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Merrill’s Letter

Dating of Samaritan Temple on Mt. Gerizim

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What a great article on Mt. Gerizim! I have a question, however. Magen states that his excavations reveal that the Temple on Gerizim was built in the time of Nehemiah, and he cites Nehemiah 13:28 as evidence of the marriage (between Sanballat’s daughter and the son of the High Priest Jehoiada) that Josephus describes as having prompted construction of a rival Samaritan temple.

However, Frank Moore Cross, in his analysis of the Samaritan papyri discovered at Wadi ed-Daliyeh, demonstrates that there were at least six members of the Sanballat dynasty, dating from the fifth century to the late fourth. There appear to have been at least two diplomatic marriages as well—the one reported in Nehemiah 13:28 and the much later one reported by Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, 11.302). Nehemiah makes no mention of a competing temple on Gerizim related to the first marriage, and Josephus is quite clear and detailed that the Temple there was constructed by the later Sanballat (Sanballat III in Cross’s reconstruction).

It seems to me that the archaeological evidence for a fifth-century date would have to be quite powerful to overcome the documentary evidence. And since there is nothing remaining of the Gerizim temple itself, but only undated artifacts indicating there was a Temple there at some point, then a late fourth century date seems more plausible.

In the broad scheme of things, the date when the Gerizim Temple was constructed may not matter very much. But I have been working on a reconstruction of the relationship between the Samaritans and the Judeans, so strong archaeological evidence for the earlier date would be most enlightening.

John Merrill

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1 Responses

  1. george murray says:

    Hi,
    I have a question about the Samaritan Temple, which has become rather confusing to me. I’ve read that it was discovered and excavated, yet some of the discussions about it seem to be drawn from conjecture, based on other discoveries in the area.
    There are quotes from Yitzkah Megan, that seem to indicate it has been found and excavated, but at the same time there are quotes like this from John Merrill
    “… since there is nothing remaining of the Gerizim temple itself, but only undated artifacts indicating there was a Temple there at some point…” which confuse me.

    I really need to know if there is clear archeological proof of a Samaritan Temple, or is all the discussions based purely on speculation from other discoveries in the region.

    I would be very interested in any links you could provide that would help me develop a better understanding of the subject.

    Thank you!
    george murray

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


1 Responses

  1. george murray says:

    Hi,
    I have a question about the Samaritan Temple, which has become rather confusing to me. I’ve read that it was discovered and excavated, yet some of the discussions about it seem to be drawn from conjecture, based on other discoveries in the area.
    There are quotes from Yitzkah Megan, that seem to indicate it has been found and excavated, but at the same time there are quotes like this from John Merrill
    “… since there is nothing remaining of the Gerizim temple itself, but only undated artifacts indicating there was a Temple there at some point…” which confuse me.

    I really need to know if there is clear archeological proof of a Samaritan Temple, or is all the discussions based purely on speculation from other discoveries in the region.

    I would be very interested in any links you could provide that would help me develop a better understanding of the subject.

    Thank you!
    george murray

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