High Priest of Samaritan Sect Dies at 82

MOUNT GERIZIM, West Bank, MAY 24, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Levi Ben-Avishai Ben-Pinhas, the high priest of the tiny Samaritan community that traces its lineage back to biblical times, died Wednesday of old age, the Associated Press reported. He was 82.

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The community named a successor, Yefet Shomroni, 79, who will take office after the traditional 30 days of mourning.

The Samaritans number only about 650 people. About half of them live on Mount Gerizim overlooking the Palestinian city of Nablus in the West Bank and the rest in the Israeli town of Holon, near Tel Aviv.

The Samaritans claim descent from the people of the northern kingdom of Israel, which separated from the southern kingdom of Judea after the death of King Solomon, about 3,000 years ago.

Most of them speak an ancient Hebrew dialect, as well as modern Hebrew and Arabic. They are known to Christians mainly through the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke´s Gospel.

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