The Samaritans
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The Samaritan Pentateuch


The Samaritan Pentateuch are the five books of Moses (Pentateuch) which the Samaritans took over from the Jews when they gained their independence in the 4th century B.C.

Following this, the Samaritans separated themselves and restricted their canon to the first five books of Moses using their own alphabet. In this way the manuscripts they handed down remained independent of the history which led to the massoretic text which is a matter of great interest for textual criticism. A manuscript of the Samaritan Pentateuch was found at Damascus in 1616. It is a popular copy of the original text and contains some 6000 variants.

(see Samaritan Torah Scroll)

It is not impossible that the Samaritan Pentateuch came into the hands of the Samaritans as an inheritance from the ten tribes whom they succeeded. However, it is much more probable to conclude that it was introduced by Manasseh (Josephus Ant. 11.8. 2, 4) at the time of the foundation of the Samaritan temple on Mt. Gerazim.

The Samaritans rejected all the Old Testament except the Pentateuch, and they claimed to have an older copy than the Jews and that they observe the precepts better.

Scholars have often wondered about the value of the text of the Samaritan Pentateuch for any critical study. The MSS from Khirbet Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls) have now solved the problem. The variant readings in the text, the forms of its script, and the orthography in the text all date the Samaritan Pentateuch not earlier than the second generation of the Maccabees.


The Samaritans


The Samaritans

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