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Smith's Bible Dictionary

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Strictly speaking, a Samaritan would be an inhabitant of the city of Samaria, but the term was applied to all the people of the kingdom of Israel. After the captivity of Israel, B.C. 721, and in our Lordís time, the name was applied to a peculiar people whose origin was in this wise. At the final captivity of Israel by Shalmaneser, we may conclude that the cities of Samaria were not merely partially but wholly depopulated of their inhabitants in B.C. 721, and that they remained in this desolated state until, in the words of (2 Kings 17:24) "the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon and front Cuthah, and from Av. (Ivah,) (2 Kings 18:34) and from Hamath, and front Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof."

Thus the new Samaritans were Assyrians by birth or subjugation. These strangers, whom we will now assume to hare been placed in "the cities of Samaria" by Esar-haddon, were of course idolaters, and worshipped a strange medley of divinities. Godís displeasure was kindled, and they were annoyed by beasts of prey, which had probably increased to a great extent before their entrance upon the land. On their explaining their miserable condition to the king of Assyria, he despatched one of the captive priests to teach them "how they should fear the Lord." The priest came accordingly, and henceforth, in the language of the sacred historian, they "Feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children and their childrenís children: as did their fathers, so do the unto this day." (2 Kings 17:41) A gap occurs in their history until Judah has returned from captivity.

They then desire to be allowed to participate in the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem; but on being refused, the Samaritans throw off the mask, and become open enemies, frustrate the operations of the Jews through the reigns of two Persian kings, and are only effectually silenced in the reign of Darius Hystaspes, B.C. 519. The feud thus unhappily begun grew year by year more inveterate. Matters at length came to a climax. About B.C. 409, a certain Manasseh, a man of priestly lineage, on being expelled from Jerusalem by nehemiah for an unlawful marriage, obtained permission from the Persian king of his day, Darius Nothus, to build a temple on Mount Gerazim for the Samaritans, with whom he had found refuge.

The animosity of the Samaritans became more intense than ever. They are sid to have done everything in their power to annoy the Jews. Their own temple on Gerazim they considered to be much superior to that at Jerusalem. There they sacrificed a passover. Toward the mountain, even after the temple on it had fallen, wherever they were they directed their worship. To their copy of the law they arrogated an antiquity and authority greater than attached to any copy in the possession of the Jews.

The law (i.e. the five books of Moses) was their sole code; for they rejected every other book in the Jewish canon. The Jews, on the other hand, were not more conciliatory in their treatment of the Samaritans. Certain other Jewish renegades had from time to time taken refuge with the Samaritans; hence by degrees the Samaritans claimed to partake of jewish blood, especially if doing so happened to suit their interest. Very far were the Jews from admitting this claim to consanguinity on the part of these people. The traditional hatred in which the jew held the Samaritan is expressed in Ecclus. 50:25,26.

Such were the Samaritans of our Lordís day; a people distinct from the jews, though lying in the very midst of the Jews; a people preserving their identity, though seven centuries had rolled away since they had been brought from Assyria by Esar-haddon, and though they had abandoned their polytheism for a sort of ultra Mosaicism; a people who, though their limits had gradually contracted and the rallying-place of their religion on Mount Gerazim had been destroyed one hundred and sixty years before by John Hyrcanus (B.C. 130), and though Samaria (the city) had been again and again destroyed, still preserved their nationality still worshipped from Shechem and their impoverished settlements toward their sacred hill, still retained their peculiar religion, and could not coalesce with the Jews.

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Copyright Statement

These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information

Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Samaríitans'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". 1901.

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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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