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into the land of Israel, and took captive all those who were the remains of the former captivity (a few excepted, who escaped into the mountains, &c.) and carried them away into Babylon and Assyria. As the land was in danger of becoming entirely desolate through lack of inhabitants, he brought colonies from Babylon, Cutha, Ava, Hamath, and Sepharvaim; and established them in the cities of Samaria, instead of those whom he had carried into captivity. And thus len tribes which had separated from the house of David were brought to an utter destruction, and could never afterwards assume any political consequence.
It appears that some considerable time must have elapsed from the captivity of the Israelites of Samaria, before the above heathen colonies were brought in; for we find immediately on their settling they were much infested with lions, commissioned by the Lord to be a scourge to these idolaters, and which we may suppose had multiplied greatly after the desolation of the land. The king of Babylon being told that it was because they worshipped not the God of the country that they were plagued with these ferocious animals, ordered that one of the captive Jewish priests should be sent back, to teach these new settlers the manner of the God of the land", i, e. how to worship the God of Israel; as it was an antient opinion among the heathens that each district and country had its peculiar and tutelary deity. A priest was accordingly sent back, who took up bis residence at Beth-el, and there established the worship of the true God; and the heathens incorporated this worship with that which they paid to their idols. The few remaining Jews soon became miserably corrupted both in their manners and religion ; and while JEHOVAH was feared because of His supposed superior influence in that land, all the other gods of the Babylonians, Cuthites, Hamathites, Avites, and Sepharvites, had divine honours paid to them.
1 Chron. xxxii. 21. Isai. Xxxvii. 38.
2 Kings xvii. 24. Ezra ir. 2, 10. • Ibid. v. 26.
2 Kings xvii, 25.
This monstrous mixture of idolatry with the worship of the true God continued for about 300 years, till the building of the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim, by Sanballat the Horonite, about A. M. 3595. B. C. 409. As the Jewish priesthood had been greatly corrupted by impure connexions, and heathenish alliance, Sanballat found no difficulty to procure a priest, a regular descendant of the house of Aaron, to officiate in the schismatical temple which he had lately erected : for one of the sons of Joiada the high priest, whom Josephus calls Manasseh, having married the daughter of Sanballat, and refusing to separate from her, when Nehemiah insisted on all the Jews to put away their strange wives, or to depart the country, Manasseh fled to Samaria, and there became highpriest of the temple on Mount Gerizim, built by
Antiq. B. xi. c. 7.
his father-in-law. Samaria now became a common asylum for refractory Jews; for all who had violated the law by eating forbidden meats, &c. and were called to account for it, fled to the Samaritans, by whom they were kindly received: and as multitudes had apostatized in this way, in procese of time the major part of the people was made up of apostate Jews and their descendants. This soon brought about a general change in the religion of the country ; for as they had hitherto worshipped the God of Israel only in conjunction with their false gods, after a temple was built among them, in which the daily service was constantly performed in the very same manner as in Jerusalem, and the law of Moses brought to Samaria, and there publicly read, they abandoned the worship of their idols, and became wholly conformed to the worship of the true God, in which they have hitherto continued with undeviating exactness ; being in many respects more conscientious than the Jews themselves. The Jews, however, considering them as apostates, hate them worse than any other nation : and the Samaritans consider the Jews their worst and most inveterate enemies.
It is necessary to observe, that, as out of Samaria no prophet arose after this time, and the Jewish prophets having weighed strongly against the Samaritan corruptions, they have never received the prophetical writings of the Hebrews, and have
• Prideaux. Con. Vol. I. p. 42, &c. Vol. II. p. 588, &c.
none of their own : so that all they acknowledge of the Jewish Scriptures to be divine is the five books of Moses, which they have in the most scrupulous and conscientious manner preserved till the present day; and to them the republic of letters is obliged for the preservation of the antient genuine Hebrew character, now called the Samaritan, which was thrown aside by Ezra when he published a connected edition of the Old Testament Scriptures, in which he used the Chaldee cha. racter, since improperly termed the Hebrew." It is scarcely necessary to observe, that the Pentateuch is printed in this antient Hebrew character, in the first volume of the London Polyglott : and its additions are given in a parallel column in the first vol. of Dr. Kennicott's Hebrew Bible; but the Chaldee, not the Samaritan characters, are used in Kennicolt's work. This plan was first adopted by Father Houbigant in his Heb. and Lat. bible, fol. Paris, 1753, in the margin of which the differences between the Samaritan and the Hebrew text are to be found.
Having taken this general view of the rise and continuance of this remarkable sect, it may be necessary next to consider what their present state is, both in a religious and civil point of view.
► See a farther account of this in the Succession of Sacred Literature, under the article Ezra, Lond. Baynes, 1807, 12mo. CHAP. VIII.
A short Account of the Samaritans in Judea and
THE present state of the Samaritans in Egypt and
This learned Englishman had seen them at Cairo and Napolussa, had corresponded with them, and examined them upon several things which common travellers generally omit.
" There are no Samaritans," he observes, “ at Damascus ; and though those of Sichem boast of their numerous brethren at Cairo, I saw there but one Samaritan and his wife, who were very poor. The synagogue is a little, nasty, and obscure chamber: here are kept two copies of the law, which may be about five hundred years old. They have a form of prayer; and a book they call Joshua, which contains a very short chronicle from the creation of the world to Mohammed. This false prophet is cursed at the end of the book ; but that word is written in Samaritan that the Arabians may not understand it: lastly, they keep in this little library some commentaries on the law, written in Arabic. This is the language in common use, except when they quote any passage of the law, or write the names of their highpriests ; for then they use the Samaritan characters.