Another excellent exhibit in the Museum of the Bible that was premiered last Fall is an exhibit on the Samaritans— yes those Samaritans who are still living in the Holy Land today, still practicing their Jewish religion, still sacrificing on Mt. Gerizim at Nablus, and much more. Let’s see what we can learn.
The reason characters in this political cartoon (not a Sunday school lesson) is explained as follows:
We are of course all familiar with Jesus’ parable in Luke’s Gospel, which has been endlessly told and illustrated. But too few realize what a social commentary it was then or now, as non-Samaritan Jews and Samaritans don’t get along, indeed there have been times in history when they basically have been enemies, not even friends. So this parable is not just about mercy and kindness, it is about overcoming ethnic hostilities and prejudice.
They live today as in antiquity in the region between Galilee and Judaea…. and here is an aerial view of the central location….
In fact Samaritans have a very different version of the history of Israel, and of parts of the Pentateuch, which is the only portion of the OT they acknowledge. They do not accept for example 1-2 Kings which suggests that they are not genuine Jews but some sort of half breeds at best whom the Assyrian king Shalmenezer brought to the land to settle it. We need to start over from scratch to understand the Samaritans, apparently.
But who is right about this history? Samaritans certainly seem to be some kind of Jews according to most of their beliefs and practices. More in the next post.