The Persian Era

  According to the Jewish Bible, Nebuchadnezzar, conquered Judea,  burned the temple in Jerusalem , and  banished most of its people.(  II Kings 25:8) Historians date the Babylonian captivity to the years  597-586 B.C.E.

  After the final subjugation of the Babylonians by the Persians in the  year  539 B.C.E , the people of Judea , were allowed by Cyrus, the first  King of the  Persian Empire   to return to Judea and rebuild their Temple.

The rouleau of Cyrus – King of the Persian Empire

  Samaritans Sources inform us of  two exiles. The first exile was by the Assyrians,  in the days of  the Samaritan High Priest Ekbaya . These deportees,  returned from  Assyria, in the days of the  High Priest  Sharya son of  Chalal son of Ekbaya. The second exile was brought about by the Chaldeans (Babylonians), 130 years after the return of the first deportees, while the Samaritan High Priest was Azarya. 

  A public of  about 300,000 Samaritans returned from the diaspora, from both exiles, in the days of Abed-el son of Azarya. Both Samaritan and Jewish  sources, tells about attempts  to reunite two  parts Israel, which were   refused  by the head of the Jews.  The Samaritan chronicles, tells that the heads of the Jewish that returned met with the Samaritans in Harran( an ancient city, between Turkey and Syria):

“And in that time  came  the head of the Judea tribe, to the the High priest Abed – El in Harran……and they said to Abed-El and to Azzi son of Shemoun, the head of the tribe of  Jospeh .’ Let us  go all of us to Yevus [Jerusalem], the cIty of  king David’. And  The preist Abed-el  rebuked  him  , and said, ‘why should we do this thing ? let us all go to the chosen place on Mount Gerizim, maybe God will forgive the whole people of Israel……And Zerubabel, head of the Judea  tribe, became angry and there was    hatred between the tribe of Jospeh and the tribe of Judea”…(The book of Chronicles by Murgan son of Asad.)

  The Samaritan Chronicles reveal also a story about Abed-El  who started to build a Temple on the top Mt.Gerizim, for sacrifices,  and was stopped  by God, who appeared to him in his dream.

  The Jewish Bible tells another  story, concerning the heads of the Samaritans who came to Zerubabel , The head  of the Jews, who returned in the first return from the  diaspora, and asked to take part in the rebuliding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Zerubabel answered them:

“But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers’ houses of Israel, said unto them: ‘Ye have nothing to do with us to build a house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD, the God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.'” (Ezra 4:3).


  Of the Jewish Diaspora in the year of 457 B.C.E., there was included the scribe  Ezra  (Ha- Sofer), who  has ,according to both Samaritan and Jewish Chronicles, rewrote the Torah and changed its letters from Hebrew lettres into Aramaic  letters (  named the Assyrian letters, in Jewish sources, because of the fact that Aram used to be called Assyria ). In fact, the Jews continued to use the ancient Hebrew script, till the 1st  century C.E.

  The Samaritans also claimed that Ezra, not only change the letters of the Torah, but also inserted changes in the version itself, in order to support the belief in Jerusalem, and represent itself as a messenger of God. This can explain the wrong  noting of his long dynasty  till Aaron – brother of Moses. Ezra’s actions reinforced the intense dislike between the two sects of both the Samaritans who adhered in Mount Gerizim, and the Jews who adopted Jerusalem as the chosen place.