Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Samaritan Ten Commandments

A real piece of history is up for sale at Heritage Auctions in Dallas: a marble tablet inscribed with the Ten Commandments in Samaritan. The Samaritans are people of Palestine whose religion is very similar to Judaism, so close that the two must be offshoots of the same root. Some Samaritans believe that theirs is the faith of the Jews who remained in Judea when the leadership was take to Babylon in the Exile; rabbinical Judaism, they believe, was altered by reactions to that experience, making theirs the older and truer faith. Their language was closely related to Hebrew. Today fewer than a thousand Samaritans survive.

The Samaritan version of the commandments is recorded in only half a dozen texts from before the Muslim conquest, and this stone is one of them. It measures about 2 by 2 feet (60x60 cm) and weights 115 pounds (52 kg). It was carved between 350 and 650 CE. It was excavated in 1913 near Yavneh, Israel.

According to Heritage Auctions, the text on the stone translates as follows (with line numbers):

1. Dedicated in the name of Korach
2. I will call you to remember for goodness forever
3. God spoke
4. all these words
5. saying I am the Lord
6. your God you shall not have
7. for yourself other Gods
8. besides me; you shall not make
9. for yourself a sculptured image or any likeness;
10. for I the Lord
11. your God am an impassioned God;
12. Remember the Sabbath day
13. keep it holy; honor
14. your father and your mother;
15. you shall not murder; you shall not commit adultery;
16. you shall not steal; you shall not bear [false witness] against your neighbor
17. you shall not covet; you shall erect
18. these stones that
19. I am commanding you today
20. on Mount Gerizim rise up to God

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