From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

(Σαμάρεια [T WH[Note: H Westcott-Hort’s Greek Testament.]-ία], from שׂמְרוֹן)

1. The kingdom or district. -Samaria originally denoted the capital of the kingdom of Israel, but the term was early applied to the kingdom itself, and in this sense ‘the king of Samaria,’ ‘the cities of Samaria,’ ‘the mountains of Samaria’ are familiar expressions in the OT writings. After the over-throw of the monarchy, the name was still attached to the old territory, whether under the government of Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Hasmonaeans, or Romans. The boundary of Samaria on the N. was the southern edge of the Plain of Esdraelon, on the W. the eastern fringe of Sharon, and on the E. the Jordan. On the S. the frontier was very mutable: Josephus names ‘the Acrabbene toparchy’ and ‘the village Anuath, which is also named Borceos,’ as the boundaries in his time, and these terms have been identified with Akrabbeh and Burkit, about 6 miles S. of Shechem. The Wady Farah on the E. of the watershed, and the Wady Ishar, called lower down Wady Deir Ballut and Wady Auja, on the western side, may be regarded as the dividing lines, which in our Lord’s time were religious rather than political. Ginea (the modern Jenîn) is given as the most northerly town (Bellum Judaicum (Josephus)III. iii. 4), and Antipatris was just beyond the S.W. border (Talm. Bab.[Note: Babylonian.]Giṭṭin, 76a).

Josephus’ statement (loc. cit.) that Samaria ‘is entirely of the same nature with Judaea ’ is inaccurate; for, while Judaea was a single massive table-land, with natural barriers which rendered it austerely solitary and inaccessible, Samaria consisted of groups of mountains separated by fertile valleys, meadows, and plains, while it was so exposed on its frontiers that neither could artificial fortresses protect it from hostile invasions nor spiritual barriers defend it from the subtler influences of environment. The physical difference between the two countries, however, does not explain that most bitter quarrel in history which came to a head some time before the Christian era began. It was after all a quarrel between brethren, the old tribal and national feud of Judah and Ephraim being accentuated and perpetuated as a religious controversy. The Jewish contention that the Samaritans were at once foreigners and heretics was on both counts an exaggeration. The Assyrian conqueror Shalmancser ( 2 Kings 17:24), or, according to the inscriptions, his successor Sargon, deported from Samaria only the most influential families, which would have been those most likely to give trouble-27,000 persons in all-leaving the humbler classes in the cities, as well as whole minor towns and villages, undisturbed. The number of Assyrian colonists then and afterwards ( Ezra 4:2) introduced into the country was no doubt small in proportion to the entire population. Only the most rigid Jewish exclusiveness could refuse to the Samaritans as a whole the right to the sacred name and traditions of Israel, and so to an equal share in the worship of Jahweh. Josephus, whose Jewish bias is obvious, presents the case against the Samaritans, or, as he frequently calls them, from the Assyrian origin of a fraction of them, the Cuthaeans ( 2 Kings 17:24). He alleges that the rival worship on Mt. Gerizim was begun by a renegade Jewish priest-Manasseh the high priest’s brother-who had married a Cuthaean satrap’s daughter (Ant. XI. vii. 2, viii. 2); and that when Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem, the Samaritans denied ‘that the temple on Mt. Gerizim belonged to Almighty God,’ and petitioned ‘Antiochus, the god Epiphanes,’ to permit them to name it ‘the temple of Jupiter Hellenius’ (ib. XII. v. 5). Josephus therefore glories in the Maccabaean zeal which ‘subdued the nation of the Cuthaeans, who dwelt round about that temple which was built in imitation of the Temple at Jerusalem,’ ‘demolished the city [of Samaria] and made slaves of its inhabitants’ (Bellum Judaicum (Josephus)I. ii. 6, 7). He asserts that in his own time the Samaritans still continued to distress the Jews, ‘cutting off parts of their land and carrying off slaves’ (Ant. XII. iv. 1); that on one occasion they ‘came privately into Jerusalem and threw about dead bodies in the cloisters’ (ib. XVIII. ii. 2); that they harassed the Galilaeans on their way to Jerusalem and ‘killed a great many of them’ (ib. XX. vi. 1); that in the days of Jewish prosperity they called themselves ‘kindred,’ but at other times declared that they were ‘no way related to them, and that the Jews had no right to expect any kindness or marks of kindred from them,’ who were ‘sojourners that came from other countries’ (ib. IX. xiv. 3). That there is some measure of truth in these allegations is quite probable, but there has unfortunately been no advocate for the defence, no historian who has eloquently presented the facts from the Samaritan point of view. The despised heretics have, however, found one Defender who has adjusted the balance. Jesus not only rebuked the fiery zeal of His disciples-in this respect thorough Jews-against the hated race ( Luke 9:51-56), but made one Samaritan a pattern to all the world of neighbourly love ( Luke 10:30-37) and another-‘this alien’ (ἀλλογενής)-of gratitude to God ( Luke 17:11-19).

The Pentecostal Church, thrilled by the Spirit of the Risen Christ, is said to have awakened early to her duty to Samaria. The dispersion which followed the death of Stephen brought many preachers ‘to the regions of … Samaria’ ( Acts 8:1;  Acts 8:4). While Philip, and afterwards Peter and John, probably laboured in the city of Samaria-now called Sebaste-itself ( Acts 8:5), others evangelized in ‘many villages of the Samaritans’ ( Acts 8:25), and their efforts were not without success. The church in Samaria, enjoying, like those in Judaea and Galilee, a time of peace, was built up and multiplied ( Acts 9:31). St. Paul and Barnabas, going up to Jerusalem at the end of their first missionary tour, gave a complete account (ἐκδιηγούμενοι) of the conversion of the Gentiles as they went through Samaria ( Acts 15:3). But from this moment Samaria passes out of view. After Christ’s own work there-if  John 4:39-42 is a reflexion of facts-and the primitive mission of His apostles, history has nothing more to say of the evangelization of Samaria. In the Roman wars the Samaritans made common cause with the Jews and endured great sufferings. Gathered on the top of Gerizim, a company of them preferred death to surrender, and 11,600 are said to have been cut to pieces by Vespasian’s fifth legion (Bellum Judaicum (Josephus)III. vii. 32). In later times they seem to have become as fanatical as the Jews, and under the Byzantine Emperors Zeno and Justinian they were punished for their cruelty to the Christian Church. In the Middle Ages there were colonies of them in Nâblus, Caesarea, Damascus, and Cairo. They are now reduced to a little community-‘forty families,’ it is always said-who still sacrifice on Mt. Gerizim, ‘the oldest and the smallest sect in the world’ (A. P. Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. 240).

2. The city. -The city of Samaria, rather than the territory, appears to be meant in  Acts 8:5;  Acts 8:9;  Acts 8:14, the best Manuscriptshaving the article before πόλιν τῆς Σαμαρίας in  Acts 8:5, and the genitive being probably that of apposition. This is the view of Weiss, Wendt, Blass, Knowling, and others, and, if they are right, the character of the city chosen by Philip for a Christian mission is a matter of interest. The royal city of Omri occupied a strong position on a round and isolated hill in a broad and fertile vale, about 6 miles N.W. of Shechem, commanding a splendid view (as its name Shômrôn, i.e. ‘Wartburg’ or ‘Watch Tower,’ would indicate) across the Plain of Sharon to the Western Sea, 23 miles distant. Already partly paganized ( 2 Kings 17:24) after its capture by the Assyrians (722 b.c.), it began to be Hellenized by Alexander the Great (331). He avenged the cruel death of Andromachus, his governor in CCEle-Syria, by killing many of the inhabitants of Samaria, deporting others to Shechem, and substituting Macedonian colonists, who continued to occupy the city till the time of John Hyrcanus. It was ‘a very strong city’ (Jos. Ant. XIII. x. 2) in the time of this victorious Maccabaean prince and high priest, whose sons destroyed it after a year’s siege, and took possession of the whole district for the Jews (Bellum Judaicum (Josephus)I. ii. 7). Being afterwards separated from Judaea by Pompey, and made a free city (Ant. XIV. iv. 4, Bellum Judaicum (Josephus)I. vii. 7), it was rebuilt by Gabinius (Ant. XIV. v. 3, Bellum Judaicum (Josephus)I. viii. 4). Its second period of royal splendour began when Augustus presented it to Herod the Great, who made it an impregnable fortress with a wall 2½ miles in circumference, built in it a magnificent temple to Divus Caesar, adorned it with public buildings, colonnades and gateways, settled in it thousands of his veterans along with people from the neighbourhood, and renamed it ‘Sebaste’ (=Augusta) in honour of his Imperial patron (Ant. XV. vii. 3, viii. 5, Bellum Judaicum (Josephus)I. xx. 3, xxi. 2; Strabo, XVI. ii. 34). That the populace was now non-Jewish-‘chiefly heathen’ (Schürer, HJP[Note: JP History of the Jewish People (Eng. tr. of GJV).]II. i. 126), ‘half Greek, half Samaritan’ (G. A. Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land (G. A. Smith)7, p. 348)-is proved by their taking the side of the Romans, first in the conflicts that followed the death of Herod, and again in the great war which sealed the fate of the Jewish nation.

If this was the city which Philip went to evangelize, and in which he was joined by Peter and John ( Acts 8:14), it is probable that their gospel was heard chiefly, if not solely, by members of the Samaritan race, whose faith did not essentially differ from that of the Jews by whom they were counted heretical. The time was not yet come for ‘turning unto the Gentiles’; that was first done in the purely Gentile city of Antioch. But the apostles obeyed their marching orders: beginning at Jerusalem, they went to Judaea , Samaria, and the ends of the earth ( Acts 1:8).

Herod’s Hellenistic city, which he stained with the blood of his own family (Jos. Bellum Judaicum (Josephus)I. xxvii. 6), was re-created as a Roman colony under Septimius Severus; but when the need for a fortified ‘Watchtower’ was past, the tide of prosperity returned to the ancient town of Shechem (re-named Neapolis, now Nâblus), and Samaria fell into decay.

Eusebius, in the 4th cent., describes it as Σεβαστήν, τὴν νῦν πολίχνην τῆς Παλαιστίνης (Onom. 292). A bishop of Samaria attended the Council of Nicaea (a.d. 325), and another that of Jerusalem (a.d. 536). A baseless tradition made it the scene of the death of John the Baptist, and a church of the 12th cent. stands over his supposed tomb. A small village retains the Imperial name-Sebustiyeh-and some of Herod’s pillars are still standing. Excavations carried on by Harvard University since 1908 have resulted in many remarkable discoveries.

Literature.-W. M. Thomson, The Land and the Book, 1910, p. 462f.; A. P. Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, new ed., 1887, pp. 240-246; E. Schürer, HJP[Note: JP History of the Jewish People (Eng. tr. of GJV).], 1886-91, II. i. 123-127; G. A. Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land (G. A. Smith)7, 1900, pp. 345-350; D. G. Lyon, ‘Hebrew Ostraca from Samaria,’ in Harvard Theological Review, iv. [1911] 136 ff.; S. R. Driver, ‘The Discoveries at Samaria,’ in PEFSt[Note: EFSt Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement.]xliii. [1911] 79 ff.

James Strahan.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

("a watch mountain".) The oblong terraced hill in the center of a basinshaped, valley, a continuation of the Shethem valley, six miles N.W. of Shechem. The owner, Shemer, sold it for two silver talents to Omri king of Israel (925 B.C.), who built on it a city and called it after Shomer ( 1 Kings 16:23-24). Shechem previously had been the capital, Tirzah the court residence in summer ( 1 Kings 15:21;  1 Kings 15:33;  1 Kings 16:1-18). The situation combines strength, fertility and beauty (Josephus, Ant. 15:8, section 5; B.J. 1:21, section 2). It is 600 ft. high, surrounded with terraced hills, clad with figs and olives. There is abundant water in the valley; but the city, like Jerusalem, is dependent on rain cisterns. The view is charming: to the N. and E. lie its own rich valleys; to the W. fertile Sharon and the blue Mediterranean. (On The "Glorious Beauty" Of Ephraim (Samaria),  Isaiah 28:1 , See Meals.) Its strength enabled it to withstand severe sieges by the Syrians (1 Kings 20; 2 Kings 6; 7). Finally it fell before Shalmaneser and Sargon, after a three years' siege ( 2 Kings 18:9-12), 721 B.C.

Called from its Baal worship, introduced by Ahab, "the city of the house of Ahab" ( 1 Kings 16:32-33;  2 Kings 10:25). Alexander the Great replaced its inhabitants with Syro Macedonians. John Hyrcanus (109 B.C.) destroyed the city after a 12 months' siege (Josephus, Ant. 13:10, section 2-3). Herod the Great rebuilt and adorned it, naming it Sebaste from Sebastos, Greek for Augustus, his patron (Ant. 14:5, section 3; 15:8, section 5; B.J. 1:20, section 3, 21, section 2). The woman of Samaria and several of her townsmen (John 4) were the firstfruits gathered into Christ; the fuller harvest followed under Philip the evangelist deacon (Acts 8, compare  John 4:35). Septimius Severus planted a Roman colony there in the third century A.D.; but politically it became secondary to Caesarea. Ecclesiastically it was of more importance; and Marius its bishop signed himself "Maximus Sebastenus" at the council of Nice, A.D. 325. The Mahometans took it, A.D. 614. The Crusaders established a Latin bishop there.

Now Sebustieh ; its houses of stone are taken from ancient materials, but irregularly placed; the inhabitants are rude but industrious. The ruin of the church of John the Baptist marks the traditional place of his burial; the original structure is attributed to Helena, Constantine's mother; but the present building, except the eastern Greek end, is of later style: 153 ft. long inside, 75 broad, and a porch 10 ft. wide. Within is a Turkish tomb under which by steps you descend to a vault with tessellated floor, and five niches for the dead, the central one being alleged to have been that of John (?). Fifteen limestone columns stand near the hill top, two others lie on the ground, in two rows, 32 paces apart. Another colonnade, on the N. side of the hill, in a ravine, is arranged in a quadrangle, 196 paces long and 64 broad. On the W.S.W. are many columns, erect or prostrate, extending a third of a mile, and ending in a heap of ruins; each column 16 ft. high, 6 ft. in circumference at the base, 5 ft. at the top: probably relics of Herod's work. (See Hoshea .)

Its present state accords with prophecy: ( Hosea 13:16) "Samaria shall become desolate"; ( Micah 1:6) "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 (a graphic picture of its present state which is 'as though the buildings of the ancient city had been thrown down from the brow of a hill': Scottish Mission Enquiry, 295), and I will discover the foundations thereof." The hill planted with vines originally should return to its pristine state. SAMARIA is the designation of northern Israel under Jeroboam ( 1 Kings 13:32;  Hosea 8:5-6;  Amos 3:9). Through the depopulations by Pul and Tiglath Pileser ( 1 Chronicles 5:26;  2 Kings 15:29) the extent of Samaria was much limited. The pagan pushed into the vacated region, and "Galilee of the Gentiles" ("nations") became an accepted phrase ( Isaiah 9:1). After Shalmaneser's capture of Samaria and carrying away of Israel to Halah and Habor, and in the cities of the Medes ( 2 Kings 17:5-6;  2 Kings 17:23-24), Esarhaddon or Asnapper planted "instead" men of Babylon (Where Esarhaddon Resided In Part:  2 Chronicles 33:11 ) , Cuthah, Ava, and Sepharvaim ( Ezra 4:2-3;  Ezra 4:10). (See Esarhaddon ; ASNAPPER.)

So completely did God "wipe" away Israel ( 2 Kings 21:13) that no Israelite remained able to teach the colonists "the manner of the God of the land" ( 2 Kings 17:26). Isaiah ( Isaiah 7:8) in 742 B.C. foretold that within 65 years Ephraim should be "broken" so as "not to be a people"; accomplished in 677 B.C. by Esarhaddon's occupying their land with foreigners. Josephus (Ant. 10:9, section 7) notices the difference between the ten and the two tribes. Israel's land became the land of complete strangers; Judah not so. The lions sent by Jehovah (who still claims the land as His own and His people's:  Jeremiah 31:20;  Leviticus 26:42), in consequence of the colonists worshipping their five deities respectively, constrained them through fear to learn from an imported Israelite priest how to "fear Jehovah." But it was fear, not love; it was a vain combination of incompatible worships, that of Jehovah and of idols ( Zephaniah 1:5;  Ezekiel 20:39;  1 Kings 18:21;  Matthew 6:24). Luke ( Luke 17:18) calls them "strangers," foreigners ( Allogeneis ). In Ezra's ( Ezra 4:1-4) time they claim no community of descent, but only of religion, with the Jews. Baffled in their wish to share in building the temple, they thwarted the building by false representations' before Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes until the reign of DARIUS (Ezra 5; 6). (See Ahasuerus ; ARTAXERXES.)

The Samaritans gradually cast off idols. In 409 B.C. Manasseh, of priestly descent, having been expelled for an unlawful marriage by Nehemiah, built a temple on Mount Gerizim for the Samaritans by Darius Nothus' permission. Henceforward the Samaritans refused all kindness to the pilgrims on their way to the feasts at Jerusalem, and often even waylaid them (Josephus, Ant. 20:6, section 1, 18:2, section 2). John Hyrcanus destroyed the Gerizim temple, but they still directed their worship toward it; then they built one at Shechem. The Pentateuch was their sole code; for their copy they claimed an antiquity and authority above any Jewish manuscript Jewish renegades joined them; hence they began to claim Jewish descent, as the Samaritan woman ( John 4:12) says "Jacob our father."

Possibly (Though There Is No Positive Evidence) Israelites may have not been completely swept from the fastness of the Samaritan hills, and these may have intermarried with the colonists. The Jews recognized no Israelite connection in the Samaritans. The Jews' charge against Jesus was, "Thou art a Samaritan" ( John 8:48), probably because He had conversed with the Samaritans for their salvation (John 4). Then He was coming from Judaea, at a season "four months before the harvest," when the Samaritans could have no suspicion of His having been at Jerusalem for devotion ( John 4:8;  John 4:35); so the Samaritans treated Him with civility and hospitality, and the disciples bought food in the Samaritan town without being insulted. But in  Luke 9:51-53, when He was "going to Jerusalem," the Samaritans did not receive Him: a minute coincidence with propriety, confirming the gospel narratives.

In sending forth the twelve Christ identifies the Samaritans with Gentiles ( Matthew 10:5-6); He distinguishes them from Jews ( Acts 1:8;  John 4:22). Samaria lay between Judaea and Galilee. (See Josephus, B. J. 3:3, section 4). Bounded N. by the hills beginning at Carmel and running E. toward Jordan, forming the southern boundary of the plain Esdraelon (Jezreel); including Ephraim and the Manasseh W. of Jordan. Pilate chastised them, to his own downfall (Josephus, Ant. 18:4, section 1). Under Vespasian 10,600 fell (B. J. 3:7, section 32). Dositheus an apostate Jew became their leader. Epiphanius (Haer. 1) mentions their hostility to Christianity, and numerous sects. Jos. Scaliger corresponded with them in the 16th century; DeSacy edited two of their letters to Scaliger; Job Ludolf received a letter from them in the 17th century. (See them in Eichhorn's Repertorium, 13) At Nablus (Shechem, or Sychar) the Samaritans have a settlement of 200 persons still, observing the law, and celebrating the Passover on Gerizim.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [3]

one of the three divisions of the Holy Land, having Galilee on the north, Judea on the south, the river Jordan on the east, and the Mediterranean Sea on the west. It took its name from its capital city, Samaria; and formed, together with Galilee and some cantons on the east of Jordan, during the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah, the kingdom of the former. The general aspect and produce of the country are nearly the same as those of Judea. But Mr. Buckingham observes, that "while in Judea the hills are mostly as bare as the imagination can paint them, and a few of the narrow valleys only are fertile, in Samaria, the very summits of the eminences are as well clothed as the sides of them. These, with the luxuriant valleys which they enclose, present scenes of unbroken verdure in almost every point of view. which are delightfully variegated by the picturesque forms of the hills and vales themselves, enriched by the occasional sight of wood and water, in clusters of olive and other trees, and rills and torrents running among them."

2. SAMARIA, the capital city of the kingdom of the ten tribes that revolted from the house of David. It was built by Omri, king of Israel, who began to reign A.M. 3079, and who died 3086. He bought the hill Samaria of Shemer for two talents of silver, or for the sum of 684 l . 7 s . 6 d . It took the name of Samaria from Shemer, the owner of the hill,  1 Kings 16:24 . Some think, however, that there were before this some beginnings of a city in that place, because, antecedent to the reign of Omri, there is mention made of Samaria,  1 Kings 13:32 , A.M. 3030. But others take this for a prolepsis, or an anticipation, in the discourse of the man of God. However this may be, it is certain that Samaria was no considerable place, and did not become the capital of the kingdom, till after the reign of Omri. Before him, the kings of Israel dwelt at Shechem or at Tirzah. Samaria was advantageously situated upon an agreeable and fruitful hill, twelve miles from Dothaim, twelve from Merrom, and four from Atharath. Josephus says it was a day's journey from Jerusalem. the kings of Samaria omitted nothing to make this city the strongest, the finest, and the richest that was possible. Ahab built there a palace of ivory,  1 Kings 22:39; that is, in which there were many ivory ornaments; and, according to  Amos 3:15;  Amos 4:1-2 , it became the seat of luxury and effeminacy. Benhadad, king of Syria, built public places, called "streets," in Samaria,  1 Kings 20:34; probably bazaars for trade, and quarters where his people dwelt to pursue commerce. His son Benhadad besieged this place under the reign of Ahab, 1 Kings 20, A.M. 3103. It was besieged by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, in the ninth year of the reign of Hoshea, king of Israel,  2 Kings 17:6 , &c, which was the fourth of Hezekiah, king of Judah. It was taken three years after, A.M. 3283. The Prophet Hosea,  Hosea 10:4;  Hosea 10:8-9 , speaks of the cruelties exercised by Shalmaneser against the besieged; and  Micah 1:6 , says that the city was reduced to a heap of stones. The Cuthites that were sent by Esar-haddon to inhabit the country of Samaria did not think it worth their while to repair the ruined city: they dwelt at Shechem, which they made the capital city of their state. They were in this condition when Alexander the Great came into Phenicia and Judea. However, the Cuthites had rebuilt some of the houses of Samaria, even from the time of the return of the Jews from the captivity, since the inhabitants of Samaria are spoken of,  Ezra 4:17;  Nehemiah 4:2 . And the Samaritans, being jealous of the Jews, on account of the favours that Alexander the Great had conferred on them, revolted from him, while he was in Egypt, and burned Andromachus alive, whom he had left governor of Syria. Alexander soon marched against them, took Samaria, and appointed Macedonians to inhabit it, giving the country round it to the Jews; and to encourage them in the cultivation, he exempted them from tribute. The kings of Egypt and Syria, who succeeded Alexander, deprived them of the property of this country. But Alexander Balas, king of Syria, restored to Jonathan Maccabaeus the cities of Lydda, Ephrem, and Ramatha, which he cut off from the country of Samaria, 1Ma_10:30; 1Ma_10:38; 1Ma_11:28; 1Ma_11:34 . Lastly, the Jews reentered into the full possession of this whole country under John Hircanus, the Asmonean, who took Samaria, and, according to Josephus, made the river run through its ruins. It continued in this state till A.M. 3947, when Aulus Gabinius, the proconsul of Syria, rebuilt it, and gave it the name of Gabiniana. Yet it remained very inconsiderable till Herod the Great restored it to its ancient splendour.

The sacred authors of the New Testament speak but little of Samaria; and when they do mention it, the country is rather to be understood than the city,  Luke 17:11;  John 4:4-5 . After the death of Stephen,  Acts 8:1-3 , when the disciples were dispersed through the cities of Judea and Samaria, Philip made several converts in this city. There it was that Simon Magus resided, and thither Peter and John went to communicate the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Travellers give the following account of its present state:—Sebaste is the name which Herod gave to the name of the ancient Samaria, the imperial city of the ten tribes, in honour of Augustus (Sebastos) Caesar, when he rebuilt and fortified it, converting the greater part of it into a citadel, and erecting here a noble temple. "The situation," says Dr. Richardson, "is extremely beautiful, and strong by nature; more so, I think, than Jerusalem. It stands on a fine, large, insulated hill, compassed all around by a broad deep valley; and when fortified, as it is stated to have been by Herod, one would have imagined that, in the ancient system of warfare, nothing but famine could have reduced such a place. The valley is surrounded by four hills, one on each side, which are cultivated in terraces up to the top, sown with grain, and planted with fig and olive trees, as is also the valley. The hill of Samaria likewise rises in terraces to a height equal to any of the adjoining mountains. The present village is small and poor, and, after passing the valley, the ascent to it is very steep. Viewed from the station of our tents, it is extremely interesting, both from its natural situation, and from the picturesque remains of a ruined convent, of good Gothic architecture. Having passed the village, toward the middle of the first terrace, there is a number of columns still standing. I counted twelve in one row, beside several that stood apart, the brotherless remains of other rows. The situation is extremely delightful, and my guide informed me, that they belonged to the serai, or palace. On the next terrace there are no remains of solid building, but heaps of stone and lime and rubbish mixed with the soil in great profusion. Ascending to the third or highest terrace, the traces of former building were not so numerous, but we enjoyed a delightful view of the surrounding country. The eye passed over the deep valley that encompasses the hill of Sebaste, and rested on the mountains beyond, that retreated as they rose with a gentle slope, and met the view in every direction, like a book laid out for perusal on a reading desk. This was the seat of the capital of the short-lived and wicked kingdom of Israel: and on the face of these mountains the eye surveys the scene of many bloody conflicts and many memorable events. Here those holy men of God, Elijah and Elisha, spoke their tremendous warnings in the ears of their incorrigible rulers, and wrought their miracles in the sight of all the people. From this lofty eminence we descended to the south side of the hill, where we saw the remains of a stately colonnade that stretches along this beautiful exposure from east to west. Sixty columns are still standing in one row. The shafts are plain; and fragments of Ionic volutes, that lie scattered about, testify the order to which they belonged. These are probably the relics of some of the magnificent structures with which Herod the Great adorned Samaria. None of the walls remain." Mr. Buckingham mentions a current tradition, that the avenue of columns formed a part of Herod's palace. According to his account, there were eighty-three of these columns erect in 1816, beside others prostrate; all without capitals. Josephus states, that, about the middle of the city, Herod built "a sacred place, of a furlong and a half in circuit, and adorned it with all sorts of decorations; and therein erected a temple, illustrious for both its largeness and beauty." It is probable that these columns belonged to it. On the eastern side of the same summit are the remains, Mr. Buckingham states, of another building, "of which eight large and eight small columns are still standing, with many others fallen near them. These also are without capitals, and are of a smaller size and of an inferior stone to the others." "In the walls of the humble dwellings forming the modern village, portions of sculptured blocks of stone are perceived, and even fragments of granite pillars have been worked into the masonry.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [4]

1. One of the three divisions of the Holy Land in the time of our Savior, having Galilee on the north and Judea on the south, the Jordan on the east and the Mediterranean on the west, and occupying parts of the territory assigned at first to Ephraim, Mahasseh, and Issachar,  Luke 17:11   John 4:4 . It is described as having its hills less bare than those of Judea, and its valleys and plains more cultivated and fruitful. See  Acts 8:1,25   9:31   15:3 .

2. A city situated near the middle of Palestine, some six miles northwest of Shechem. It was built by Omri king of Israel, about 920 B. C., and named after Shemer the previous owner of the mountain or hill on which the city stood,  1 Kings 16.23,24 . It became the favorite residence of the kings of Israel, instead of Shechem and Thirzah the former capitals. It was highly adorned with public buildings. Ahab built there a palace of ivory,  1 Kings 22:39 , and also a temple of Baal,  1 Kings 16:32,33 , which Jehu destroyed,  2 Kings 10:18-28 . The prophets often denounced it for its idolatry,  Isaiah 9:9   Ezekiel 16:46-63 . It was twice besieged by the Syrians,  1 Kings 20:1-43   2 Kings 6:24   7:1-20 . At length Shalmanezer king of Assyria captured and destroyed the city, and removed the people of the land, B. C. 720, 2 Kings 17:3-6   Hosea 10:5-7   Micah 1:1-6 . See  Acts 8.5-25; and the church then formed continued in existence several centuries, till the city of Herod was destroyed. Sebaste was afterwards revived, and is mentioned in the histories of the Crusades. It is now an inconsiderable village, called Sebustieh, with a few cottages built of stones from the ancient ruins.

The following is the account of the modern city, as given by Richardson: "Its situation is extremely beautiful and strong by nature; more so, I think, than Jerusalem. It stands on a fine large insulated hill, compassed all round by a broad, deep valley; and when fortified, as it is stated to have been by Herod, one would imagine that in the ancient system of warfare nothing but famine would have reduced such a place. The valley is surrounded by four hills, one on each side, which are cultivated in terraces to the top, sown with grain and planted with fig and olive trees, as is also the valley. The hill of Samaria rises in terraces to a height equal to any of the adjoining mountains."

"The present village is small and poor, and after passing the valley, the ascent to it is very steep; but viewed from the station of our tents, it is extremely interesting, both from its natural situation and from the picturesque remains of a ruined convent of good Gothic architecture."

"Having passed the village, towards the middle of the first terrace there is a number of columns still standing. I counted twelve in one row, besides several that stood apart, the brotherless remains of other rows. The situation is extremely delightful, and my guide informed me that they belonged to the serai or palace. On the next terrace there are no remains of solid building, but heaps of stones and lime, and rubbish mixed with the soil in great profusion. Ascending to the third or highest terrace, the traces of former buildings were not so numerous, but we enjoyed a delightful view of the surrounding country. The eye passed over the deep valley that compassed the hill of Sebaste, and rested on the mountains beyond, that retreated as they rose with a gentle slope, and met the view in every direction, like a book laid out for perusal on a writingdesk."

People's Dictionary of the Bible [5]

Samaria ( Sa-Mâ'Ri-Ah ; Lat. Săm'A-R Î'Ah ), Watch-Post . A city and district of Palestine. The city was founded by Omri.  1 Kings 16:23-24 The palace at Tirzah, where the preceding monarch had resided, was burnt by Zimri. A hill admirably adapted for the site of a great city and capital belonged to Shemer. Omri purchased it for two talents of silver; and the city that he built thereon he called "Samaria," after the name of the former owner.  1 Kings 16:18;  1 Kings 16:23-24. Thenceforth it was the metropolis of the northern kingdom, the rival of Jerusalem, and generally the residence of the Israelitish monarchs,  1 Kings 16:29;  1 Kings 20:43;  2 Kings 1:2, though they had also a palace at Jezreel.  1 Kings 21:1;  2 Kings 8:29. The worship of Baal was set up in Samaria by Ahab, who built there an altar and a temple to the idol-god,  1 Kings 16:32, which were destroyed by Jehu.  2 Kings 10:18-28. Samaria was unsuccessfully besieged by the Syrians in the reigns of Ahab and Joram.  1 Kings 20:1-21;  2 Kings 6:24-33;  2 Kings 7:1-20. It was ultimately taken by the Assyrians after a siege of three years in the reign of Hoshea.  2 Kings 17:6;  2 Kings 18:9-10. The inhabitants were carried into captivity and colonists put in their place.  2 Kings 17:24;  Ezra 4:9-10. The city was taken by Alexander the Great, who placed a body of Syro-Macedonians in it. Subsequently Samaria was utterly destroyed by John Hyrcanus. It must, however, have been rebuilt; for in the time of Alexander Jannæus it was reckoned one of the cities possessed by the Jews. Pompey assigned it to the province of Syria. Augustus gave it to Herod the Great, who adorned it, settled a colony of veterans there, and strengthened its defences. He also gave it the name of Sebaste in honor of the emperor—Sebastos being the Greek equivalent of Augustus. But it began to decay, overshadowed by its neighbor Nablous, and it is now but a mass of ruins, adjacent to the modern village of Sebustieh. Samaria was gloriously beautiful, "a crown of pride,"  Isaiah 28:1, upon its fruitful hill. "The site of this celebrated capital," says Dr. Thomson, "is delightful, by universal consent." The name Samaria is often applied to the northern kingdom. Thus the sovereigns are called kings of Samaria as well as of Israel,  1 Kings 21:1;  2 Kings 1:1-18;  2 Kings 3:1-27; and we also read of "the cities of Samaria."  2 Kings 17:24. In New Testament times Samaria was one of the Roman divisions of Palestine lying between Galilee and Judæa; so that any one who would pass straight from one of these provinces to the other "must needs go through Samaria."  John 4:4. It occupied the ancient territories of the tribes of Ephraim and western Manasseh.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [6]

Sama'ria. (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 time 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 de 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 to an end. 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 day, 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.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [7]

 1 Kings 16:24

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. (Compare  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.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [8]

SAMARIA . A city built on a hill purchased by Omri, king of Israel, from a certain Shemer , and by him made the capital of the Israelite kingdom (  1 Kings 16:24 ). We gather from   1 Kings 20:34 that Ben-hadad i., king of Syria, successfully attacked it soon afterwards, and had compelled Omri to grant him favourable trade facilities. Ahab here built a Baal temple (  1 Kings 16:32 ) and a palace of ivory (  1 Kings 22:39 ). Ben-hadad ii. here besieged Ahab, but unsuccessfully, and was obliged to reverse the terms his father had exacted from Omri. Jehoram attempted a feeble and half-hearted reform, destroying Ahab’s Baal-pillar, though retaining the calf-worship (  2 Kings 3:2 ) and the ashçrah (  2 Kings 13:5 ). The city was again besieged in his time by Ben-hadad ii. (  2 Kings 6:1-33;   2 Kings 7:1-20 ). After this event the history of Samaria is bound up with the troublesome internal affairs of the Northern Kingdom, and we need not follow it closely till we reach b.c. 724, when Shalmaneser iv. besieged Samaria in punishment for king Hoshea’s disaffection. It fell three years later; and Sargon, who had meanwhile succeeded Shalmaneser on the Assyrian throne, deported its inhabitants, substituting a number of people drawn from other places (  2 Kings 17:1-41 ). In b.c. 331 it was besieged and conquered by Alexander, and in b.c. 120 by John Hyrcanus. Herod carried out important building works here, large portions of which still remain. He changed the name to Sebaste in honour of Augustus. Philip preached here (  Acts 8:5 ). The city, however, gradually decayed, fading before the growing importance of Neapolis (Shechem). The Crusaders established a bishopric here.

Extensive remains of ancient Samaria still exist at the mound known as Sebustîyeh (Sebaste), a short distance from Nâblus. It is one of the largest and most important mounds in ancient Palestine. Excavations under the auspices of Harvard University were begun in 1908.

R. A. S. Macalister.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [9]

This city was built by Omri, king of Israel, and came into prominence by becoming the capital of the kingdom of the ten tribes. It was situated on the side of a hill, and was adorned and fortified by the kings of Israel. Ben-hadad, king of Syria, besieged Samaria in the reign of Ahab, but by the intervention of God it was not taken.  1 Kings 20:1-34 . In the days of Jehoram it was again besieged by Ben-hadad, and the famine became so great that they were on the point of capitulating when some lepers brought word that the enemy had fled, and abundance of provision was to be found in the camp.  2 Kings 6:24-33;  2 Kings 7:1-20 .

It was besieged again by Shalmaneser, about B.C. 723, but held out for three years, being eventually taken by Sargon. The people were now carried into captivity.  2 Kings 18:9-12 . Among the Assyrian inscriptions there is one in which Sargon says, "The city of Samaria I besieged, I captured; 27,280 of its inhabitants I carried away." It was partly re-peopled by the colonists imported by Esar-haddon. Samaria was again taken by John Hyrcanus, who did his best to destroy it.

The city was rebuilt by Herod the Great, and named Sebaste (the Greek form of Augusta) in honour of his patron the emperor Augustus; but on the death of Herod it gradually declined. It is now only a miserable village, called Sebustieh, 32 17 N, 35 12' E, but with some grand columns standing and relics of its former greatness lying about.

THE District Of Samaria is often alluded to in the N.T. It occupied about the same territory as that of Ephraim and Manasseh's portion in the west. It had the district of Galilee on the north, and Judaea on the south.  Luke 17:11;  John 4:4;  Acts 1:8;  Acts 8:1-14;  Acts 9:31;  Acts 15:3 .

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [10]

The chief city in the kingdom, of the ten tribes. It was built by Omri, as we read  1 Kings 16:24. It seems to have taken its name from Shamar, and hence called Shomeron by the Israelites: so that his Shamar might mean his prison or his guard. Samaria forms an interesting history to the church, both in the Old Testament and the New. From  1 Kings 16:1 -  1 Kings 22:53 to  2 Kings 1:1 -  2 Kings 25:30, and in the Gospel the woman of Samaria,  John 4:1-54, and numberless other occasions render it memorable.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [11]

Sama´ria (watch-height), a city, situated near the middle of Palestine, built by Omri, king of Israel, on a mountain or hill of the same name, about B.C. 925. It was the metropolis of the kingdom of Israel, or of the ten tribes. The hill was purchased from the owner, Shemer, from whom the city took its name . Samaria continued to be the capital of Israel for two centuries, till the carrying away of the ten tribes by Shalmaneser, about B.C. 720 . During all this time it was the seat of idolatry, and is often as such denounced by the prophets, sometimes in connection with Jerusalem. It was the seat of a temple of Baal, built by Ahab, and destroyed by Jehu . It was the scene of many of the acts of the prophets Elijah and Elisha, connected with the various famines of the land, the unexpected plenty of Samaria, and the several deliverances of the city from the Syrians. After the exile of the ten tribes, Samaria appears to have continued, for a time at least, the chief city of the foreigners brought to occupy their place; although Shechem soon became the capital of the Samaritans as a religious sect. John Hyrcanus took the city after a year's siege, and razed it to the ground. Yet it must soon have revived, as it is not long after mentioned as an inhabited place, in the possession of the Jews. Pompey restored it to its former possessors; and it was afterwards rebuilt by Gabinius. Augustus bestowed Samaria on Herod; who eventually rebuilt the city with great magnificence, and gave it the name of Sebaste. Here Herod planted a colony of 6000 persons, composed partly of veteran soldiers, and partly of people from the environs; enlarged the circumference of the city; and surrounded it with a strong wall twenty stades in circuit. In the midst of the city—that is to say, upon the summit of the hill—he left a sacred place of a stade and a half, splendidly decorated, and here he erected a temple to Augustus, celebrated for its magnitude and beauty. The whole city was greatly ornamented, and became a strong fortress. Such was the Samaria of the time of the New Testament, where the Gospel was preached by Philip, and a church was gathered by the apostles (; , sq.). At what time the city of Herod became desolate, no existing accounts state; but all the notices of the fourth century and later lead to the inference that its destruction had already taken place. A few scanty notices of Samaria are found scattered through the works of ancient travelers, but it was not till the present century that it was fully explored and described.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [12]

A city of a district of the name between Judea and Galilee in the Holy Land, and which became the capital of the North Kingdom of Israel after the revolt from the Southern; was desolated by the hosts of Assyria in 720 B.C., and repeopled afterwards by Assyrian settlers, who were converted to the Jewish faith, and ministered to by a Jewish priest; when the Jews rebuilt the Temple of Jerusalem, the Samaritans' offer to aid was rejected, and the refusal led to a bitter hostility between the Jews and Samaritans ever after.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [13]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Samaria'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.