The Samaritan Pentateuch evidences a text of the Pentateuch from the third century B.C.E. to the first century C.E., and perhaps earlier. It is an important textual witness, along with the Septuagint (LXX; a Greek translation from the Hebrew, dating to the second century B.C.E.a) and the Masoretic text (MT; the traditional Jewish version, created in the tenth century C.E., but obviously based on earlier texts).

In approximately 2,000 places, the Samaritan Pentateuch supports Septuagint readings against the Masoretic text and shows that there were alternative texts available for those who did not utilize the Babylonian recension of the Pentateuch, which is incorporated in the Masoretic text.

The Samaritan Pentateuch may well be illustrative of a text type that was localized in Palestine, some traces of which are to be found in the paleo-Hebrew texts of Exodus and Leviticus found in the Dead Sea Scroll caves at Qumran.

The Samaritan Pentateuch also provides evidence of polemics between Judah and Ephraim in an earlier age. It leaves open the possibility that some of the readings in the Samaritan Pentateuch that differ from the Masoretic text are not late polemic changes made by the Samaritans to emphasize their viewpoint but are residual readings of a much earlier text. These Samaritan Pentateuch readings show how the schism between Judah and Israel was rooted in their early history and was reflected in sacred writ.

Other readings in the Samaritan Pentateuch support Samaritan sectarian hermeneutics. Its text is therefore an important guide to religious differences with the Jews.