Samaritan Torah Scroll

Collection ID





ca. 1160




Samaritan Hebrew


Parchment, ink


14 × 220 in. (35.6 × 558.8 cm)

Exhibit Location

Not on view


For over 2,500 years the Samaritans, a Jewish sect that emerged in the Second Temple Period, have revered the Torah. In fact, the Torah (or Pentateuch) is the only part of the Jewish scriptures that Samaritans use for worship. This scroll was likely written by the scribe Shalmah Ben Abraham around 1160 in Nablus, where many Samaritans still live. It contains Genesis 1:1–Exodus 9:35 in the Samaritan script and is one of the oldest surviving Torah scrolls from the Samaritan religious tradition.


Created in Israel ca. 1160 by Shalmah Ben Abraham.[1] Acquired between ca. 1918 and ca. 1932 by David Solomon Sassoon;[2] By descent in 1942 to his son Solomon David Sassoon; Purchased at auction in 1984 by the Valmadonna Trust Library (Jack V. Lunzer);[3] Purchased at auction in 2015 by Green Collection, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma;[4] Donated in 2017 to National Christian Foundation (later The Signatry), under the curatorial care of Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC.

Notes: [1] While there is no surviving scribal colophon for this scroll, Samaritan scholar Stefan Schorch has matched this script with another surviving Samaritan scroll containing an embedded colophon with the name of the scribe Shalmah Ben Abraham (The Valmadonna Trust Library sale, Sotheby’s New York, December 22, 2015, Lot 1). [2] Though the exact date of acquisition is unknown, we can determine an approximate date of purchase between 1918 and 1932. In the preface of his catalog “Ohel Dawid,” David Sassoon mentions that he acquired a majority of his manuscripts after World War I. Also, since it is present in the catalog, we know he acquired the scroll before it was published in 1932 (“Ohel Dawid” 1:xii and “Ohel Dawid,” no. 734, 2:603). [3] The David Solomon Sassoon sale, Sotheby's New York, December 4, 1984, Lot 94. [4] The Valmadonna Trust Library sale, Sotheby’s New York, December 22, 2015, Lot 1.

Selected References:

David Stern, The Jewish Bible: A Material History (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2017).

David Solomon Sassoon, Ohel Dawid, Descriptive Catalogue of the Hebrew and Samaritan Manuscripts, vol. 2 (London: Oxford University Press, 1932).

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