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Amphitheatre: Sebaste (Samaria).

Samaria (See also wiki article Samaria_(ancient_city).)

SAMARIA - 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.]