The Origins of the Samaritan Pentateuch

The Samaritans, adherents of a heterodox sect of Judaism who have worshipped and brought sacrifices on Mount Gerizim in Samaria since at least the 1st century BCE, possess their own version of the Torah that differs at various points from the Masoretic text (the version used by all other branches of Judaism). Examining the evidence from ancient manuscripts of the Bible discovered in the 20th century, Terry Giles speculates on the genesis of the Samaritan Pentateuch:

[Ancient] manuscript evidence, some of it dating back to the 3rd through 1st centuries BCE, indicates that the Samaritan Pentateuch is an extension of an earlier text-type, currently labeled the pre-Samaritan text, found in the Judean desert along with manuscripts of a version that would later become the Masoretic text and manuscripts similar to the Septuagint [the ancient Greek translation of the Bible]. The Samaritan Pentateuch provides an important witness to the early textual history of the first part of the Hebrew Bible. It was considered authoritative by at least some of the New Testament writers, and it remains the sacred text of the Samaritan community. . . .

The pre-Samaritan texts from the Judean desert are characterized by many of the editorial features found in the Samaritan Pentateuch (including . . . emphasis on the role of Moses and similar grammatical forms and spelling), but without the veneer of sectarian features favoring the Samaritan religious sect. The cumulative evidence points to the conclusion that the Samaritan Pentateuch is the product of a sectarian editing of the pre-Samaritan text-type, probably produced in the 1st century BCE through the 1st century CE.

Read more at Bible Odyssey

More about: History & Ideas, Masoretes, Samaria, Samaritans, Septuagint, Torah

In the Aftermath of a Deadly Attack, President Sisi Should Visit Israel

On June 3, an Egyptian policeman crossed the border into Israel and killed three soldiers. Jonathan Schanzer and Natalie Ecanow urge President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to respond by visiting the Jewish state as a show of goodwill:

Such a dramatic gesture is not without precedent: in 1997, a Jordanian soldier opened fire on a group of Israeli schoolgirls visiting the “Isle of Peace,” a parcel of farmland previously under Israeli jurisdiction that Jordan leased back to Israel as part of the Oslo peace process. In a remarkable display of humanity, King Hussein of Jordan, who had only three years earlier signed a peace agreement with Israel, traveled to the Jewish state to mourn with the families of the seven girls who died in the massacre.

That massacre unfolded as a diplomatic cold front descended on Jerusalem and Amman. . . . Yet a week later, Hussein flipped the script. “I feel as if I have lost a child of my own,” Hussein lamented. He told the parents of one of the victims that the tragedy “affects us all as members of one family.”

While security cooperation [between Cairo and Jerusalem] remains strong, the bilateral relationship is still rather frosty outside the military domain. True normalization between the two nations is elusive. A survey in 2021 found that only 8 percent of Egyptians support “business or sports contacts” with Israel. With a visit to Israel, Sisi can move beyond the cold pragmatism that largely defines Egyptian-Israeli relations and recast himself as a world figure ready to embrace his diplomatic partners as human beings. At a personal level, the Egyptian leader can win international acclaim for such a move rather than criticism for his country’s poor human-rights record.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: General Sisi, Israeli Security, Jordan