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The Temple in Samaria

The Temple in Samaria

According to the Samaritan Pentateuch, which to Samaritans was the only authoritative text, the mountain is the site of Joshua’s altar (Deut. 27:4; JB mg.; MT “Mount Ebal”). The Samaritans also held Gerizim to be the mountain on which God commanded Abram to sacrifice his son Isaac, reading Moreh for Moriah (Gen. 22:2; cf. Gen. 12:6). Samaritan tradition also maintains that the “sanctuary of the Lord” of Josh. 24:26 was a temple on Mt. Gerizim. Probably owing to the shift of sacred activity to Jerusalem under King David, and perhaps because of efforts on the part of Judean writers to detract from the importance of northern sites, the mountain is not mentioned again in the Old Testament. Following the Exile, however, the Samaritans maintained the tradition regarding the mountain, establishing a temple there in the fourth century B.C. Although desecrated by Anticohus IV Epiphanes (2 Macc6:2) and later destroyed by the Jewish king John Hyrcanus in 128, the temple site remained the center of Samaritan worship, particularly as a place of Passover observance. Thus the Samaritan woman told Jesus that her ancestors had worshipped on “this mountain” (John 4:20), perhaps as an accusation that the Jews had departed from the tradition of those forefathers common to both Jews and Samaritans. A small community of Samaritans at Nablus still holds annual celebrations of the Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Booths on Mt. Gerizim. More
Myers, Allen C. The Eerdmans Bible dictionary 1987 : 412. Print.
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