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The Samaritans
The SamaritansIndex to the Samaritans

Brief History

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It is impossible to write an accurate history of the Samaritans because their records are so scarce, and their references are sometimes contradictory. The name Samaritans appears only once in the Old Testament, in II Kings 17:29 where it is used for those colonist newcomers, planted by the Assyrians, who persisted in their pagan ways. However, the majority of the population consisted of Israelites who had not been deported and who continued in their Israelite faith. The beliefs brought by the newcomers did not survive and, from a Jewish standpoint, no paganism is found in later Samaritan theology. 

The mixed population of Samaria was not accepted as Jewish by the Jews of the south. When the Jews returned from the Babylonian Exile and began to rebuild the Temple, the Samaritans offered to help but were rejected, and then they proceeded to prevent or delay the project (Ezra 4:1-6). 

When the returned exiles began to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, the Samaritans protested to the authorities in Persia (Artaxerxes) that this constituted an act of rebellion and the work was stopped until the arrival of Nehemiah, who King Artaxerxes commissioned as governor (Ezra 4:7-24). 

The Samaritans maintained their hostile attitudes and actions which were now directed against Nehemiah (Neh 6:1-13). Their opposition proved unsuccessful but the division was now complete. Samaritans were forbidden to offer sacrifices at the Jerusalem Temple or to intermarry with Jews, while the Samaritans built their own temple on Mount Gerazim, near Shechem. Their Bible consisted of the Pentateuch alone; the text featured minor deviations from the accepted Hebrew text and also contained an additional verse specifically mentioning Mount Gerazim as the site of the temple. 

(also see Samaritan Torah Scroll) 

In the following centuries, the Samaritans suffered when Shechem was destroyed by Alexander the Great, while in 128 B.C. John Hyrcanus captured Shechem and destroyed the Samaritan temple. It remained in ruins until the 2nd century A.D. when it was rebuilt by the Emperor Hadrian as a reward for Samaritan help against the Jews during the Bar Kokhba revolt (132-135 A.D.). 

The continuing hostility between Jews and Samaritans is clearly seen in the New Testament. One of the worst insults that hostile Jews could offer to Jesus was to call him a Samaritan (John 8:48). When Jesus was refused hospitality by a Samaritan village because he had set His face to go to Jerusalem, his disciples were angered, and then Jesus rebuked them (Luke 9:51-56). 

(See Map of Samaria in NT Times) 

The story of Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter 4 also shows up the division between Jews and Samaritans and the disciples are amazed that Jesus was talking to a woman of Samaria (John 4:27). The parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:33-37) also reveals this division between the Jews and the Samaritans because in their minds it would be impossible for a Samaritan to act charitably. 

Overall the New Testament speaks favorably about the Samaritans, they received Jesusí ministry and were among the first to accept the gospel. 

(also see Map of Modern Samaria)

The Samaritans

 The Samaritans

"If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." (John 4:10)

 

The Samaritans in the Bible

bib9.jpg In the New Testament the Samaritans were considered inhabitants of the district of Samaria. (see Map). They descended from the exchange of population effected by the Assyrians after their conquest of the Northern Kingdom in 722 B.C. Pursuing their policy of transferring conquered peoples, the Assyrians deported many of the original inhabitants of the Northern Kingdom and replaced them with a mixture of people from the east: from Babylon, Avva, Hamath, Sepharvaim and Cuth (deriving from the latter, the Samaritans are often referred to in rabbinic literature as Cuthim).

 

Introduction
Overview
Who Were They?
Brief History
The Northern Kingdom
The Assyrians
Samaria
The Captivity
Re-Populating
A Mixed Race
Their Religion
The Samaritan Pentateuch
Jews and Samaritans
Intertestamental Period
New Testament Samaritans
Jesus and the Samaritans
Scriptures
Historical Quotes
Dictionaries
Encyclopedias
Modern Samaritans
Conclusion

 


The Samaritans

Bible History Online

The Story of the Bible


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 Samaritan Woman

Table of Contents
Introduction
Overview
Who Were They?
Brief History
The Northern Kingdom
The Assyrians
Samaria
The Captivity
Re-Populating
A Mixed Race
Their Religion
The Samaritan Pentateuch
Jews and Samaritans
Intertestamental Period
New Testament Samaritans
Jesus and the Samaritans
Scriptures
Historical Quotes
Dictionaries
Encyclopedias
Modern Samaritans
Conclusion