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Judaism The Samaritans

Samaritan Pentateuch. Abraham ben Israel ha-Nasi Melekh Yisrael, scribe. Jerusalem, AM 4993 (1232 CE). NYPL, Dorot Jewish Division.

After the death of King Solomon in 930 BCE, the Kingdom of Israel was split in two. Unlike the Jews of today who trace their ancestry back to the Southern Kingdom (Judah), the Samaritans are a small group who claim descent from the Josephite tribes of the Northern Kingdom (Israel). Jewish tradition, however, considers the Samaritans to be non-Israelite Cutheans who migrated to Samaria in northern Israel following the Assyrian conquest of the Northern Kingdom in 722 BCE.

The sharpest differences between the two groups can be seen in their relationship to Scripture. Although Jews have traditionally accepted all 24 books of the Hebrew Bible as canonical, Samaritans accept only the Pentateuch, or Five Books of Moses. The Samaritans still maintain the ancient Paleo-Hebrew script, which Judaism replaced with the Aramaic alphabet ca. 500 BCE.

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