SAMARIA | <Region
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SAMARIA, Samaritans - A city built on a hill purchased by Omri, king of Israel, from a certain Shemer, and by him made the capital of the Israelite kingdom (1 K.16.24). We gather from 1 K.20.34 that Ben-hadad I, king of Syria, successfully attacked it soon afterwards, and had compelled Omri to grant him favourable trade facilities. Ahab here built a Baal temple (1 K.16.32) and a palace of ivory (22.39). Ben-hadad II. here besieged Ahab, but unsuccessfully, and was obliged to reverse the terms his father had exacted from Omri. Jehoram attempted a feeble and half-hearted reform, destroying Ahab's Baal-pillar, though retaining the calf-worship (2 K.3.2) and the ' asherah (13.6). The city was again besieged in his time by Ben-hadad II (2 K 6, 7). After this event the history of Samaria is bound up with the troublesome internal affairs of the Northern Kingdom, and we need not follow it closely till we reach 724 BC, when Shalmaneser IV. besieged Samaria in punishment for king Hoshea's disaffection. It fell three years later; and Sargon, who had meanwhile succeeded Shalmaneser on the Assyrian throne, deported its inhabitants, substituting a number of people drawn from other places (2 K.17). In 331 BC it was besieged and conquered by Alexander, and in 120 BC by John Hyrcanus. Herod carried out important building works here, large portions of which still remain. He changed the name to Sebaste in honour of Augustus. Philip preached here (Ac.8.5). The city, however, gradually decayed, fading before the growing importance of Neapolis (Shechem). The Crusaders established a bishopric here.
Extensive remains of ancient Samaria still exist at the mound known as Sebastiyeh (Sebaste), a short distance from Nablus. It is one of the largest and most important mounds in ancient Palestine. Excavations under the auspices of Harvard University were carried out 1908-1910, and there were joint expeditions 1931-1933 and 1935. Amongst the discoveries were the palace of Ahab or Jeroboam II., a number of ostraca, and many ivories. See J. W. Crowfoot, et al., Samaria-Sebaste, 3 vols. [Article: Dictionary of the Bible, J.Hastings, 2nd Ed., T&T.Clark, 1963 - R.A.S.M. - J.Bo.]
SAMARITANS - Religio-ethnic Hebrew sect whose laity claim descent from the Joseph tribes, but their priesthood from Phinehas. The OT reference (2 K.17.29) to Samaritans over-emphasizes non-Hebraic racial admixture and reflects the later enmity between Jew and Samaritan. This enmity was a continuation of the pre-720 BC. Ephraim versus Judah strife. After 586 BC the north had the advantage this time over Judah and made the returning exiles aware of this. In the 5th cent. Sanballat the Horonite (Aaronide?; in Samaritan sources Sanballat is regarded as Levitical) was the native ruler of Palestine under the Persians; at first Samaritan obstructionism was political, after Ezra's purging of the priesthood it was also religious. The Jews only in the time of John Hyrcanus (the end of the 2nd cent. BC), with his destruction of the Samaritan Temple on Gerizim, were able to retaliate, but the Samaritans (who maintained their national entity until the time of Justinian, AD 527) never recognized Jerusalem and Mount Zion as the chosen place for God's sanctuary; in their eyes the chosen place was Mount Gerizim, which had been an Israelite Holy place before Jerusalem. The question is not when the Samaritan Temple was first built on Gerizim, but when it was first regarded as their only sanctuary; this was probably after Ezra's rebuff.
The Holy Book of the Samaritans is the Torah, the perfect recension of which they hold they and not the Jews have; their one prophet is Moses. Their religion and life is still under the control of their priests, very much as in post-exilic Judaism prior to the emergence of the Pharisaic rabbis. Since the Samaritan priesthood is Zadokite it is not surprising that resemblances can be found between some Samaritan practices and those of Sadducees and Dead Sea Sectaries. There are no heathen beliefs or practices in Samaritanism. The Jewish attitude to the Samaritans is reflected in the various attitudes of the Gospels. Matthew is hostile, Mark ignores them, Luke, while fair, is distant. John is more conciliatory. The Talmud's attitude varies with the individual opinion cited, yet the only heresies were belief in Mount Gerizim and alleged denial of the resurrection of the dead (cf Tractate Kuthim). At least for the first millennium of our era, Samaritans were divided into two groups the Sabbuai and the Dositheans. The former were conservative and orthodox, the latter influenced by Gnosticism.
There is a large Samaritan literature in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic, the bulk of which still awaits investigation and is important for the study of the text of the Bible and the Targum. Their liturgical, exegetical, midrashic, and halakhic works are important for the study of Sectarian Judaism.
The Samaritan Diaspora once widespread is now represented by seventy Samaritans at Holon in Israel, the rest of the sect live at Nablus, successor to the ancient Shechem.
[Article: Dictionary of the Bible, J.Hastings, 2nd Ed., T&T.Clark, 1963. - J.Bo.]