Yesteday (28/4/10) as part of a Departmental field trip, I had the opportunity to visit the fascinating Samaritan Passover Sacrifice on Mt. Gerizim, just next to Shechem/Nablus. Without getting into the very complicated, and controversial, history of the Samaritans, the Samaritans celebrated their traditional Passover (on a different day from the Jewish Passover) and include in it, as their central act, a very impressive sacrifice of many sheep. The whole process, besides being quite breathtaking (and at times, quite gory), is a real “time tunnel” back to methods of sacrifice and ritual of ancient times. In fact, standing there and watching the various parts of the ceremony, one can almost see a visual representation of portions of the biblical texts on sacrifice (as in, e.g., Leviticus), or other ancient near texts on sacrificial practices.
It is definitely something that everyone dealing with ancient cultic practices should see.
Here are some pictures from the ceremony. Please note – some are rather gory.
After this, the meat is roasted in the pits for about 3 hours.
When it is removed, it has to be eaten within a few hours, and whatever is left is burnt (thrown away; as in Exodus 12:8-10).
I did not stay for the last part, since a) I would not eat the meat since it is not kosher by Jewish standards; b) They would not give any of it to someone who was not Samaritan…
Wow – that was quite a scene…