Phóng sự về sắc tộc “không Do Thái mà cũng không Hồi Giáo “: Sắc tộc Samaritains-Arte

Ce groupe ethnique et religieux, majoritairement établi sur la montagne Gerizim, proche de Naplouse en Cisjordanie, préserve ses traditions millénaires. Abdallah Cohen, l’un des derniers Samaritains, se marie dans quelques jours. Une étape importante de sa vie, car pour cette communauté menacée d’extinction, la création d’une famille est un événement majeur et largement célébré. Les Samaritains de Cisjordanie portent des prénoms arabes et des noms de famille juifs, parlent l’arabe et maîtrisent parfaitement l’hébreu. Bien qu’ils ne soient ni Arabes ni Israéliens, ni Juifs ni Musulmans, les Samaritains sont culturellement proches des deux nations, enlisées dans un conflit interminable.  Ils ont fait de leur village un lieu de tolérance et de respect entre les deux communautés ennemies. A l’image du bureau de poste ou de l’usine de Tahine, le village samaritain se veut un acteur pour la paix.  Les Samaritains, qui ont survécu à une histoire tragique faite de guerres, de conversions religieuses, d’épidémies et de famines, revendiquent aujourd’hui une neutralité, indispensable pour la survie de leur communauté. Seuls détenteurs dans la région de la double nationalité israélienne et palestinienne, les Samaritains se savent privilégiés, car ce statut crée des opportunités impensables pour les Palestiniens. Abdallah l’a bien compris et la perspective du mariage et de ses futures responsabilités familiales, le poussent à travailler en Israël tout en vivant sa vie Palestine, fidèle à la parabole du Bon Samaritain. Reportage de Gaël Turine (France, 2022) disponible jusqu’au 18/08/2025

Les Samaritains

Samaritans marking Passover on Mount Gerizim near Nablus

Samaritans (/səˈmærɪtənz/Samaritan Hebrew: ࠔࠠࠌࠝࠓࠩࠉࠌ‎,[3] romanized: Šā̊merīm, transl. Guardians/Keepers [of the Torah]; Hebrew: שומרונים, romanizedŠōmrōnīmArabic: السامريون, romanizedas-Sāmiriyyūn) are an ethnoreligious group who originate from the ancient Israelites.[4] They are native to the Levant and adhere to Samaritanism, an Abrahamic and ethnic religion.

Samaritan tradition claims the group descends from the northern Israelite tribes who were not deported by the Neo-Assyrian Empire after the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel. They consider Samaritanism to be the true religion of the ancient Israelites and regard Judaism as a closely related but altered religion. Samaritans also regard Mount Gerizim (near both Nablus and biblical Shechem), and not the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, to be the holiest place on Earth.[5][6] They attribute the schism between Samaritanism and Judaism to have been caused by Eli creating an alternate shrine at Shiloh, in opposition to Mount Gerizim.

Once a large community, the Samaritan population shrank significantly in the wake of the brutal suppression of the Samaritan revolts against the Byzantine Empire. Mass conversion to Christianity under the Byzantines and later to Islam following the Muslim conquest of the Levant further reduced their numbers.[7] In the 12th century, the Jewish traveler Benjamin of Tudela estimated that only around 1,900 Samaritans remained in the regions of Palestine and Syria.[8] As of 2021, the community stood at around 840 individuals, divided between Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim and the Samaritan compound in Holon.[9][b] There are also small populations in Brazil and Sicily.[11] The head of the Samaritan community is the Samaritan High Priest. The Samaritans in Kiryat Luza speak Levantine Arabic, while those in Holon primarily speak Israeli Hebrew. For the purposes of liturgySamaritan Hebrew and Samaritan Aramaic are used, both written in the Samaritan script.

Samaritans have a standalone religious status in Israel, and there are occasional conversions from Judaism to Samaritanism and vice versa, largely due to interfaith marriages. While Israel’s rabbinic authorities came to consider Samaritanism to be a sect of Judaism,[12] the Chief Rabbinate of Israel requires Samaritans to undergo a formal conversion to Judaism in order to be officially recognized as Halakhic JewsRabbinic literature rejected Samaritans unless they renounced Mount Gerizim as the historical Israelite holy site.[c] Samaritans possessing only Israeli citizenship in Holon are drafted into the Israel Defense Forces, while those holding dual Israeli and Palestinian citizenship in Kiryat Luza are exempted from mandatory military service.

Origins

Tribes of Israel

The similarities between Samaritans and Jews was such that the rabbis of the Mishnah found it impossible to draw a clear distinction between the two groups.[21] Attempts to date when the schism among Israelites took place, which engendered the division between Samaritans and Judaeans, vary greatly, from the time of Ezra down to the destruction of Jerusalem (70 CE) and the Bar Kokhba revolt (132-136 CE).[22] The emergence of a distinctive Samaritan identity, the outcome of a mutual estrangement between them and Jews, was something that developed over several centuries. Generally, a decisive rupture is believed to have taken place in the Hasmonean period.[23]

Ancestrally, Samaritans affirm that they descend from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh in ancient Samaria. Samaritan tradition associates the split between them and the Judean-led Southern Israelites to the time of the biblical priest Eli,[24] described as a “false” high priest who usurped the priestly office from its occupant, Uzzi, and established a rival shrine at Shiloh, and thereby prevented southern pilgrims from Judah and the territory of Benjamin from attending the shrine at Gerizim. Eli is also held to have created a duplicate of the Ark of the Covenant, which eventually made its way to the Judahite sanctuary in Jerusalem.[i]

A Jewish Orthodox tradition, based on material in the Bible, Josephus and the Talmud, dates their presence much later, to the beginning of the Babylonian captivity. In Rabbinic Judaism, for example in the Tosefta Berakhot, the Samaritans are called Cuthites or Cutheans (Hebrew: כותים, Kutim), referring to the ancient city of Kutha, geographically located in what is today Iraq.[25] Josephus in both the Wars of the Jews and the Antiquities of the Jews, in writing of the destruction of the temple on Mt. Gerizim by John Hyrcanus 1, also refers to the Samaritans as the Cuthaeans.[j] In the biblical account, however, Kuthah was one of several cities from which people were brought to Samaria.[k]

The Israeli biblical scholar Shemaryahu Talmon has supported the Samaritan tradition that they are mainly descended from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh who remained in Israel after the Assyrian conquest. He states that the description of them at 2 Kings 17:24 as foreigners is tendentious and intended to ostracize the Samaritans from those Israelites who returned from the Babylonian exile in 520 BCE. He further states that 2 Chronicles 30:1 could be interpreted as confirming that a large fraction of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (i.e., Samaritans) remained in Israel after the Assyrian exile.[27]

Modern genetic studies support the Samaritan narrative that they descend from indigenous Israelites. Shen et al. (2004) formerly speculated that outmarriage with foreign women may have taken place.[4] Most recently the same group came up with genetic evidence that Samaritans are closely linked to Cohanim, and therefore can be traced back to an Israelite population prior to the Assyrian invasion. This correlates with expectations from the fact that the Samaritans retained endogamous and biblical patrilineal marriage customs, and that the Samaritans remained a genetically isolated population.[28][29]

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