Book of Joshua (Samaritan)

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The Book of Joshua, sometimes called the Samaritan Chronicle, is a Samaritan chronicle so called because the greater part of it is devoted to the history of Joshua. It is extant in two divergent recensions, one in Samaritan Hebrew and the other in Arabic.[1] The editio princeps is a published an Arabic manuscript written in the Samaritan alphabet, with a Latin translation and a long preface by T. W. Juynboll (Leyden, 1848). The Samaritan Hebrew version was published in 1908 by Moses Gaster. Though based on the Hebrew canonical Book of Joshua, it differs greatly from the latter in both form and content and the Samaritans ascribe no canonical authority to it.[2] The author, who was of a much later period, amplified the biblical narratives by weaving into them legends of a later date and developing the narratives themselves, at the same time altering certain statements in accordance with Samaritan views on history.[3] Alterations that emphasize the Samaritan belief in the sanctity of Mount Gerizim, the site of the Samaritan temple, appear throughout the text; for example, an expanded passage Joshua 9:27 calls Gerizim "the chosen place" and a description of the temple being built there follows the conclusion of the conquest of Canaan.[4] It is divided into fifty chapters, and contains, after the account of Joshua, a brief description of the period following Joshua, agreeing to that extent with the Book of Judges. Then follow histories of Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great, and the revolt against Hadrian; it ends with an incomplete account of Baba Rabba.

The manuscript[edit]

The manuscript from which Juynboll prepared his edition was the property of Joseph Justus Scaliger, who, it is supposed, obtained it from the Egyptian Samaritans in 1584. Later, it was studied by Johann Heinrich Hottinger, who described it in his Exercitationes anti-Morinianæ (1644, pp. 109–116) and in his Smegma Orientale (1657). Two other manuscripts (in the British Museum and at Trinity College, Cambridge) have since come to Europe. An English translation of Juynboll's text has been made by Oliver Turnbull Crane ("The Samaritan Chronicle or Book of Joshua," New York, 1890).

Date and authorship[edit]

Contrary to Reland, Juynboll (preface to his edition) concluded that the Samaritan Joshua was the work of one author, who did not live later than the thirteenth century, basing his conclusion on the fact that Abu'l-Fath, who wrote in 1355, drew from it much material for his own chronicle. It is also quoted by Maqrizi (d. 1441).

Crane (1889) refers in his preface to Juynboll's "conclusion that it has been redacted into its present form about A. D. 1300, out of earlier documents", a conclusion also shared by Crane.[5]


Juynboll concluded that the author compiled the work from four sources—one Hebrew-Samaritan (the basis of the first twenty-four chapters) and three Arabic. The Hebrew-Samaritan source is based upon the Septuagint translation of Joshua. A Hebrew résumé of the story of Shaubak (ch. xxvi.-xxxvii.) was inserted in Abraham Zacuto's Sefer Yuhasin by Samuel Shullam, who declared that he found it in a Samaritan chronicle (Sefer Zikronot shel Kutim), where it is said to have been taken from a Jewish Midrash. It is evident that Shullam saw it in an Arabic work, probably the Samaritan Book of Joshua, for he reads "Yaniah" instead of "Nabih," a change possible only if the original was in Arabic characters. Samuel Shullam's résumé was copied afterward by ibn Yahya, in his "Shalshelet ha-Kabbalah," and by Reuben Hoshke, in his "Yalqut Re'ubeni" (section "Devarim").


  • Ch. i.: The author claims to have translated the following narratives from the Hebrew.
  • Ch. ii.: Moses appoints Joshua as his successor, investing him with royal power.
  • Ch. iii.: Account of Balaam and the King of Moab (comp. Num. 22:2-41).
  • Ch. iv.: Balaam advises the King of Moab to draw the Israelites into lust and thus cause their destruction (comp. Num. R. xx. 23).
  • Ch. v.: Moses sends Joshua and Phinehas to the war with the Midianites (comp. Num. 21:2 et seq.). Following the account of the fall of Jericho (Josh. 6), the author relates that the walls of Midian's stronghold fell at the blast of the trumpets. Balaam, found in the Midianite temple speechless from terror, was killed by the soldiers in spite of Joshua's desire to take him alive before Moses.
  • Ch. vi.-viii.: Moses' death; his testament; the mourning of the Israelites over him.
  • Ch. ix.-xii. (written in the same strain as the first chapter of the canonical Book of Joshua): Joshua's activity; his organization of the army and preparations for the invasion of Canaan.
  • Ch. xiii.: The sending of the spies to Jericho. Imitating the biblical account of the Gibeonites (comp. Josh. 9:4 et seq.), the writer says that the spies, who knew several languages, disguised themselves as travelers, telling those they met that, having heard of the exploits of Joshua, they had come from a distant land for the sake of further information about him. At Jericho, suspected of being spies, they hid themselves in the house of Rahab. The remainder of the chapter follows the canonical version.
  • Ch. xiv.-xvii.: The Israelites cross the Jordan River (as in Josh. 3); Joshua's song, an imitation of the song of Moses in Ex. 1-19; account of the fall of Jericho.
  • Ch. xviii.: Achan is discovered to have taken possession of some of the accursed things. Here the account differs from that in Josh. 7; there is no mention of the Israelites being defeated at Ai; but the gem in the high priest's breastplate that bore the name of Judah having become dim, it was known that one of that tribe had sinned. The wedge of gold stolen by Achan is said to have weighed 2,250 shekels.
  • Ch. xix.: An account of the Gibeonites, similar to that in Josh. 9, except that only three Gibeonite cities are mentioned, Chephirah being omitted.
  • Ch. xx.-xxiii.: The continuation of the war and the partition of the land. Joshua sends surveyors to divide the land into ten parts, assigning to the Levites forty-eight cities, which are to be taken from the other tribes. Joshua dismisses the two and a half tribes whose allotment was east of the Jordan, appointing Nabih ("Nobah" in Num. 32:42), son of Gilead, king over them; they number 110,580.
  • Ch. xxiv.: The surveyors having returned, Joshua assigns to the tribes their respective lots. He then founds the city of Samaria and builds a temple on Mount Gerizim (comp. Josh. 8:30).
  • Ch. xxv.: Description of the prosperous state of the Israelites after the partition of the land, over which peace reigns for twenty years.
  • Ch. xxvi.-xxxvii. give a long account of the war between Joshua and the league formed by Shaubak (Shobach), King of Persia. Shaubak, desiring to avenge the death of his father, Hammam, who has been killed in battle with the Israelites, enters into a league with all the neighboring kings, who decide to wage war with Joshua. Shaubak first sends an ambassador with a minatory letter to Joshua, who thereupon consults the assembly as to the steps to be taken. The ambassador is amazed at the splendor with which Joshua is surrounded and at the dignity and order with which Joshua administers justice. He returns with Joshua's answer, that the Israelites are prepared for the war, and attempts to dissuade Shaubak from his design. Shaubak, however, encouraged by his mother and by the Magi, marches to the war with an immense army. Joshua, arrived with his army at 'Ayalon, one of the enemy's cities, is enclosed by seven iron walls, called into existence by magic. At Joshua's prayer a dove appears, and by it he sends a letter to Nabih, who marches with a great army against Shaubak. The latter is defeated. At the shouting of Nabih's soldiers the walls about Joshua disappear.
  • Ch. xxxviii.-xliii.: After a reign of forty-five years Joshua dies, and is buried at Kafar Ghawirah (comp. Josh. 24:30); account of his appointment of his successors and of the prosperous state of Israel during the ensuing period of 260 years—the "days of satisfaction" ("ayyam al-ridha" or "yeme ha-ratzon"). For the original legend concerning Shaubak, see Sotah viii. 1, 42b, with reference to 2 Sam. 10:16, 18.
  • Ch. xliv. contains an account of the division under Eli and of the period of sin ("aldhalal" or "fanuta").

Ch. xlv.-l. give accounts of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Mausil (Mosul), Alexander the Great, the revolt against Hadrian, the high priests 'Aqbon and Nathanael, and Baba Rabba.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pummer, Reinhard (2002). Early Christian Authors on Samaritans and Samaritanism: Texts, Translations and Commentary. Mohr Siebeck. p. 26. ISBN 9783161478314. "The work is extant in both Hebrew and Arabic, each version having a different content."
  2. ^ Gaster, M. (1908). "A Samaritan Book of Joshua". The Living Age. 258: 166.
  3. ^ Hjelm, Ingrid (2000). The Samaritans and Early Judaism: A Literary Analysis. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 240. ISBN 9781841270722.
  4. ^ Hjelm 2000, p. 241.
  5. ^ Crane, O. T., (1890), p. 9


 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSinger, Isidore; et al., eds. (1901–1906). The Jewish Encyclopedia. New York: Funk & Wagnalls. {{cite encyclopedia}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)

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