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Samaritanism

From Academic Kids

Samaritanism is a religion related to Judaism in that it accepts the Torah as its holy book, though there are differences in the version accepted. Samaritanists consider Jewish thinkers after the Torah as having been led astray while they themselves stayed to the true religion. Their temple was at Mount Gerizim, not Jerusalem. Very few followers remain today: about 500 living near Mt. Gerizim.

One theory states that when the Babylonian Empire conquered ancient Israel, it deported the middle and upper classes of the Jews to Babylonia, replacing them with settlers from other parts of the Babylonian Empire. The lower classes and the settlers intermarried and merged into one community. Some modern scholars think that the influence of the non-Israelite settlers was exaggerated in the Bible for propaganda reasons, namely to be able to consider the Samaritans as heathens with good conscience. Decades later, the descendants of those Jews exiled in Babylon were permitted to return, and many did. The Jews who had returned to Israel refused to recognize the descendants of the lower class Israelites who had remained as legitimate Jews, (officially) due to their intermarriage and merger with pagan settlers, even though they largely followed the same religion that the Jews had followed before the exile, but which would have seen considerable reforms during the exile. It is believed that these descendants are the ancestors of the Samaritans.

This theory is problematic because then the Hebrew people remaining at the land of Israel would vastly outnumber those who returned, and there are no indications of this in either the Bible or in secular history. The biblical story actually seems more probable, because all indications are that those who returned from Babylonia vastly outnumbered the Samaritans, and that there were no significant changes to their religion other than the fact that the Exile cured Israel from its then recurrent bouts of paganism.

See also

Samaritanar:سامريون fr:samaritanisme pl:samarytanizm

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