Who Are the Samaritans?

The Samaritans are the descendants of the tribes of Joseph, Menasha and Levi, who settled in the ancient northern Kingdom of Israel (Samaria). They have remained in Samaria (Shomron) since the time of Moses and survived the Assyrian exile in 721-722 BCE. Their formal name is Bene Yisrael HaShomerem, a Hebrew phrase meaning “the children of Israel”. The Samaritans often refer to themselves as the “keepers’, keepers of the ancient Israelite traditions.

What are the foundations of the Samaritan religion?

The Samaritans have five Principles of Faith:

     (1) One and only one God—The Lord of the Children of Israel

     (2) One and only one prophet—Moses, son of Amram

     (3) One Torah—The Pentateuch or the five books of the Torah, written by Moses and observed by the priests of Israel from the time of Moses to today.

     (4) One Holy Place—Mt. Gerizim, the Mount of Blessing, mentioned in the Torah

     (5) The Vengence Day—The belief in “the End of Days” and the “Taheb”, the savior. A prophet like Moses, from the lineage of Joseph, will appear at the end of days.

What is required of members of the Samaritan religion?

Keep the commandments of the Torah according to Samaritan tradition, with emphasis on the following:

     (1) Observance of Circumcision on day eight for a newborn male

     (2) Observance of the Sabbath, according to the Torah

     (3) Observance of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)

     (4) Observance of the Laws of Purity, according to the Torah

     (5) Participate in the Passover sacrifice.

Live in Israel (The ancient Borders of the Holy Land).

Celebrate the Seven Festivals delineated in the Torah:

     (1) Passover

     (2) The Feast of Unleavened Bread

     (3) Shavuot

     (4) The Feast of the Seventh Month

     (5) The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)

     (6) The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot)

     (7) The Festival of Shemini Atzeret (the eighth day of the Holy Convocation)

Because Samaritan children learn in regular Israeli educational institutions, they participate in Purim and Chanukah festivities, but without religious significance. The Samaritans preserve the ancient Hebrew of the Torah, as it was used by Jews prior to their exile to Babylon in the first century C.E. The High Priest is the head of the Samaritan Community. He is the oldest priest among the Priestly family. He is the only arbiter in religious mattes and the leader of all religious ceremonies.

Where do the Samaritans live?

Today, there are approximately 760 Samaritans living primarily in two communities: (1) Holon (outside of Tel Aviv), established in 1952 and (2) Kiryat Luza, established in 1987 and located on Mt. Gerizim (outside of Nablus).

How do the Samaritans earn a living?

Most of the Samaritans of Holon earn their living as employees of Israeli companies. They hold a wide range of jobs, including bankers, marketing agents, software programmers, accountants, business managers, etc. The Samaritans of Kiryat Luza and lived previously in Nablus, but fled to Kiryat Luza (the Moutain) during the First Intifada. Some of the Samaritans of Kiryat Luza are self-employed, while others work for a variety of businesses and the Palestinian Authority,

For more information about the Samaritans, go to www.israelite-samaritans.com and www.the-samaritans.com.