Gerizim - Encyclopedia

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GERIZIM, a mountain in the hill-country of Samaria, 2849 ft. above the sea-level, and enclosing, with its companion Ebal, the valley in which lies the town of Nablus (Shechem). It is the holy place of the community of the Samaritans, who hold that it was the scene of the sacrifice of Isaac - a tradition accepted by Dean Stanley but no other western writers of importance. Here, on the formal entrance of the Israelites into the possession of the Promised Land, were pronounced the blessings connected with a faithful observance of the law (Josh. viii. 33, 34; cf. Deut. xi. 29, 30, xxvii. 12-26), the six tribes, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph and Benjamin, standing here for the purpose while the remaining tribes stood on Ebal to accept the curses attached to specific violations thereof. Gerizim was probably chosen as the mount of blessing as being on the right hand, the fortunate side, of a spectator facing east. The countersuggestion of Eusebius and Jerome that the Ebal and Gerizim associated with this solemnity were not the Shechem mountains at all, but two small hills near Jericho, is no longer considered important. From this mountain Jotham spoke his parable to the elders of Shechemy(Judg. ix. 7). Manasseh, the son of the Jewish high-priest in the days of Nehemiah, married the daughter of Sanballat and, about 432 B.C., erected on this mountain a temple for the Samaritans; it was destroyed by Hyrcanus about 300 years afterwards. Its site is a small level plateau a little under the summit of the mountain. Close to this is the place where the Passover is still annually celebrated in exact accordance with the rites prescribed in the Pentateuch. On the summit of the mountain, which commands a view embracing the greater part of Palestine, are a small Moslem shrine and the ruins of a castle probably dating from Justinian's time. There was an octagonal Byzantine church here, but the foundations alone remain. Josephus describes it as the highest of the mountains of Samaria, but Ebal and Tell Azur are both higher. (R. A. S. M.)

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