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an ethnic group and religious sect.
The Samaritans live in Nablus, Jordan, and Holon, Israel. They number about 400. They are descendants of immigrants from Assyria who intermixed with the population of the Kingdom of Israel, which was conquered by Assyria in 722–721 B.C. Of the books of the Bible, the Samaritans recognize only the Pentateuch in a special redaction. Mount Gerizim (near Nablus), where the Samaritans perform sacrifices, is regarded by them as sacred. From the late sixth century B.C., the religio-political conflicts between the Samaritans and the Jews intensified. In 129 B.C. the Hasmonean ruler Hyrcanus I destroyed the temple on Mount Gerizim. In A.D. 36, under Pontius Pilate, the Romans inflicted a bloody massacre on the Samaritans.
The Samaritans have also lived in Egypt, Syria, Rome, Greece, and Iran. The Samaritan writing system is similar to Paleo-Hebraic, and the language itself is similar to West Aramaic. The fourth and 14th centuries were periods in which Samaritan literature flourished.
REFERENCESVil’sker, L. Samaritianskii iazyk. Moscow, 1974. Montgomery, J. A. The Samaritans [2nd ed.]. New York, 1968.
L. KH. VIL’SKER