James Silk Buckingham.

Travels in Palestine, through the countries of Bashan and Cilead, east of the River Jordan; including a visit to the cities of Geraza and Gamala, in the Decapolis (Volume 2) online

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Online LibraryJames Silk BuckinghamTravels in Palestine, through the countries of Bashan and Cilead, east of the River Jordan; including a visit to the cities of Geraza and Gamala, in the Decapolis (Volume 2) → online text (page 24 of 26)
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Gerizim on the south, and Ebal on the north,
and so fully occupies the valley between them,
that the mountains may be said to press it in
on each side, and leave 'no room to add any
thing to its breadth. Its length is not, however,
so limited, as there is an extension of the valley
to the east and west, which would admit of the
buildings being continued in each of those di-

* Pliny, Nat. Hist. b. v. c. 13.

f Joseph. Jewish Wars, b. iv. c. 8. s. 1.

1j The Arabs having no P in their alphabet, constantly sup-
ply itsplace by the letter B, as in Nablous, ( JbLO for Nea-
polis ; Attarabulus, ((-.ibMol) f° r Tripolis ; with Butrus,
Boolus, and Butrak, (,** Jaj, yjj, c^Jof) ^ or P eter > Paul,
and Patriarch ; as well as Basha (Lib,) which the Turks and
Persians who have the P in their alphabets, pronounre inva-
riably Pasha w, (|^\


rections. Tlie town consists chiefly of two
long streets, running nearly east and west,
through the centre of the valley described, and
those again intersected by several smaller ones,
mostly crossing them at right-angles. At the
present time the town is populous and flourish-
ing, and the grounds around it bear the marks
of opulence and industry.

Within the town are six mosques, five baths,
one Christian church of schismatic Greeks, an
excellent covered bazar for fine goods, and an
open one for provisions ; besides numerous cot-
ton-cloth manufactories, and shops of every de-
scription. One of the mosques is built within
the precincts of a ruined church of St. Helena,
the eastern front of which is still perfect. This
presents a fine pointed arch, supported by Corin-
thian columns, and the upper part is highly
ornamented, like some of the Saracen doors in
Cairo. Within, are plain granite pillars, and
the whole presents as singular a mixture of or-
ders, and as grotesque a taste, as the ruin at

The resident population of Nablous is thought
to amount to ten thousand, though I should con-
ceive it to be somewhat less. These are almost
all Mohammedans; the few Greek Christians
there scarcely amounting to fifty in number.
The town is governed by a Mutesellim, or Beg,

vol. ir. F F


as he is termed, subject to Damascus ; and he
has at present, about four hundred Amaout
soldiers. The men dress partly in the Turkish
and partly in the Arabian fashion ; but their
general appearance approaches nearer to the
former. The women wear the whole face
covered with a coloured veil, as in the towns of
the Yemen ; and the scarf thrown over their
head and shoulders is of a yellowish white, with
a deep red border ; the stuff being, seemingly,
a silk manufacture, or, at least, a mixture of
that with cotton.

Though Nablous is a place of considerable
trade with Damascus, and with the towns on
the sea-coast, yet there were no Jews here
who remained as permanent residents. As for
the Samaritans, though a remnant of them ex-
isted so late as the time of Maundrell's journey,
or about a century ago, there were not, as I was
informed, half a dozen families remaining, and
these w r ere so obscurely known, and remained in
such privacy, that many who had passed all
their days in this town, did not know of the
existence of such a sect. To so low a state
are the people reduced, who once held this city
as their metropolis, and who established here
the chief seat of their religious as well as of
their temporal power 1

Though the name of Samaritans might, with


propriety, be applied to all the inhabitants of
the country of Samaria, it is generally restricted
to the sect, who before, and at the time of
Christ's being on earth, were so obnoxious to
the Jews on account of their difference of reli-
gion. The principal events in the history of
these people have been already mentioned,
in describing the changes which the city of
Samaria or Sebaste had undergone. By the
facts there stated, it will appear, that the
origin of the Samaritans, properly so called,
is to be assigned to that mixed multitude of
people who were brought from Assyria to re-
place the tribes of Israel, that had been carried
away captive by Shalmanezer ; and who, though
called by the general name of Cutheans *, were
composed, as we learn from the sacred records,
of Dinaites, Apharsathchites, Tarpelites, Aphar-
sites, Archevites, Babylonians, Susanchites, De-
havites, Elamites, and other nations.f

As the Israelites who were carried away re-
tained their old religion in their captivity, so
these foreigners who replaced them adhered to

* They were called in Hebrew, Cuthim, from Cuthah, one
of the provinces out of which they came. (Anc. Un. Hist,
vol. x. p. 185.) And Josephus says, that they were called in
the Hebrew tongue Cutheans, but in the Greek tongue Sama-
ritans. (Ant. Jud. 1. ix. c. 14. s. 3.)

f Ezra, iv. 9.

F F 2


the worship of their own countries ; for the
Scriptures say, " Howbeit every nation made
gods of their own, and put them in the houses
of the high places which the Samaritans had
made."* And after enumerating these by name,
and recapitulating the commands of God against
such idolatry, the sacred writer adds, " How-
beit they did not hearken, but they did after
their former manner." f This was after the Lord
had sent lions among them, who devoured them,
because they knew not the manner of the God
of the land, and after one of the captive priests
had been sent back all the way from Assyria to
save them from these devouring * lions, by
teaching them how to fear the Lord, and instruct-
ing them in the manner of which they were ig-
norant. § The result was a singular mixture of
the monotheism of the Jews with the polytheism
of their ancestors, however incompatible these
two might seem ; for the Scriptures add, " So
these nations feared the Lord, and served their
graven images, both their children, and their
children's children ; as did their fathers, so do
thev unto this day. II

* 2 Kings, xvii. 29. f 2 Kings, xvii. 40.

+ Josephus calls what is here interpreted lions, " a plague.''
(Ant. Jud. 1. ix. c. 14. s.3.)

§ 2 Kings, xxiv. 26 to2S. || Ibid. xvii. 41.


After the return from the captivity of Baby-
lon, when the children of Israel gathered them-
selves together as one man to Jerusalem, and
restored their altars, and were about to rebuild
their temple *, these Samaritans were still a dis-
tinct people, though it is thought from their own
confession that they had abandoned their idola-
try. Nevertheless, they are called K* the ad-
versaries of Judah and Benjamin," even when
they solicited permission to build the temple
with them ; and though it might be true, as they
asserted, that they had sought the God of the
Israelites, and sacrificed unto him, since the days
of Esarhaddon f, the king of Assur, who had
brought them up out of their own lands, yet it
is evident that they had mixed idolatry with
their worship. It was still chiefly on this ac-
count, therefore, that the Jews replied to them,
" Ye have nothing to do with us to build a house
unto our God, but we ourselves together will
build unto the Lord God of Israel, as King
Cyrus, the king of Persia, hath commanded us,t
Again, when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah
the servant, the Ammonite, andGeshem the Ara-
bian, who appear to have been numbered among

* Ezra, iii. 1 , 2.

t The same with Shalmanezar, as he is called by Joscphus,
Ant. Jud. 1. xi. c. 1. s. 3.
I Ezra, iv. 3.

F F 3


the Samaritans, derided the Jews' intentions to
rebuild the wall of the city, Nehemiah replied to
them, «* The God of heaven, he will prosper us,
therefore we his servants will arise and build;
but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial,
in Jerusalem." * This timid restorer of the
city seems to have been often alarmed, or " put
in fear," as he expresses it, by the sneers t and
letters t, and counsels §, and reports ||, of these
wordy opponents ; so much so, that the work
was carried on with the building materials in
one hand, and a weapon in the other ^[, and no
one, except for the purpose of religious ablutions,
ever put off his clothes, even when they lay
down to rest. * * Unnecessary as such precau-
tions seemed against so feeble an enemy as these
Samaritans, it proves at least how obnoxious
they were to the Jews, and how firmly deter-
mined these last were to exclude them from all
participation in their religious labour, or in their
worship at Jerusalem.

Though the Samaritans continued thus dis-
tinct from the Jews, no mention is made of any
temple among them common to all, either for
the worship of the God of Israel, which they

* Nehemiali, ii. 20. f Ibid, iv 2.

1 Ibid. vi. 5. § Ibid. 9.

)| Ibid. vi. 13. U Ibid. iv. 1.
** Ibid. iv. 23.


sometimes professed, or of their own idols, of
which they were accused, until about the period
of Alexander's questionable visit to Jerusalem.*
The circumstance which then gave rise to their
setting up a temple of their own, and separating
themselves still more decidedly than before from
the Jews, was not unlike that of our Eighth
Harry's quarrel with the Pope, which led to the
separation of our reformed church from that of
Rome, and both shew how impatiently the yoke
of forced marriages, or forced divorces, is likely
to be borne, even when it is the holy hands of
religion that would bind it fast. Manasseh, who
was the brother of Jaddua the high-priest, and a
partner with him in that office, was married to
the daughter of a foreigner ; and the jealous
Jews thinking such a precedent might encou-
rage others who were desirous of marrying
strange wives to follow it, ordered him to
divorce his wife, or not to approach the altar ;
while the high-priest, joining with the people
in their indignation against his brother, drove
him away from the sanctuary. Manasseh, says
the historian, then went to his father-in-law
Sanballat, who, as we have seen, was one of the
chief of the Samaritans, and told him that,

* See the arguments against this story, as cited by the
authors of the Universal History, vol. viii. b. 1. c. 2. p. 534.



although he loved his daughter Nicaso, he was
not willing to be deprived of the sacerdotal dig-
nity, which was the principal one of the nation,
on her account. The father promised him, that
if he would keep his daughter for his wife, he
would not only preserve to him the honour he
now held, but make him governor of all the
places he himself now ruled, and build a temple
for him like that at Jerusalem, and advance him
to the power and dignity of a high-priest, and
all this with the approbation of Darius the king.
Manasseh was satisfied with these splendid pro-
mises, and abandoned his former office, while
many other of the priests and Levites, who were
entangled in similar matches, followed his for-
tunes by coming over to Sanballat, who gave
them money, land, and habitations, and divided
estates among them, in order in every way, as
the historian says, to gratify his son-in-law.*

Alexander the Great was about this time en-
tering Syria, after his victories at the Granicus
and Issus, and when he began the siege of Tyre,
Sanballat renounced his allegiance to Darius,
and led with him seven thousand of his own
subjects to join the Macedonian army in the
siege of that place. This was well received by
Alexander, particularly after the Jews' refusal

* Joseph. Ant. Jud. I. xi. c. 8. s. 2.


to grant him any aid ; and when a convenient
opportunity occurred for Sanballat to ask the
Macedonian monarch to build a temple on
Mount Gerizim, and constitute his son-in-law
Manasseh the high-priest of it, it was no sooner
demanded than granted, The temple was
therefore built, and the priest ordained.* On
the return of Alexander from Jerusalem, which
was almost immediately after this, the .Samaritans
were settled at Gerizim, and had the city of
Shechem, which lies at its foot, for their me-

These people were, from the beginning, re-
markable for their indifference to their parti-
cular religion, and their character formed a
striking contrast to that of the Jews, whose
obstinate adherence to the rites of their fathers
was the chief cause of all the persecutions that
they suffered. It is true, that this character of
instability is given to them by an enemy; but
the proofs of it are too numerous to render it
doubtful. " When they see the Jews in prospe-
rity," says the Jewish historian, " they pretend,
that they are changed and allied to them, and
call them kinsmen, as though they were derived
from Joseph, and had by that means an original

* Joseph. Ant. Jud. j.xi. c. 8. s. 3. | Ibid. s. 6.


alliance with them ; but when they see them
falling into a low condition, they say, they are
no way related to them ; and that the Jews
have no right to expect any kindness or marks
of kindred from them, but they declare that they
are sojourners that come from other countries."*
Even immediately after Alexander had granted
them permission to build the temple on Mount
Gerizim, they petitioned him to remit the tribute
of the seventh year to them, because, like the
Jews, they did not sow thereon ; and when
Alexander asked them, who they were that made
such a petition, they admitted that they were
Hebrews, in order to enforce their claim to ex-
emption from tribute in this Sabbatic yeart ; yet
called themselves Sidonians, living at Shechem,

* Joseph. Ant. Jud. 1. ix. c. 14. s. 3. A pretty accurate esti-
mate may be formed of the character of this people, when it
is known that all the vagabonds and outcasts of the Jews found
refuge among them, and that they continued to the last to be
as mixed a race as they were on their first coming from Assyria
to replace the captives of Shalmanezer.

f The Jews were commanded not only to cease from all
agricultural labours on this year, but to hold as forbidden the
verv reaping or gathering of that which grew wild, and of its
own accord, (Levit. xxv. 1 to 7.) as well as to release all their
purchased Hebrew slaves who might desire their freedom,
(Exod. xxi. 2.) and to remit or release all debts owing from one
Israelite to another (Deut. xv. 1.); so that the payment of
tribute to a foreign power in such a year would have pressed
hard on them indeed.


and not Jews, in order to avoid being included
among these in other edicts.*

A still more remarkable instance of this sub-
servience of their religion to their interest or
convenience is recorded of them during the ter-
rible persecution of the Jews by Antiochus Epi-
phanes, who converted the temple of Jerusalem
into a temple of Jupiter Olympus, defiled its al-
tars by the sacrifice of swine on them, and exe-
cuted the most atrocious cruelties, even on the
women and children of this unhappy nation.
" When the Samaritans," says the historian, " saw
the Jews under these sufferings, they no longer
confessed that they were of their kindred, or that
the temple on Mount Gerizim belonged to Al-
mighty God. This was according to their nature,
as we have already shown, and they now said that
they were a colony of Medes and Persians, and,
inded, they were a colony of theirs. So they sent
ambassadors to Antiochus, and an epistle, whose
contents were these : — To King Antiochus, the
god Epiphanes, a memorial from the Sidonians
who live at Shechem. Our forefathers, upon
certain frequent plagues, and as following a cer-
tain ancient superstition, had a custom of observ-
ing that day which by the Jews is called Sabbath ;
and when they had erected a temple at the moun-

* Joseph. Ant. Jud. 1. xi. c. 8. s. 6.


tain called Gerizim, though without a name, they
offered upon it the proper sacrifices. Now upon
the just treatment of these wicked Jews, those
that manage their affairs, supposing that we were
of kin to them, and practised as they do, make
us liable to the same accusations, although we
be originally Sidonians, as is evident from the
public records. We therefore beseech thee, our
benefactor and saviour, to give order to Apol-
lonius, the governor of this part of the country,
and to Nicanor, the procurator of thy affairs, to
give us no disturbance, nor to lay to our charge
what the Jews are accused for, since we are
aliens from their nation, and from their customs ;
but let our temple, which at present hath no
name at all, be named ' the Temple of Jupiter
Hellenicus.' If this were once done, we would
be no longer disturbed, but should be more intent
on our own occupations with quietness, and so
bring in a greater revenue to thee."* Their
request was granted ; and the temple, from being
professedly reared to the God of Israel, was soon
transformed into that of Jupiter Hellenicus, with
the same facility as those of Venus and Adonis
were subsequently dedicated to the Blessed
Virgin and her Immaculate Son, in the same

* Joseph, Ant. Jucl.l. .xii. c. 5. s. 5.


When Hyrcanus, the Jewish high-priest, had
completely shaken off the Syrian yoke, as before
spoken of, he turned his arms against these Sa-
maritans, and taking the metropolis of Shechem
and their holy mountain of Gerizim, demolished
this temple of the Hellenian Jupiter, although it
had stood two hundred years, as well as all the
edifices, altars, and other ornaments, that had
been subsequently erected there by Jezebel, and
put to death nearly the whole of the Samaritan

As long as they continued thus divested of
power, they w r ere sufficiently harmless towards
the Jews, but they seized with enthusiasm the
first occasion of vengeance. It was on the eve
of that very feast of the Passover, when Jesus,
in his twelfth year, was found in the temple,
astonishing the doctors with his early wisdom *,
that a number of them having privately stolen
into the temple, strewed the galleries and other
places of resort with dead men's bones, so that
the priests on the next morning, finding that
sacred place polluted, were forced to put a stop
to the solemnity, t

The conference of Christ with the woman of
Samaria, at Shechem or Sychar J, not many

* St.. Luke, ii. 41—47.
t Anc. Un. Hist. v. x. p. 519.

^ This was a name given to the city by the Jews, as a term
of reproach. Sychar signifying drunk in Hebrew, according to


years after this, when he was grown to manhood,
proves how complete the separation and even
hatred still was between the Jews and the Sama-
ritans. When he sat on the brink of Jacob's
well, there to rest himself, as he was wearied
with his journey from Judea towards Galilee,
and asked this woman, who was drawing water
at the well, to give him drink, she said unto him,
" How is it that thou, being a Jew, asketh drink
of me, who am a woman of Samaria, for the
Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans ?"
Yet the result of this conference was the conver-
sion of the woman, from his telling her that she
had already had five husbands, and was now
living with one, who was not her husband, in
adultery: and many of the Samaritans of that
city also believed in him, for the saying of the
woman, which testified, " He told me all that
ever I did."* After the death of Christ, two
others of the Samaritans were converted by
Philip, Peter, and John, about the time that
Simon Magus was practising his sorceries among
them, and to whom they attributed great power
from God, because he had bewitched them with

the phrase of the prophet, who calls the rebellious Jews, the
shicore Ephraim, the drunkards of Ephraim. Isaiah, xxviii.
1. 3. See Anc. Un. Hist. v. ii. p. 463., and the Onomasticurn
Sacrum, p. 292.

* St. John, iv. 9 — 39. f Arts of the Apostles, viii. 9 — 1 1.


During the Roman wars in Judea, under Ves-
pasian and his son Titus, there were still left a
sufficient number of the original Samaritans to
form a distinct people. It was just after the
taking of Jotapata by Vespasian, and of Japha
by Titus and Trajan, all three afterwards em-
perors of Rome, that the Samaritans assembled
themselves on Mount Gerizim, as a post of
defence. Their numbers are stated to have
been eleven thousand six hundred •> and the
Roman general sent against them Cerealis, the
commander of the fifth legion, with six hundred
horsemen and three hundred footmen. These
did not deem it safe to go up upon the hill and
give them battle, from the advantage which their
enemies possessed in being on such commanding
ground ; but they encompassed all the lower
part of the mountain with the army, and block-
aded them there. It was in the middle of
summer, and the Samaritans were destitute of
water and other necessaries, so that many died
from hunger, thirst, and violent heat; and others
again, preferring slavery to a death of this kind,
deserted to the Romans, while those that still
held out, were of course much broken by their
sufferings. Cerealis then ascended the hill with
his soldiers, and, offering the security of his
right hand, invited the Samaritans to surrender ;
but with an infatuation seemingly unprecedented


in their former history, they refused all over-
tures, and fought until every man among them
was slain.

Though Jesus himself commenced the work
among the Samaritans, by the conversion of the
adulterous woman, and the Apostles had con-
tinued it by bringing over the followers of Simon
Magus, and even that sorcerer himself, till he
was cursed out of their society, for thinking that
he could buy of them the power of giving the
Holy Ghost to add to his other sorceries ; yet,
as we have seen in the case of their opposition to
the Romans, the great body of the Samaritans
still retained their former name, and all their
former veneration for the holy mountain of
Gerizim, on which they had made so obstinate a

But neither the vengeance which Judas Mac-
cabeus and Hyrcanus had taken of them for their
heresies, and all the consequent opposition of the
Jewish interest and power to which these religious
differences led, nor this almost total annihilation
of their race by the Romans as mere enemies of
the state, were sufficient to fill up the measure
of their sufferings. Five centuries after the
Christian era, they had another enemy to sustain
the attack of, and, as their numbers seem to have
increased in the interval of comparative peace,
their defence was more stubborn and of longer


duration, though equally unavailable with their
former ones. Unprincipled as their own conduct
seems on many occasions to have been, this last
persecution was not apparently called forth by
any obnoxious acts, either of treachery or oppo-
sition to the reigning power which inflicted it,
and the doctrines which Jesus had preached
among them would, least of all, lead them to ex-
pect, that while the cross was held out to them
in one hand, the scourge should be shaken over
them with the other. But such was the spirit of
the times, that the very scenes in which the most
huma'ne, benevolent, and charitable doctrines
were promulgated by the humblest of men, were
transformed into theatres of blood and vengeance,
by the pride, the cruelty, and unforgiving bigo-
try of his pretended imitators and most devoted

The historian who relates this event, says,
" The Samaritans were a motley race, an ambi-
guous sect, rejected as Jews by the pagans, by
the Jews as schismatics, and by the Christians
as idolaters. The abomination of the cross
had already been planted on their holy mount of
Gerizim, but the persecution of Justinian offered
only the alternative of baptism or rebellion ;
they chose the latter. Under the standard of a
desperate leader, they rose in arms, and retaliated
their wrongs on the lives, the property, and the



temples of a defenceless people. The Samaritans
were finally subdued by the regular forces of the
East : twenty thousand were slain, twenty thou-
sand were sold by the Arabs to the infidels of
Persia and India, and the remains of that un-
happy nation atoned for the crime of treason
by the sin of hypocrisy. It has been computed,'*

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Online LibraryJames Silk BuckinghamTravels in Palestine, through the countries of Bashan and Cilead, east of the River Jordan; including a visit to the cities of Geraza and Gamala, in the Decapolis (Volume 2) → online text (page 24 of 26)