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What is Samaria?
        (watch-post), a noted city of Central Palestine, founded by Omri, king of Israel. Situation. - The city of Samaria was 30 miles north of Jerusalem and 6 miles north-west of Shechem, and situated near the centre of a beautiful basin about 6 miles in diameter and surrounded by hills. The hill of Samaria was to the east of the centre of this basin, and about 1542 feet in height above the level of the sea. It was of an oblong form, with steep and terraced sides. The whole region about it is fertile, the site being a strong one for defence and the view from the summit very beautiful. From its top the Mediterranean Sea can be plainly seen. History. - Shemer sold the ground upon which Samaria was built to Omri, the king of Israel, for two silver talents, and the latter built a city, calling it Samaria, b.c. 925. 1 Kgs 16:23-24. It appears that previous to this Shechem had been the capital, and Tirzah the court-residence in summer. 1 Kgs 15:21, 1 Kgs 15:33; 1 Kgs 16:1-18. But Omri now made Samaria the capital of Israel - a position which it continued to hold for two hundred years, until the fall of the northern kingdom, b.c. 721. It was the seat of many idolatrous practices. Ahab erected a great temple to Baal; Jehu destroyed it, and massacred the priests. 1 Kgs 16:32-33; 2 Kgs 10:18, 2 Kgs 10:28. Twice the city was besieged by the Syrians - in the reign of Ahab, b.c. 901, and in the reign of Joram, b.c. 892. 1 Kgs 20:1. At the latter siege the people were reduced to the most terrible distress by famine, but were wonderfully delivered, in accordance with the prophecy of Elisha. 2 Kgs 6:24-33; 2 Kgs 7:1-20. About one hundred and seventy years later the city was captured by the king of Assyria, after a siege of nearly three years; the northern kingdom was destroyed, and the ten tribes carried into captivity. 2 Kgs 18:9-12. Colonists from Assyria were sent to repeople the country. 2 Kgs 17:24; Ezr 4:9-10. The city of Samaria continued to be a place of some importance. It was captured by Alexander the Great, who peopled it with Syro-Macedonians; it was again taken by John Hyrcanus, after a year's siege, and razed to the ground, b.c. 109. It was rebuilt and adorned by Herod the Great, who named it Sebaste in honor of Augustus, who gave it to him, and settled a colony of six thousand persons there, composed of veteran soldiers and peasants. He enlarged the city, and surrounded it with a wall and colonnade. In N.T. times, Philip preached the gospel in Samaria, Acts 8:5, Gal 1:9, and the place became an episcopal see. Septimius Severus planted a Roman colony there in the third century of the Christian era, but politically it was secondary to Caesarea. The city was Ruins of the Colonnade of Samaria. also surpassed in prosperity by Neapolis (Sichem). During the siege of Jerusalem, Samaria fell into the hands of the Muslims, but the Crusaders established a Latin bishop there, thus reviving the old episcopal see. In a.d. 1184, Saladin marched through the city; and notices of the place occur in the accounts of travellers from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries. Present Condition. - The ancient city of Samaria is now represented by the modern village Sebastiyeh (from "Sebaste"), situated upon the slope of the hill, having houses built of stones taken from the ancient remains. In and among the houses are scattered many fragments of ancient buildings, such as hewn blocks, shafts of columns, capitals, and portions of entablatures. Vines grow luxuriantly around the bases of broken shafts, grain is planted amid shattered columns, sculptured blocks of limestone are embedded in the rude terraces of the vineyards. The most imposing ancient building is the half-ruined church of John the Baptist, now turned into a mosque. Tradition states that John the Baptist was buried here. The church stands in a conspicuous position on the brow of a hill, the present edifice being the work of the Crusaders of the twelfth century. On the round hill above the village, to the west, are the remains of the palace erected by Herod the Great in honor of Augustus. On the terrace to the south runs the famous colonnade, about 2000 feet in length, of which one hundred columns still remain, some standing, some overthrown or buried beneath the soil. Besides the tomb of John the Baptist, tradition points out the resting-place of Obadiah and Elisha under a stone slab near the ruined church. The prophet declares, "I will make Samaria as an heap of the field, and as plantings of a vineyard: and I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley, and I will discover the foundations thereof." Mic 1:6. This prophecy has been literally fulfilled.

Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip, Dr. "Biblical Definition for 'samaria' in Schaffs Bible Dictionary". - Schaff's

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