BAR 36:06, Nov/Dec 2010
Bells, Pendants, Snakes & Stones
A Samaritan temple to the Lord on Mt. Gerizim
According to the first-century Jewish historian Josephus, the Samaritan leader Sanballat promised to build a temple on Gerizim, the Samaritan’s holy mountain, in imitation of the Jerusalem temple. This, Josephus tells us, occurred at the time of Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Land of Israel (332 B.C.E.).
Did Josephus get it right? Was the Samaritan temple ever built? If so, could we find it? Can we confirm Josephus’s date? Did it really copy the plan of the Jerusalem temple?
The prospect of finding this Samaritan temple led to our excavation of the site, an excavation that I have now led for more than a quarter century. It is one of the largest, longest and most exciting excavations in the Land of Israel.1