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Jews vs. Samaritans

The war of 70 CE wasn’t the first time the Jewish Temple was destroyed. Jews had their first Temple destroyed by the Babylonians. Though each destruction transformed Judaism into a new creature each time:

  1. Israelites (polytheists with a national God, possibly with traditions found now in Pentateuch)
  2. 587 BCE – destruction of the First Temple. Now Judeans; monotheists, super strict monotheists after 164 BCE (the Civil War between Traditionalist Jews and Hellenistic Jews; Traditionalists won and started celebrating the clearing of the Temple of Hellenistic desecration with Hanukkah), now venerating Prophets and later Writings like Daniel and books fictionalizing/idealizing the history of their judges, kings and rulers.
  3. 70 CE – destruction of the Second Temple. Now Rabbinic Judaism; moralistic religion without a temple, crystallized around 200 CE with the Mishna, essentially an idealized study of what temple life should have been like, with universal lessons drawn from that idealized study.

According to James D Purvis, The Samaritan Pentateuch and the Origin of the Samaritan Sect (1968), the Pentateuch was brought back by the returning Judean exiles, who were installed by the Persians to replace the local Babylonian appointed elite classes (more in depth in my more recent post about Passover and the Exodus and a slight digression in my post on the History of Early Christianity).

This Pentateuch was accepted more or less by the Israelite “people of the land” (those who had not been exiled but remained to tend to the land as royal tenants) both in Judah and in Samaria (the remains of the old kingdom of Israel. In the Dual Monarchy period, the two were the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Northern Kingdom was actually about to invade the Southern Kingdom in Isaiah 7, v14 is the Sign of Emmanuel where by the time the child in v14 grows to puberty [Isaiah 7:15], the Northern Kingdom [Isaiah 7:16, one of the two kingdoms in that verse] will be defeated), but more especially by those in Judea as the exiles ruled that province directly, but did not rule the province of Samaria.

Tensions arose between the political objectives of the Judaite elites and the Samaritan elites, who did not seem to see eye to eye. The Judean elites thought they were much better representatives of the old Israelite tradition, and the Samaritan elites thought the same of their traditions. They survived in a kind of symbiotic tension through the Persian and Hellenistic periods, each maintaining competing temples, until the Judean rebellion against the Syrian king Antiochus IV Epiphanes ignited super nationalism among the Judaites. The Hasmonean prince John Hyrcanus attacked Samaria and destroyed their temple in 128 BCE, and from that point on, Samaritan Israelites severed their relationship with Judaic sponsored religion and redacted their edition of the Pentateuch.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2009 in first temple, israel, jews, judea, northern kingdom, samaria, samaritans, second temple, southern kingdom

 
 
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