The Samaritan Pentateuch
The Samaritans and Jews did not get along.
In 722 BC the Assyrians invaded the northern kingdom of Israel and intermarried with the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. According to the first-century historian Josephus, their descendants were the Samaritans. The Samaritans worshiped Jehovah, but when the Jewish leaders refused to let the Samaritans take part in rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem, the Samaritans became bitterly hostile.
If they couldn’t help rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, the Samaritans would build their own. And so in the fourth century BC they built a temple on Mount Gerizim, about thirty miles north of Jerusalem, and taught that Gerizim, not Jerusalem, was the only place to worship God.
Jews considered Samaritans idolaters and called them “that foolish people that dwell in Shechem” (Ecclesiasticus 50:25-26). The Samaritans considered the Jews apostate. In 128 BC the animosity increased when the Jewish Maccabean leader John Hyrcanus destroyed the temple the Samaritans had built on Mount Gerizim. It’s no wonder that by the time of Jesus, it was common knowledge that “Jews have no dealings with Samaritans” (John 4:9).
The Samaritans said that only the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) is Scripture—not any of the other books of the Old Testament. In the second century BC they made their own copy of the Pentateuch in Hebrew.
The earliest surviving copies of the Samaritan Pentateuch are from the Middle Ages, but the value of the Samaritan Pentateuch is that its close correlation with the Jewish Masoretic text and the Dead Sea Scrolls is one more confirmation of the accuracy of the text of the first five books of the Old Testament.
Today there is still a Samaritan community of fewer than one thousand people, some living in Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim near Nablus in the West Bank and some living in the Israeli town of Holon near Tel Aviv.