From Nablus, we decided to visit the Samaritan’s village. These are a religious sect. Most people have heard about the ‘Good Samaritan’ from the bible where the Good Samaritan gave Jesus a drink of water from the well. Most people are unaware that these are a religious people, we know the name from the charity that helps people though a phone line.
A friend in England gave me the phone number of someone she knew in Nablus called Ala, who would take us up to Mount Gerizim. He arranged us a taxi to pick us up from our Youth hostel (that nobody knows about) and we were to pick him up on the way. It was a short 15 minute drive, up out of Nablus to the mount where this small sect of 3-400 people live.
We passed an open road block and were soon into the village. Ala showed us the Place of Sacrifice, a place where annually 52 sheep are slaughtered and people are invited to watch but only The Samaritans can take part, otherwise the ritual is thought of as unclean. All around the area are pits where the slaughtered animal is cooked and then eaten by the family.
We were then met by the Samaritan High Priest who opened up the museum for us and gave us a talk which I have to say was fascinating. He explained that the Samaritans were there before the Jews, they have the original Talmud (Old Testament) and they believe that the first temple was built there on Mount Gerizim, and not in Jerusalem as the Jewish faith believe.
The priest showed us the family tree from Adam, down to where he was in the family line which was something like 356th generation and he said he was the only person who had worked out the lineage.
He was proud to show us the oldest Talmut written and explained that the language was slightly different to Hebrew, he stated that their language which are almost like pictures is the oldest written language in the world (I wanted to dispute with Hieroglyphs but daren’t!)
The Samaritans are very much a closed community, but because of dwindling numbers, they have had to invite women in. They have recently added some Jewish, Christian and Muslim women in to their culture. We also met a muslim boy who was from one of the few other families on the mountain. He was educated with the Samaritan children, learnt ancient Hebrew with them and the only lesson he didn’t attend in school was religion as his was different to theirs. The priest told us that although they were an ancient culture they were a very progressive race, they wore shorts, had phones and computers and he asked us if we would ‘like’ him on Facebook! (which we have).
As we left the museum we were surprised to see an IDF truck driving through. The priest explained that settlers from nearby settlements came there to use the small supermarket. He said all were welcome here as long as they respected their customs and everyone was treated as equal.
I came away finding it quite difficult to get my head the fact that these were closely aligned with the Jewish faith, but they weren’t Jews, they were Palestinians who spoke Arabic, unless it was a holy day then they only spoke their ancient Hebrew and they they were well respected, yet were also under occupation and seen as Palestinians yet were closely connected to Judaism.
Everything in this country seems a series of contradictions, nothing is black and white..here there seems to be 101 shades of a mucky grey!
Our taxi dropped Ala off and we continued to Sebastia, where we met another ‘good Samaritan’…here there was no shades of grey, just kindness and smiles and will be written about in another blog.