Photo: Ron Cantrell

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Samaritan Passover

The first time I went to observe the Samaritan Passover was 1982. How very different twenty-five years later. Then it seemed only a handful came to observe this unique event. Now, at least a hundred tour busses crowded the inadequate street leading to the Mount Gerizim community of the Shomron'im (Samaritans). Somewhere near 4,000 visitors from all walks of life made the small mountain top neighborhood resemble an ant hill.

The New Testament story of the woman at the well seemed as pertinent as if it were written yesterday. Thousands of years have passed, and yet a group still contend for the exact spot where the Lord should be worshipped. A Samaritan priest lectured a group of Jewish visitors on why the Samaritans still believe themselves to be obeying God’s written laws from the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy). And pointing out that at least 30,000 of them were not transferred by the Assyrians out of Israel. Those who lived east of the Jordan River of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. It helps to remember that Yeshua did not upbraid the woman . . . He simply informed her that the time was near when God would be worshipped in Spirit and truth, not anchored to a location. He knew what Roman politics would bring to Israel within the following few decades.
Another scattering of His people across the earth reminiscent of the Assyrian destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel, and the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem some time later. The destruction of Jerusalem, the change of the name Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina. Several varied issues come into focus here. My own fascination with ancient languages gets a booster shot as the ceremony here is done in Samaritan Aramaic language dating back 3,600 years. Speculation about a Third Temple built in Jerusalem too comes into focus – but in practicality. Sacrifice is not a pretty picture and certainly not an idea compatible with modern notions. However, seen in practice, it becomes less mysterious and more understandable. With many Jews and Christians alike in expectation of a Third Temple, this becomes a training exercise toward that day.

I certainly didn’t come away with less questions – but the questions are now different. And knowing that God is not as pleased with the blood of bulls and lambs, as He is with obedience, I can see why the pieces of the puzzle are not in place for an immediate reconstruction of the Temple. I came away with a greater patience with God and His time-table, submitting to His sovereignty and wisdom. This spectacle multiplied a thousand times at a rebuilt Jerusalem temple would surely be close to impossible. God will work all things out in His own timing.
Click arrow to view the film I took of the Samaritan Passover.

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