Bible Query from the Samaritan Pentateuch




 February 2006 version. Copyright (c) Christian Debater(r) 1997-2006. All rights reserved except as given in the copyright notice. 



Q: What do we know about the Samaritan variant of Judaism?
A: The Samaritan version of Judaism had three differences from Judaism in Galilee and Judah
1. Place of worship: The Samaritans insisted the temple was to be at Mt. Gerizim in Samaria, not Jerusalem
2. Missing books: Like the Sadducees, they accepted only the First five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch), and not any others (which generally spoke highly of Jerusalem)
3. Changes to the Pentateuch: The Samaritan Pentateuch had a number of changes, which scholars today generally agree were corruptions by the Samaritans.
There were very few differences other than those three. But because of those differences, Jews looked down on Samaritans and vice versa.

Q: What do we know about the Samaritan Pentateuch?
A: The Samaritans made their own copy of the Torah in the second century B.C., though the earliest surviving Samaritan copies are from the Middle Ages. The Dead Sea Scrolls Today p.125-126. The Encyclopedia of the Dead Sea Scrolls vol.1 p.277 says "the Samaritan Pentateuch tends to expand the text by frequently inserting parallel material from other places in the Pentateuch."
The Samaritan Pentateuch compares very closely with the Massoretic text and Dead Sea scrolls, except for some obvious changes (Mt. Gerizim instead of Jerusalem, etc.) All of the Samaritan Pentateuch manuscripts are Medieval though. Some of them are Codex Add. 1846 (1100 A.D.), Codex B (1345/1356 A.D.), Manuscript E (1219 A.D.), and the Abisha' Scroll (12th -13th century). See The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls p.93-95 for more info.
Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, one manuscript from Qumran cave 4 is Exodus from the Samaritan Pentateuch. According to The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.934-939, here are the differences, from least important to most significant.
The grammar of the Samaritan Hebrew was a little different
Copyist errors are frequent in the manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch.
Phrase Smoothing was done for some of the most archaic and difficult Hebrew phrases were replaced with phrases easier to understand for Samaritans. Some prepositions, nouns, subject, and appositives were added to the Samaritan text, to clarify the meaning, not unlike a Bible paraphrase today.
Altering objectionable passages was done. For example,
Worshipping God on Mt Gerizim instead of Mt. Ebal is the most famous one. (Dt 27:4)
The word "Elohim", from which one might infer a plurality of gods, is changed to the singular form in Genesis 20:13; 31:53; 35:7; Exodus 22:8.
Consolidation: In the Samaritan Pentateuch many passages in Deuteronomy are added right before or after the corresponding passage in Numbers, or in one case Exodus.
Dt 1:6-8 is added right before Num 10:11
Dt 1:20-23 is added right before Num 14:41
Dt 2:2-6 is added right after Num 20:13b
Dt 2:9 is added right after Num 21:11
Dt 2:17-19 is added right after Num 21:12
Dt 2:24-29,31 is added right after Num 21:20
Dt 3:24-28 is added right after Num 20:13.
Dt 2:8 and 10:6-7 are based on Num 20:17-18 and Num 33:31-38a.
Dt 11:29-30 and 27:2b-3a,407 after Ex 20:17, and telling the Israelites to build the temple on Mt. Gerizim.
Dt 27:2-7 is after Dt 5:21.

Q: What are manuscript variations between the Massoretic text and other versions vs. the Samaritan Pentateuch?
A: Here are some of them. The verse references in bold are where we are uncertain of the correct reading. The ones not in bold are almost certainly where the Samaritan Pentateuch is incorrect. There are many other variants not listed here where the Samaritan Pentateuch is almost certainly incorrect too.
Gen 4:8 "Abel" vs. "Abel, Let us go out to the field" (Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, Neophyti I targum, Syriac, compare Vulgate)
The genealogical tables in Genesis 5 and 11:10-26 are a little different in the Samaritan Pentateuch (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5)
Gen 10:4 "Dodanim" vs. "Rodanim" (some Hebrew, Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint)
Gen 22:19 "Ram behind [him]" (most Massoretic texts) vs. "Ram" (some Massoretic texts, Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, Syriac)
Gen 30:36 absent vs. "that an angel appeared to Jacob in a dream revealing his portion in Laban's herds" (Samaritan Pentateuch)
Gen 31:49 "Mizpah" vs. "pillar witnesses" (Septuagint) vs. "the pillar of Mizpah" (Samaritan Pentateuch)
Gen 36:3 "Basemath" (Massoretic texts, Septuagint) vs. "Mahalath" (Samaritan Pentateuch) (The Expositor's Bible Commentary p.195)
Gen 36:16 "Korah/Core" (Massoretic texts and Septuagint) vs. (absent) (Samaritan Pentateuch, 1 Chronicles 1:36)
Gen 36:39 "Hadar" (most Massoretic texts) vs. "Barad" (Septuagint) vs. "Hadad" (some Massoretic texts, Samaritan Pentateuch, Syriac)
Gen 37:36 "Medanites" vs. "Midianites" (Septuagint, Samaritan Pentateuch, Vulgate, Syriac)
Gen 41:48 "food of the seven years which were in the land" vs. "food of the seven years, in which was the plenty in the land " (Septuagint, Samaritan Pentateuch)
Gen 46:13 "Puah" vs. "Phua" (Septuagint) vs. "Puvah" (Samaritan Pentateuch, Syriac, 1 Chronicles 7:1)
Gen 46:13 "Iob" vs. "Jashub" (some Septuagint, Samaritan Pentateuch)
Gen 46:16 "Ziphion" vs. "Zephon" (Septuagint, Samaritan Pentateuch, Numbers 26:15)
Gen 47:21 "he removed them to the cities" vs. "he made slaves of them" (Septuagint, Samaritan Pentateuch)
Gen 49:7 "their anger is cursed" vs. "their anger is beautiful" (Samaritan Pentateuch) (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5)
Gen 50:23 "upon the knees of Joseph vs. "in the days of Joseph" (4 letters) (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5)
Ex 1:22 "born" vs. "born to Hebrews" (Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, and Targums)
Ex 4:22 "my first-born son" vs. "My own people" (Samaritan Pentateuch) (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5)
Ex 12:16 "all work" vs. "any kind of servile work" (Samaritan Pentateuch) (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5)
Ex 12:40 "children of Israel lived in Egypt" (Massoretic) vs. "children of Israel lived in Egypt and Canaan" in (Septuagint) vs. "children of Israel and their fathers lived in Egypt and Canaan" (Samaritan Pentateuch). Josephus writing about 93-94 A.D. in Antiquities of the Jews 2.15.2 also says they were in Egypt 215 years which is consistent with the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Septuagint. Josephus said it was 430 years after Abraham came into Canaan. See Pharaohs and Kings : A Biblical Quest p.330-331 for more info. The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 says, "in the land of Canaan".
Ex 15:8 "breath from your nostrils" vs. "breath from you" (Samaritan Pentateuch) (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5)
Ex 20:17 is immediately followed by Dt 11:29-30 and 27:2b-3a,407, telling the Israelites to build the temple on Mt. Gerizim in the Samaritan Pentateuch. (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.937)
Ex 20:24 "in the placed where I have caused my name" vs. "in every place where I will cause my name" (Samaritan Pentateuch) (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5)
Ex 22:8 "Elohim" to "El" (Samaritan Pentateuch) (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5)
Lev 11:13-19, vulture" (21 birds) vs. absent (20 birds) Septuagint, Samaritan Pentateuch
Lev 26:31 "your sanctuary" vs. "your sanctuaries" (Samaritan Pentateuch) (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5)
Num 2:14 the name "Reuel" vs. "Deuel" in the Samaritan Pentateuch, Vulgate, and many Massoretic manuscripts. The Hebrew letters for "r" and "d" are very similar, and this is similar to "Rodanim vs. Dodanim in Genesis 10:4. The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.2 p.715 says that Deuel is probably the superior reading.
Num 3:12 "I have taken the Levites ... instead of every firstborn" (Massoretic text and 4Q23 vs. "I have taken the Levites ... they will be the ones redeemed instead of every firstborn" (Samaritan Pentateuch
Num 3:39 "and Aaron" with special dots over the word (many Massoretic texts) vs. "and Aaron" (Septuagint) vs. absent in numerous Hebrew manuscripts, Syriac, and the Samaritan Pentateuch. Scribes would do this to express doubt about the verse. The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.2 p.728 says, "The presence of these dots over a questionable word the scribes were loath to drop shows the level of care and concern for the minutia of the text by the Jewish scholars through the ages."
Num 4:3 "from 30 years old" (Massoretic text, 4Q23, Samaritan Pentateuch) vs. "from 25 years old) (Septuagint)
Num 9:3 "in the evening" (Massoretic text, Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint) vs. "in the day" (4Q23)
Num 10:11 is immediately preceded by Dt 1:6-8 in the Samaritan Pentateuch. (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.937)
Num 14:41 is immediately preceded by Dt 1:20-23 in the Samaritan Pentateuch. (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.937)
Num 20:13 is immediately followed by Dt 3:24-28 in the Samaritan Pentateuch. (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.937)
Num 20:13b is immediately followed by Dt 2:2-6 in the Samaritan Pentateuch. (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.937)
Num 21:11 is immediately followed by Dt 2:9 in the Samaritan Pentateuch. (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.937)
Num 21:12 is immediately followed by Dt 2:17-19 in the Samaritan Pentateuch. (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.937)
Num 21:20 is immediately followed by Dt 2:24-29,31 in the Samaritan Pentateuch. (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.937)
Num 22:20; 23:4,5,16 "God" vs. "an angel of God" Samaritan Pentateuch) (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5)
Num 24:17 (uncertain) vs. "the skulls" in the Samaritan Pentateuch
Num 26:17 "Arod" vs. "Arodi" in the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Syriac
Num 26:23 "through Puvah/Puwah/Puwwah, the Punite" (many Hebrew manuscripts) vs. "through "Pu'ah, the Puite" in the Septuagint, Samaritan Pentateuch, Vulgate, and Syriac.
Num 26:39 "Shephupham" vs. "Shupham" in the Samaritan Pentateuch, Vulgate, Syriac, Septuagint, and some Massoretic manuscripts
Num 26:40 absent vs. "through Ard" in the Samaritan Pentateuch and Vulgate
Num 27:23 the Samaritan Pentateuch adds "and said to him and then adds Deuteronomy 3:21-22.) The Expositor's Bible Commentary vol.2 p.94
Num 32:29,31,33 "Gad ... Reuben" 3 times ( Massoretic, 4Q23) vs. "Reuben ... Gad" 3 times (Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint)
Num 33:8 "from before Hahiroth" vs. "Pi Hahiroth" in the Samaritan Pentateuch, Vulgate, and many Massoretic manuscripts
Dt 1:8 "The Lord" vs. "I" (Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint)
Dt 2:8 and 10:6-7 are based on Num 20:17-18 and Num 33:31-38a in the Samaritan Pentateuch. (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.937)
Dt 5:5 "word" vs. "words" (Dead Sea Scrolls, Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate, Targum)
Dt 5:21 is immediately followed by Dt 27:2-7 in the Samaritan Pentateuch. (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5 p.937)
Dt 9:24 "I have known" vs. "he has known" (Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint)
Dt 9:28 "Lest the land" vs. "Lest the people of the land" (Septuagint, Samaritan Pentateuch)
Dt 11:14 "I" vs. "he" (Samaritan Pentateuch, some Septuagint, Vulgate, a mezuzah quotation from the Dead Sea Scrolls)
Dt 12:5 "place where the LORD your God will choose" (Massoretic) vs. "place where the LORD has chosen" (Samaritan Pentateuch)
Dt 20:8 "lest the heart of his brothers faint" (Massoretic, Targum) vs. "lest he make his brother's heart faint" (Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate)
Dt 25:1 "his private parts" vs. "his flesh" (Samaritan Pentateuch)
Dt 27:4 "Mount Ebal" vs. "Mount Gerizim" (Samaritan Pentateuch and Old Latin) [The Samaritans likely changed this to improve their claim that Gerizim, not Jerusalem, was the mountain where they should worship.]
Dt 28:30 changes "grabbed his private parts" (sgl) to "grabbed his flesh" (yshbn)
Dt 28:11 "cattle ... ground" (Massoretic, some Septuagint, Samaritan Pentateuch) vs. "g[round, ... c[attle]" (4QDeut( c ), some Septuagint)
Dt 30:9 "cattle ... ground" (Massoretic) vs. "ground ... cattle" (4Deut(b), Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint) The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible p.187
Dt 31:7 "You will go" vs. "You will bring" (Some Massoretic text, Samaritan Pentateuch, Vulgate)
Dt 32:6 "he repented" vs. "he forgave" (Samaritan Pentateuch) (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5)
Dt 32:10 "found him" vs. "sustained him" (Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint)
Dt 32:15 "Jeshurun" vs. "Jacob ate his fill; Jeshurun" (Dead Sea scrolls, Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint)
Dt 32:43 "cleans his land his people" vs. "cleans the land for his people") Dead Sea Scrolls, Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, Vulgate)
Dt 32:44 "Hoshea" (Massoretic) vs. "Joshua" (Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate) Hosea was Joshua's name prior to Moses renaming him.
Dt 33:2 "He came from Ribebot-kodesh" vs. "with him were myriads of holy ones" (Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate)
Dt 33:12 "will dwell securely upon him" (Massoretic) vs. "will dwell securely" (Samaritan Pentateuch) vs. "upon God" (Septuagint, Dead Sea scroll 4Q35)
Dt 34:10 "there arose not again a prophet like Moses in Israel vs. "there will not arise again" (Samaritan Pentateuch) (The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol.5)

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