Chapter 10 Rabbinic Exegetical Debates with Samaritans

In: The Challenge of the Mosaic Torah in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Author:
Günter Stemberger
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Abstract

The earliest discussion between rabbis and Samaritans regarding the Bible is found in Sifre Deut 56: The Samaritans are accused to have falsified the Torah by adding “Shechem” to the text of Deut 11:30. More pervasive is the claim that the Samaritans falsify the meaning of the Torah through their interpretation, saying that the resurrection of the dead is not to be derived from the Torah, or rejecting levirate marriage, interpreting Deut 25:5 in a forced way in order to avoid any conflict with Lev 18.16. Direct discussions with Samaritans on the meaning of biblical texts are to be found in some midrashim. Here the “Samaritan” is simply a spokesman pointing to a possible contradiction between two biblical verses which has to be resolved. The rabbis claim that by changing from the paleo-Hebrew script of the Bible to the square script, the Jews have found access to the true meaning of the Torah. The Samaritans have maintained the older script and thus cannot understand the Torah correctly.

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