The War And The Samaritan Colony -- By: William E. Barton

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 078:309 (Jan 1921)
Article: The War And The Samaritan Colony
Author: William E. Barton


The War And The Samaritan Colony

William E. Barton

The purpose of the present paper is twofold: First, to report the progress and vicissitudes of the little Samaritan colony at Nablus during the past five years; and, secondly, to announce the accomplishment of an achievement of genuine importance in the photographing of what is generally believed to be the oldest Biblical manuscript in the world.

It will be many years before we are able to estimate the far-reaching effects of the Great War. Such an inundation has many and unexpected backwaters, submerging individuals and institutions whose very existence is not remembered on the battlefront. One easily possible effect of the recent struggle might have been the complete obliteration of the little remnant of the Samaritan nation at Nablus. I am happy to report that communication with this feeble colony has been reestablished; and that, while the community has suffered great hardship and serious loss, it still exists with reasonable hope of a continued survival.

My own acquaintance with the Samaritans began in the spring of 1902. I made a visit to the Samaritan colony, which I later described somewhat in detail in a paper read before the Chicago Society of Biblical Research and published in the Bibliotheca Sacra for October, 1903. On the occasion of this visit I made the acquaintance of the High Priest, Jacob, son of Aaron, and his two sons, the elder of whom has since died, and his cousin and rival, Isaac ben-Amram. At that time I purchased a Pentateuch and a scroll containing the Book of Genesis, which I have previously described; and my correspondence with the High

Priest continued until the war cut off communication between the United States and Palestine.

My friend, Mr. E. K. Warren, whose death on January 16, 1919, took from this world an upright man and a friend of many good causes, had visited Palestine in 1901. Two years after my own visit he returned again to Jerusalem to attend the World’s Sunday-school Convention, in which he was the leading spirit. Through his influence and generosity the Samaritan High Priest visited the Sunday-school Convention and delivered a brief address, saluting the Christian people of the United States and of Europe. Mr. Warren became greatly interested in the Samaritans, and organized the American Samaritan Committee, of whose Board I have been a member from the beginning. Under the direction of this Committee, and chiefly through the gifts of Mr. Warren, we established a school in Nablus. The Samaritan boys were taught Arabic, Hebrew, French, and English; the girls were taught to read and also to make lace. Other measures were adopted for the benefit of the colony, and ot...

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