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Dictionary of Bible Themes – 7560 Samaritans, the
7560 Samaritans, the

7560 Samaritans, the

The people of the northern kingdom of Israel, named after its capital city established by Omri. At the time of the NT, Samaritans were despised by Jews, on account of their intermarriage with Gentiles after the fall of the northern kingdom in 721 B.C. However, the NT presents them as generally responding favourably to the gospel.

Samaria as the name of the northern kingdom

1Ki 21:1 The entire northern kingdom is represented by the name of its royal capital, just as Jerusalem often represents Judah. See also 1Ki 18:1-6; 2Ki 17:24; 2Ki 23:19; Jer 31:5

The fall of Samaria

2Ki 17:3-5

Samaria’s population deported 2Ki 17:6-18 Sargon II of Assyria completed the siege begun by Shalmaneser V, deporting (according to his own annals) over 27,000 of Samaria’s inhabitants. See also 2Ki 18:11-12

Samaria resettled by other peoples 2Ki 17:24 This resettlement, the first of several, led to intermarriage, and is seen by many as the origin of the Samaritans of NT times. See also Ezr 4:2,9-10

Religion in Samaria after its fall

Syncretism arises in Samaria 2Ki 17:25-41 Those resettled brought their own gods with them, but also worshipped the Lord as the god of the land. Ultimately these inter-mixed peoples would abandon their polytheism and would accept the law of Moses.

Some in Samaria remain faithful and still make pilgrimage to Jerusalem 2Ch 30:10-11 See also 2Ch 30:1; 2Ch 34:9; Jer 41:4-5

Samaritans and the restoration of Jerusalem

Samaritans offer to rebuild the temple with the returning exiles but are rejected Ezr 4:1-5 The response of the Samaritans to this rejection, based on the Jews’desire to keep the faith pure, reflects the double-mindedness of their offer.

Ongoing opposition from the Samaritans to the work of the returned exiles See also Ezr 4:6,7-23

Samaria’s religious background by the time of the NT

Samaria had established its own temple Jn 4:20 The Samaritans built their own temple on Mount Gerizim. It was later destroyed by the Jews, which led to a hardening of attitudes between the two groups.

Samaritan Scriptures contained only the Pentateuch Jn 4:22 Jesus Christ highlights the limited revelation of the Samaritans. Since their Scriptures contained only the Pentateuch, they were expecting a Messiah that they could know little about.

Samaritan and Jewish attitudes to one another Jn 4:9 Samaritans were seen as being very lax in their religious observance, and Jews would not therefore share drinking vessels with them. By NT times the gulf between Jew and Samaritan was quite wide and bitter. See also Lk 9:51-56 The three-day journey from Galilee to Jerusalem involved overnight accommodation, which the Samaritans generally refused, causing many Jews to travel on the eastern side of the Jordan.

Samaritans and the ministry of Jesus Christ

Initially Jesus Christ instructs his disciples not to go to the Samaritans Mt 10:5-6

Jesus Christ is opposed by some Samaritans See also Lk 9:51-56

Jesus Christ ministers to a Samaritan woman and many Samaritans believe in him Jn 4:4-30,39-42

Jesus Christ heals a Samaritan leper Lk 17:11-19

Jesus Christ tells a parable about a good Samaritan Lk 10:30-37 For the Jews, the concept of a “good” Samaritan would have seemed very strange; but Jesus Christ shows that love and faith is not restricted to Israel’s boundaries.

Samaria and the ministry of the early first Christians

The risen Christ includes Samaria in the church’s mission Ac 1:8

The church takes the gospel to Samaria Ac 8:1 See also Ac 8:4-13,25

The apostles pray for the gift of the Spirit for the Samaritan converts Ac 8:14-17 The delay in their reception of the Spirit until the apostles came from Jerusalem may have been God’s way of removing the old Jewish-Samaritan divide in the infant church.

The Samaritan church grows Ac 9:31

See also

5711marriage, restrictions
7216exile in Assyria
7233Israel, northern kingdom
7468temple, rebuilding
8452neighbours, duty to

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