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64

ISHBAN KASHTAH (SAMARITAN CALENDRICAL TREATISE), [LAND OF ISRAEL: EARLY 14TH CENTURY]

Estimate:

8,000 - 12,000 USD

ISHBAN KASHTAH (SAMARITAN CALENDRICAL TREATISE), [LAND OF ISRAEL: EARLY 14TH CENTURY]

ISHBAN KASHTAH (SAMARITAN CALENDRICAL TREATISE), [LAND OF ISRAEL: EARLY 14TH CENTURY]

Estimate:

8,000 - 12,000 USD

Lot sold:

40,320

USD

ISHBAN KASHTAH (SAMARITAN CALENDRICAL TREATISE), [LAND OF ISRAEL: EARLY 14TH CENTURY]


35 pages on parchment, 1 page on paper (3 7/8 x 3 1/2 in.; 98 x 88 mm) (pp. 30-31, 33 blank); modern pagination in pencil in Arabic numerals in upper-outer corners; written in Samaritan square and Arabic scripts in black ink; inconsistent number of lines; unruled; no headers or catchwords. Intricate calendrical concentric circle diagram on p. 1; extensive calendrical tables on pp. 5-18. Slight scattered staining; some ink chipped or worn (see, e.g., p. 34); some parchment leaves have darkened; tiny wormhole in gutter at head of pp. 1-27; small paper repairs at lower edges of pp. 4, 36. Modern brown buckram; paper ticket with manuscript name on spine; shelf mark lettered in gilt on spine; modern paper flyleaves and pastedowns.


One of the oldest surviving manuscripts for the calculation of the Samaritan calendar.


Dating back more than 2,500 years, the Samaritans are the longest-lived religious sect in Israelite/Jewish history; today, their traditions, beliefs, and practices are still maintained by a small community of approximately eight hundred souls. As they have for nearly their entire existence, many Samaritans currently live in the vicinity of the biblical city of Shechem (Nablus), near Mount Gerizim on the West Bank. The mountain is central to Samaritan worship and is the site of the group’s annual Passover sacrifice.


The present work, known by its Samaritan Aramaic title Ishban kashtah (=Heshbon kushta; True Reckoning), features a series of calendrical tables written in the distinctive Samaritan alphabet, with explanatory text provided in Arabic script. The Samaritan calendar, like the Jewish one, is lunisolar, adding extra (lunar) months seven times every nineteen years in order to ensure that the Passover festival coincides with the (solar) spring. According to Samaritan tradition, the secrets of the calendar and its calculations were transmitted by God through the angels to Adam, from whom they passed to Enoch, Noah, Shem, Eber, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Phinehas, and the priestly line, which continues to safeguard them to this day. Indeed, the Samaritan High Priest issues a new calendar every six months, and each male in the community is required to secure a copy for himself.


Precious few manuscripts of the Ishban kashtah from such an early date as this one have survived. The codex is further distinguished by the presence on its first page of a diagram composed of concentric circles that give the numerical values of the Arabic consonants, the stations of the moon, the zodiacal signs, and the four seasons, among other data points. If the owner recorded on p. 4 is to be identified with a member of the famous Danfi scribal family active in Shechem in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, that would lend even further prestige to this already important witness to late medieval Samaritan religious culture.


Provenance

Murjan ibn Ibrahim al-Danfi, 1669 (p. 4)


Literature

Maurice Baillet, “Quelques manuscrits samaritains,” Semitica 26 (1976): 143-166, at p. 154 n. 2.


Alan D. Crown, “Samaritan Minuscule Palaeography,” Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester 63,2 (1981): 330-368, at pp. 352-353.


Alan D. Crown, “Studies in Samaritan Scribal Practices and Manuscript History: IV. An Index of Scribes, Witnesses, Owners and Others Mentioned in Samaritan Manuscripts, with a Key to the Principal Families Therein,” Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester 68,2 (1986): 317-372, at pp. 330-331 (no. 45), 360 (no. 439).


Sylvia Powels, Der Kalender der Samaritaner anhand des Kitāb ḥisāb as-sinīn und anderer Handschriften (Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1977), 106-107.


Sylvia Powels, “Relations between Samaritan and Arabic Astronomical Calculations,” Abr-Nahrain 25 (1987): 92-142, at pp. 92, 96.


Sylvia Powels, “The Samaritan Calendar and the Roots of Samaritan Chronology,” in Alan D. Crown (ed.), The Samaritans (Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr [Paul Siebeck], 1989), 691-742, at pp. 725-726.


Marina Rustow, Sharon Liberman Mintz, and Elka Deitsch, Scripture and Schism: Samaritan and Karaite Treasures from the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary (New York: The Library, 2000), 54-55.


David Solomon Sassoon, Ohel Dawid: Descriptive Catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts in the Sassoon Library, London, vol. 2 ([Oxford]: Oxford University Press; London: Humphrey Milford, 1932), 601 (no. 722).

https://www.the-samaritans.net/samaritan-calendar/

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