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Nabloos and the Samaritans

Nabloos and the Samaritans (in 1861) [1] By Sir George Grove

Few places in Palestine are more interesting than the town of Nabloos. To begin with, there is something unusual about the name. Nabloos--or Naplouse, as the French write it --is the Arabic attempt to pronounce the Greek name Neapolis, the "new city," the title given to the old Canaanite town of Shechem when it was restored or built, probably during Vaspasian's reign. It is rare to find a modern or foreign name in the East that has succeeded in supplanting the ancient homeborn Semitic one. In Egypt, at one time, almost every town of any importance was called Heliopolis, Lycopolis, or some other Greek or Roman name. Now, hardly one is to be found along the whole length of the Nile. In Palestine itself, Ptolemais, Diospolis, Antipatris, Elia, have all completely disappeared, and the old names, which existed before these high-sounding titles were conferred ----Akka (Acre), Lydd, Kefer-Saba, Jerusalem, have re-established them-selves as firmly as if they had never been displaced. Sebaste and Neapolis have, however, succeeded in maintaining themselves, and preventing the return of Samaria and Shechem.

In its situation there is something still more unusual. It lies in a valley, between two lofty hills, while nineteen-twentieths of the towns of the Holy Land ---at least those in the highlands ---are perched on the top of eminences. The reason for the prevalent custom is obvious. In a country so open to the incursions of marauders of all sorts as Palestine has always been, it is important to seize any little natural advantage of situation which can assist the peasant against robber, be he Philistine, Midianite, Roman, Crusader, French-man, or modern Bedouin Arab. And this, amongst other reasons, explains why the villages are so often put in the most inaccessible spots possible. Why Shechem should have been an exception to this rule is not obvious. It was one of the most ancient places of the country, and also powerful. Possibly it was founded before there were any marauders to attack it, or was built so strong that it did not fear their attacks.

Another thing impresses it without trouble on the favourable recollection of the traveler. It is usually the first place he reaches which has any natural charm or beauty about it. After riding the whole day in the burning sun over the hills north of Jerusalem, often as bare and brooks of the valley of Nabloos, its green trees and vegetation, soft moist atmosphere and twittering birds, are naturally very pleasant and refreshing.

But besides this it is one of the most characteristic examples of a Moslem town in the whole of the country. Compared with Damascus, or even Jerusalem, it is but a small place --- some 12 to 15,000 inhabitants. But what its people want in numbers, they make up in independence and spirit. The district of the Jebel Nabloos is now---as it was when it bore the name of Mount Ephraim---one of the most difficult to manage in the whole of Syria. If an Englishman wants to know something of a sphere of human life about as diametrically opposite to his own as can be imagined, he cannot have a better opportunity in all Syria of doing so than he will have in the bazaars of Nabloos. He will see less of the grace and charm of the Oriental life than is to be found at Damascus or Cairo; but he will see more of the fanaticism of Islam, and it is but fair to warn him that there is no place where he will be more soundly cursed as he works his way through the bazaar, or stands a better chance of being mobbed and illtreated. Native Christians are sadly at a discount. There are very few of them, and they have a furtive anxious look about their thin sallow visages, contrasting very disadvantageously with the noble countenances and lofty figures of some of the other inhabitants.

But there is more than all this at Nabloos. Its archaeology is indisputable. Not even D. Robinson doubts the tradition which identifies the two long, rough, lofty, ridgy hills, that rise so steeply on either side of the valley, with Ebal and Gerizim, or which sees in the ruined well at its eastern end, the well of Jacob. It would puzzle even Mr. Fergusson to find any arguments with which to assail the genuineness of the flat sheet of rock on the summit of Gerizim, which has been the holy place of the Samaritans for more than 2,000 years.

Interesting they will always be for their own sake, as one of the smallest and oldest sects in the world, occupying the same spot, and clinging to the same identical sanctuary, through nearly twenty-five centuries, and that sanctuary not improbably the very earliest holy place in the Holy Land. The bare platform of the rock on the summit of Mount Gerizim they believe to be the place on which Abraham was commanded to sacrifice Isaac, and arguments are to be found (not few or feeble to those who will consider them dispassionately) in favour of that spot, instead of the so-called Mount Moriah at Jerusalem.

Of persecution, the Samaritans have had plenty. From the time when Vespasian slaughtered 11,000 of them on their holy mount, to the petty oppressions of the Turkish Beys, so touchingly described by Jacob esh-Shelaby, the hand and tongue of every dweller in the East, Heathen, Jew, Mahometan, seem to have been against them. This persecution has had its usual effect. It has attached them more closely than ever to their faith, and has perpetuated their peculiarities---their rites and their books---to a degree of minute conservatism, which at first sight is almost incredible. To name only two instances of this. Justin Martyr, himself a native of Neapolis, writing in the middle of the second century, mentions that the Samaritans roasted their Passover lambs on a spit in the form of a cross. They still do the very same thing after the lapse of 1,700 years. The second is, that they use the ancient Hebrew alphabet instead of the ordinary square letters introduced after the captivity by Ezra. These square they vehemently repudiate, and it almost takes one's breath away to hear an act of Ezra's, dating from five centuries before the Christian era, still denounced as an absurd and wicked innovation. I brought away a primer from which the little Samaritans taught in their school at Nabloos, and it is covered with the thin sprawling forms of the venerable letters, much more rude and complicated than the usual Samaritan type of the Polyglotts.

And this is shown in many other things. Their copies of the Pentateuch differ in many grave (if not material) points from the Hebrew one. That these differences are at least 2,000 years old is rendered very probable, by many of them being found also in the translation of the Septuagint, which is known to have been begun in the third century before Christ. Their mode of chanting (as we shall see afterwards) is peculiar and archaic. Their laws of marriage are most strict; they never marry out of their own people. With the Jews, the Passover has long ceased to be anything but the feast of unleavened bread; but the Samaritans encamp on the mountain for a whole week, and slay, roast, and eat the lambs, with their lions girt and staves in their hands, and with every minutest particular of the Mosaic ritual observed. And so in purification and other small enactments, they observe the regulations of the law in a far stricter manner than the Jews of Palestine or any other country. Now we know from their letters to Scaliger, in 1589, that they kept all these things as strictly three centuries ago as they now do, and this is a strong evidence that they have preserved a great deal from a still earlier age[2].

Indeed, that they are conservative there can be no doubt. But then comes the question, "What do they conserve?" Are they Israelites? Or are they, as usually seems to be taken for granted, mere heathens, who adopted a bastard Jewish religion for their own ends, and whose whole system is an imposture? This is obviously not the place for the discussion of such a question as this. I will content myself the naming one or two circumstances which seem strongly to favour the idea that the Samaritans have, to say the least, a very strong Israelite element in their composition, and which incline me to belief, that in their seclusion they may have preserved some traits of the Israel of the Bible, and of the ancient worship of Jehovah, which the Jews (properly so called) have lost during their close intercourse with nations and institutions differing so extremely from their own.

I use the words "Israel" and "Israelites" advisedly; because, though the Jews were Israelites, yet the Israelites were not always Jews. The word "Jew"(Judaus) is really "Judean," and dates only from the return from Babylon, when Judah became the head and representative of the nation. The Samaritans always call themselves the children of Joseph, and the Jews Yehudhim, or Judathites. Perhaps, of all the ancient practices of the Samaritans, none is more startling than their habit of insisting, in the nineteenth century of the Christian era, on the distinction between "Judah and Ephraim," with all the strength and animosity that can have been thrown into the terms in the days of Jeroboam or Amaziah. The same distinction occurs constantly in their letters to Scaliger.

But to return. It is usually assumed that the kingdom of Samaria was completely cleared of its Israelite population before the Assyrain colonists were sent there. Was this so? Subsequent occurrences seem to show that it is at least doubtful.

The "remnant of Israel" are mentioned in the reign of Josiah as being sufficiently numerous to make it worth while to collect their subscriptions for the repair of the temple at Jerusalem.[3] That some considerable affinity existed between these people and Jerusalem is evident from a remarkable narrative of Jeremiah, which shows that large of devotees from the chief cities of Samaria were in the habit of making pilgrimage to the ruins of the Temple after its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar , for the purpose of lamenting over it.[4]After Judah returned from captivity, the Samaritans showed their anxiety to join in the worship of Jehovah, and to insist in rebuilding the temple. This, however, the leaders of Judah would not hear of. They repulsed the offer with scorn, as made, not by friends, but by "adversaries of Judah and Benjamin."[5] This was the beginning of the strife. But that very strife was, perhaps, destined to cause a stronger infusion of the Jehovah element into the Samaritan community than would have been the case had they remained at peace with the Jews. For it so happened that Manasseh, son of the high-priest, having married a daughter or granddaughter of Sanballat, the Samaritan chief, was expelled from Jerusalem by Nehemiah, upon which he went over to his father-in-law, with a large number both of priests and laymen, and became the first priest of the sanctuary on Gerizim.[6] Thus the religious establishment of the Samaritans was actually inaugurated by the high-priest of Jehovah directly descended from Aaron, in a city, the inhabitants of which, to use the words of Josephus, were chiefly "deserters from the nation of the Jews." These facts certainly seem to indicate a much stronger connection between the Samaritan people and Israel, and a much broader Jehovistic element in their religion, than is commonly assumed. They certainly had the true succession in their priesthood. The political animosity which began with Zerubbabel's rude repulse (or rather, perhaps, centuries earlier, before the separation of the northern and southern kingdoms), was fanned by the constant secessions of discontented and turbulent Jews from the Holy City, and is quite enough to account for the exaggeration and ill-will which have existed on both sides with such virulence and pertinacity.

I will now endeavour to describe the rites of the Yom kippoor, or Day of Atonement, of the Samaritans, as I witnessed it at Nabloos in 1861---in an extract from a letter at the time.

"I arrived at the town on Friday, October 11th. One of the first persons I encountered was a Samaritan, who was well known in England some years back, Jacob esh-Shelaby. In his house I remained during my stay, and to him I am indebted for all that I saw and heard. From sunset of Thursday, the 11th, to that of Friday, the 12th, was the Sabbath of the Samaritans, and from the sunset of the 12th to that of the 13th, the yom kippoor. This is, I believe, about a month later than the date at which the day is kept by the Jews. The reason of this I could not discover, either from the Samaritans, or from some learned Jews of whom I inquired in Damascus: I can only conjecture that it arises from a difference in the calculation of the days which have to be added to adjust the difference between the solar and lunar years.

The Samaritans, who number between ninety and a hundred souls, besides women and children, inhabit a quarter of their own at the south-west angle of the town. The Synagogue is situated within the quarter. I entered it first on the evening of the Sabbath, at 5 o'clock, so as to see the conclusion of the ordinary service, and the commencement of that of the Fast. They tell you that the building is 600 years old; and though this is probably exaggerated, it has no ornamentation or other evidence to contradict it, and it is a venerable edifice, quite in keeping with the venerable sect who worship within it. Through a little garden, shut in by high walls, I entered a small square covered court, which at that time was filled with women and children. From thence two low steps lead up into the church. Here I put off my boots, and left them amongst the numerous slippers of the community who had already entered. The building may be best described as a nave of two bays, with chancel and north and south transepts of one bay each, and a chapel between the north transept and the west end of the nave. The three last-named portions are raised one step. Each bay is groined, and there are two small round apertures in the roof. Besides these the only opening is the door. The walls are white, and from the vaults hang two quaint glass-chandeliers, and one small glass oil lamb. The door is in the north transept, so that on entering, the recess for the Torah, or Book of the Law, answering to the chancel, was on the left. Directly opposite the door hung a European clock. I retreated to the corner immediately on my right, from thence, being raised a step, I could overlook the rest, without being myself too prominent. 

It was a striking scene. The floor was covered with carpets. Except a space left up the transepts, the whole building was nearly filled by about eighty persons, of whom fifteen or twenty were women and children, the rest men. All were in white surplices or gowns, with white turbans round their red tarbooshes. All were squatted on the ground, and looking towards the recess of the Torah, which points in the direction of the Kibleh on Mount Gerizim, the one holy place of the community. The back of this recess was hung with a veil of dull red and gold---the one piece of colour on the walls; behind which, among other similar, but less precious treasures, was the Book, or rather Roll of the Law, which the Samaritans affirm to be by the actual hand of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron. The only articles of furniture in the chancel were a stool, and something which looked like a high-backed chair---a stand for the exhibition of the sacred rolls. On the stool lay a bundle in blue silk. It was a famous book of the Pentateuch (not a roll) wrapped in handkerchiefs, the offerings of the pious. 

In front of the chancel, a little towards the right, was the priest, erect. He was dressed exactly like the others, and was reading some service in a loud, harsh, monotonous chant or plainsong, varied by occasional jerks or barks, and by strange gestures, as if he were trying to bite violently something immediately in front of him, producing altogether not exactly a ludicrous, but a most disagreeable and discordant effect. Every here and there the congregation joined in with him, with no concord, but the most extreme discord.

I soon discovered that there was a division in the congregation. Between the door and the corner of the chancel was a single row of figures squatting against the wall. These were the learned. They also filled the recess of the further transept, and one was even within the line of the chancel itself. This single individual, I afterwards learned, was the younger of the two priests of the community. After the minister had proceeded for some time with his violent ministrations he stopped, and this second priest began in a different tone, much quieter, and evidently on different matter. Presently all rose, and prostrated themselves in the Moslem fashion, with their faces to the ground, uttered a sort of booming sound---the only approach to concord or an agreeable noise which I heard during the whole evening. This I took to be the general Amen at the conclusion of the regular service. So it was. It was sunset. The Sabbath had ended; but the rites of the yom kippoor commenced without an instant's interval. I had noticed water-bottles circulating freely amongst the worshippers for several minutes before this. They were now emptied and placed on a shelf over my head.The fast had begun, and till the next sunset neither meat, drink, smoke, or even medicine will be tasted (however grave the case) by man, woman, child, infant, or suckling.

That the service had changed was quickly evident. The elder priest re-commenced reading, and now the whole congregation with him. It was the first chapter of the Law---the first verse of Genesis---Barashit bara Elooim.[7]The services of this great day, the only fast in the Samaritan calendar---which, from its severity, is looked forward to with uneasiness for the whole year---consist of the recital of the whole Pentateuch by the priests and people, interspersed with common prayers, of the kind already described, and creeds, or professions of faith. A few of the congregation had books; but if all had possessed them it would have been of no avail for a considerable part of the time, for the service is continues through the night, without even the feeble lamp, which, on every other night of the year but this, burns in front of the holy books. The two priests and a few of the people know the whole of the Torah by heart; others know a single book; others a few chapters; so that there are always respondents. All stood up, and the storm of harsh voices raged around. They seemed to repeat very fast, and with a metrical, jumping sort of measure, which converted it almost into a gallop. Now and then---at what particular passages I could not discover---they roared or barked still more loudly; now and then they prostrated themselves. The prostrations are made at certain solemn portions of the law, such as the Ten Commmandments. They are made by rising from the squatting posture to the knees, then the town hands are placed flat on the floor, the palms down, and the forehead (not the nose, as in the Moslem prostrations) is brought to the floor between them.

After going in this way through two or three chapters, they stopped; and the younger priest re-commenced prayers in the plain chant, with occasional responses. His part was very similar to the old Gregorian plainsong of the Roman Church, but even more archaic in its turns. After a quarter of an hour of this, an aged man, seated next to the door, began to read the Law. His peculiarity seemed to be the repetition, four or five times over, of the last syllable of each sentence, with a rumbling, mouthing sound, inexpressibly tedious of hear, but which evidently afforded him the greatest satisfaction. Then the reading in chorus began again, and then I came out. A good deal of private devotion had gone on during the general service. For instance: my host and several others came in, and taking their places here and there, went through a series of prostrations and elevations, of the same kind as the ordinary prayers of the Moslems, except the small gestures of touching the ears, turning right and left, etc.: and during these, it is only right to say, they were most devout and entirely absorbed. But there was also a good deal of talking amongst the general body in my neighbourhood, arising, in some measure, from the presence of the children, who pushed in and out, and already began whimpering and teasing for water. It was not, however, the talking or minor interruptions that struck me, so much as the hard, undevotional, violent character of the proceedings. Not a soul seemed to be touched or interested. It was not disorderly, but seemed a service without worship.

I have already spoken of the extreme strictness with which the fast is kept. The wails and screams of the unfortunate infants in the neighbouring houses during the whole of the evening and night, testify that this part of my statement is not exaggerated.

The next morning was occupied in a visit to a village called Awerth, a few miles off, which contains the traditional sepulchers of Eleazar and Phinehas, the son and grandson of Aaron; and a cave, reputed to have been the residence of Elijah. In the afternoon, I returned to the synagogue. It was 3.45 P.M.: more than two hours of this weary day still remained to be passed before the sunset should release the worshippers. The reading of the Law was going on in earnest. They were deep in Deuteronomy. The church was not quite so full as when I first saw it; but there were still a large number present. The divan on the right was occupied as before by the unlearned, who looked on with a listless air, and shouted a verse or two now and then, as memory served; and by sleepers, taking a short rest before the final scenes. Two or three women kept their ground in my corner; and several children and youths, completely exhausted, were stretched like dogs on the matting. On the other hand, the initiated on the lower part of the floor had gathered closer, and were formed into a wide circle, facing the chancel, squatting round with books of the law open on their knees, or supported on low stands. Some of the books were very large, written apparently with great beauty and width of margin---some of them still in separate sheets. The priests were taking no part, but seemed to have relinquished the reading altogether to the congregation, reserving themselves, no doubt, for what was coming. The younger man occupied himself in wrapping up, in its hundred and twenty handkerchiefs, the book of which I have already spoken, and which had been used during the morning.

The sound of the service was much the same as it had been last night, only, if possible, more discordant; but the aspect of the scene was most pleasing, and struck me more than at the first. Many of the men were models of manly beauty, tall and dignified in form, and with lofty, open, and most engaging countenances. There are few postures in the world more noble and graceful than that in which Orientals sit on the ground. But all these were not sitting. A few were standing, if possible, in a still more striking posture; propped up against the wall, like Belisarius in the well know picture, on long staves, and holding out both hands in an attitude of deprecation, or adoration. Then, the pure white dresses, just relieved by a little dash of colour in the red caps emerging from the turbans, or of a red or yellow scarf escaping here and there; the quaint charm and glister of the antique chandeliers, the venerable vaults above, and the rich solid hue of the carpets underfoot, all tempered by the sweet soft light of the Eastern afternoon as it flowed in at the door, or wavered down from the apertures overhead---these things combined to form a picture which, to a deaf man, would have been without alloy, and which was so beautiful for a few moments as I contemplated it.

But I was not long in coming to myself; and then I found that the speed of the recitation was increasing. At last it became a perfect race. Then they fell as before, only more decidedly, into a metrical pace but with a concord of measure only, not of pitch. This sort of metre was constantly varied during the rest of the service. When at length the two great songs, with which Deuteronomy concludes, had been reached, there was a general stir, and a movement towards the front of the sanctuary. The priests came forth from behind the red veil, clad in dresses of very light green satin down to the feet, and the recitations proceeded with greater clamour and impetuosity than ever. Then the two great rolls, which, according to the Samaritans themselves, have stood to them in the place of the ancient glories of their temple since its destruction, and have certainly been the desire and despair of European scholars since the time of Scaliger's time, were brought forth, enveloped in coverings of light blue velvet, and placed on the sloping stand in the center of the recess. At last the law was ended, amidst a perfect tumult, by the reiteration of one syllable--ah or lah--at least thirty times. Then the two priests again emerged from behind again emerged from behind the curtain, this time with a white cloth, or shawl, covering the head and reaching nearly to their knees; they put off the velvet coverings, and exposed the cases of the rolls to view. That to the right was bright silver, and evidently of modern make; the other puzzled me more. It was too distant for me to see any of its details, but the whole effect struck me as that of Veneto-oriental work, of a date some centuries back. The sequel will show what it really is. The production of the rolls was the signal for prostrations, fresh prayers, and fresh responses, which lasted at least a quarter of an hour. And now came the great event of the day--nay, of the year. The priests opened the cases so as to expose their contents to view; and then, with their backs to the congregation, and their faces towards the Holy Place on Gerizim, held them up over their heads, with the sacred parchments full in view of the whole synagogue. Every one prostrated himself, and that not once, but repeatedly, and for a length of time. Then the devout pressed forwards to kiss, to stroke fondly, to touch, or, if none of these were possible, to gaze on the precious treasures. Several children were allowed to kiss. It was past five; and now commenced, if indeed they can ever be said to have ceased, a succession of prayers and catechisms between priest and congregation; he intoning, and they vociferating, after him, with him, before him, apparently in the wildest confusion. His chant had a strong resemblance to the ordinary plainsong in the Roman Church, and was tunable enough, with the exception of a sort of jerk or hiccup which occasionally occurred, and which threw an individual, and quite a savage character into it. Their part I can compare to nothing but the psalms for the day as performed at St. George's-in-the-East during the riots, when a majority said, and a minority sung them; and even that wanted the force and energy which here lent such a dreadful life to the discord. These responses--which I was afterwards told were avowals of their belief in Jehovah and in Moses--were accompanied by constant sudden prostrations, the effect of which was most remarkable, and by frequently rubbing down the whole face and beard with the right hand, a gesture which I had not noticed till now.[8] At intervals during this time, the kissing and stroking of the rolls, as they lay in state on the sloping stand, was going on to an extant which must seriously injure them, and would be fatal if it happened oftener. The one in the old case was the favorite. Had I not been present this day, I doubt if, even with Jacob's influence, I should have seen it; for it is brought out with great reluctance, and all kinds of subterfuges are resorted to, to avoid showing it to travelers. One little episode of this part of the proceedings struck me. There was a youth, whom I caught sight of timidly hovering behind the bolder spirits who pressed round the rolls, as if anxious, yet afraid, to come forward:--

"Still pressing, longing, to be right, Yet fearing to be wrong."

Poor fellow! After all he missed his opportunity, and only succeeded in summoning his courage when the roll was shut, and it was too late to do more than touch the silver case. I pitied him from my heart, and longed that such modest, Christian diffidence in sacred things, might have a worthier object for its exercise. It was a pretty little incident, and formed one of the few touches of human feeling which softened the harshness of this most singular service. The catechizing I have mentioned went on for nearly an hour, till it seemed positively interminable. My weariness now became extreme. The length, the discordance, the noise, perhaps more than anything the unintelligibility of the whole, and also my anxiety for the poor fainting children stewed around, like so many Ishmaels in the last stage of existence for want of water and food--all combined to make me heartily wish it over. At length came an indication that the end was near. An elder advanced towards the door and put a plate on the ground for contributions. This attempt at a "collection" was the only part of the whole in which I could find any connecting link with the practices of our Church. It may have been a customary thing; but I fear it was aimed at the Nazarene stranger. At any rate, the sums put in by others were so exceedingly minute, that I feel pretty confident they only deposited as baits for me. I did not disappoint the expectations of my friends, though it required some nerve to drop my mite, as the plate was taken in charge by two ancients, who seized my five-franc piece, almost before it left my fingers, and scrutinized its look and weight with the greatest care.

At last the Holy Books were consigned to their retirement behind the veil, there to remain for another year. By degrees all went out. The little lamp was lowered from the ceiling, lighted, and left burning in the twilight before the sanctuary, and the yom kippoor for the year 1270 (as the Samaritans reckon, according to the Mahometan era) was at an end. 

I confess that I was fairly exhausted. And if this was my case- a mere spectator of a small portion of the proceedings--how must it have been with those who had gone through the whole labour of the day and night? The priests, the weak, the old, the women, who to the severe privations of the fast had added the pain of twenty-four hours almost incessant vociferation? For a few there were, such as the old man by the door, and some in the transept at the end, who had shouted the whole time. Any one who has taken part in the chorus of an oratorio knows how fatiguing that is, even for the two hours and a half or three hours of its duration, and how absolutely necessary refreshing becomes between the parts, even to those who are in the habit of singing regularly and frequently. But here were people who had been undergoing a similar exertion for twenty-four hours, after the interval of a twelvemonth, with no refreshment whatever, beyond an occasional expectoration! Strange to say, they were not nearly so exhausted as I imagined. I made my host take me to the elder just mentioned, and he really seemed neither hoarse nor weary. Smoke was the refreshment most immediately in request, and food only later in the evening, when the wants of the children and women had been satisfied.

And so finished this most curious and suggestive scene. My chief desire throughout, as far as the strange sights and sounds left me any room for reflection, had been, as you will imagine, to see if any illustration, had been, as you will imagine, to see if any illustration could be gained from it of the ancient Jewish ritual--the general ritual I mean, not that of the Day of Atonement only. If the Samaritan community be, as Stanley seems to believe, the most faithful representative of the old nation of Israel, is there not some reason for believing it possible that services of Nabloos may retain a likeness to those of the times of the monarchy? I do not pretend to have examined the subject at all sufficiently to have come to any conclusion upon it. But what I saw and heard certainly threw a new light upon it in my mind, and as it is an interesting question, I will name one or two points which seem to me worth further consideration.

1. There is the fact of the undeniable likeness which I have noticed between the chant or plainsong of the priest, and that which is always considered to be the oldest part of the music of the Christian Church, and the eastern origin of which is now, I believe, pretty generally admitted. 2. The probability that a small persecuted sect like the Samaritans would retain such a thing without material change, as they certainly have retained other trifling usages; such, for instance, as the cross on the spit of the Passover lambs )of which more anon). 3. The dissimilarity between the method of responding of the Samaritans, and that in the zikkrs or common worship of the Moslems; which, wild, repulsive, and heathenish as they are, are of an entirely different character, for instance, are always in concord both of time and tune with the leader. 4. The sentiment or sacredness of the words of the Psalms employed in the ancient Jewish liturgy, would be no argument against their having been sung in the discordant tumultuous manner of the Samaritans; for what can be more sacred or pathetic than some of the passages in the Pentateuch, which I actually heard so sung? 5. On the other hand, may there not be some positive indications of the existence of similar discord in the ancient services, in the constant mention of "horns" (nothing but horns of animals, recollect), and "cymbals;" of "mighty men" (that is great, strong persons) chosen as singers and players; the frequent use, in describing these services, of such expressions as "loud noises," "shout," "roar," etc. The predominance of wind instruments---the "horns" just mentioned, as well as "cornets" and "trumpets" of metal, in the displays of which David was so fond, is in itself an evidence of the discord which must have reigned in them; for those instruments are still the greatest difficulty of orchestras, and with all the modern resources are extremely difficult to keep, and still more to play, in tune. But it would be premature to argue the question on such slender grounds, and, indeed, I should be almost reluctant to pursue it further, for it would be a real calamity for which even the truth could hardly console one, to discover that the "Songs of Zion," which the Christian world has always regarded as the perfection of beauty (according to the modern ideas in music), at all resembled the harsh vociferations of the Samaritans, or that the "services of the sanctuary" were so bereft of enthusiasm and feeling as theirs are, and so exactly like the repetition of a hard and uninteresting lesson.

I must not forget to tell you later in the evening, when all the rest of the quarter were in bed, through the good offices of my host, he and I met the priest at the synagogue, and in consideration of a liberal backsheesh, and the present of my knife, I was allowed to examine the case of the Great Roll, and even to make some rubbings of parts of it--very imperfect, for I had not at all the proper things with me. He began by assuring me it was 1,400 years old. I told him if he took away the 1,000, I thought he would not be far from the truth, and so it proved, for not only was my former conjecture confirmed, but on examination, the priest himself found a date which he read as equivalent to A.D. 1420.[9] It is a beautiful and curious piece of work: a cylinder of about two feet six inches long and ten or twelve inches diameter, opening down the middle. One of the halves is engraved with a ground-plan of the Tabernacle, showing every post, tenon, veil, piece of furniture, vessel, etc., with a legend attached to each--all in raised work. The other half is covered with ornament only, also raised. It is silver, and I think--but the light was very imperfect--parcel-gilt. My visit would probably have been very much resented by the community, if they had known of it; and the feeling of this added a curious zest to it; as it was, I could not help fancying I was committing sacrilege; stealing-in in the dark and thus handling holy things. Of the roll itself I say nothing, partly because, knowing nothing of the subject, I hardly looked at it; and, partly because it has been thoroughly examined by, and, I believe, copied by, or for, a Russian Jew named Levisohn, at Jerusalem, who is devoting himself to the Samaritan Pentateuch, and will very soon publish his discoveries.[10]

One thing more, and I have finished. I have solved the mystery of the cross-spit. The Passover lambs (require six for the community now) are roasted all together, by stuffing them vertically, head down-wards, into an oven, which is like a small well, about three feet diameter and four or five feet deep, roughly steined, in which a fire has been kept up for several hours. After the lambs are thrust in, the top of the hole is covered with bushes and earth, to confine the heat till the lambs are done. Each lamb has a stake or spit run through him to draw him up by; and, to prevent the spit from tearing away through the roast meat with the weight, a cross piece is put through the lower end of it. This is all. But it is still a curious thing, and must have startled the first Christian who noticed it in modern times, through he may not have drawn the same inference from it as old Justin did.

October 1861.
[1] This read was taken from the book Narrative of an Explorer in Tropical South Africa, Being an Account of a Visit to Damaraland in 1851. By Francis Galton, F.R.S.. Published by Ward, Lock and Co., London, New York, and Melbourne. 1889. p. 241-258. This one footnote is the only one not in the article. [2] Those who would like to pursue this interesting subject farther, may be referred to the following sources:-The letters from the Samaritans to Scaliger (A.D. 1589), are given by De Sacy in Eichhorn's "Repertorium," etc., vol. Xiii., p. 257. Those to Ludolf, with others to De Sacy himself, and with a resume' of the whole correspndence, in his Paper in the "Notices et Extraits," tom. xii. See also Schurrer in the "Repertorium," vol. Ix., p.I. On the whole, the fullestreport of the existing community is that of Dr. Wilson ("Lands of the Bible", ii. 46-78, and 687-701). He gives lists of their names, a copy and translation of a marriage covenant, their Creed, and other information, which his knowledge of Hebrew and Arabic enabled him to obtain. The narritive of the Abbe' Baarges ("Les Samaritains de Naplouse") is worth reading. But as interesting as any is a small book called: Notices of the Modern Samaritans," the personal history of the family of Jacob esh-Shelaby, as dictated by himself to Mr. Rogers our excellent Consul at Damascus, who was formerly stationed in the neighbourhood of Nabloos. [3] 2 Chron. xxiv. 9. [4] Jer. xli. 5, and the article on Ishmael, son of Nethaniah, in Smith's "Dictionary of the Bible," vol.i., p.895.  [5] Ezra iv. 1-3. [6] Josephus, "Antiquities," xi.8 & 2-7 [7] This is the Samaritan pronunciation of the words which in Hebrew are pronounced Bereshith bara Elohim. [8] I afterwards saw this gesture frequently used by the Moslems. "It signifies blessing," I was told. It is used when any sacred name or form of words is said, and seems to be an attempt actually to catch the grace of the words, residing in the breath of the speaker himself, and communicate it to his countenance. [9] These rubbings have since been shown to the authorities of the South Kensington Museum, and pronounced to be Venetian work of the fourteenth or fifteenth century. [10] A short account of these discoveries was published in the papers not long since; and among other statements it was said that 24,000 variations had been discovered between this and the ordinary Hebrew Pentateuch. I have very lately heard from Jerusalem that Mr. Levisohn's progress is stopped for want of funds--a want common enough in that part of the world, but one which surely might be remedied without difficulty.

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