Samaritan Self-Consciousness in the First Half of the Second Century b.c.e. in Light of the Inscriptions from Mount Gerizim and Delos

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism
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Yitzhak Magen and his team have secured 395 inscriptions and fragments of inscriptions in Hebrew and Aramaic on the summit of Mount Gerizim. The number of inscriptions in one place is noteworthy, and calls for attention. Another find was made on the island of Delos in the Aegean Sea. Two inscriptions which praise benefactors for their support for the “Israelites who send their temple tax to Argarizein” were uncovered. The author suggests a new understanding of these inscriptions, and by reading them together it is possible to have a unique glimpse of how early Samaritan self-consciousness took shape by distancing itself from the Jewish position. Many of the phrases in the Gerizim corpus find parallels in comparable material from Egypt, the Sinai peninsula, Mesopotamia and Turkey. The phrase “in this place,” however, has no parallels in other inscriptions, and together with the references to the home village of the dedicators this gives an impression of a community dedicated to their own place of worship, Mount Gerizim, and living in its vicinity. The community behind the Delos inscriptions term themselves “Israelites,” and directs their religious focus towards Mount Gerizim. This is the earliest attestation of this name for the Samaritans.

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