The Samaritans

The Mixed Population Brought In to Samaria

The mixture of people who had now populated the highland region of Samaria were known as the "Samaritans," and were far fewer in number than before the Assyrians had overrun the area.

Samaria. Samaria was the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. It was situated on a "well rounded" hill 300 feet high, in a rich and beautiful valley of surpassing beauty, crowned with luxurious palaces and gardens. Isaiah called it a "glorious beauty." It was surrounded on three sides by mountains, as impregnable as it was beautiful.

It was founded by Omri (886-875 B.C.). According to the Bible (I Kings 16:24) , the city was named after Shemer, whose land was purchased by King Omri so that he might build a residence there and probably a religious center for the Canaanites in his kingdom seeing that King Omri had his main residence in Jezreel and Bethel was considered the religious capital of the Northern Kingdom.

Archaeology has shown that Samaria was built on virgin soil, as the Bible says, during the 9th century B.C. Jacob’s well can still be seen there, 100 feet deep, 9 feet in diameter and one of the few places where an exact spot can be identified connected with the story of Jesus.

Until the time of King Jehu it was a center of Baal worship. All traces of Canaanite culture were wiped out by King Jehu (842-814 B.C.).

In 722 B.C. Samaria was captured, after a 3 year siege, by the Assyrians and the people were led off into captivity and their places taken by colonists.

Re-Populating. The Assyrians had a policy of transferring conquered peoples and in 722 B.C. when they conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel they deported many of the original inhabitants of Samaria and the surrounding region and replaced them with a mixture of people from the east. From Babylon, Avva, Hamath, Sepharvaim and Cuth (the Samaritans are often referred to in rabbinic literature as Cuthim).

The re-populating was not done all at once. In settling the affairs of that hostile region more than one band of colonists was brought in. Heathen colonists were introduced by Sargon in 721 and again in 715 B.C. (2 Kings 17:24), by Esarhaddon, 680 B.C. (Ezra 4:2), and finally by Osnapper, (Ashurbanipal), the last great Assyrian emperor (669-626 B.C.), who added people from Elam, etc., to the population.

A Mixed Race. The Samaritans were a racially mixed society and the Jews considered their religion a pagan system (Ezra 4:2). Their blood would become more and more mixed with Jewish blood by the intermarriage with surrounding Israelites, who saw many similarities and familiar worship that had been in former times. By the time of Christ, the Samaritans were severely despised by the Jews and to be called a "Samaritan" was to be numbered with the tax collectors and sinners.

John 4:39 "And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him..."