A New Exhibit Brings the Samaritan Past and Present to Life

Sept. 21 2022

To Christians, the word “Samaritan” evokes the famous parable in the gospel of Luke—and has thus given its name to the “Good Samaritan” laws that exist in all 50 states, not to mention a recent movie starring Sylvester Stallone. To learned Jews, Samaritans are a quasi-Jewish group mentioned in the latter books of the Bible and in the Talmud who had an often-adversarial relationship with ancient Jews. At present, there are nearly 800 Samaritans in Israel, where their ancestors have lived since the 5th century BCE. Menachem Wecker describes the new exhibit on their history at the Museum of the Bible.

The Museum of the Bible exhibit, which includes artifacts spanning from the 2nd century before the Common Era to contemporary paintings made in the past couple of years, notes that Samaritans, who are mentioned in both Jewish and Islamic texts, have often clashed with both.

One wall text tells of the 16th-century Huguenot Hebraist Joseph Scaliger, who requested texts from an Egyptian Samaritan community, only to have those texts lost in a shipwreck. They were recovered, sparking further Christian interest in Samaritans.

Another vitrine contains the custom typewriter that Rabbi Moses Gaster (1856–1939) used to correspond with Samaritans living in Nablus, at the base of Mount Gerizim, [which is the site of their temple]. When he typed in Jewish Hebrew letters, the text was printed in Samaritan Hebrew letters. His pen pal, Jacob, son of Aaron, the [Samaritan] high priest, “saw an opportunity to harness Gaster’s academic platform and reputation to amplify Samaritan culture,” the wall text states.

The show highlights many Samaritan religious practices, which often resemble Jewish ones. Samaritans sacrifice paschal lambs annually, drawing many outside spectators. It is the only monotheistic group that still sacrifices animals, according to the documentary.

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Read more at Religion News Service

More about: Hebrew Bible, Museum of the Bible, New Testament, Samaritans

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy