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Samarians in the Egyptian Diaspora

Prof. Tawny Holm (Pennsylvania State University)


This paper examines the evidence concerning Samaria that can be found in Papyrus Amherst 63, the long anthology written in Aramaic but using the Demotic Egyptian script. The multiple compositions on this late Persian or early Hellenistic period papyrus reflect the religious traditions and cultural memory of diverse Aramaic speakers living in Egypt, some of whom were Samarians. In a nostalgic passage with a broken reference to Babylon and Nineveh, Samarians and Judeans seem to view themselves as siblings who arrived together in Egypt in much need of food and support (xvii 1-6). Moreover, alongside poems describing deportations and destroyed cities of days long past, the papyrus also preserves “northern” psalms exalting Yahō (Yahweh), Baal/Hadad, and the Aramean-Israelite god Bethel, amongst other deities. This study relies on my own direct reading of the text, with Demotic transliteration, Aramaic normalization, and translation of the papyrus, found in my book, Aramaic Literary Texts, forthcoming in the SBL-WAW series.

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