The Allographic Use of Hebrew and Arabic in the Samaritan Manuscript Culture

In: Intellectual History of the Islamicate World


In the 10th/11th century, Arabic became both the vernacular and literary language of the Samaritan community, along with the two languages of the liturgy: Samaritan Hebrew and Samaritan Aramaic; Samaritan Neo Hebrew was also employed at this time mainly for the composition of religious poems. Together with the introduction of the Arabic language, the Samaritans started to use the Arabic script, along with the Samaritan Hebrew formal and cursive scripts. In comparison with the use of the Arabic script, the Samaritan Hebrew script served mostly for more sacred texts or was employed in order to mark certain textual passages with a higher degree of sacredness. Allography of Arabic in Samaritan Hebrew letters is attested in Samaritan manuscripts since the beginning of the 13th century, although it was introduced most probably at an earlier date. This allography is employed mainly for the Arabic translation of the Samaritan Torah, for the Arabic translations of prayers, and for Samaritan Hebrew or Samaritan Aramaic quotes in Arabic texts. The replacement of Arabic by Modern Israeli Hebrew as the primary vernacular among the Samaritans living in the State of Israel led to a revival of Samaritan Hebrew allography for Arabic texts in the 20th century, mainly in festival poems in Arabic language, which are performed at certain occasions, although not all congregants are still familiar with the Arabic language and script. A close analysis demonstrates that Samaritan Hebrew allography of Arabic is the result of an intense contact between two scribal cultures, both of which were well established amongst the Samaritans. The allographic use of the Samaritan Hebrew script for writing Arabic texts originally did not aim to make these texts more accessible to Samaritan readers, but rather was employed to mark Arabic texts as belonging to the realm of the sacred.

  • Arnold, Werner, “Gibt es einen samaritanischen Dialekt des Arabischen?,” »Durch Dein Wort ward jegliches Ding!«: 2. Mandäistische und samaritanische Tagung, zum Gedenken an Rudolf Macuch (1919–1993), ed. Rainer Voigt, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2013, pp. 249–255.

  • Barkan, Livnat, The Language of the Arabic Translation of the Samaritan Pentateuch: Phonetics and Morphology. MA Thesis in the Department of Arabic Language and Literature, The Faculty of Humanities, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2014.

  • Ben-Hayyim, Zeev, A Grammar of Samaritan Hebrew: Based on the Recitation of the Law in Comparison with the Tiberian and Other Jewish Traditions, Winona Lake, Ind: Eisenbrauns, 2000.

  • Ben-Hayyim, Zeev, “The Book of Asāṭīr” [Hebrew], Tarbiz 14 (1942/43), pp. 104–125, 174–190; Tarbiz 15 (1943/44), pp. 71–87, 128.

  • Ben-Hayyim, Zeev, The Literary and Oral Tradition of Hebrew and Aramaic Amongst the Samaritans, vol. III/2: The Recitation of Prayers and Hymns, Jerusalem: The Academy of the Hebrew Language, 1967.

  • Ben-Hayyim, Zeev, The Literary and Oral Tradition of Hebrew and Aramaic Amongst the Samaritans, vol. IV: The Words of the Pentateuch, Jerusalem: The Academy of the Hebrew Language, 1977.

  • Ben-Hayyim, Zeev, Tībåt Mårqe: A Collection of Samaritan Midrashim, Edited, Translated and Annotated, Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences, 1988.

  • Cowley, Arthur Ernest, The Samaritan Liturgy, 2 vols., Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1909.

  • Crown, Alan D., “Columnar Writing and the Samaritan Masorah,” Samaritan Scribes and Manuscripts, idem, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001, pp. 488–516.

  • Crown, Alan D., “The Codicology of Samaritan Manuscripts,” Samaritan Scribes and Manuscripts, idem, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2001, pp. 40–84.

  • Florentin, Moshe, Late Samaritan Hebrew: A linguistic analysis of its different types, Leiden: Brill, 2005.

  • Florentin, Moshe, The Tulida: A Samaritan Chronicle: Text, Translation, Commentary, Jerusalem: Yad Yitzhak Ben Zvi, 1999.

  • Gaster, Moses, The Samaritan Oral Law and Ancient Traditions, vol. I: Samaritan Eschatology, London: The Search Publishing Company, 1932.

  • Merx, Adalbert, Der Messias oder Ta’eb der Samaritaner, nach bisher unbekannten Quellen, Gießen: A. Töpelmann, 1909.

  • Noja, Sergio, Il Kitāb al-kāfī dei Samaritani, Napels: Istituto Orientale, 1970.

  • Pummer, Reinhard, The Samaritans: A profile, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2016.

  • Robertson, Edward, Catalogue of Samaritan Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library Manchester, Vol. II: The Gaster Manuscripts, Manchester: The John Rylands Library, 1962.

  • Schorch, Stefan, “A Critical editio maior of the Samaritan Pentateuch: State of Research, Principles, and Problems,” HeBAI 2 (2013), pp. 100–120.

  • Schorch, Stefan, “Der Samaritanische Pentateuch in der Geschichte des hebräischen Bibeltextes,” Verkündigung und Forschung 60 (2015), pp. 18–28.

  • Schorch, Stefan, “Lexicon of Samaritan Hebrew According to the Samaritan Pentateuch Tradition,” Biblical Lexicology: Hebrew and Greek, ed. Eberhard Bons, Jan Joosten, and Regine Hunziker-Rodewald, Berlin: de Gruyter, 2015, pp. 341–355.

  • Schorch, Stefan, “Spoken Hebrew of the Late Second Temple Period According to the Oral and the Written Samaritan Tradition,” Conservatism and innovation in the Hebrew language of the Hellenistic period. Proceedings of a fourth International Symposium on the Hebrew of the Dead Sea Scrolls & Ben Sira, ed. Jan Joosten and Jean-Sébastien Rey, Leiden: Brill, 2008, pp. 175–190.

  • Schorch, Stefan, “The Construction of Samari(t)an Identity from the Inside and from the Outside,” Between Cooperation and Hostility: Multiple Identities in Ancient Judaism and the Interaction with Foreign Powers, ed. Rainer Albertz and Jakob Wöhrle, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013, pp. 135–149.

  • Shehadeh, Haseeb, “The Arabic of the Samaritans and Its Importance,” New Samaritan Studies of the Société d’ Études Samaritaines, volumes III and IV: Essays in Honour of G.D. Sixdinier: Proceedings of the Congresses of Oxford 1990, Yarnton Manor and Paris 1992, Collège de France, with lectures given at Hong Kong 1993 as participation in the ICANAS Congress, ed. Alan D. Crown and Lucy Davey, Sydney: Mandelbaum Publishing, University of Sydney, 1995, pp. 552–575.

  • Shehadeh, Haseeb, The Arabic Translation of the Samaritan Pentateuch, 2 vols., Jerusalem: The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1989–2002.

  • Shehadeh, Haseeb, “The Samaritan Arabic Liturgy,” Samaritan Researches, vol. V: Proceedings of the Congress of the SES (Milan 1996) and of the Special Section of the ICANAS Congress (Budapest 1997), ed. Vittorio Morabito, Alan D. Crown and Lucy Davey, Sydney: Mandelbaum Publishing, 2000, pp. 2.47–2.84.

  • Shehadeh, Haseeb, “When Did Arabic Replace Samaritan Aramaic [Hebrew],” Hebrew Language Studies Presented to Professor Zeev Ben-Ḥayyim, ed. Moshe Bar-Asher et al. Jerusalem: Magnes, 1983, pp. 515–528.

  • Stenhouse, Paul, “Samaritan Arabic,” The Samaritans, ed. Alan D. Crown, Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1989, pp. 585–623.

  • Tal, Abraham, A Dictionary of Samaritan Aramaic, Leiden: Brill, 2000.

  • Tal, Abraham, Samaritan Aramaic, Münster: Ugarit-Verlag, 2013.

  • Tal, Abraham, “Samaritan Literature,” The Samaritans, ed. Alan D. Crown, Tübingen, J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1989, pp. 413–467.

  • Tal, Abraham, The Samaritan Targum of the Pentateuch: A Critical Edition, 3 volumes, Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, 1983.

  • Tal, Abraham, and Florentin, Moshe, The Pentateuch: The Samaritan Version and the Masoretic Version, Tel Aviv: The Haim Rubin Tel Aviv University Press, 2010.

  • Weigelt, Frank, “Die exegetische Literatur der Samaritaner,” »Durch Dein Wort ward jegliches Ding!«: 2. Mandäistische und samaritanistische Tagung zum Gedenken an Rudolf Macuch (1919–1993), Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2013, pp. 344–390.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 21 21 20
Full Text Views 8 8 8
PDF Downloads 5 5 5