Monday, March 25, 2013

An Alternative Historical Identification of Paul as 'Levi' in the Samaritan Chronicle?

Dusis stemmed from the 'arabrab ("mixed multitude") who came out with the children of Israel from the land of Egypt to Nablus. Dusis went to the town of Askar (i.e. Sychar), where there was a very wise person named Yahdu who was unique in his time in learning and piety. Dusis joined him and became close friends with him. One day he came to him and found him eating (the flesh of) a bikkur ("firstling"), so Dusis said to him, "How is it permissible for you to eat of a bikkur when its blood has not yet been sprinkled on the altar, as He (God) has said, [Num. 18. 17] ("But the firstling of an ox, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, you shall not redeem,) you shall dash their blood against the altar." Yahdu replied, "(You are right), it is like bread; God has said, (Lev. 23.14) "And you shall not eat bread or parched corn ... (until you have brought the offering of your God.)" So they agreed that they would eat neither bread nor bikkur for a period of two years.

When they were released from their vow after two years, they entered Nablus and ate and drank and got drunk, and Yahdu, too, became intoxicated and went to sleep right where he was. Dusis then took Yahdu's mantle» and went and gave it to a harlot, saying to her, "Take this mantle, and the day after tomorrow go up onto the mountain. All the Samaritans will be there. Take hold of the elder — his name is Yahdu — who will be standing by the side of the chief, and say that he had committed adultery with you and had left his mantle with you as a pledge for your fee. Fear not (that you will be accused of adultery), for you are known as a harlot. And here are six dinars for your wages."

When Yahdu awoke, he looked for his mantle but could not find it, so he went to the people of the house and asked them about it. They swore to him that they had not taken it. He then looked for Dusis, but could not find him. On the third day, which was the Day of Atonement, the harlot went up to the mountain and found the elder whom Dusis had described to her, standing next to the chief. She rushed up crying for help, and saying, "My lord Chief, seize my fee from this elder who is standing next to you." He asked, "What does he owe you ?" And she answered, "He had me spend a night at his house and left this mantle with me as a pledge, but has not redeemed it to this day". They asked Yahdu, "Is this your mantle?" And he answered, "Yes, this mantle belongs to me." So the chief said, "Seize him, so that he may be burned." Yahdu replied, "Do not be too hasty about my case, for the people at whose house I and Dusis were drinking know it ; I had already had them swear to it. As for Dusis, until now I have not seen him again. If you believe neither me nor them, burn both me and this whore."

The chief Aqibun ('-q-b-w-n) then shouted at the harlot, "Tell me the truth, or else I will burn you, and I will burn this man with you." So she confessed the truth, saying. "My lord, Dusis gave me six dinars and this mantle, Oh my Lord, Dusis gave me six dinars and this mantle and said to me: 'Do this deed.'" And the High Priest 'Aqibon searched for Dusis but could not find him. For Dusis, because of his fear of the High Priest had fled to Shuwaykah (Sh-w-y-k-h) and stopped with a woman whose name was the widow Amanto ('-m-n-t-w) and said to her, "I am the chief's son." So she served him and he stayed with her for many days, writing. When he finished his work, he learned that the chief Aqibun was not unmindful of him and was still after him ; so he arose to head from this place to another, and instructed the woman, saying, "I know that someone is after me who wants to kill me. By virtue of the fact that I have entered your house (that is, that I am your guest), I want you to tell him who will come looking for me : 'He stayed at my house for a short while writing on these sheets of paper, and then he went out and left, and I do not know which direction he took. But he instructed me not to let anyone come near these sheets of paper until after he has entered this pool and has been immersed in it. Once you have cleansed yourself from the traces of the road, nothing (in these sheets of paper) will harm you.'"

Dusis travelled to Anbata ('-n-b-t-') and went up to the mountain. He hid in a cave, where he died of hunger, and the dogs entered (it) and devoured him. This is the story of Dusis — cursed be his name ! As for the priest Aqibun, he continued until he heard that he had come to Shuwaykah and that he had spent a long time with Amanto the widow. So he sent Levi ibn Finhas (= Levi son of Phineas)c, his nephew, who was a courageous and God-fearing man, and sent along with him seven men to bring back Dusis and kill him, just as he had intended to do to Yahdu. Levi and the men accompanying him travelled on until they came to Shuwaykah. They entered the house of Amanto the widow and said to her, "Why have you concealed Dusis with you, notwithstanding that he deserves to be killed?" She replied, "I did not realize that he deserved to be killed. In fact I was most hospitable to him after he had said to me, 'I am the chief's son,' and I found him to be assiduously engaged in writing on these sheets of paper. And when he was about to leave, he said to me, 'Do not let anyone come near them until he has immersed himself in this pool.' Then he left my house, and I do not know where he went." Thereupon Levi said to the group, "What harm can it do us if we immerse ourselves in this pool and cleanse ourselves from the traces of the road, before we venture to read (anything containing) the names of God Most High ?" So one of the men in Levi's company went down into the pool and was immersed, but as he came out he said, "My faith is in Thee, Yahweh, and in Dusis Thy servant, and in his prophecy." Whereupon Levi shouted at him and struck him, and then said to another one, "You go down." He too went down and was immersed, and then said the same thing as the one before him had said. They thus continued immersing themselves until none of them was left, and they all repeated the same words attesting the prophethood of Dusis. At this Levi was perplexed, saying, "By God, now I will immerse myself and see what devilish trick this is of these men and of their unbelief, and I will confront them (with it), if so be the will of God Most High !" So Levi went down and immersed himself, and when he came up he said, "My faith is in Thee, Yahweh, and in Dusis Thy Prophet. Woe unto us ! We have been pursuing the prophet of God, Dusis !" They then took the writings of Dusis and found that he had altered many things in the Torah, like Ezra, and even more. All of them kept what he had written even more. All of them kept what he had written and altered, and then returned to Nablus and told the chief that they had not found him, and that he had departed from the woman's house, and that she did not know where he was headed.

On the holiday, the first of the feast of Passover, the Samaritans gathered to- together, and the priest Aqibun said to his nephew Levi ibn Finhas, "Rise and read : (Ex. 12.21f.) 'And Moses called to all the elders of Israel...'." And Levi rose and read until he came to "and you shall take a bunch of hyssop ('ezob)" where instead of 'ezob he read sa'tar, in accordance with the change made by Dusis. When the Samaritans contradicted him, Levi rejoined, "No, the correct reading is what God has said through Dusis — peace be upon him — : sa'tar; and you are all impudent rascals when you deny the prophethood of Dusis and change the holidays and use a substitute for the great name YHWH, and send men in pursuit of the Second Prophet, whom God had sent forth from Mount Sinai. Woe unto you from God !" At this point the people said, "He is become an unbeliever," and his uncle the chief shouted saying, "Kill him !" So Levi ran off and the Samaritans chased him to the border of Joseph's field. They pelted him thickly with stones until he died, and they piled a mound of stones over him, which to this day is known as "Miisawiyyah (= Mosaic) Levi".

When the men who were with Levi saw what had happened to him, they kept their matter secret, and misled a group to join them in believing in Dusis, and when they became great in number, they went to a town near Jerusalem out of fear of the Samaritans.

After Levi was stoned, these men took palm branches' and dipped them in Levi's blood, saying, "This is the one of whom God has said, (Dt. 19.10) 'And you shall not spill innocent blood in the midst of your land." What was Levi's sin that he should have been stoned ? Yet when he testified that Dusis was a prophet, he was killed.' And they took faulty Scrolls of Scripture (asfar, pi. of sifr) and put palm branches inside them and resolved among themselves that anyone who desired to look at Levi's palm branches and read the manuscript of Dusis would have to fast for seven days and nights before he looked at them. They said that the dead would rise soon, or else Dusis was not a prophet, because he died (prematurely) at the age of twenty-eight years of starvation and thirst, and the dogs ate him after his death, and Levi, his first martyr, was stoned (also prematurely) in Joseph's field.

They cropped their hair and performed all their prayers in water. Because of their veneration of (the cleansing properties of) water, they would cover their bodies (with clothing) before entering it.« They did not travel from house to house on the on the Sabbath day, and would celebrate a feast only on the Sabbath day, even if this involved moving it from its proper time to another. They did not take their hands out of their sleeves. When one of died, they girdled him with a sturdy belt, and put a staff in his hand and sandals on his feet, for they said, "When we arise from the tomb, we will arise in haste." And it is said that they believed that as soon as a dead man is buried, he arises from the grave and goes to Paradise. All these rules were established by Dusis — may God curse him ! [Nemoy translation of Abu'l Fath in Arabic in Isser's Dositheus p. 77 - 79]

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