The Traditional Dates of the Samaritan Jubilee Years according to the Original Text of Abul-Fatah
By Dr. Ruairidh Bóid
There are five known Samaritan calculations of the relation between Years of Entry, Years of Creation, and Years of the Fanûta, on one hand, and absolute historical time, on the other. They can be divided into one original and four modifications.
The first system of calculation, which will be shown to be the original, is given by Abu ’l-Fatḥ bin Abi ’l-Ḥasan Dinfi of Damascus. (A transcription suitable for use in non-technical publications would be Abul-Fataḥ. I will use this for convenience of citation in such publications).
The second calculation, found in the Hebrew pamphlet written in 1346 currently attached to the Tulîda, depends on a misinterpretation of what the Tulîda says about Alexander, with consequent guessing. The author did not have the information from a second source used by AF. Nine years are added to the years of Creation.
The third calculation is the result of the misreading of the layout of calculations for shemittot and Jubilees combined with a misunderstanding of the argument in the above-mentioned attachment to the Tulîda. Six years have been added to all years of Creation. Misreading of AF would have confirmed the acceptance of the original error of nine years. Total deviation is 9 + 6 = 15 years.
The fourth calculation is an erroneous set of figures going back to arbitrary procedure in the listing of the High Priests in the Comprehensive History by Khaḍir bin Isḥâq or Finaas ban Yeṣaaq. This was completed by the author in 1875, and issued with an appendix ten years later. An early version must have been available in 1853. All years of Creation are lowered, due to following the extant defective mss. of the Tulîda.
The fifth is the current system in Samaritan publications, which differs from Abul-Fataḥ by adding ten years to all years of Creation. This is a modification of the original aberration of 9 years in the Hebrew appendix to the Tûlîda. It rejects the error of a waiting period between the crossing of the Jordan and the start of counting of shemittot and Jubilees. It also rejects the innovation in calculation system no. 3 of an omission of part of the list of High Priests.
We start with the system or set of calculations currently in use. For convenience, we start with 2008-2009 AD. This is Year 3647 of Entry. This means 3,646 years passed from Creation to the start of the Samaritan year starting in March 2008. This means the Samaritan year corresponding to 1-2 A.D. started 3,646 less 2,007 = 1,639 years from Entry, and 1 AD is Year 1640 of Entry. All Samaritan documents agree that there are 2,794 years exactly from Creation to Entry. (This means Year 1 of Entry is Year 2795 of Creation, since Creation was in the first Year of Creation, starting on 1/1/1). This makes the start of 1-2 AD 1639 + 2794 years from Creation = 4,433 years from Creation, and makes 1-2 AD. Year 4434 of Creation. All Samaritan documents agree that the Time of Favour (in Aramaic Ruuta) lasted for 260 years. This was followed by the present age, the time of turning away [of the face of God], in Aramaic Fanûta. (Some mss. confuse the length of the Ruuta with the length of the period up till the last legitimate King, Samson, who died a few years before the end of the Ruuta, but the figure 260 for the Ruuta never changes). In Jewish terminology the death of Samson marks the end of the period of the Judges. Note the ominous tone of the last verse of the Book of Judges. This dating makes the start of the Samaritan year corresponding to 1-2 AD 1639 less 260 = 1,379 years from the start of the Fanûta. Correspondingly, the Samaritan year corresponding to 1 BC – 1 AD. started 4,432 years from Creation and 1,638 years from Entry and 1,378 years from the start of the Fanûta.
The absolute date of the Hijrah is 16/7/622 A.D. The year of the Samaritan calendar in which the Hijrah happened is the one starting in March 622 AD. This year started 1,639 + 621 years = 2,260 years from Entry. This is 4,433 + 621 years from Creation = 5,054 years from Creation. This would be 1,379 + 621 = exactly 2,000 years from the start of Fanuta. So Year 1 of the Islamic Era corresponds to Years 5057-5058 of Creation, Years 2263-2264 of Entry, and Years 2003-2004 of Fanuta, starting after the lapse of about four months within this year.
Alexander died in June 323 BC. If the Samaritan year corresponding to 1 BC - 1 AD started 1,638 years from Entry and 4,432 years from Creation, then the year 323-322 BC started 1,638 take away 322 = 1,316 years from Entry and 4,432 less 322 = 4,110 years from Creation. This makes 1,316 take away 260 = 1,056 years from the start of the Fanuta.
Now we compare the synchronisations given by Abul-Fataḥ, writing in 1355 AD. [The references are to the page and line nos. of the edition by Eduardus Vilmar, Gotha, 1865. This is the only edition ever published]. At 178:9-12 he gives the correspondence of years of Creation with 756 AH [1355 AD], the year of finishing the book. This was meant to be the key to the chronology used throughout the book. At this point his original date has been replaced. The way it was done was so stupid there is no doubt. Someone added 756 to 5047 making 5803, that is, added the no. of Islamic years to the no. of absolute or solar years. Only ms. C has this reading, the original corruption. (The old part of ms. S finishes before the passages about the date of Muhammad. No St. Petersburg fragment has the section with the fourth synchronisation). This change must be earlier than the date of ms. C , since this scribe would not have felt free to innovate. It is shown below that a secondary corruption derived from this can be dated to 1518, so the original mistake can be pushed back to 1500. Then the date was corrupted further. In ms. D , this error has been changed to the erroneous figure of the year 5945 AM, with the addition of another 141 years. My guess is that someone saw that 5,803 years from Creation was not the date of composition, and thought it must be the date of copying. If it had been wrongly thought that the figure 5047 given by AF was meant to synchronise with the Hijrah, the year starting 5,803 years from Creation would have been thought to have been 756 (5,803 – 5,047) solar years from the Hijrah, what we would call 1378 AD. This would have been thought to be only 23 years from the composition of the book. Corruption so early would have been thought impossible, so it could have been assumed the date was mant to be the date of writing out an authoritative ms., perhaps by AF himself. The scribe would then have felt free to change the date to the current one, which would have been the year starting 5,803 + 141 = the year 5945 AM = 897 years (5944 - 5047) after 621 AD = 1518 AD. This is only 27 years before the copying of ms. D. This secondary corruption is in all later mss. (There is another sign of very early corruption and loss of tradition. In all mss. the Samaritan representative before Muḥammad is called Ṣarmaṣa. Both AF and the Continuation have this form. St. Petersburg fragments K and P of AF have the same. This is not a Hebrew or Aramaic name. Any familiarity with Samaritan mss., even the most superficial, will tell you that there hs been a corruption at a stage when the name was written in Hebrew letters, and that it ought to be Yarmayya [= Masoretic Yirmeya], which is a Hebrew name. Something is wrong if a name as important as this can be forgotten).
The original main synchronisation being lost, we have to rely on inference from the two secondary statements.
AF 84:1-5. From Creation till the end of the days of Azqayya the High Priest is said to be 4,100 years. From the start of the Fanuta till this date is said to be 1,046 years. This would make the time since Entry 1306 years. These dates assume a period of 3,054 years from Creation to the start of the Fanuta, which is correct, as was shown above. His officiate is said to have lasted 21 years. In his days came Alexander the Macedonian. The death of Alexander is mentioned at 92:9-11. Descriptive but not narrative material about Azqayya then continues till the mention of his death at 93:14-15. It says at 92:10-11 that when Azqayya heard of Alexander’s death he worried about the fate of the Samaritans under the next ruler. The length of time from the death of Alexander till the death of Azqayya is not directly stated. As it is implied that he never knew the policy of the next ruler, it could not have been long. Alexander died on 11/6/323 BC, about three months from the start of the Samaritan year in March. AF always works in whole elapsed years unless there is some special reason otherwise. When he says Azqayya died 4100 years from Creation, he means he died in the year 4101 AM, as did Alexander. [AM = Anno Mundi]. The start of the Samaritan year starting in March 1 B.C. will be 4100 + 322 = 4,422 years from Creation. The year starting in late March 1 AD will then be 4424 AM, starting 4,423 years from Creation, or 1630 of Entry, starting 1,629 years from Entry.
The second synchronisation by AF needs an appreciation of the context and the terminology if it is to be understood properly. This date is important to AF. He gives it four times over. At AF 172:16-18 it is said that from the start of the Fanûta till the coming of Muḥammad is 1,993 years, and from Creation 5,047 years. This is said to have been at the end of the officiate of Elaazar, which lasted 25 years. This would be 2,253 years from Entry. At 176:12 the “appearance” of Muḥammad is said to have been 1,993 years from the start of the Fanuta. At 175: 13 the appearance of Muḥammad is said to have been 5,047 years from Creation. At 178:9 the date for the coming of Muḥammad is given again. (In the extant mss., this is said to have been in the 12th year of the officiate of Elaazar, conradicting what was said at 172 16-18. Whoever first witlessly changed the date of composition made this change as well, according to some theory). If AF is being consistent with his use of this expression in other places in the book, this “coming” of Muḥammad would have to be his arrival in Palestine. In the context, this can only mean the first Islamic conquests in Palestine. Furthermore, after the second mention of the date of the coming of Muḥammad at 178:9-12, some of the mss. have an account of the effect of the Islamic invasion of Palestine. [A word of explanation. Although Islamic historians do not recognise campaigns by Muḥammad into Syria, the Christian historians unanimously do. For the present purpose it does not matter who is right. The point is that AF recognises such campaigns]. This interpretation is confirmed by the way Muḥammad is first mentioned, starting at 172:15. The social collapse of the last years of Byzantine rule has just been described. The tyranny and oppression of the Byzantine administration was ghastly. Immediately afterwards comes the dating of the “coming”of Muḥammad, which would have ended the reign of terror. Then comes the ending of the original book, with an emphatic statement of Muhammad’s benevolence to “all the Torahs” [kull ash-Sharâ’i‘] meaning all adherents of a revealed book, not just Samaritans but Christians and Jews as well.
AF followed an existing practice in giving the date mentioned for the arrival of the Islamic forces in Palestine and south-west Syria. At the end of the original book by AF there is an attachment in some of the mss. This is a history of the next 300 years, finished soon after the last event mentioned, which means several centuries before AF. At the start of this attachment is another version of the narrative of the granting by Muḥammad of a guarantee of protection. Immediately after this, there is the same dating of 5,047 years since Creation as originally given by AF, but instead of saying till the coming or appearance of Muḥammad, it says “till the rule of Ishmael”. This does not mean the Islamic forces had stable control of the whole of Palestine this early. The meaning is to be turned round. It means control by Byzantium over the country had ended. Complete stable control had become inevitable. The Byzantine Era was over.
The figures given by AF for the death of Alexander and the coming or appearance of Muḥammad are 947 years apart. The timespan from June 323 to July 622 AD, the date of the Hijrah, is 944 years. The coming of Muḥammad or the start of the rule of Ishmael is thus in the year starting in March 625 AD. If the narrative by AF and the Continuation are both read carefully, it will be seen that the compact with the people of Palestine was made by Muḥammad after the Hijrah and before the invasion of Palestine. This is historically right. Islamic policy on such matters was worked out in Yathrib immediately after the Hijrah. It will also be seen that the coming or appearance of Muḥammad is soon after the making of the compact. The dating of 625 AD is confirmed, along with the synchronisation with the year starting 5,047 years from Creation.
AF had a reason for saying “the coming of Muḥammad” or “the appearance of Muḥammad” instead of “the rule of Ishmael”. The arrangement of the material shows that Muḥammad was seen as the saviour of the Samaritans, and all Palestinians, from Byzantium. Only a messianic figure would be said to have “appeared”. The year starting 5,047 years from Creation was the year starting 2253 years from Creation, as AF tells us more than once. This is the year 5048 AM or 2254 of Entry, which is a forty-ninth year, the year before a Jubilee Year. It is highly remarkable that memory of this figure should have got lost as early as 1500 AD, only a hundred and fifty years from the book’s composition.
Here then are the conclusions from the two remaing synchronisations. Abul-Fataḥ synchronised March 323 BC with the passage of 4,100 years from Creation and the passage of 4,100 take away 2,794 = 1,306 years from Entry. He synchronised the year starting in March 625 AD with the year starting 5,047 years from Creation. The year starting in March 1 AD must be 4,100 + 323 = 4,423 years from Creation and 1,306 + 323 = 1,629 years from Entry. March 38 AD, the end of the year starting in March 37 AD, must be 4423 + 37 = 4,460 years from Creation and 1,629 + 37 = 1,666 years from Entry. So in March 37 AD a forty-ninth year starts and in March 38 AD a Jubilee Year starts.
We are left with a disagreement of exactly ten years between the modern reckoning and Abul-Fataḥ. Let us work backwards from the date given by Abul-Fataḥ. The year starting March 1 AD is 1,629 years from Entry and 4,423 years from Entry. This is 1,629 take away 260 = 1,369 years from the start of the Fanûta. The year starting March 622 AD starts 1369 + 621 = 1,990 years from the start of the Fanûta. It would have been tempting to scratch round to try to find another ten years somewhere before the Hijrah. The new dating makes the start of the year starting in March 621 AD, during which the Hijrah occurred about four months into the year, exactly 2000 years since the start of the Fanuta. The words of Abul-Fataḥ about the synchronisation can be re-read if you are determined enough and insensitive enough. What I mean is that if no connection is made between what is said at 84:1-5 and 92:9-11, and if the implication that Azqayya died before knowing what the policy of Alexander’s successor would be is ignored, the words at 84:1-5 could be taken to refer to the date of Alexander’s conquest of Palestine. This gives another nine years. Another year could be found by taking the words “the coming of Alexander” completely literally, as if meaning his fist arrival in Syria-Palestine. If the reader looks these passages up, it will be clear how the deliberate re-reading was done, without any change to the figures given by the author. This re-reading would make all Seleucid Era dates ten years later in relation to Samaritan dates. With that done, the re-dating of the Hijrah in relation to years of Entry and Creation would have followed automatically. The question is, when was this addition of ten years done? Here are some soundings. At the end the solution will stand out by itself.
First Set of Examples. One item.
As said, a Hebrew pamphlet stands in the mss. before the text of the much older Aramaic Tulîda. The author writes in the third month of the Islamic year 747 corresponding to the fourth month, which is July, of the civil year. [This would be 1346 AD = 1379 of the civil era]. This is said to correspond to 5778 AM = 714 Persian [Yezdegerd Era, starting in 632 AD]. This would make 1 AD = 5778 – 1345 = 4433. This is 9 years too late in comparison with the chronology of AF. This is said to be 2984 years since starting the observing of shemittot. That means from Entry. Years of the tables or almanac will be six years less, because these are listed from the seventh year of Entry. The period of counting of shemittot and Jubilees starts from the first day of the first month of the first year. Testing. 5778 AM starts 5,777 years from Creation. 5777 – 2984 = 2,793. The difference should be 2,794. If 5778 AM really is meant, and not 5778 years from creation, then either he means this is Year 2984 of Entry [not the year starting 2984 years from Entry], or his arithmetic is out by one year. The first explanation, careless expression, is more likely. This would make 1 AD = 2984 – 1345 = year 1639 of Entry, nine years too late. In a paragraph considered by Florentin to be an interpolation, and with good reason, there is a faulty calculation of the number of Jubilees elapsed. This can be disregarded here.
Now we have to account for the anomalous additional nine years in the number of years of Creation in relation to Abul-Fataḥ. The Tulîda has not got the datum that the death of Alexander was just before the death of the High Priest Azqayya and can therefore be synchronised with the year starting 4100 years from Creation, that is, 4101 AM. AF got that from another source. If you read the Tûlîda on its own, all you have is that Alexander came in the time of Azqayya. You can work out the date of death of Azqayya by adding figures. It would be natural, though wrong, to think that Azqayya died immediately after the conquest of Palestine by Alexander, nine years before his death. This assumption has then been regarded as true forever afterwards. These calculations by one person, which are not part of the Tulîda, have been treated as if having the authority of the Tulîda. The author calls his pamphlet a mashni, meaning appendix.Later readers have regarded it as the preface to the Tûlîda. The venerability of the content of correct traditional information attached to the traditional figures for the position of the Mountain, as well as the venerability of the Tulîda, have been attached to the bad guess about dating by one person with inadequate data.
In modern times the arithmetical error of one year in calculating the year of Entry or the bad expression in this appendix has been one of the causes of an error of an additional year in the synchronisation. All years of Entry are now ten years too late, and the calculation of Years of Creation has followed automatically.
Second Set of Examples.
(a) Colophon of ms. Manchester IX part 2, Asâṭîr. The scribe is the renowned Musallam bin Marjân Dinfi. Ṣafar 1115 AH [Anno Hegirae] (which started in mid June 1703) = June 2016 Greek [June 1703 AD] = 6141 AM = 3441 Entry. The scribe had a special reason for giving these correspondences so fully. Calculating from the figure for Alexander, 1703 AD = 323 BC till 1703 = 323 + 1,702 = 2,025 years. If March 323 BC is 1306 years from Entry, then 1703 will be 1,306 + 2,025 (323 + 1,702)= 3,331 years from Entry or Year 3332 of Entry, the forty-ninth year before the Jubilee Year of 3333 of Entry. (Checking. If 1703 = year 3332 of Entry, then 1 AD is 3332 – 1702 = Year 1630 of Entry, which is right). Now we see a contradiction. What Musallam gives as dates in his colophon seems at first to have no connection with the Jubilee. Year 3441 of Entry was not a Jubilee or near one. This also makes Entry only 2700 years after Creation! The date for years of Creation is unexpected as well. This would mean 1 AD = 6141 take away 1702 = 4439 AM, that is, the year starting 4438 years after Creation. This is 15 years too late. These figures must be explained somehow. We start with the assumption that although the illustrious scholar Musallam could make a clerical error, he would not be wrong on a point of fact. I have had a look at a photograph of the page. The dates are written in Hebrew letters. For 3441 he has written gimel then the word thousand (alf) in full and then the letters qof shin mem alef. The sequence qof shin is anomalous. For 300 shin would be written and for 400 tav. The words of the two lines with the two dates are exactly underneath each other from start to finish. The letters qof shin mem alef are written exactly under the letters qof mem alef of the date from Creation. The shin was written along with the qof from above. As said, the sequence qof shin is impossible, so shin must be meant. The mem was copied. It might be thought that he forgot to change the alef to zayin, but this is not a mistake, as will be seen from the next example. A difference of 2,800 and not 2,794 years from Creation till Entry really is intended. If Year 3341 of Entry is 1703 AD, then 1 AD is 3341 less 1702 = 1639 of Entry. The figure for years of Entry is 9 years too high, and the figure for years of Creation is 9 + 6 years too high. The reason for the addition of 9 years will be explained at the end of this set of examples. The origin of the addition of 6 years to years of Creation is this. Tables of the Ishban Qashṭa are converted to tables of years of Creation by adding 2,800 (2,794 + 6) and converted to tables of years of Entry by adding 6. If you start by looking at what you think is the current year of Entry in tables of Ishban Qashṭa with their correspondences to years of Creation, and if it is thought that the I.Q. column is a Year of Entry column, it will seem that the rule is that the difference between years of Creation and years of Entry ought to be 2,800 years. If this supposed rule is then used in conversions, and if years of Entry are the base, all years of Creation will come out 6 years more than they ought to be. The consequence will be that the sting point of Years of Entry will be 2,800 instead of 2,794 years from Creation. As to the question of how someone could think this was right, the answer is simple. The appendix standing before the Tulîda has been misread at 4a:36-39 and then 3b:10. [Florentin’s numbering. Neubauer p. 428 translation and p. 394 text and p. 428 translation; p. 391 text and p. 425 translation]. Somehow it has been thought that words that mean seven years on the western side of the Jordan, mean the eastern side of the Jordan. (In the language of the Torah, the expression “The Trans-Jordan” or “the other side of the Jordan” means the other side from the reference point of the situation of the utterance. If what is meant is not clear from the context, then “on the east” or “on the west” is added. At 4a:36-39 it says there was a delay of six years “while the Israelites were across the Jordan on the west” before doing the astronomical observations and calculations needed for the the calculation of the tables or almanac [now called the Ishban Qashṭa in Aramaic, meaning the correct reckoning]. It says elsewhere, not here, that the seventh year, when the observations were made, was not year one of shemittot but year seven. Here it says that to convert years of the almanac to years of Entry you add six. It is said at 3b:10 that the knowledge of astronomy needed for this purpose was revealed in the year 2794 of Creation. Unbelievable as it might seem, someone has read the first passage as meaning there was a delay of six years before crossing the Jordan. The implication would be that Entry was at the of 2,800 years, not 2,790. For a long while I looked for some other explanation, because it was hard to suppose anyone could have been so insensitive to the text. There plainly is the word “westwards” [yamma]. Then I saw that Adolf Neubauer had made exactly this mistake in his translation into French. As for what he had done with the word “westwards”, he had simply declined to take notice of it. I had already seen that Neubauer’s translation is inaccurate in many places, where the syntax of the Hebrew had been too hard for him. Here it was both syntax and vocabulary. [There is a bad misprint in Neubauer’s Hebrew text, which has “interior” or “wilderness” instead of “Jordan”. The French translation, bad as it is, depends on the correct Hebrew text]. (Florentin gets the syntax right, as would be expected, and understands from the context that the western side of the Jordan must be meant. He still does not see the relevance of the word “westwards”, so he explains it as meaning the Israelites were concentrated on the westward side of what we call the Cis-Jordan, the Mediterranean side, but could not enter the eastern part of the western side). If Neubauer could make this mistake, so could some else. So here is the explanation of the wrong dating of years of Entry by 6 years: misreading of the appendix to the Tûlîda and misinterpretation of the layout of the Ishban Qashṭa tables. The year of Entry will already be 9 years too much for the reason explained, so the years of Creation will be 15 (9+6) years too much. So Musallam uses one table that makes the year of writing 3332 of Entry, the year before a Jubilee, and another that makes it 3341 of Entry, nine years later, eight years after the Jubilee. No-one has noticed what is wrong. If the great Musallam could pile up one mistake (the nine years) on another (the six years) and then not think to divide the supposed year of Entry by 49 to see if it worked, anyone could get their sums wrong and get confused. They did. Consistently, for another 250 years in respect of the six years and to this very day in respect of the nine, which 250 years later became ten.
(b) Manchester XXII. Astronomical calendar, written by Marjân bin Ibrâhîm, Musallam bin Marjân, and ‘Abdullâh bin Yûsuf. The ms. was completed on the 9th of Dhul-Ḥijja 1124 which is the 25th Dec. of the Greek year 2025 [1712 AD] which is said to be in the tenth month of a Jubilee Year. What is meant is that this is the year 3333. If 1712 = 3333 of Entry, then 1 AD = 3333 – 1711 = 1622 of Entry. This is 8 years too low. Eight years have been deducted to try to correct the error in the second set of tables used by Musallam in example (a) but they have been deducted from a figure that was accurate, from the first set of tables used by Musallam! It should have been 9 years that was deducted, but it has not been realised that the year is meant to be the year before the Jubilee, not the Jubilee. Confusion is complete.
(c) Colophon of ms. Manchester 171, Kitâb aṭ-Ṭubâkh, written by Marjân bin As‘ad Dinfi. Colophon. Finished on the 8th of the 7th of 3521 of Entry which is in Dhul-Ḥijja 1300 AH [which started on the 4th October 1883 not 1882 as in the catalogue] and is in 6321 AM. This would make 1 AD = 6321 take away 1882 = 4439 AM, that is, the year starting 4,438 years from Creation. This figure is too high by 15 years, i.e. the corresponding figure for civil years will be too low by 15 years. If 1883 is Year 3521 of Entry, then 1 AD = 3521 less 1882 = 1639 of Entry. This is 9 years too high. The calculation derives from AF, read as described above, and under the influence of the ms. written by Musallam. The usual 6 years have been added to make Entry 2,800 years from Creation. Continuity of speculation can be assumed. The first part of the ms. described above is the Kitâb aṭ-Ṭubâkh, written by four members of the Dinfi family, including Musallam, between 1692 and 1711. The textform of this ms. of the Ṭubâkh is closely related to the other ms. The calculation at the end of Manchester IX part 2 could not have been unknown. The ms. Manchester IX is carefully and elaborately written in both parts. The text of the Ṭubâkh (part 1 of the ms.) has been copied from one ms. with collation against at least one other ms. and consequent improvements. There is only one extant older ms. of the Ṭubâkh. The text of the Asâṭîr is superior to most mss. of this book. The ms. has been intended as a model exemplar.
The solution to all these additions of nine years in (a) (b) (c) (d), which make the corresponding absolute years earlier, is copying of the assumption by the author of the appendix to the Tûlîda, who had incomplete data; combined with misunderstanding of what AF meant by his synchronisation of the year starting 4100 years from Creation with Alexander. As said, if only 84:1-5 is read, without 92:9-11, the synchronisation can be thought to be not with Alexander’s death, but with his “coming”, which is taken to be his conquest of Palestine nine years beforehand.
Third Set of Examples. Surprising as it might be, in the mid 19th c. calculations start to be made from the Tûlîda without realising that all the extant mss. are defective. Apparently no-one thought to correct the defect by looking at the High Priests listed by AF from an undamaged list before about 1950. The same defect in Chronicle Adler had already been noticed by the editor, but he did not realise it had been taken over from the extant defective text of the Tûlîda. (He did not know the chronicle he was editing was a condensation of the book by Khaḍir either).
(a) The early mss. of the history by Abul-Fataḥ preserve his original dating of Muḥammad. Ms. S p. 310 has a marginal note in modern handwriting that would fit the late 19th c. saying the correct figure for years from Fanuta to Muḥammad ought to be 1884 instead of the figure of 1993 in the text. This makes the Hijrah too early by 109 years.
(b) Ms. A (1857) of Abul-Fataḥ gives the original date, and in the body of the text, not in the margin, an alternative of 4896 years from Creation to Muḥammad (instead of 5047). This makes the Hijrah too early by 5047 – 4896 = 151 years. All mss. of Abul-Fatah after this date depart from the author’s intention. Mss. P₁L₁ (both 1863) L₂Y (both 1868) N (between 1865 and 1880) M (late 19th c.) and L₃ (between 1900 and 1905) have the original date of 1993 years from Fanuta till Muḥammad then an alternative of 1884 years from Fanuta till Muḥammad then the original 5047 years from Creation to Muḥammad. This makes the Hijrah too early by 163 years. Ms J₁ (1908) has only these new figures in the text, without any hint to the reader that they are not what the author wrote.
(c) These new dates are in fact derived from early calculations for the book often known as the Comprehensive History by Khaḍir bin Isḥâq or Finaas ben Yeṣaaq (completed in 1875). The Hijrah is set in 4893 AM [4892 years since creation]= 2099 of Entry [2098 years since Entry] = 1838 years since the start of Fanuta. This correctly makes 2794 years fom Creation to Entry. If what is meant is that the Hijrah is in the year starting 4893 years from Creation, this is too early by 5047 take away 4893 = 154 years. These figures can be explained in part by the loss of 135 years in the extant mss. of the Tûlîda. Khaḍir has added up the years of the High Priests from the death of Alexander to the Hijrah without realising that all mss. available to him were seriously wrong. At the moment I can’t say where Khaḍir managed to delete another 19 years. Anyway, he used critical ability without adequate insight. Such is the overall nature of his book. For example, in his list of the Kings. [Called Judges in the Masoretic Text, but note that the term King is used at XIX:1 and XXI:25 MT]. He alters names and dates under the influence of the Jewish text. His book is indispensable, but his high-handed approach can be a menace, misleading even the most knowledgeable of contemporary Samaritans, and disastrously deceiving some modern European [Ifranji] scholars. Reputations have been built by befuddled or ignorant European scholars on supposed data found in a Hebrew version of his history made in about 1897 and then re-worded in part by using the language of the Masoretic Text in 1907. Part of this is known by Europeans [al-Ifranj] as the Samaritan Hebrew Joshua, and the whole book is often called Chronicle II. Guesses built on guesses have been made without knowing that the book is from the start of the twentieth century and the supposed data only a few years older. Unfortunately the readers of the consequent publications are deceived as much as the authors. For more information on both the Arabic book of 1875 by Finaas and the Hebrew version of 1907, as well as the way European scholars have misused the Hebrew version, see my article The Transmission of the Samaritan Joshua-Judges [DS-NELL vol. VI no. 1, 2004, pp. 1-30]. The history commonly known as Chronicle Adler agrees with the figures mentioned, as it must, since is no more than an alternative but shorter Hebrew version of the Arabic book by Khaḍir, though all scholars remain ignorant of the fact. They also all remain ignorant of the existence of the original Arabic book, unbelievable as that sounds. Everyone familiar with Samaritan literature is familiar with the book, however. See my article.
(d) Colophon of ms. Manchester 288. Tûlîda. 1276 AH = 1860 (margin) or 1861 (margin) AD = 6177 AM. This would make 1 AD = 6177 less 1860 = 4317 AM, the year starting 4316 years from Creation. This is too early by 4,423 take away 4316 = 107 years. New calculations are going on. The most likely explanation is that the calculations derive from the ones being done at the time for the Comprehensive History and the Tulîda.
(e) Colophon of ms. Manchester 258. Hebrew Chronicle derived from the Comprehensive History. 10th month of 1326 AH = 6227 AM = 3433 of Entry = October 1908 AD. This would make 1 AD = 6227 less 1907 = 4320 AM, the year starting 4419 years from Creation. This is too low by 104 years. The period till Entry has been calculated from the figure 6227, with the answer coming out as 2,794 which must have been expected.
(f) A note in the margin of many of the late mss. of AF says the Tulîda makes it 4,869 years from Creation to Muhammad. This is too early by 178 years. The observation itself is close to being right. The explanation is that there are serious omissions in the extant mss., as has been said.
Fourth Set of Examples.
The abandonment of the previous chronology, the one based on misuse of defective lists of High Priests, went through two stages.
In the first stage the missing years were restored. The system first attested in 1703 is modified slightly. The discrepancy in years of creation with the system set out by AF is now 10 + 6 instead of 9 + 6. Ten years instead of nine are now added to years of Creation. The explanation is the same as for the addition of 9 years, a re-interpretation of AF 84:1-5 out of context. The arithmetical mistake of one year in the later pamphlet attached to the Tûlîda could be the direct origin. (See above). There could also be the motive of making it exactly 2,000 years from Fanuta to the Hijrah. I have not found any attestation of this chronology before 1924.
(a) Manchester 307. Calendar. Year 6376 of Creation = 3576 of Entry = 1356 AH  = second year of shemittah. Checking years of Creation. If 1937 AD is 6376 AM, then 1 AD is 6376 – 1936 = 4440 AM . This is 10 + 6 = 16 years too high. Checking what are said to be years of Entry. At the end of the year 3,576 years have elapsed. 73 x 49 = 3577, so year 3576 is the year before a shemittah year. The difference between years of Creation and years of Entry is 2,800. This year is 73 x 49 + 5, the fifth year of the shemittah. The calendar for the year before (Manchester 306) says that year (1936 AD, said to be Year 6375 of Entry) was a shemittah year, which it was not. Calculating of correspondences of years has gone through so many stages that all system has been lost.
(b) The first of the calendars in the Manchester collection is for 1924 AD (Manchester 295). The last is for 1939 (Manchester 308). The same chronology is used.
(c) The latest mention of this system I have found is from 1953. See below.
This is the current synchronisation in Samaritan publications. The original correct figure of 2,794 years (not 2,800) from Creation to Entry has been kept, meaning the old misreading of the Hebrew appendix to the Tûlîda has been seen not to be a tradition. As I have not found any certain attestation of this correction before 1953, I suspect it is due to critical work by Ratson Tsedaka.
(a) Freie Universität Berlin, ms. 8, Daftar. Dated to “3592 according to the long chronology”. The short chronology would be the previous one, with the omissions. This is the last trace of this “short chronology” I have found so far. There is implicitly a competitor. The long chronology would be a restoration of the one before that, but with modifications as described.
(b) No. 16. Liturgy. Dated by the Islamic and the Jewish calendars to a date equivalent to April 1963 AD (not 1962 as Shunnar has it). The year according to Entry is 3602. This would make 1 AD = 3602 – 1962 = 1640. This is 10 years higher than for AF. From this time onwards the current system is well attested and seems to be the only one.
The calculation in the attachment to the Tulîda is due to ignorance of the datum used by AF, that the High Priest Azqayya, who died in the year starting 4100 years from Creation, knew of the death of Alexander. All calculations after AF go back to the mistake in this attachment. What ought to have been the correctives had been lost. The first corrective, the synchronisation of years of Creation with the date of the book, had been lost by 1500 AD. The second corrective, the tradition of the connection of the Jubilee Year with the end of Byzantine rule, must have been lost even before that. There might be a trace of some memory of this in the current dating, according to which the Hijrah is 2,000 years from the Fanuta. The third corrective, the datum that Azqayya knew of the death of Alexander, was overlooked by careless reading, or just ignored. The fourth corrective, the adding up of years of High Priests, was muffed by uncritical reliance on the defective text of the Tûlîda, instead of on the lists given by AF. The very early alteration of the second instance of the synchronisation of the coming of Muhammad with the High Priest Elaazar would have added to the confusion. I conclude that there has been no precise Samaritan tradition of the linkage of years of Creation and Entry to absolute years since some time round about 1490 or earlier. There is a living approximate tradition.
There is only one Samaritan chronological tradition, the one recorded by AF. After that, there is a string of guesses, all due to mistakes and ignorance and loss of tradition. Let us then calculate following Abul-Fataḥ. If the period from Creation till March 1 AD is 4,423 years, then the period from Entry till then is 4,423 take away 2,794 = 1,629 years. From Entry till March 38 AD is 1,629 + 37 = 1,666 years. From Creation to this date is 1,666 + 2,794 = 4,460 years. One thousand six hundred and sixty-six is 34 times 49. This means the year starting in March 37 AD was a forty-ninth year. The Jubilee Year, the fiftieth year, was commemorated in the liturgy on the first of the seventh of the religious year [late September] in 37 AD, and publicly announced by the blowing of the shofar on the Day of Atonement, the tenth of the seventh. It ran from late March 38 AD to late March 39 AD. Whereas Rabbinic Judaism and the Karaites count the Jubilee Year as running from the first day of the seventh month of the shemittah year (year 49) to the end of the sixth month of year 50 (which is the next year 1), Samaritans count the Jubilee Year as the whole of Year 50 (which is the next year 1). It is announced at the start of the seventh month of year 49. This allows six months for emissaries or heralds to go out into all countries to officially announce the approach of the Jubilee. As usual, the Samaritan halachah is the original form.
The most recent Jubilee Year was 1998. This was Year 3636 of Entry. (3,636 = 74 x 49 + 1).
It is worth adding that the year of Creation ending with the death of Moses, just before the crossing of the Jordan, would have been a Jubilee Year in a system counting Jubilee years from Creation. The end of the last year before Entry was 2,794 years from Creation. This is 57 x 49 + 1. It follows that every forty-ninth year in the counting from the year of Entry will be a Jubilee Year in terms of years of Creation. The forty-ninth year thus has a quality distinguishing it from the seventh, fourteenth, twenty-first years and so on.
Dr. Ruairidh Bóid
Honorary Research Associate
Centre for Religion and Theology, School of History, Monash University.
The Traditional Dates of the Samaritan Jubilee Years according to the Original Text of Abul-Fatah