THE OREGON SUNDAY JOURNAL. PORTLAND. . . a i SUNDAY MORNT OCTOBER 14, 006 cippeiMndp. CWgl50of Tenv Ieft. SflBHM 5BBBJSSIrT ir JBSBaSBBS WaBBBBBBBBBBMBalliSylKgr - rKTB ' iSHLjW- i Jtcr7vuneifa6 CtzVp (wee. 7 ALL of stature, gaunt, as through sufering, but dignified and silent, four men, clad in the robes of their priestly office, have just visited Eng land to implore aid for a dying race. They were representatives of the Sa maritans of Palestine, who are so harried and taxed by the Turks that life is a con tinual struggle to them. The oldest Jewish sect on earth, and once very numerous, the Samaritans have dwindled to thirty families and fewer than 150 persons. As a people they have de fied the ravages of war, poverty' and op pression nearly three thousand years. Never has their unity been broken; their customs and manner of worship have re mained unchanged. Except that they are so pitifully few in number, the sect is the same today as it was when the Good Samaritan of the par able succored the traveler who had fallen among thieves; its unbroken line stretches back to the morning of history, when Abraham crossed the Jordan and pitched his tents in the land of Shechem. A long and valiant struggle for ex istence, asking nothing but fo be let alone with their traditions and their religion, have these people made, but the rapacious Turk is now slowly crushing out the life of the little remnant. In despair they raise their voices to Christendom and cry, "Save usjorwe perish." ...y- " VISITORS to the small city of Nablus, in North Palestine, are attracted there, more than anything else, by the pathetic little religious community that has elans; desperately, through centuries of oppres sion and poverty, to the foot of its sacred Mount Gerizim. No more tenaciously has the cactus root held to the granite sides of somber Ebal, across the valley, than has this devoted band nestled in its chosen abode to await the advent of a new religious era. Of all religious sects, this is the most ancient, the most extraordinary, in a way, and yet the smallest numerically and the feeblest in the world. Their story is one of pathos and tears. a of unfaltering loyalty to the traditions and ifs that have come down to them unchanged ; from the time of Father Abraham. Among the millions of the W"'" race, the Samaritans assert themselves to be the only true worshipers of God, the sole depositaries of Bis revealed will. "The fire that was kindled from heaven on the sacred altar of the Jews has long been ex tinguished,' says an authority in expressing the convictions of the Samaritans. "The light that, age after age, shone out upon the surrounding darkness from the holy Mount at Jerusalem has bean quenched in endless night, but its latest illuminations linger still on the cliffs of Ger laim, in the mountains of Samaria, a gleam of Inextinguishable light. "CHOSEN SEED Of ISRAEL" "Clinging to these -liffs and steadfastly watch ing that heavenly light, these ancient Samari tans, as the chosen seed of Israel, are waiting In aura and certain expectation the coming of the cheerful morn that shall yet rise on the dark and dreadful night that is still gathering around them. 'We know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ. When He is come, He will telt us ail things, is their cry." A single long, narrow street, running east and west through a wonderful cleft in the mountain, composes Nablus. The Samaritans are clus tered in a colony in the southwest quarter. Several hundred feet above them towera Ger ixim, their sacred mountain. While other people of Palestine have scat tered to the four corners of the earth, the tru Samaritan would never think of removing pei manently beyond the shadow of his beloved Gar bum. There, clustered together in a recess of the cliff, they dwell quietly, close by their little syn agogue, where they assemble for devotions, con ducted as they were 8000 years ago. Every Samaritan dresses in white, especially when appearing in public, in the religious as semblies and on all festival occasions. In order to comply with Moslem regulations, rather than from taste, the men wear red turbans. The Women are permitted to wear earrings, because af therm the golden cslf waa made. The valley in which the Samaritans dwell is. a sparkling gam of nature. In all the country roundabout there i nothing that approaches it an beauty and fertility. bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbljbu Wm Mm Baa Mac, JlfKS 4 -, mnfiW mwmm mmm mmWZmW BBBBBBBBBBBBBSaBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBrBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB Wll BlW BBBBBBBll 1 1 S:tltSi II II I LBssssssssssssssVsSisssssssssssss at am vss MM M VI Mm JPjsmWssasfj W.M HaGsaS'H aaaEE!. 'avJebbbW km am' Jkf l.7w7 -ssssiiP 3fca . -t- .. . mmfm WmmJ, ft,,,, ? - -r-mmmm im umt - - - - girl's father. The prospective bridegroom must guarantee an acceptable dower before his pro posal is considered. Written out at great length, the marriage agreement is witnessed with much solemnity, during which ceremony prescribed portions of the law are read aloud. The wedding festivities last several days, and end with an interchange of gifts between the newly married pair and their friends. A Samaritan priest never cornea in contact with the dead. If the relatives themselves per-' form the last offices of affection for their da parted ones, they subject themselves to the Levitical law, which provides penance for cere monial un cleanness. For this reason, persona not of the sect ore called in to perform tha burial offices. After morning service on the Sabbath follow ing a burial, the entire congregation gathers about the grave and eats a simple meal, in ac cordance with the lovefeaat of ancient times. Every Sabbath is strictly observed, but the severest regulations and solemnity surround the Day of Atonement. For twenty-four hours the people do not eat, drink, sleep or convene. The entire time is given to silent meditation and reading the Scriptures. Processions' to the holy mountain mark the feasts' of Pentecost, Tabernacles and Passover today, as they did 2000 years ago. The Passover is marked by especially solemn and ancient ceremonies. a. While barren lands and deserts stretch-their miles over much of the surrounding country, this quiet, half-concealed little valley blooms as the rose. The profusion of fruits and flowers suggests a glimpse of the tropics. Figs, mul berries, grapes, oranges, pomegranates, apricots, almonds and other fruits vie with each other in luxurious growth in this miniature Eden. Over all is a peculiar coloring of sky and atmosphere which has been described as "a lovely bluish hase." Samaritans assert that their real name is Israelites "the true lsrsel of God," they say, "in distinction from the Jews, descendants of Judah, who have forsaken the religion of their fathers." . They declare that a copy of the Pentateuch in their possession is older than that of the Jews. They nave other ancient manuscripts of price less vahfe' as well. Among these1 it a scroll which has been used in their synagogue for many cen turies. Enclosed in a silver case and kept in a chest, the original scroll is rarely shown to visitors. It consists of dingy skins, which were prepared long before tha invention of parchment, sawed together. . The skius are about fifteen by twenty-five inches, and are now worn and patched; in fact, large portions of the writing are il legible. When the Samaritans want a new copy af the Pentateuch, some scholar among them slowly prints it out by hand. They- have no printing presses. A year is required to make a copy, whieh is never sold, but kept for the usa of the community. In religion the Samaritans ace strict mono theists. They permit no pictures in their home or temples not even the portrait of a friend holding fast to the injunction against represen tation "in the likeness" of anything "in heaven above or in the earth beneath." They believe in good and evil angels, in heaven and hell, where good and wicked abide after death, After a future judgment, they be lieve that body and soul1, are reunited for a happy or unhappy existence,' according to the life lived on earth. They fix the coming of the Messiah at 8000 yean from the creation of the world. "He will quickly coma and gather all nations unto himself." His throne of universal domin ion will be on Mount Gerizim. The twelve tones on which Joshua wrote the Ten Com mandments will he recovered, as will the sacred vessels of the temple and the pot of manna now buried on the mountain. Amram, then high priest of the Samaritans, related to the late Bishop Hurst, of the Metho dist Episcopal Church, a few years ago, somq.ef the theological views of the dying community. For fifty-five years, he stated, men will go on increasing in wickedness, after which will come a time of great peace and purity. Then there will come on a new period of great wickedness, which will laat 800 years. This time will be closed by the destruction of tha world. After this the general judgment will take place, when the righteous will go to live with God and the wicked will be finally dispatched to the domain of Satan. The Samaritans assert that they alone have- kept the faith as it waa committed to Abra ham; that other Jewish peoples -have wandered away from pure religion and the prescribed wor ship. Enmity between tha Jews and Samar itans, spoken of in the New Testament, con tinues unabated to this day. Btrictly Orthodox are tha domestic institu tions of tha Samaritans. Their names are' taken from the ancient Scriptures. The family of their priesthood has descended directly from the tribe of Levi. Whan Samaritans want to marry, which they do at an early age, the proposal of the young man is made frequently by his father to this ifeco&g fitter Q&etfura tie ISsonx Before the sun seta on the preceding day tha entire community proceeds to the top of Mount Gerizim and encamps. For the Paschal sacri fice six lambs without blemish are provided. As the sun sets the members of the congrega tion, in white robes, gather about the sacrificial fires. They chant prayers and sacred songs, re citing the entire history of the plagues of Egypt and the establishment of the Passover. While this ceremony is in progress the lambs are led out, and the young men appointed to alay them draw their long, sharp knives. At a certain passage the lambs are shun and tha slayers cross themselves with the blood. Next the lambs are roasted over the fires, while bitter herbs, inclosed in strips of un leavened bread, are handed around. The people then retire to their tents until midnight, when the feast begins. At that time the men of the congregation stand in two lines, with shoes on their feet, staves in their hands and rope girdles about their waists, as instructed by Exodus xii, 11. After certain recitations eaeh man tears off fleets of flesh and eats hurriedly and silently, ortions of. the flesh are then taken to tha woman in the tents. When the feast is over every particle of re maining flesh and bone is thrown into tha fire and burned. - The rest of the ni-ht is passed in prayer, and in the morning the people return to their homes and their daily occupations. "Thus on this sacred mountain in Samaria the Paschal Lamb is offered year alter year the "only Jewish sacrifice that; still lingers in tha world" says a writer. Every detail of cere monial as prescribed by the ancient law is faith fully observed. Such is the strange sect in historic Palestine, the oldest and smallest sect in the world, which, for the first time in all its remarkable history, sends out s ery to be preserved from total ea tinction.