This blog follows up the last blog by looking at a documentary that introduces the modern Samaritan people. This especially focuses on a man who is heir to becoming their future high priest. This is a group almost completely unknown to western religions.
Regular readers here should know the general flow of history of the 1000 or so years after Moses. Let me briefly review.
A group of people were lead out of Egypt by Moses about 3500 years ago. The wandered in the wilderness 40 years, then crossed the Jordan into Canaan.
They were a loose confederation of tribes. They met yearly at Tabernacles in the valley around Shechem. Itself located at the base of Mount Gerizim and Mount Gebal. (Sometimes Gebal is written as Ebal.)
Around 3000 years ago, during the time of the prophet Samuel, they asked for a king. The confederation of tribes was consolidated and began functioning like a kingdom. The dialog with Samuel at the time indicates that Joshua was their king, and that the people were effectively in revolt. They would suffer in various ways for their request.
At the death of Solomon, David's heir, the kingdom split into two different, usually warring, camps. The southern kingdom was called Judah, and the northern kingdom Joseph. These are named after the 2 primary sons of Jacob.
We do not see the name Joseph used often with the northerners. We think there has been manuscript tampering. The term Israel is put in later to cover the inspired terms.
These 2 kingdoms lasted until the time of the Assyrian deportation. Most of the people and all of the unique tribes were removed from Canaan about that time. They were founders of the city of Rome, which grew into the Roman empire. The Roman calendar, AUC, Latin initials for time from the founding of Rome, has its epoch at the Assyrian invasion as recorded in the text.
That calendar was later supplanted by the Christian calendar. Because it measures years from the same point as the Assyrian deportation, it is in part establishing the link between Rome and the lost tribes.
We can later identify the tribes individually by seal date. They indeed became parts of ancient Rome and mostly parts of modern Europe.
Back In the Land
Back in the land there was still a remnant. The more well known remnant survived the Assyrian deportation by remaining inside the city wall of Jerusalem.
With this group, the monarchy from David's line survived and remained until the Babylonian deportation. The books of 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles detail that monarchy.
This group were remnants from the tribal lands of Judah, eventually taking on the name Jews. These become a whole new religion at the time of Ezra when he introduced back into Jerusalem a new alphabet and a new text.
There was another remnant. They were from the north. They had their capital at Samaria. About 10 miles north and west from Gerizim. Last week's blog looked at the remains of that capital.
Though their capital was lost, they also had a remnant of people who survived the Assyrian captivity. That group eventually built a competing temple atop Gerizim.
My last blog was giving some evidence that Ahab was involved in the temple work at Gerizim and not at the city of Samaria itself. Nehemiah may have also been doing this. Let me explain.
We are of course looking at the text through the prism of possible edits. This is not easy because we don't know for sure what base story the editors were trying to cover. We have a set of conceptual tools we use for this. Obvious and subtle contradictions is a starting point. Understanding and using editor motivations is another important tool for spotting edits. For every edit we want to ask what purposes were he or she achieving by an edit.
One area that is especially difficult to understand is the time after the 70 years of Babylonian captivity. This general era is importantly documented in Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Haggai. Esther also covers details in this era and is even known to history to be a book that was edited severely.
The link above is to the book of Nehemiah, chapter 2, where Nehemiah goes before the king in order to get the provisions to go rebuild... This is a story from at the end of the 70 years of captivity.
We normally read this as rebuilding the wall around the city of Jerusalem. This being an adjunct to the work of rebuilding the temple in that city.
If there has been editing here, which I cannot yet prove, then perhaps the inspired purpose of this request is to go rebuild the other temple, the Samaritan temple.
In this view, Ezra is rebuilding at Moriah, and Nehemiah is rebuilding at Gerizim.
The 2 books of Ezra and Nehemiah would thus be dealing with the 2 houses, or 2 kingdoms, at that era. The Babylonian kingdom would thus be rebuilding both temples in order to keep the Jerusalem temple weak.
This understanding impacts how we think about Haggai. He may be pressing the people to build at Gerezim, and not Moriah as normally thought. These 2 buildings and places should be considered as important backdrops for Joshua's work in the NT era.
If these writers were focused on the northern regions of Samaria, their inspired texts were being produced closer to the scroll vault which we think was located there.
Nehemiah's request is timed. It is the timing of this request that gives the schedule for Gabriel's appearances to both Zechariah and Mary. Mary likely gave birth in Shechem/Sychar, Joshua's home town. Again, more evidence that preparing both of these temples was important to setting the scene for the NT narrative.
The timing given to Daniel for this interval would thus start and stop at the same place. It would be giving recognition to the northern remnant.
Many of our conceptual struggles with figuring out the inspired text in the Nehemiah era seems easier to solve if we take the Samarian temple and surrounding area as the inspired place for some of these stories.
So Joseph's 10 tribes in the north are hauled away by the Assyrians. I more precisely believe that many of them sailed away before the Assyrian army could do much to them. The city of Rome itself was settled by a group who arrived by sea.
There were some heirs of Joseph, less well known, who also survived in the land. They became the Samaritans. They were similar to those who survived within the wall of Jerusalem. But, they would only survive as a remnant. Their king did not share in the promises to David that promised an heir in Jerusalem. These northern remnants are the people of Sychar in the NT text.
Last blog I linked to a video that introduced them as a people. There are about 800 or so people in this group. They are living in 2 communities, some atop Gerizim and some near Tel Aviv.
The following is a link to yet another documentary on these Samaritans. This one gets up close and personal, both with their modern religious practice and with the man who is inline to become the high priest of the Samaritans when he gets older.
The term, "Joseph's Bones" is a veiled reference to themselves. They are all that remains of the tribes of Joseph who occupied the northern kingdom of ancient Israel.
We have debated about what original words were behind the term 'Israel' in the texts we have passed to us. Jacob and Joseph are the only 2 reasonable choices in many cases. This documentary supports our hunch that at times their inspired name was Joseph.
This documentary is about 1 hour long, so plan your time. It is well worth the time so you can see hard evidence behind some of the stories in the text. We did not know of them when we started drawing our conclusions, but they are providing a second witness to many of our contentions.
This documentary spends 1 calendar year with their community. It was filmed at each of the holidays. Their practices are similar, but not identical, to Jewish practices. Their differences from Jewish practice gives some clue as to how their text differs from the Hebrew.
As explained in the video they know Ezra was editing the text. In the video they ascribe alphabet changes to Ezra. We ascribe alphabet changes to Nebuchadnezzar and then manuscript changes to Ezra.
The video does not seem to want to go into the details. From body language you can guess they know more about Ezra than they are letting on publicly. Remember, Ezra was given authority to kill on behalf of his religion. These Samaritans live under that threat to this day.
These people do not subscribe to those Ezra era changes. They may have had to reject everything except Moses' writings because of their dispute with Ezra.
Their holiday practices seem to vary for this reason. It might be possible to deduce some Ezra era edits just by looking at how they interpret the holidays.
Their counting of years puts them over 3600 years from the Exodus. Without looking for specific support, my hunch is that they are using a lunar calendar to count those years.
Their base text is called the "Samaritan Pentateuch." They only hold the first 5 books of our Bibles as inspired. Karaite Jews are similar. There are about 2000 specific textual differences, a few significant, between their version and the Hebrew version. I have not been able to find a computerized version of their text, though there are some English translations.
Their current high priest traces lineage back to Aaron's son, some 130+ generations ago. So they have a claim to continuity all the way back to Moses and his family. This is impressive. They have kept their traditions a long time.
They are thought, by others looking at this, to have split from the Jerusalem line at the time of the prophet Samuel. They do seem to be carrying around Solomon era edits to those texts. So the idea they split at the time of Solomon, suggests they split soon after Solomon.
Their alphabet might be something from Solomon's era too. Inventing written alphabets may have been common in that era. By looking at samples in the video you can clearly see the Ba paleo letter. The rest of their alphabet is more distant from the inspired forms than most of the Paleo Hebrew examples that we know from history.
The documentary also shows more of the geography around Gerizim. It looks down from the mountain and shows off Joseph's tomb. This is where Joseph's bones were thought to be buried. It is on the edges of ancient Shechem, now amongst the streets of the Palestinian town.
I suspect most monuments that exist across the Holy Lands were built as tourist destinations in the 3rd and 4th centuries. This is true for nearly all such structures seen in all videos from that area.
The future high priest is the star of this show and is asked a bunch of questions about their beliefs and practices. Pay attention to what he says in order to understand where Jewish and therefore often Christian understanding might be weak.
Updates This Week
I badly broke the history function on the TT app last week. This should be fixed in today's update. I will try and be more careful in the future.
There is now a demonstration of sub-verse versification. See Psalm 1 for an example. There is a bunch more code work to do for this to be finished. Accurately quoting passages that have sub-verse markings is not easy. It is especially difficult in the code that supports the TT.
There is a start at real keyboard support. All of the popups now support tabbing around within them. Keyboard support is all based on the TAB and SHIFT-TAB keys. The TAB key moves forward in tab order, the SHIFT-TAB moves backward.
To use the keyboard to select an item, tab to it, then press Enter. To close a popup press Esc. We have more work to do before all the apps can be used with only a keyboard. This keyboard support is the base line for support for people with disabilities. So there is a moral reason to get this working completely.
There are also many more places where poetry and other special formatting have been applied. For many examples, page through Genesis in the BRB. I can see Ryan will be busy for months as he updates the manuscript to use these new features. He is adding list markers as he goes. He is already seeing stuff he has never seen before. There is another wave of discovery that is being unleashed by this work.
There has been a huge amount of bug fixing and cleanup in the new code that makes this all go. Most of this week's work is invisible, but Ryan has finally slowed down asking me to fix bugs and/or change details, so it is getting stable.
I've got maybe another week to fix problems of the address system so it does all the right stuff with sub-verse addresses. I will also try and finish keyboard support here soon.
Shop Work This Week
I finished printing, and started assembling, a first sample clock so I can learn more about mechanical clocks. There are some metal bits that still need to be worked on, it is not simply a plastic model. I also started printing a second sample clock that demonstrates a perpetual calendar. So it gears time intervals and has dials up beyond a single day.
I did not design either of these clocks. I am printing them because I need an education. The Tabernacle item that I am building towards combines both time and date functions into a series of dials/wheels.
It must have been possible to build such a thing without the use of an electric motor. In history this would have been built using wood and brass. Then, water, falling weights, and/or springs would have been the possible sources of moving energy. Greek towns of that era are known to have had water powered public clock towers. The designs of their mechanisms do not survive through history.
These days materials will be mostly 3d printed plastic but with a few metal parts where moving parts touch. I could theoretically use an electric motor, but I would rather use an ancient source of energy. Very low friction seems important to getting a clock to last with 8 days between winding. Probably winding the clock in meeting rooms was done each week when people gathered there. Thus the need for metal bits even in a 3d printed clock design.