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In Bible versions:

cities of the north: NET
people of Samaria: NIV
the people of Samaria: NRSV
a district between Galilee and Judea, and between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea
a hill, then a town and the kingdom of which it was the capital
inhabitant(s) of Samaria
residents of the district of Samaria


NET Glossary: the name of the northern Israelite capital and the territory around it, constructed by King Omri of Israel in the early 9th century B.C. (1 Kgs 16:23-24); it was destroyed by the Assyrians in the late 8th century B.C. (ca. 721 B.C.) and the name then came to refer to the larger district in which the city had been located; the city of Samaria itself was rebuilt on a grand scale by Herod the Great and renamed Sebaste in honor of the Roman emperor (Greek Sebastos = Latin Augustus)
NETBible Maps: Map2 B1 ; Map4 D3 ; Map5 E2 ; Map6 A4 ; Map7 C1 ; OT4 C5 ; OT5 C5 ; NT1 C5
Google Maps: Samaria (32° 16´, 35° 11´)
Arts Topics: King Hoshea and the Fall of Samaria; Preaching and Baptizing in Samaria; Samaria Resettled; The Arameans Flee from Samaria; The Woman from Samaria; War and Famine in Samaria


Strongs #4540: samareia Samareia

Samaria = "guardianship"

1) a territory in Palestine, which had Samaria as its capital

4540 Samareia sam-ar'-i-ah

of Hebrew origin (8111); Samaria (i.e. Shomeron), a city and region of
see HEBREW for 08111

Strongs #4542: samareitiv Samareitis

1) a Samaritan woman

4542 Samareitis sam-ar-i'-tis

feminine of 4541; a Samaritess, i.e. woman of Samaria:-of Samaria.
see GREEK for 4541

Strongs #4541: samareithv Samareites

1) a Samaritan,
1a) an inhabitant of the city of Samaria
1b) an inhabitant of the region of Samaria

4541 Samareites sam-ar-i'-tace

from 4540; a Samarite, i.e. inhabitant of Samaria:-Samaritan.
see GREEK for 4540


Strongs #08111: Nwrmv Shom@rown

Samaria = "watch mountain"

1) the region of northern Palestine associated with the northern
kingdom of the 10 tribes of Israel which split from the kingdom
after the death of Solomon during the reign of his son Rehoboam
and were ruled by Jeroboam
2) the capital city of the northern kingdom of Israel located 30
miles (50 km) north of Jerusalem and 6 miles (10 km) northwest
of Shechem

8111 Shomrown sho-mer-one'

from the active participle of 8104; watch-station; Shomeron,
a place in Palestine:-Samaria.
see HEBREW for 08104

Strongs #08115: Nyrmv Shomrayin (Aramaic)

Samaria = "watch mountain"

1) the region of northern Palestine associated with the northern
kingdom of the 10 tribes of Israel which split from the kingdom
after the death of Solomon during the reign of his son Rehoboam
and were ruled by Jeroboam
2) the capital city of the northern kingdom of Israel located 30
miles (50 km) north of Jerusalem and 6 miles (10 km) northwest
of Shechem

8115 Shomrayin shom-rah'-yin

(Aramaic) corresponding to 8111; Shomrain, a place in
see HEBREW for 08111

Strongs #08118: ynrmv Shom@roniy

Samaritans = "of Samaria"

1) inhabitants of Samaria

8118 Shomroniy sho-mer-o-nee'

patrial from 8111; a Shomeronite (collectively) or
inhabitants of Shomeron:-Samaritans.
see HEBREW for 08111

Samaria [EBD]

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 Palestine 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.)

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 Palestine was divided into three provinces, Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. Samaria occupied the centre of Palestine (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.

Samaritans [EBD]

the name given to the new and mixed inhabitants whom Esarhaddon (B.C. 677), the king of Assyria, brought from Babylon and other places and settled in the cities of Samaria, instead of the original inhabitants whom Sargon (B.C. 721) had removed into captivity (2 Kings 17:24; comp. Ezra 4:2, 9, 10). These strangers (comp. Luke 17:18) amalgamated with the Jews still remaining in the land, and gradually abandoned their old idolatry and adopted partly the Jewish religion.

After the return from the Captivity, the Jews in Jerusalem refused to allow them to take part with them in rebuilding the temple, and hence sprang up an open enmity between them. They erected a rival temple on Mount Gerizim, which was, however, destroyed by a Jewish king (B.C. 130). They then built another at Shechem. The bitter enmity between the Jews and Samaritans continued in the time of our Lord: the Jews had "no dealings with the Samaritans" (John 4:9; comp. Luke 9:52, 53). Our Lord was in contempt called "a Samaritan" (John 8:48). Many of the Samaritans early embraced the gospel (John 4:5-42; Acts 8:25; 9:31; 15:3). Of these Samaritans there still remains a small population of about one hundred and sixty, who all reside in Shechem, where they carefully observe the religious customs of their fathers. They are the "smallest and oldest sect in the world."

Samaria [NAVE]

1. City of, built by Omri, 1 Kin. 16:24.
Capital of the kingdom of the ten tribes, 1 Kin. 16:29; 22:51; 2 Kin. 13:1, 10; 15:8.
Besieged by Ben-hadad, 1 Kin. 20; 2 Kin. 6:24-33; 7.
The king of Syria is led into, by Elisha, who miraculously blinds him and his army, 2 Kin. 6:8-23.
Ahab ruled in. See: Ahab; Jezebel.
Besieged by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, three years; taken; the people carried away to Halah and Habor, cities of the Medes, 2 Kin. 17:5, 6; 18:9-11.
Idolatry of, 1 Kin. 16:32; 2 Kin. 13:6.
Temple of, destroyed, 2 Kin. 10:17-28; 23:19.
Paul and Barnabas preach in, Acts 15:3.
Visited by Philip, Peter, and John, Acts 8:5-25.
2. Country of, Isa. 7:9.
Foreign colonies distributed among the cities of, by the king of Assyria, 2 Kin. 17:24-41; Ezra 4:9, 10.
Roads through, from Judaea into Galilee, Luke 17:11; John 4:3-8.
Jesus journeys through, John 4:1-42; heals lepers in, Luke 17:11-19.
The good Samaritan from, Luke 10:33-35.
No dealings between the Jews and the inhabitants of, John 4:9.
Expect the Messiah, John 4:25.
Disciples made from the inhabitants of, John 4:39-42; Acts 8:5-8, 14-17, 25.
Jesus forbids the apostles to preach in the cities of, Matt. 10:5.

Samaritans [NAVE]

2 Kin. 17:29; Hos. 10:5; 13:16; Amos 4:1; Mic. 1:1; Matt. 10:5; Luke 9:52; 10:33; 17:16; John 4:7, 9, 39, 40; 8:48; Acts 8:25


(watch mountain). This city is situated 30 miles north of Jerusalem and about six miles to the northwest of Shechem, in a wide basin-shaped valley, six miles in diameter, encircled with high hills, almost on the edge of the great plain which borders upon the Mediterranean. In the centre of this basin, which is on a lower level than the valley of Shechem, rises a less elevated hill, with steep yet accessible sides and a long fiat top. This hill was chosen by Omri as the site of the capital of the kingdom of Israel. He "bought the hill of Samaria of Shemer for two talents of silver, and built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, after the name of the owner of the hill, Samaria." (1 Kings 16:23,24) From the that of Omri?s purchase, B.C. 925, Samaria retained its dignity as the capital of the ten tribes, and the name is given to the northern kingdom as well as to the city. Ahab built a temple to Baal there. (1 Kings 16:32,33) It was twice besieged by the Syrians, in B.C. 901, (1 Kings 20:1) and in B.C. 892, (2 Kings 6:24-7; 2 Kings 6:20) but on both occasions the siege was ineffectual. The possessor of Samaria was considered Deuteronomy facto king of Israel. (2 Kings 15:13,14) In B.C. 721 Samaria was taken, after a siege of three years, by Shalmaneser king of Assyria, (2 Kings 18:9,10) and the kingdom of the ten tribes was put an end to. Some years afterward the district of which Samaria was the centre was repeopled by Esarhaddon. Alexander the Great took the city, killed a large portion of the inhabitants, and suffered the remainder to set it at Shechem. He replaced them by a colony of Syro-Macedonians who occupied the city until the time of John Hyrcanus, who took it after a year?s siege, and did his best to demolish it entirely. (B.C. 109.) It was rebuilt and greatly embellished by Herod the Great. He called it Sebaste=Augusta , after the name of his patron, Augustus Caesar. The wall around it was 2 1/2 miles long, and in the centre of the city was a park 900 feet square containing a magnificent temple dedicated to Caesar. In the New Testament the city itself does not appear to be mentioned; but rather a portion of the district to which, even in older times it had extended its name. (Matthew 10:5; John 4:4,5) At this clay the city is represented by a small village retaining few vestiges of the past except its name, Sebustiyeh , an Arabic corruption of Sebaste. Some architectural remains it has, partly of Christian construction or adaptation, as the ruined church of St. John the Baptist, partly, perhaps, traces of Idumaean magnificence, St. Jerome, whose acquaintance with Palestine imparts a sort of probability to the tradition which prevailed so strongly in later days, asserts that Sebaste, which he invariably identifies with Samaria was the place in which St. John the Baptist was imprisoned and suffered death. He also makes it the burial-place of the prophets Elisha and Obadiah.


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 Lord?s 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. God?s 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 children?s 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 Gerizim 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 Gerizim 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 Lord?s 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 Gerizim 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.


SAMARITANS - sa-mar'-i-tanz (shomeronim; Samareitai, New Testament; (singular), Samarites): The name "Samaritans" in 2 Ki 17:29 clearly applies to the Israelite inhabitants of the Northern Kingdom. In subsequent history it denotes a people of mixed origin, composed of the peoples brought by the conqueror from Babylon and elsewhere to take the places of the expatriated Israelites and those who were left in the land (722 BC). Sargon claims to have carried away only 27,290 of the inhabitants (KIB, II, 55). Doubtless these were, as in the case of Judah, the chief men, men of wealth and influence, including all the priests, the humbler classes being left to till the land, tend the vineyards, etc. Hezekiah, who came to the throne of Judah probably in 715 BC, could still appeal to the tribes Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, Asher and Zebulun (2 Ch 30:5,10,11,18 ff); and the presence of these tribesmen is implied in the narrative of Josiah's reformation (2 Ch 34:6 f). Although the number of the colonists was increased by Esar-haddon and Osnappar (Assur-bani-pal, Ezr 4:2,9 f), the population, it is reasonable to suppose, continued prevailingly Israelite; otherwise their religion would not so easily have won the leading place. The colonists thought it necessary for their own safety to acknowledge Yahweh, in whose land they dwelt, as one among the gods to be feared (2 Ki 17:24 ff). In the intermixture that followed "their own gods" seem to have fallen on evil days; and when the Samaritans asked permission to share in building the temple under Zerubbabel, they claimed, apparently with a good conscience, to serve God and to sacrifice to Him as the Jews did (Ezr 4:1 f). Whatever justification there was for this claim, their proffered friendship was turned to deadly hostility by the blunt refusal of their request. The old enmity between north and south no doubt intensified the quarrel, and the antagonism of Jew and Samaritan, in its bitterness, was destined to pass into a proverb. The Samaritans set themselves, with great temporary success, to frustrate the work in which they were not permitted to share (Ezr 4:4 ff: Neh 4:7 ff. etc.).

From the strict administration of the Law in Jerusalem malcontents found their way to the freer atmosphere of Samaria. Among these renegades was Manasseh, brother of the high priest, who had married a daughter of Sanballat, the Persian governor of Samaria. According to Josephus, Sanballat, with the sanction of Alexander the Great, built a temple for the Samaritans on Mt. Gerizim, of which Manasseh became high priest (Ant., XI, vii, 2; viii, 2 ff). Josephus, however, places Manasseh a century too late. He was a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah (Neh 13:28).

When it suited their purpose the Samaritans claimed relationship with the Jews, asserting that their roll of the Pentateuch was the only authentic copy (see PENTATEUCH, THE SAMARITAN); they were equally ready to deny all connection in times of stress, and even to dedicate their temple to a heathen deity (Josephus, Ant, XII, v, 5). In 128 BC, John Hyrcanus destroyed the temple (XIII, ix, 1). In the time of Christ the Samaritans were ruled by procurators under the Roman governor of Syria. Lapse of years brought no lessening of the hatred between Jews and Samaritans (Ant., XX, vi, 1). To avoid insult and injury at the hands of the latter, Jews from Galilee were accustomed to reach the feasts at Jerusalem by way of Peraea. "Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a demon" was an expression of opprobrium (Jn 8:48). Although Jesus forbade the Twelve to go into any city of the Samaritans (Mt 10:5), the parable of the Good Samaritan shows that His love overleaped the boundaries of national hatred (Lk 10:30 ff; compare 17:16; Jn 4:9).

During the Jewish war Cerealis treated the Samaritans with great severity. On one occasion (67 AD) he slaughtered 11,600 on Mt. Gerizim. For some centuries they were found in considerable numbers throughout the empire, east and west, with their synagogues. They were noted as "bankers" money-changers, For their anti-Christian attitude and conduct Justinian inflicted terrible vengeance on them. From this the race seems never to have recovered. Gradually-dwindling, they now form a small community in Nablus of not more than 200 souls. Their great treasure is their ancient copy of the Law.



The best account of the Samaritans is Mills, Nablus and the Modern Samaritans (Murray, London); compare Montgomery, The Samaritans (1907). A good recent description by J. E. H. Thomson, D. D., of the Passover celebrated annually on Mt. Gerizim will be found in PEFS, 1902, 82 ff.

W. Ewing

Also see definition of "Samaria" in Word Study

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