‘Beni Israel’: The Palestinian Samaritans celebrate the “Festival of the Harvest”

Nablus (QNN)- Dozens of members of the Samaritan community in Nablus celebrated on Sunday the “Festival of the Harvest”, performing rituals of pilgrimage on the Jirzim mountain.

Samaritans pray on this day at dawn, then they walk climbing the holy mountain while wearing white clothes and saying prayers.

The Samaritans describe themselves as the true Torah guards. They make pilgrimage three times a year.

On the Festival of the Harvest, they harvest their crops, leaving the corners of their fields and everything, whivh falls on the ground, untouched for poor people and passers-by.

The Samaritans claim to possess the oldest extant copy of the Torah, one which dates back 3,600 years, and they speak both Arabic and Modern Hebrew in addition to ancient Hebrew.

The Samaritan community is an important part of the Palestinian people, which has been living side by side with Muslims and Christians for decades.

“We are Nablusis [i.e., from Nablus],” al-Samiri told Anadolu Agency. “We’re an integral part of the Palestinian people and we thank the Muslims, who have always supported us.”

According to al-Samiri, the 12th-century Muslim leader Salah Eddin al-Ayyubi (known in the West as “Saladin”) allowed the Samaritans to perform their religious rituals on Mt. Gerizim after they had been prevented from doing so by the Byzantines for 150 years.

The Samaritans believe Mt. Gerizim represents the most sacred place for the Beni Israel — the true Israelites — since their exodus from Pharaoh’s Egypt.

“Mt. Gerizim, the most sacred spot for the Samaritans, is mentioned in the Torah numerous times, where it is referred to as ‘Beit El’, or ‘House of God’,” al-Samiri said.

“As a religious researcher, I have counted 120 references [in the Torah] to the sacredness of Mt. Gerizim, while there is no single genuine reference to the sanctity of Jerusalem,” he added.

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