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“ Those of Sichem or Napolussa, are for the most part farmers of the customs, and collectors of the tribute at Sichem, Gaza, Joppa, or else are secretaries to the Bassa, which gives them some countenance. They walk the streets well enough dressed, and are not so miserable as in other places. Their principal, Merchab ben Yacoub, wrote to me at Jerusalem. The letters were signed by eighteen persons, which were almost all of consideration at Sichem.
“This commissary of the customs was afterwards obliged to retire to Leghorn, because of the persecutions he met with in the Holy Land. These Samaritans boast of having a copy of the law written by the hand of Abisha. "We have,' say they, in their letters, ' a sacred writing ; it is the copy of the law, in which are found these words : -1, Abisha, the son of Phineas, the son of Eleasar, the son of Aaron the high-priest, have transcribed this copy at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, in the thirteenth year of the children of Israel's entrance into the Holy Land, or upon the frontiers.' The Samaritans having boasted of this copy, I was willing, in a second journey I made to Sichem, to examine the truth of the fact with my own eyes. But I turned the manuscript long enough without finding the words : and the Samaritans who were present confessed that these words were not now in their copy; that they were there formerly, but somebody had maliciously expunged them.
Thus, instead of honestly acknowledging their imposture, they face it with a new falsehood, and sacrifice their conscience to a chimerical antiquity.”
All the Samaritans hate the Jews mortally : for this traveller relates that they having one day asked him whether there were Hebrews in his country, they were overjoyed to hear there were ; but when he went to undeceive them, because they took the Jews of England for Samaritans, they would not believe him. “No, no! cried they, they are Israelites, Hebrews, our most brotherly brethren." As they do not give the Jews the title of Hebrews, or Israelites, they think all nations do the like. And indeed they fancy that they are the only stock of antient Israel. One of them had a design to come and see those whom he called his brethren in England : but, understanding he must be upon the sea on the sabbath, he thought it was breaking the rest of it, and would hear no more of the voyage; for they observe the sabbath with the utmost strictness. They do not pronounce the name Jehovah, but make use of the word nou Sema. Mr. Ludolf, with a great deal of reason, believed it to be the word ow shem, which signifies the name, by way of eminence. What is more surprising is, that the Christians of Egypt do the same thing, never pronouncing the word Phta, which is the name the Egyptians gave God, to signify that He did every thing without fraud, with art and truth ; but they call Gop Ebrudi.”
“ Their notions of the Messiah are very confused, and very different: but they always speak honourably of Him, and they do not declaim much against those who worship Him. Their hatred to the other Jews perhaps makes them more moderate to the Christians."
To omit nothing that concerns the religion of the Samaritans, I shall here add the confession of faith which the highpriest Eleazar sent to Scaliger in the name of the synagogue of Sichem, which that great man consulted :
“]. The. Samaritans observe the sabbath with all the exactness required in the book of Exodus. For none of them goes out of the place where he is is on the sabbath day, but only to go to the synagogue, where they read the law and sing God's praises. They do not sleep that night with their wives, and neither kindle nor order fire to be kindled; whereas the Jews transgress the sabbath in all these points : for they go out of town, have fire made, sleep with their wives, and even do not make use of proper ablutions.
2. They hold the passover to be their first festival. They begin at sun-set, by the sacrifice enjoined for that purpose in Exodus. But they, sacrifice no where but ou Mount Gerizim, where they read the law and offer prayers unto God, after which the priest dismisses the whole congregation with a blessing.
3. They celebrate for seven days together the feast of the harvest, but they do not agree with the Jews concerning the day on which it should begin : for those reckon the next day after the solemnity of the passover ; whereas the Samaritans reckon fifty days, beginning the next day after the sabbath, which happens in the week of unleavened bread; and the next day after the seventh sabbath following the feast of the harvest begins.
4. They observe the feast of expiation the tenth of the seventh month. They employ the four and twenty hours of the day in prayers to God, and singing His praises, and fasting. For all except sucking children fast; whereas the Jews except children which are under seven years of age.
5. On the fifteenth of the same month they celebrate the feast of the tabernacles upon the same mount, Gerizim.
6. They never defer circumcision beyond the eighth day, as it is commanded in Genesis ; whereas the Jews sometimes defer it longer.
7. They are obliged to wash themselves in the morning when they have slept with their wives, or have contracted any defilement in the night; and all vessels that may become unclean are defiled when any such unclean person touches them.
8. They take away the fat from sacrifices; and give the priests the shoulder, the jaws, and belly,
9. They never marry their nieces, as the Jews do, and have but one wife ; whereas the Jews may
10. They believe in God, in Moses, and Mount Gerizim ; whereas the Jews put their trust in others. We do nothing, say they, but what is expressly commanded in the law by the Lord, who made use of the ministry of Moses. But the Jews swerve from what the LORD hath cominanded in
the law, to observe what their fathers and doctors have invented.” Thus far their creed sent to ScaLiger.
They say, that Mr. Huntington persuaded them that they had brethren in London ; but he says that the Samaritans were misled by the name of Israelites, and thought that all who went by the name of Hebrews were Samaritans. Some fraud appears to have been practised upon them relative to this subject, in order to get a copy of their law; and they certainly did entrust him with a copy of their Pentateuch, which Dr. Huntington seems to have requested from them in the name of their pretended Samaritan brethren in England; at least, so I am led to understand their letter to these English Samaritans, a translation of which I subjoin from Basnage, that the fact may speak for itself. Indeed it is a literary curiosity; and, being perfectly authentic, is worthy of particular attention.
A Letter of the Samaritans to their Brethren in
England. “ IN the name of the almighty, adorable God; in the name of the great Lorn, who is by Himself, our God, the God of our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who has said in His law, I am the God of Bethel,' the supreme God, Lord of heaven and earth, God Almighty, who has sent Moses the son of Amram, commissioned with His laws, and by