works of the same kind were often written in Arabic.

Exodus XX.1-6:

  1. Umellel Elâ'e yet kel milleyya aalen elmimar.
  2. Ana Šema Eluek deppiqtek men ara Mişrem mibbet awadem.
  3. La ya'i lak ela'en uranem al eppi.
  4. La tewed lak efsel ukel demu debšumeyya millel wedbaraa millera wedbameyya millera laraa.
  5. La tisgad lon ula tešememminon ala anaki Šema elaak el qana fuqed ob awaan al banem wel telitaem wel rewi'a'em elsenai.
  6. Wabed esed lalafem elra'emi welnateri fiqqudi.

Notice the similarities with Judeo-Aramaic as found in Targum Onqelos to this same passage (some expressions below are paraphrased, not literally translated):

  1. וּמַלֵּיל יְיָ יָת כָּל פִּתְגָמַיָּא הָאִלֵּין לְמֵימַר
  2. אֲנָא יְיָ אֱלָהָךְ דְּאַפֵּיקְתָּךְ מֵאַרְעָא דְּמִצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עַבְדוּתָא
  3. לָא יִהְוֵי לָךְ אֱלָהּ אָחֳרָן, בָּר מִנִּי
  4. לָא תַּעֲבֵיד לָךְ צֵילַם וְכָל דְּמוּ דְּבִשְׁמַיָּא מִלְּעֵילָא וְדִבְאַרְעָא מִלְּרַע וְדִבְמַיָּא מִלְּרַע לְאַרְעָא
  5. לָא תִּסְגּוֹד לְהוֹן וְלָא תִּפְלְחִנִּין אֲרֵי אֲנָא יְיָ אֱלָהָךְ אֵל קַנָּא מַסְעַר חוֹבֵי אֲבָהָן עַל בְּנִין מָרָדִין עַל דָּר תְּלִיתַאי וְעַל דָּר רְבִיעַאי לְסָנְאָי כַּד מַשְׁלְמִין בְּנַיָּא לְמִחְטֵי בָּתַר אֲבָהָתְהוֹן
  6. וְעָבֵיד טֵיבוּ לְאַלְפֵי דָּרִין לְרָחֲמַי וּלְנָטְרֵי פִּקּוֹדָי

(NOTE: NEW BOOK ON TARGUM AVAILABLE "THE TARGUM: A CRITICAL INTRODCUTION" BY BRUCE CHILTON)

The Samaritans (Hebrew: שומרונים‎ Shomronim, Arabic: السامريون‎ as-Sāmariyyūn) are an ethnoreligious group of the Levant. Religiously the Samaritans are adherents of Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism. Based on the Samaritan Torah, Samaritans claim their worship is the true religion of the ancient Israelites prior to the Babylonian Exile, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel, as opposed to Judaism, which they assert is a related but altered and amended religion brought back by those returning from exile. Ancestrally, Samaritans claim descent from a group of Israelite inhabitants from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (the two sons of Joseph) as well as some descendants from the priestly tribe of Levi,[4] who have connections to ancient Samaria from the period of their entry into the land of Canaan, while some suggest that it was from the beginning of the Babylonian Exile up to the Samaritan Kingdom of Baba Rabba. The Samaritans, however, derive their name not from this geographical designation, but rather from the Hebrew term Shamerim שַמֶרִים, "Keepers [of the Law]"[5]In the Talmud, a central post-exilic religious text of Judaism, Samaritan claim of ancestral origin is disputed, and in those texts they are called Cutheans (Hebrew: כותים‎, Kuthim), allegedly from the ancient city of Cuthah (Kutha), geographically located in what is today Iraq. Modern genetics has suggested some truth to both the claims of the Samaritans and the mainstream Jewish accounts in the Talmud.[6]
Historically, Samaritans were a large community — up to more than a million in late Roman times, but were then gradually reduced to several tens of thousands a few centuries ago — their unprecedented demographic shrinkage has been a result of various historical events, including, most notably, the bloody suppression of the Third Samaritan Revolt (529 AD) against the Byzantine
Christian rulers, and the mass expulsions and conversions to Islam in the Early Muslim period of Palestine.[7][8] According to their tally, there were 745[1] Samaritans as of November 30, 2011, living exclusively in two localities, one in Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim near the city of Nablus in the West Bank, and the other in the Israeli city of Holon.[9] Also eight families in Gaza City were found to be Samaritans. There are followers of various backgrounds adhering to Samaritan traditions outside of Israel, especially in the United States. With the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language by Jews in Israel, and its growth and officialization following the establishment of the state, most Samaritans in Israel today speak Modern Hebrew. The most recent spoken mother tongue of the Samaritans was Arabic, as it is for those in the West Bank city of Nablus. For liturgical purposes, Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic, and Samaritan Arabic are used, all of which are written in the Samaritan alphabet, a variant of the Old Hebrew alphabet, distinct from the so-called square script "Hebrew alphabet" of Jews and Judaism, which is a stylized form of the Aramaic alphabet.[10] Hebrew, and later, Aramaic, were languages in use by the Jewish and Samaritan inhabitants of Judea prior to the Roman exile.[11]
According to Samaritan tradition, Mount Gerizim was the original Holy Place of the Israelites from the time that Joshua conquered Canaan and the tribes of Israel settled the land. The reference to Mount Gerizim derives from the biblical story of Moses ordering Joshua to take the Twelve Tribes of Israel, (the number of which did not include the priestly tribe of Levi) to the mountains by Nablus and place half of the tribes, six in number, on the top of Mount Gerizim, the Mount of the Blessing, and the other half in … read more:

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