Samaritans

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; compare Ezra 4:2, 9, 10). These
strangers (compare 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; compare 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."