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Chronological systems known and used by the Samaritans



NB: This article is available in much more details in Russian via this link.


The Samaritans are an ethnoreligious group originating from the Israelites (or Hebrews) of the Ancient Near East. It is believed that in IVV centuries BC there had been about 1.5M Samaritans, but now, in 2020 AD, according to this site, only 818 Samaritans exist on the planet Earth.

The present-day population has been consistently divided between Qiryat-Luza on Mount Gerizim and the city of Holon, just outside Tel Aviv. According to Samaritan tradition, Mount Gerizim was the original Holy Place of the Israelites from the time that Joshua conquered Canaan and the tribes of Israel settled the land.

To make a long story short, Samaritans and Hebrews are different in a number of ways: holy places, presence of the Passover sacrifice (with sheep), writing systems, absence of kippah and tefillin, and many more.

The difference I'd like to cover in this article is about dating systems. Israeli people used to have their era starting from Adam (from the year 3761 BC). Samaritans have not one, but multiple eras (year counting systems). They are listed below.


Era 1. 4700 BC since Creation

4700 BC is believed to be the year of the beginning of the world.

Samaritans are known to be adhering strictly to the Torah, and years calculation since Creation derives from the Torah, too.



Era 2. 1638/1639 BC since the entrance into the Holy Land

This era has its starting point at the moment of time when the people of Israel had entered into the land of Canaan. So now, as I'm writing these words in 2020, it is 1638 + 2020 = 3658th year since the entrance into the Canaan.

UPD: on May 8th, 2020, one of the Samaritan experts has sent me the following details. There are 2 calendars <used by nowadays Samaritans>: the one from Creation (see Era 4 below A. T.), and the one that started from the entrance into the Land of Canaan. This if for the Jubilee year calculations. The Israelites entered the land in the 7th month. It is a commonly known issue among the Samaritans. The Jews have a similar holy day, they call it Tu BiShvat, but they have no idea when the Israelites entered the Land. They think that they entered the Land on the 1st day of the 1st month, but that is where the Samaritans are correct. Joshua sent spies out into the Land of Canaan, and they came back with large grapes: if it were the beginning of the year, like now, where would you find large fresh grapes growing in Israel today?

Calendars featuring this chronological system can actually be found nowadays among the Samaritans. See an example below:

year 3647=2008

Year 2008 AD / Year 3647 since the entrance into the Canaan



3rd group. Starting from 4292, 4321 and 4350 BC

Further investigation required on these ones.



Era 4. 4428 BC

Another era since Creation. As this site says, at the moment when I'm writing these words, …it has been 6448 years since Creation. Thus, era should have started in the year 2020 − 6448 = 4428 BC.

This is the second era in use (in addition to the one related to the entrance into the Canaan).



This article was published on May 5th, 2020, updated: May 8th, 2020.

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