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Tom Meyer is a Prophecy Today contributor in Israel who brings us first hand accounts of the news, as it happens, and gets exclusive interviews with newsmakers in that area.

The Samaritan Passover

Friday, April 25, 2008

I spent this Passover evening on Mt. Gerazim, across from Mt. Ebal, adjacent to the ancient city of Shechem, to observe the Samaritan Passover. The three Samaritan clans trace their lineage back to Aaron the brother of Moses, and to the sons of Joseph; Ephraim and Manasseh, and still worship on Mt. Gerazim and not in Jerusalem. The Samaritans are the remnant of a people group millennia old, descended from the ancient Israelite Kingdom which, in the 4th and 5th centuries a.d. numbered around 1 million, living in cities and villages from southern Syria to northern Egypt. Religious decrees, forced conversions, and marriages with non-Samaritans over the centuries had thinned out the Samaritan community to less than 150 persons in 1917. But despite the hardships which they have faced this ancient community has increased four- fold over the last 100 years.

Today there are 600 Samaritans in the world, half of them live at Kiryat Luza on Mt. Gerazim, and the other half live in the Neve Marka quarter in Holon, Israel a small compound near Tel Aviv founded in 1955. Yet, nearly all the Samaritans in the world were present this evening on Mt. Gerazim.

Itimar Cohen, the Samaritan High Priest, explained to me personally before the festivities that the Samaritans claim to be the oldest people group in the world, they still speak the ancient Hebrew dialect spoken by Jews until the beginning of the first century a.d., and that they as a people are guided by four principles of faith which date back to the return of Israel under Joshua the son of Nun.

According to High Priest Cohen, the four principles that guide the Samaritans today are:
1. They believe in one God.
2. They believe in one prophet, Moses.
3. They believe in one book, the five books of Moses.
4. They believe in the final Day of Vengeance when the Messiah, a son of Joseph will appear who is "a prophet like Moses".

The Samaritans still have no dealings with the Jews, they totally reject all Jewish Scriptures except the writings of Moses, and they totally dismiss all messianic claims of Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. The Samaritans celebrate only those holidays mentioned in the Torah; Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, The Day of Atonement, The Feast of Tabernacles, and the rejoicing of the Torah. The whole Samaritan community sacrificed scores of suitable lambs and goats on their sacrificial altar on Mt. Gerazim with their loins girded, their sandals on their feet, and their staff in their hands as they eat in haste in 2008, waiting for the Messiah.

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