From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [1]

an ancient sect among the Jews, still subsisting in some parts of the Levant, under the same name. Its origin was in the time of Rehoboam, under whose reign a division was made of the people of Israel into two distinct kingdoms. One of these kingdoms, called Judah, consisted of such as adhered to Rehoboam and the house of David; the other retained the ancient name of Israelites, under the command of Jeroboam. The capital of the state of these latter was Samaria; and hence it was that they were denominated Samaritans. Some affirm that Salmanazar, king of Assyria, having conquered Samaria, led the whole people captive into the remotest parts of his empire, and filled their places with colonies of Babylonians, Cutheans, and other idolaters. These finding themselves daily destroyed by wild beasts, it is said, desired an Israelitish priest to instruct them in the ancient laws and customs of the land they inhabited. This was granted them; and they thenceforth ceased to be incommoded with any beasts. However, with the law of Moses, they still retained somewhat of their ancient idolatry. The rabbins say, they adored the figure of a dove on Mount Gerizim. As the revolted tribes had no more of the Scriptures than the five books of Moses, so the priest could bring no others with him beside those books written in the old Phenician letters.

Upon the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple, the religion of the Samaritans received another alteration on the following occasion; one of the sons of Jehoiada, the high priest, whom Josephus calls Manasseh, married the daughter of Sanballat the Horonite; but the law of God having forbidden the intermarriages of the Israelites with any other nation, Nehemiah set himself to reform this corruption, which had spread into many Jewish families, and obliged all that had taken strange wives immediately to part with them,  Nehemiah 13:23-30 . Manasseh, unwilling to surrender his wife, fled to Samaria; and many others in the same circumstances, and with similar disposition, went and settled under the protection of Sanballat, governor of Samaria. Manasseh brought with him some other apostate priests, with many other Jews, who disliked the regulations made by Nehemiah at Jerusalem; and now the Samaritans, having obtained a high priest, and other priests of the descendants from Aaron, were soon brought off from the worship of the false gods, and became as much enemies to idolatry as the best of the Jews. However, Manasseh gave them no other Scriptures beside the Pentateuch, lest, if they had the other Scriptures, they should then find that Jerusalem was the only place where they should offer their sacrifices. From that time the worship of the Samaritans came much nearer to that of the Jews, and they afterward obtained leave of Alexander the Great to build a temple on Mount Gerizim, near the city of Samaria, in imitation of the temple at Jerusalem, where they practised the same forms of worship. To this mountain and temple the Samaritan woman of Sychar refers in her discourse with our Saviour,  John 4:20 . The Samaritans soon after revolted from Alexander, who drove them out of Samaria, introduced Macedonians in their room, and gave the province of Samaria to the Jews. This circumstance contributed in no small degree to increase the hatred and animosity between those two people. When any Israelite deserved punishment on account of the violation of some important point of the law, he presently took refuge in Samaria or Shechem, and embraced the worship at the temple of Gerizim. When the affairs of the Jews were prosperous, the Samaritans did not fail to call themselves Hebrews, and of the race of Abraham. But when the Jews suffered persecution, the Samaritans disowned them, and alleged that they were Phenicians originally, or descended from Joseph, or Manasseh his son. This was their practice in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. It is certain, the modern Samaritans are far from idolatry; some of the most learned among the Jewish doctors own, that they observe the law of Moses more rigidly than the Jews themselves. They have a Hebrew copy of the Pentateuch, differing in some respects from that of the Jews; and written in different characters, commonly called Samaritan characters; which Origen, Jerom, and other fathers and critics, ancient and modern, take to be the primitive character of the ancient Hebrews, though others maintain the contrary. The point of preference, as to purity, antiquity, &c, of the two Pentateuchs, is also much disputed by modern critics.

The Samaritans are now few in number; though it is not very long since they pretended to have priests descended directly from the family of Aaron. They were chiefly found at Gaza, Neapolis or Shechem, (the ancient Sichem or Naplouse,) Damascus, Cairo, &c. They had a temple, or chapel, on Mount Gerizim, where they performed their sacrifices. They have also synagogues in other parts of Palestine, and also in Egypt. Joseph Scaliger, being curious to know their usages, wrote to the Samaritans of Egypt, and to the high priest of the whole sect, who resided at Neapolis. They returned two answers, dated in the year 998 of the Hegira of Mohammed. These answers never came to the hands of Scaliger. They are now in the library at Paris, and have been translated into Latin by Father Morin, priest of the oratory; and printed in the collection of letters of that father in England, 1662, under the title of "Antiquitates Ecclesiae Orientalis." M. Simon has inserted a French translation in the first edition of "Ceremonies et Coutumes des Juifs," in the manner of a supplement to Leo de Modena. In the first of these answers, written in the name of the assembly of Israel, in Egypt, they declare that they celebrate the passover every year, on the fourteenth day of the first month, on Mount Gerizim, and that he who then did the office of high priest was called Eleazar, a descendant of Phinehas, son of Aaron. In the second answer, which is in the name of the high priest Eleazar, and the synagogue of Shechem, they declare, that they keep the Sabbath in all the rigour with which it is enjoined in the book of Exodus; none among them stirring out of doors, but to the synagogue. They add, that they begin the feast of the passover with the sacrifice appointed for that purpose in Exodus; that they sacrifice no where else but on Mount Gerizim; that they observe the feasts of harvest, the expiation, the tabernacles, &c. They add farther, that they never defer circumcision beyond the eighth day; never marry their nieces, as the Jews do; have but one wife; and, in fine, do nothing but what is commanded in the law; whereas the Jews frequently abandon the law to follow the inventions of their rabbins. At the time when they wrote to Scaliger, they reckoned one hundred and twenty-two high priests; affirmed that the Jews had no high priests of the race of Phinehas; and that the Jews belied them in calling them Cutheans; for that they are descended from the tribe of Joseph by Ephraim.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [2]

Samar'itans. Strictly speaking, a Samaritan would be An Inhabitant Of The City Of Samaria , but the term was applied to all the people of the kingdom of Israel. After the captivity of Israel, B.C. 721, and in our Lord's time, the name was applied to a peculiar people, whose origin was in this wise. At the final captivity of Israel by Shalmaneser, we may conclude that the cities of Samaria were not merely partially, but wholly depopulated of their inhabitants in B.C. 721, and that they remained in this desolated state until, in the words of  2 Kings 17:24, "the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon and from Cuthah, and from Av, (Ivah),  2 Kings 18:34, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria, instead of the children of Israel, and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof." Thus, the new Samaritans were Assyrians by birth or subjugation.

These strangers, whom we will now assume to have been placed in "the cities of Samaria" by Esar-haddon, were, of course, idolaters, and worshipped a strange medley of divinities. God's displeasure was kindled, and they were annoyed by beasts of prey, which had probably increased to a great extent, before their entrance upon the land. On their explaining their miserable condition to the king of Assyria, he despatched one of the captive priests to teach them, "how they should fear the Lord." The priest came accordingly, and henceforth, in the language of the sacred historian, they "Feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children and their children's children: as did their fathers, so do the unto this day."  2 Kings 17:41.

A gap occurs in their history, until Judah has returned from captivity. They then desire to be allowed to participate in the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem; but on being refused, the Samaritans throw off the mask, and become open enemies, frustrating the operations of the Jews, through the reigns of two Persian kings, and are only effectually silenced in the reign of Darius Hystaspes, B.C. 519. The feud, thus, unhappily begun, grew year by year more inveterate.

Matters, at length, came to a climax. About B.C. 409, a certain Manasseh, a man of priestly lineage, on being expelled from Jerusalem by Nehemiah for an unlawful marriage, obtained permission from the Persian king of his day, Darius Nothus, to build a temple on Mount Gerizim for the Samaritans, with whom he had found refuge. The animosity of the Samaritans became more intense than ever. They are said to have done everything in their power to annoy the Jews. Their own temple on Gerizim, they considered to be much superior to that at Jerusalem. There, they sacrificed at Passover .

Toward the mountain, even after the temple on it had fallen, wherever they were, they directed their worship. To their copy of the law, they arrogated an antiquity and authority greater than attached to any copy in the possession of the Jews. The law, (that is, the five books of Moses), was their sole code; for they rejected every other book in the Jewish canon. The Jews, on the other hand, were not more conciliatory in their treatment of the Samaritans. Certain other Jewish renegades had, from time to time, taken refuge with the Samaritans; hence, by degrees, the Samaritans claimed to partake of Jewish blood, especially if doing so happened to suit their interest. Very far were the Jews from admitting this claim to consanguinity on the part of these people.

The traditional hatred in which the Jew held the Samaritan is expressed in  Sirach 50:25-26. Such were the Samaritans of our Lord's day; a people distinct from the Jews, though lying in the very midst of the Jews; a people preserving their identity, though seven centuries had rolled away, since they had been brought from Assyria by Esar-haddon, and though they had abandoned their polytheism for a sort of ultra Mosaicism; a people who, though their limits had gradually contracted, and the rallying-place of their religion on Mount Gerizim had been destroyed one hundred and sixty years before by John Hyrcanus (B.C. 130), and though Samaria, (the city), had been again and again destroyed, still preserved their nationality; still worshipped from Shechem, and their impoverished settlements toward their sacred hill, still retained their peculiar religion, and could not coalesce with the Jews.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [3]

The inhabitants of Samaria. But in the New Testament this name is the appellation of a race of people who sprung originally from an intermixture of the ten tribes with gentile nations. When the inhabitants of Samaria and of the adjacent country were carried away by Shalmanezer king of Assyria, he sent in their place colonies from Babylonia, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, with which the Israelites who remained in the land became intermingled, and were ultimately amalgamated into one people,  2 Kings 17:24-41 . An origin like this would of course render the nation odious to the Jews. The new and mixed race indeed sent to Assyria for an Israelitish priest to teach them the law of Jehovah, and adopted in part the forms of the true religion; but most of them were but half converted from their native heathenism,  Matthew 10:5   Luke 17:16-18 . It was therefore in vain that, when the Jews returned from captivity and began to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple, the Samaritans requested to be acknowledged as Jewish citizens, and to be permitted to assist in their work,  Ezra 4:1-24 . In consequence of this refusal, and the subsequent state of enmity, the Samaritans not only took occasion to calumniate the Jews before the Persian kings,  Ezra 4:4   Nehemiah 4:1-23 , but also, recurring to the directions of Moses,  Deuteronomy 27:11-13 , that on entering the promised land half of the people should stand on Mount Gerizim to respond Amen to the covenant pronounced by the Levites, they erected a temple on that mountain, and instituted sacrifices according to the prescriptions of the Mosaic law, although the original altar, according to the Hebrew Scriptures, stood on Mount Ebal,  Deuteronomy 27:4   Joshua 8:30-35 . Moreover, they rejected all the sacred books of the Jews except the Pentateuch. See SANBALLAT.

From all these and other circumstances, the national hatred between the Samaritans and Jews, instead of being at all diminished by time, was, on the contrary, fostered and augmented  Luke 9:52,53 . Hence the name of Samaritan became among the Jews a term of reproach and contempt,  John 8:48 , and all intercourse with them was carefully avoided,  John 4:9 . The temple on Mount Gerizim was destroyed by Hyrcanus about the year 129 B. C.; but the Samaritans in the time of Christ continued to esteem that mountain sacred, and as the proper place of national worship,  John 4:20,21 , as is also the case with the small remnant of that people who exist at the present day. The Samaritans, like the Jews, expected a Messiah,  John 4:25 and many of them became the followers of Jesus, and embraced the doctrines of his religion. See   Acts 8:1   9:31   15:3 .

It is well known that a small remnant of the Samaritans still exists at Nabulus, the ancient Shechem. Great interest has been taken in them by the learned of Europe; and a correspondence has several times been instituted with them which, however, has never led to results of any great importance. They have a copy of the Pentateuch, professedly made by Abishua the son of Phinehas, 1400 years before Christ. Several copies of this have been taken, first in 1616, and compared with the received Hebrew text, with which it nearly coincides. There are various classes of different readings, but few or none in which the Samaritan does not appear to be a corruption of the original. Of late years the remnant of Samaritans at Nabulus have often been visited by travellers. They number about one hundred and fifty souls, and are devout observers of the law. They keep the Jewish Sabbath with great strictness, and meet thrice during the day in their synagogue for public prayers. For times in each year, at the Passover, the Pentecost, the feast of Tabernacles, and the day of Expiation, they all resort to the site of their ancient temple on Mount Gerizim to worship. See Gerizim .

Morrish Bible Dictionary [4]

The only place in the O.T. where these are mentioned gives their origin, and the mixed character of their worship. The king of Assyria had peopled the cities by colonists from the East, they were then in Jehovah's land, but they did not fear Him, therefore He sent lions among them. On the king of Assyria being informed of this, a priest who had been carried away from Samaria was sent thither, to teach them how they should fear the God of that land. The result was that they feared Jehovah, and served their own gods!  2 Kings 17:24-41 .

When Ezra returned from exile to build the temple, some of these people came and said, "Let us build with you: for we seek your God as ye do; and we do sacrifice unto him, since the days of Esar-haddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither." Ezra refused to let them have anything to do with building the temple, and this aroused their hatred and opposition.  Ezra 4:1-4 . We further read that Nehemiah ejected one of the priests who had defiled the priesthood by marrying the daughter of Sanballat the Horonite.  Nehemiah 13:28 . Josephus speaks of him as Manasseh, and relates that Sanballat built a temple for him at Gerizim, which became a refuge for apostate Jews. This naturally increased the hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans.

This temple was destroyed by John Hyrcanus, son of Simon Maccabaeus, about B.C. 109. The animosity, however, was not removed. The woman of Samaria in  John 4 alluded to the differences between Jews and Samaritans, and in   Luke 9:52,53 it is said of a village of the Samaritans that the inhabitants would not receive the Lord because His face was turned towards Jerusalem. A Jew regarded it as the extreme of opprobrium, to be called a Samaritan, and those of Judaea added this to the other insults they heaped on the blessed Lord.  John 8:48 .

The Samaritans claimed to be true Israelites. The woman of Samaria said to the Lord, "Art thou greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well?" As to their religion, she spoke of 'this mountain' as the proper place to worship; but the Lordsaid, "Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews." The hour had however arrived when they that worship God must worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Many of the Samaritans believed and received the Holy Spirit.  John 4:9-42;  Acts 8:5-17 .

It is remarkable that while the Jews have lost all means of keeping their feasts at Jerusalem, a few, still calling themselves Samaritans, at Nablus, in a humble synagogue at the foot of the mountain, continue their worship, and annually ascend the mountain and keep the feast of the Passover with a roasted lamb: a marked instance of imitation, now so common in Christendom. They have an ancient MS called the Samaritan Pentateuch ( q.v. ), for which they claim great antiquity.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [5]

SAMARITANS . The descendants of the Cuthites, Avvites, Sepharvites, and Hamathites, established by Sargon in Samaria after he had put an end to the Israelite kingdom. They were instructed in a form of the Hebrew religion (which they grafted on to their own worships) in order to appease the ‘God of the land’ (  2 Kings 17:24 ). To these colonists Ashurbanipal made considerable additions (  Ezra 4:9-10 ). The enmity between Jews and Samaritans began to make its appearance immediately after the return from the Captivity. The Samaritans endeavoured to prevent the re-building of Jerusalem (  Ezra 4:7 ,   Nehemiah 4:7 ), and from time to time their subsequent aggressions and insults to the re-founded Jewish State are recorded by Josephus. After the battle of Issus the Samaritans offered assistance to Alexander, and were allowed to build a temple on Gerizim , where they sacrificed after the manner of the Jews though they were quite ready to repudiate Jewish origin, rite, and prejudice whenever occasion arose (see Jos. [Note: Josephus.] Ant. XII. v. 5). This temple was destroyed by John Hyrcanus. The disputes between the Jews and the Samaritans were at last referred to Rome ( BJ II. xii. 3 7). Throughout the Gospel history the ill-feeling is conspicuous: the Samaritans were ‘strangers, (  Luke 17:18 ), and their admixture of heathen worship seems still to have persisted (  John 4:22 ). Vespasian inflicted a crushing blow upon them by massacring 11,600 on Mt. Gerizim. From this and other sufferings later inflicted by Zeno and Justinian they never recovered. They still persist, to the number of about 150, in Nâblus. They acknowledge the Pentateuchal legislation only, and endeavour to preserve intact the Mosaic rites and ordinances.

R. A. S. Macalister.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [6]

An ancient sect among the Jews, whose origin was in the time of king Rehoboam, under whose reign the people of Israel were divided into two distinct kingdoms, that of Judah and that of Israel. The capital of the kingdom of Israel was Samaria, whence the Israelites took the name of Samaritans. Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, having besieged and taken Samaria, carried away all the people captives into the remotest parts of his dominions, and filled their place with Babylonians, Cutheans, and other idolaters. These, finding that they were exposed to wild beasts, desired that an Israelitish priest might be sent among them, to instruct them in the ancient religion and customs of the land they inhabited. This being granted them, they were delivered from the plague of wild beasts, and embraced the law of Moses, with which they mixed a great part of their ancient idolatry. Upon the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, it appears that they had entirely quitted the worship of their idols. But though they were united in religion, they were not so in affection with the Jews; for they employed various calumnies and stratagems to hinder their rebuilding the temple of Jerusalem; and when they could not prevail, they erected a temple on Mount Gerizim, in opposition to that of Jerusalem. (

See  2 Kings 17:1-41 :   Ezra 4:5-6 :) The Samaritans at present are few in number, but pretend to great strictness in their observation of the law of Moses. They are said to be scattered; some at Damascus, some at Gaza, and some at Grand Cairo, in Egypt.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [7]

Samaritans ( Sa-Măr'I-Tanz ).  2 Kings 17:29; comp. vs. 9-12. In the New Testament the word denotes the mixed race which sprang from the remnant of Israel and the colonists brought from various parts of Assyria at the captivity.  2 Kings 17:23-24. The colonists lived at first in heathenism; but they afterwards sought to propitiate "the god of the land" by bringing back an Israelitish priest to Bethel, and mingling with their own idolatries a corrupt worship of Jehovah.  2 Kings 17:25-33;  2 Kings 17:41. The Jews, on their return from captivity, b.c. 636, declined the Samaritans' request to be permitted to help build the temple. Ezra In consequence of this refusal the Samaritans hindered the erection of the temple and afterwards the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, b.c. 445.  Nehemiah 4:6. The enmity was increased by the erection of a rival temple on Mount Gerizim, where the Samaritans offered sacrifices according to the Mosaic law, referring to  Deuteronomy 27:11-13, as proof that this was the proper site for the temple. The bitter animosity between the two races must be understood in order to understand many facts in New Testament history.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [8]

 2 Kings 17:24 Ezra 4:2,9,10 Luke 17:18

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."

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [9]

Those were the inhabitants of Samaria. We have a most interesting account of the conversion of many of this people to the faith of Christ in consequence of the woman's bringing them to Jesus, and hearing our Lord themselves. (See  John 4:28-42)

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [10]

Copyright StatementThese files are public domain. Bibliography InformationMcClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Samaritans'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [11]

sa - mar´i - tanz ( שׁמרנים , shōmerōnı̄m  ; Σαμαρεῖται , Samareitai , New Testament; Σαμαρίτης (singular), Samarı́tēs ): The name "Samaritans" in   2 Kings 17:29 clearly applies to the Israelite inhabitants of the Northern Kingdom. In subsequent history it denotes a people of mixed origin, composed of the peoples brought by the conqueror from Babylon and elsewhere to take the places of the expatriated Israelites and those who were left in the land (722 BC). Sargon claims to have carried away only 27, 290 of the inhabitants ( KIB , II, 55). Doubtless these were, as in the case of Judah, the chief men, men of wealth and influence, including all the priests, the humbler classes being left to till the land, tend the vineyards, etc. Hezekiah, who came to the throne of Judah probably in 715 BC, could still appeal to the tribes Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, Asher and Zebulun ( 2 Chronicles 30:5 ,  2 Chronicles 30:10 ,  2 Chronicles 30:11 ,  2 Chronicles 30:18 ff); and the presence of these tribesmen is implied in the narrative of Josiah's reformation (  2 Chronicles 34:6 f). Although the number of the colonists was increased by Esar-haddon and Osnappar ( Assur - bani - pal ,  Ezra 4:2 ,  Ezra 4:9 f), the population, it is reasonable to suppose, continued prevailingly Israelite; otherwise their religion would not so easily have won the leading place. The colonists thought it necessary for their own safety to acknowledge Yahweh, in whose land they dwelt, as one among the gods to be feared (  2 Kings 17:24 ff). In the intermixture that followed "their own gods" seem to have fallen on evil days; and when the Samaritans asked permission to share in building the temple under Zerubbabel, they claimed, apparently with a good conscience, to serve God and to sacrifice to Him as the Jews did (  Ezra 4:1 f). Whatever justification there was for this claim, their proffered friendship was turned to deadly hostility by the blunt refusal of their request. The old enmity between north and south no doubt intensified the quarrel, and the antagonism of Jew and Samaritan, in its bitterness, was destined to pass into a proverb. The Samaritans set themselves, with great temporary success, to frustrate the work in which they were not permitted to share (  Ezra 4:4 ff:   Nehemiah 4:7 ff. etc.).

From the strict administration of the Law in Jerusalem malcontents found their way to the freer atmosphere of Samaria. Among these renegades was Manasseh, brother of the high priest, who had married a daughter of Sanballat, the Persian governor of Samaria. According to Josephus, Sanballat, with the sanction of Alexander the Great, built a temple for the Samaritans on Mt. Gerizim, of which Manasseh became high priest ( Ant. , XI, vii, 2; viii, 2 ff). Josephus, however, places Manasseh a century too late. He was a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah (  Nehemiah 13:28 ).

When it suited their purpose the Samaritans claimed relationship with the Jews, asserting that their roll of the Pentateuch was the only authentic copy (see Pentateuch , The Samaritan ); they were equally ready to deny all connection in times of stress, and even to dedicate their temple to a heathen deity (Josephus, Ant. , Xii , v, 5). In 128 BC, John Hyrcanus destroyed the temple (XIII, ix, 1). In the time of Christ the Samaritans were ruled by procurators under the Roman governor of Syria. Lapse of years brought no lessening of the hatred between Jews and Samaritans ( Ant. , XX, vi, 1). To avoid insult and injury at the hands of the latter, Jews from Galilee were accustomed to reach the feasts at Jerusalem by way of Peraea. "Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a demon" was an expression of opprobrium (  John 8:48 ). Although Jesus forbade the Twelve to go into any city of the Samaritans ( Matthew 10:5 ), the parable of the Good Samaritan shows that His love overleaped the boundaries of national hatred ( Luke 10:30 ff; compare   Luke 17:16;  John 4:9 ).

During the Jewish war Cerealis treated the Samaritans with great severity. On one occasion (67 AD) he slaughtered 11,600 on Mt. Gerizim. For some centuries they were found in considerable numbers throughout the empire, east and west, with their synagogues. They were noted as "bankers" money-changers, For their anti-Christian attitude and conduct Justinian inflicted terrible vengeance on them. From this the race seems never to have recovered. Gradually-dwindling, they now form a small community in Nāblus of not more than 200 souls. Their great treasure is their ancient copy of the Law. See Samaria .


The best account of the Samaritans is Mills, Nāblus and the Modern Samaritans (Murray, London); compare Montgomery, The Samaritans (1907). A good recent description by J. E. H. Thomson, D. D., of the Passover celebrated annually on Mt. Gerizim will be found in Pefs , 1902,82 ff.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [12]

Samar´itans. In the books of Kings there are brief notices of the origin of the people called Samaritans. The ten tribes which revolted from Rehoboam, son of Solomon, chose Jeroboam for their king. After his elevation to the throne he set up golden calves at Dan and Bethel, lest repeated visits of his subjects to Jerusalem, for the purpose of worshipping the true God, should withdraw their allegiance from himself. Afterwards Samaria, built by Omri, became the metropolis of Israel, and thus the separation between Judah and Israel was rendered complete. The people took the name Samaritans from the capital city. In the ninth year of Hosea, Samaria was taken by the Assyrians under Shalmaneser, who carried away the inhabitants into captivity, and introduced colonies into their place from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and Sepharvaim. These new inhabitants carried along with them their own idolatrous worship; and on being infested with lions, sent to Esarhaddon, king of Assyria. A priest of the tribe of Levi was accordingly dispatched to them, who came and dwelt in Bethel, teaching the people how they should fear the Lord. Thus it appears that the people were a mixed race. The greater part of the Israelites had been carried away captive by the Assyrians, including the rich, the strong, and such as were able to bear arms. But the poor and the feeble had been left. With them, therefore, the heathen colonists became incorporated. As the people were a mixed race, their religion also assumed a mixed character. In it the worship of idols was associated with that of the true God. But apostasy from Jehovah was not universal. On the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, the Samaritans wished to join them in rebuilding the temple . But the Jews declined the proffered assistance; and from this time the Samaritans threw every obstacle in their way. Hence arose that inveterate enmity between the two nations which afterwards increased to such a height as to become proverbial. In the reign of Darius Nothus, Manasses, son of the Jewish high-priest, married the daughter of Sanballat the Samaritan governor; and to avoid the necessity of repudiating her, as the law of Moses required, went over to the Samaritans, and became high-priest in the temple which his father-in-law built for him on Mount Gerizim. From this time Samaria became a refuge for all malcontent Jews; and the very name of each people became odious to the other. About the year B.C. 109, John Hyrcanus, high-priest of the Jews, destroyed the city and temple of the Samaritans; but B.C. 25, Herod rebuilt them at great expense. In their new temple, however, the Samaritans could not be induced to offer sacrifices, but still continued to worship on Gerizim. At the present-day they have dwindled down to a few families. Shechem now called Nabulus, is their place of abode. They still possess a copy of the Mosaic law, which, it is well known, forms the only portion of Scripture the Samaritans have ever received or acknowledged. The opinion that copies of the Pentateuch must have been in the hands of Israel from the time of Rehoboam, as well as among Judah, has been held by many distinguished critics, and appears to be correct. The prophets, who frequently inveigh against the Israelites for their idolatry and their crimes, never accuse them of being destitute of the law, or ignorant of its contents. It is wholly improbable, too, that the people, when carried captive into Assyria, took with them all the copies of the law. Thus we are brought to the conclusion, that the Samaritan, as well as the Jewish copy, originally flowed from the autograph of Moses. The two constitute, in fact, different recensions of the same work, and coalesce in point of antiquity.