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Easton's Bible Dictionary

 

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Samaria
        a watch-mountain or a watch-tower. In the heart of the mountains
        of Israel, a few miles north-west of Shechem, stands the "hill
        of Shomeron," a solitary mountain, a great "mamelon." It is an
        oblong hill, with steep but not inaccessible sides, and a long
        flat top. Omri, the king of Israel, purchased this hill from
        Shemer its owner for two talents of silver, and built on its
        broad summit the city to which he gave the name of "Shomeron",
        i.e., Samaria, as the new capital of his kingdom instead of
        Tirzah (1 Kings 16:24). As such it possessed many advantages.
        Here Omri resided during the last six years of his reign. As the
        result of an unsuccessful war with Syria, he appears to have
        been obliged to grant to the Syrians the right to "make streets
        in Samaria", i.e., probably permission to the Syrian merchants
        to carry on their trade in the Israelite capital. This would
        imply the existence of a considerable Syrian population. "It was
        the only great city of Israel created by the sovereign. All
        the others had been already consecrated by patriarchal tradition
        or previous possession. But Samaria was the choice of Omri
        alone. He, indeed, gave to the city which he had built the name
        of its former owner, but its especial connection with himself as
        its founder is proved by the designation which it seems Samaria
        bears in Assyrian inscriptions, Beth-khumri ('the house or
        palace of Omri').", Stanley.
        Samaria was frequently besieged. In the days of Ahab, Benhadad
        II. came up against it with thirty-two vassal kings, but was
        defeated with a great slaughter (1 Kings 20:1-21). A second
        time, next year, he assailed it; but was again utterly routed,
        and was compelled to surrender to Ahab (20:28-34), whose army,
        as compared with that of Benhadad, was no more than "two little
        flocks of kids."
        In the days of Jehoram this Benhadad again laid siege to
        Samaria, during which the city was reduced to the direst
        extremities. But just when success seemed to be within their
        reach, they suddenly broke up the seige, alarmed by a mysterious
        noise of chariots and horses and a great army, and fled, leaving
        their camp with all its contents behind them. The famishing
        inhabitants of the city were soon relieved with the abundance of
        the spoil of the Syrian camp; and it came to pass, according to
        the word of Elisha, that "a measure of fine flour was sold for a
        shekel, and two measures of barely for a shekel, in the gates of
        Samaria" (2 Kings 7:1-20).
        Shalmaneser invaded Israel in the days of Hoshea, and reduced
        it to vassalage. He laid siege to Samaria (B.C. 723), which held
        out for three years, and was at length captured by Sargon, who
        completed the conquest Shalmaneser had begun (2 Kings 18:9-12;
        17:3), and removed vast numbers of the tribes into captivity.
        (See SARGON T0003227.)
        This city, after passing through various vicissitudes, was
        given by the emperor Augustus to Herod the Great, who rebuilt
        it, and called it Sebaste (Gr. form of Augustus) in honour of
        the emperor. In the New Testament the only mention of it is in
        Acts 8:5-14, where it is recorded that Philip went down to the
        city of Samaria and preached there.
        It is now represented by the hamlet of Sebustieh, containing
        about three hundred inhabitants. The ruins of the ancient town
        are all scattered over the hill, down the sides of which they
        have rolled. The shafts of about one hundred of what must have
        been grand Corinthian columns are still standing, and attract
        much attention, although nothing definite is known regarding
        them. (Comp. Micah 1:6.)
        In the time of Christ, Western Israel was divided into
        three provinces, Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. Samaria occupied
        the centre of Israel (John 4:4). It is called in the Talmud
        the "land of the Cuthim," and is not regarded as a part of the
        Holy Land at all.
        It may be noticed that the distance between Samaria and
        Jerusalem, the respective capitals of the two kingdoms, is only
        35 miles in a direct line.

Bibliography Information
Easton, Matthew George. M.A., D.D., "Biblical Meaning for 'Samaria' Eastons Bible Dictionary".
bible-history.com - Eastons; 1897.

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