The Book of Enlightenment -- By: William E. Barton

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 070:278 (Apr 1913)
Article: The Book of Enlightenment
Author: William E. Barton

The Book of Enlightenment

William E. Barton

Jacob, The Son Of Aaron, Samaritan High Priest, Nablus, Palestine.1

Introductory Note.

The following work was prepared, at the request of the editor, by the Samaritan High Priest, and is designed to answer the questions which are most frequently asked of the Samaritan priests, both by strangers and by some of their own communion. He has entitled the book “The Book of Enlightenment for the Enlightening of the Inquirer.” It is written in Arabic in neat manuscript, the quotations from Scripture being in the Samaritan Hebrew, and written in red ink.

It cannot be pretended that the questions are in every case those that the average American scholar is most eager to propose. But the book as a whole is not only interesting but instructive. It is a succinct statement of the present tenets of the Samaritans, and a fine example of their dialectic. The attention of scholars is increasingly directed to the Samaritans for the valuable side light which their customs throw on many questions of Jewish practice. The editor believes that this is a permanently valuable document.

The questions which the High Priest undertakes to answer are the following: —

1. Concerning the duration of the plagues of Egypt.—His answer is, that the whole time covered by the plagues, including the intervals between them, was two months and a half.

2. Concerning the number and classification of the miracles.— He counts the number as eleven, holding that the sign of the rod in the hand of Moses should be counted a sign in itself, in addition to the specific miracles wrought by it, in the plagues. He classifies the miracles as those wrought by God alone, those

wrought by God through Moses, those wrought through Aaron, and those in which both Moses and Aaron were employed.

3. Concerning the origin and significance of the ceremonial year.—He holds that the new calendar established at the time of the Exodus was really the reëstablishment of the calendar begun at the creation.

4. Concerning the time of the institution of the Passover.—This leads him into a full discussion of all that is involved in the Passover, and incidentally brings in the condemnation of a heretic who taught that the prohibition of fire which belongs to the Sabbath does not apply to the Passover. This heretic, who is nameless here, lived in 1753 a.d. But he did not succeed in gaining converts, even his own wife deserting his teaching; and the priest offers a prayer ...

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