Severus Alexander - Roman Emperor: 238-244 A.D. -
Bronze 21mm Struck in the ancient city of Neapolis in the province of Samaria 238-244 A.D.
Reference: Rosenberger 70 -
AV CE AΛEΞANΔ CE, laureate bust right.
Φ NEACΠOΛ, Mt Gerizim, consisting of two
rocky mounds, the left with stairway leading to temple on summit, the right
surmounted by an altar. -
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Mount Gerizim (Samaritan
Arabic جبل جرزيم Jabal Jarizīm,
Tiberian Hebrew הַר גְּרִזִּים Har Gərizzîm,
Standard Hebrew הַר גְּרִיזִּים Har Gərizzim) is one of the
two mountains in the immediate vicinity of the
and forms the southern side of the valley in which Nablus is situated, the
northern side being formed by
The mountain is one of the highest peaks in the West Bank, as well as being
higher than most mountain peaks in
rises to 2849 feet (881 meters) above
228 feet (69.5 meters) shorter than Mount Ebal.
The mountain is particularly steep on the northern side, is sparsely covered at
the top with shrubbery, and lower down there is a
spring with a high yield of fresh water.
The mountain is sacred to the Samaritans who regard it,
Mount, as having been the location chosen by
Yahweh for a
holy temple. The mountain continues to be the centre of Samaritan religion to
this day, and over 90% of the worldwide population of Samaritans live in very
close proximity to Gerizim, mostly in Kiryat Luza, the main village. The
celebrated by the Samaritans on Mount Gerizim,
and it is additionally considered by them as the location of the
near-sacrifice of Isaac (the
Genesis state that this happened on Mount
which Jews traditionally identify as the Temple Mount).
classical rabbinical sources, in order to convert to Judaism, a Samaritan
must first and foremost renounce any belief in the sanctity of Mount Gerizim.
masoretic text of
Deuteronomy and the
version of the same, an instruction is given to build an altar on
constructed from natural (rather than cut) stones, to place stones there and
whiten them with
offerings on the altar, eat there, and write the words of this law on
According to the
Samaritan Pentateuch version of Deuteronomy, the instruction actually
concerns Mount Gerizim, which the
view as a holy site.
An instruction immediately subsequent to this orders that,
once this is done, the Israelites should split into two groups, one to stay on
Mount Ebal and pronounce curses, while the other goes to Mount Gerizim and
of Joseph, and
of Benjamin were to be sent to Gerizim, while those
of Naphtali, were to remain on Ebal.
No attempts to explain this division of tribes either by their Biblical
or by their geographical distribution have been generally accepted in academic
The text goes on to list twelve curses, which were to be
pronounced by the
Levite priesthood and answered by the people with
These curses heavily resemble laws (eg cursed be he who removes his
neighbour's landmark), and they are not followed by a list of blessings
described in a similarly liturgical framework; scholars believe that these more
likely represent what was written on the stones, and that the later list of six
six near-corresponding explicit curses,
were originally in this position in the text.
The present position of these explicit blessings and curses, within a larger
narrative of promise, and a far larger narrative of threat (respectively), is
considered to have been an editorial decision for the post-exilic second version
of Deuteronomy (Dtr2), to reflect the
deuteronomist's worldview after the
Babylonian exile had occurred.
Book of Joshua, after the Battle of
Joshua built an altar of unhewn stones there, the Israelites then made peace
offerings on it, the law of Moses was written onto the stones, and the
Israelites split into the two groups specified in Deuteronomy and pronounced
blessings and curses as instructed there.
There is some debate between
textual scholars as to whether this incident in Joshua is one account or
spliced together two different accounts, where one account refers to Joshua
building an altar, and making sacrifices on it, while the other account refers
to Joshua placing large stone slabs there that had been whitened with lime and
then had the law inscribed on them.
Either way there are some who believe that the sources of Joshua predate
Deuteronomy, and hence that the order to build the altar and make the
inscription is likely based on these actions in the sources of Joshua, rather
than the other way round, possibly to provide an
aetiology for the site acceptable to the deuteronomist's theology.
Much later in the Book, when Joshua was old and dying, he
gathered the people together at Shechem, and gave a farewell speech, and then
wrote these words in the book of the law of
set up a stone as a witness, placing it next to the sanctuary of Yahweh,
under the oak tree.
Depending on the way in which the sources of Joshua were spliced together, this
may just be another version of the earlier narrative Joshua placing the whitened
stones slabs with the law inscribed on them, and some scholars believe
that this narrative may have originally been in an earlier location within the
Book of Joshua.
Scholars consider it plausible for the sanctuary to have been
It is possible that the name of the mountain is indicative of this, as it is
thought that Gerizim may mean mountain of the Gerizites, a tribe
in the vicinity of the Philistines that was conquered by David. A straitforward
etymology for Gerizim would give the meaning of mountain cut in two.
According to the narrative about
Jotham in the
Book of Judges, Shechem was a site where there was a sanctuary of
El-Berith, also known as Baal-Berith, meaning God of the covenant
and Lord of the covenant, respectively;
scholars have suggested that the Joshua story about the site derives from a
covenant made there in Canaanite times.
In the narrative of Judges, the pillar that was in Shechem is seemingly
significant enough to have given its name to a nearby plain,
and this pillar is thought to be likely to have been a totem of El-Berith;
the Joshua story, of a stone being set up as a witness, simply being an attempt
to provide an aetiology in accordance with later Israelite theology.
In the Biblical narrative, the oak tree, seemingly
next to the sanctuary, was evidently in existence as early as the time of the
is described in the
Book of Genesis as having buried the idols of strange gods (formerly
worshipped by his household) beneath it.
According to a midrash, one of these Idols, in the shape of a
dove, was later recovered by the Samaritans, and used in their worship on
After the end of the
Babylonian Captivity, a large
schism between the Samaritans and
developed, with the Samaritans, but not the Jews, regarding Mount Gerizim as
the holy place chosen by God.
Subsequently, the Samaritans built a temple there, arguing that this was the
real location of the Israelite temple which had been destroyed by
Nebuchadnezzar, probably in the 5th or 4th century BCE.
Though it had been destroyed by his time,
plainly states that the temple on Gerizim was similar to
that in Jerusalem (prior to the
Herodian expansion of the latter), and that it was surrounded by
The religious tension between the Jews and the Samaritans
lead to the temple on Gerizim being destroyed by either
Hyrcanus in the 2nd century BC (according to Josephus) or by
Simeon the Just (according to the
was permitted to do so by
Alexander the Great, the land at that time falling under Alexander's empire.
However, the mountain evidently continued to be the holy place of the
Samaritans, as it is mentioned as such by the
Gospel of John
and coins produced by a Roman
situated in Nablus included within their design a depiction of the temple;
surviving coins from this mint, dated to 138-161 CE, show a huge temple complex,
statues, and a substantive staircase leading from Nablus to the temple itself.
Jesus' discussion with the Samaritan woman he revealed his feeling about
said to her:
“Believe me, woman, The hour is coming when neither in
this mountain nor in Jerusalem will YOU people worship the Father. YOU
worship what YOU do not know; we worship what we know, because salvation
originates with the Jews. Nevertheless, the hour is coming, and it is now,
when the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth"
Christianity became the dominant religion in the
Empire, Samaritans were barred from worshiping on Mount Gerizim. In 475 AD a
church was built on its summit.
In 529 AD,
I made Samaritanism illegal, and arranged for a protective wall to be
constructed around the church.
As a result, the same year,
Julianus ben Sabar lead a pro-Samaritan revolt, and by 530 AD had captured
destroying churches and killing the priests and officials. However in 531 AD,
after Justinian enlisted the help of
the revolt was completely quashed, and surviving Samaritans were mostly enslaved
or exiled. In 533 AD Justinian had a castle constructed on Mount Gerizim to
protect the church from raids by the few disgruntled Samaritans left in the
As a result of the fortified church, and previous Samaritan
temple, extensive ruins still exist at the somewhat plateau-like top of Gerizim.
The line of the wall around the church can easily be seen,
as can portions of the former castle, and initial archaeological study of the
site postulated that the castle built by Justinian had utilised stones from an
earlier structure on the site (probably being the Samaritan temple).
In the centre of the plateau is a smooth surface, containing a hollow, which
archaeologists consider to be reminiscent of
and which Samaritans consider to be a portion of their former temple.
A more substantial archaeological survey was undertaken in
the middle of the 20th century, while the site was in the possession of
Jordan, in the
region of the mountain known as Tell el-Ras, situated on the northernmost
peak at the end of the northern ridge. This excavation, which continued under
Israel's jurisdiction, uncovered
Corinthian columns, a large rectangular platform (65m by 44m) surrounded by
2m thick and 9m high walls, and an 8m wide staircase leading down from the
platform to a marbled
The complex also has a series of cisterns in which Late Roman ceramics were
These discoveries, now named Structure A, have been dated to the time of
numismatics and external literary evidence, and are believed to be a temple
Underneath these remains were found a large stone structure
built on top of the bedrock. This structure, now known as Structure B,
nearly half cubic (21m by 20m in width and length, and 8.5m high), consists
almost entirely of unhewn limestone slabs, fitted together
without any binding material, and has no internal rooms or dividing walls.
The structure was surrounded by a courtyard similar to the platform above it
(being 60m by 40m in size with 1.5m thick walls), and was dated to during or
before the Hellenic era by ceramics found in a cistern cut into the bedrock at
the northern side.
The excavating archaeologist considered Structure B to be the altar built
by the Samaritans in the 5th or 6th century BC.
Aurelius Severus Alexanderer (October 1, 208–March 18, 235 AD), commonly
called Alexander Severus, was the last
Roman emperor (11 March 222–235) of the
Severan dynasty. Alexander Severus succeeded his cousin,
upon the latter's assassination in 222 AD, and was ultimately assassinated
himself, marking the
epoch event for the
Crisis of the Third Century—nearly fifty years of disorder, Roman civil
wars, economic chaos, regional rebellions, and external threats that brought the
Empire to near-collapse.
Alexander Severus was the
apparent to his cousin, the eighteen-year-old Emperor who had been murdered
along with his mother by his own guards—and as a mark of contempt, had their
remains cast into the
Tiber river. He and his cousin were both grandsons of the influential and
Julia Maesa, who had arranged for Elagabalus' acclamation as Emperor by the
Third Gallic Legion.
A rumor of Alexander's death circulated, triggering the assassination of
Alexander's reign was marked by troubles. In military conflict against the
Sassanid Empire, there are mixed accounts, though the Sassanid threat was
checked. However, when campaigning against
Germanic tribes of
Alexander Severus apparently alienated his legions by trying diplomacy and
bribery, and they assassinated him.