Jesus and His World: An Archaeological and Cultural Dictionary

By John J. Rousseau; Rami Arav | Go to book overview

Samaria, Samaritans

Importance

Jesus referred to or addressed Samaritans in a manner that could have been seen as subversive by most of his Jewish contemporaries.


Scripture References

Matt. 10:5; Luke 9:52; 10:33, 37; 17:11, 16; John 4:4–40; 8:48; Acts 1:8; 8:1–14, 25; 9:31; 15:3; G. Thom. 60.


General Information

The territory known as Samaria received its name after Omri, king of the northern kingdom of Israel, transferred his capital from Tirzah (site of Tell el Farah) to a new property he bought in circa 870 B. C.E. for two talents (about 150 pounds) of silver (1 Kings 16:24) from a man named Shemer. The boundaries of the territory changed according to the political situation, but they consistently approximated that of the land attributed to the tribe of Ephraim and the half tribe of Manasseh west of the Jordan River (Josh. 16:5–10; 17:7–13). It extended about forty miles north-south, between a parallel a few miles north of Jericho to the southern part of the Plain of Jezreel or Esdraelon and about fifty miles east-west from the Jordan to the Mediterranean (see fig. 57).

After the fall of the northern kingdom to the Assyrians in 722/721 B.C.E., some thirty thousand Israelites (27,290 according to Sargon’s Annals 11–17) were deported and scattered over the Assyrian Empire. The territory was partly repopulated with captives from Babylon, Cutha (thus the name Cutheans given by the Jews to the Samaritans), Awa, Hamath, and Sepharvaim (2 Kings 17:24). In 612 B.C.E., Samaria became a Babylonian province to which Judea was added after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E. When Babylon was conquered by the Persians in 539 B.C.E., the territory became a satrapy* of the new empire. Judean exiles were allowed to return to their country. In 445 B.C.E., Artaxerxes sent Nehemiah, a Jewish notable from Babylon, as governor of Judea. He began to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls; but Sanballat, satrap of Samaria and other officials opposed Nehemiah’s projects (Ezra 4:4–24; Neh. 2:9–20; 4:1–9; 6:1–14). This may have been the beginning of the Jewish-Samaritan schism, although the Samaritans date it back to the time of Eli, when he established an “apostatic” sanctuary at Shiloh (1 Sam. 1:9). In 128 B.C.E., the Hasmonean John Hyrcanus took the cities of Samaria and Shechem, perhaps in the same year that he destroyed the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim (see MOUNT GERIZIM). He annexed the territory to the Jewish state in 111 B.C.E. When the Romans took control of Palestine in 63 B.C.E., the territory was placed under the authority of the governor of Syria. Herod the Great became king of Samaria, Judea, Idumea, and other territories in 37 b. C.E.; but his son Archelaus was deposed in 6 C.E. and from that time on the three territories were ruled as one entity by Roman prefects except for a brief period under King Agrippa I (41–44 C.E.).

The city of Samaria itself had a tumultuous history. It was built on a hill some 42 miles north of Jerusalem and about 25 miles west of the Jordan, halfway between the river and the Mediterranean coast. The hill stands at the western end of a ridge and is surrounded on the other sides by fertile valleys. It overlooks the main road connecting Jerusalem with Galilee, Phoenicia, and Damascus. It was easily defensible; its Iron Age fortification system was so strong that the city withstood attempts to capture it, as reported in 2 Kings 6:24— 7:5. When the Assyrians besieged it, it took them three years before they finally captured the city (2 Kings 17:5–6) in circa 721 B.C.E.

After the death of Alexander the Great, the city passed under Ptolemaic and then Seleucid rule un-

-240-

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Jesus and His World: An Archaeological and Cultural Dictionary
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Map of Palestine Key v
  • Title Page ix
  • Contents xi
  • Foreword a Down-to-Earth Jesus xiii
  • Acknowledgments xix
  • List of Abbreviations xx
  • List of Figures xxi
  • List of Tables xxiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Aenon and Salim 7
  • Agriculture, Cereals 8
  • Antonia, Pavement (Gabbatha, Lithostrotos) 12
  • Bethabara/Beth Araba/Bethany 14
  • Bethany 15
  • Bethlehem 16
  • Bethphage 18
  • Bethsaida 19
  • Boats 25
  • Caesarea Maritima 30
  • Caesarea Philippi (Banias) 33
  • Camps, Siege Banks 35
  • Cana 38
  • Capernaum (Capharnaum) [Hebrew, Kfar Nahum] 39
  • Cave of Letters 47
  • Chorazin 52
  • Coins and Money 55
  • Coins as Historical Documents 61
  • Construction, Cities 68
  • Crucifixion 74
  • Dead Sea Scrolls 78
  • Decapolis 85
  • Ephraim 87
  • Exorcism 88
  • Gadara, Kursi 97
  • Galilean Caves 99
  • Gamla, Gamala 100
  • Garden Tomb 104
  • Gennesareth (Hebrew, Ginosar) 109
  • Gethsemane 110
  • Golgotha, Traditional Site 112
  • Gospel of Thomas 118
  • Hebron 123
  • Herodium 124
  • Hippos/Susita 127
  • House 128
  • Jacob’s Well 131
  • Jericho 132
  • Jerusalem, Caiaphas’s House 136
  • Jerusalem, Caiaphas’s Tomb 139
  • Jerusalem, City of David, Ophel 142
  • Jerusalem, Gehenna, Akeldama 145
  • Jerusalem, Herodian 146
  • Jerusalem, Herod’s Palace 151
  • Jerusalem, Kidron 152
  • Jerusalem, Pool of Bethesda 155
  • Jerusalem, Streets and Stairs 161
  • Jerusalem, Tombs 164
  • Jerusalem, Upper City 169
  • Jerusalem, Upper Room 173
  • Jerusalem, Walls and Gates 175
  • Jerusalem, Water System 180
  • Jordan River, Fords 183
  • Judean Caves 185
  • Machaerus (Hebrew, Makhwar) 187
  • Magdala (Hebrew, Migdal; Aramaic, Migdal Nunya; Greek, Taricheae) 189
  • Magic, Miracles 190
  • Masada 195
  • Medicine, Physicians 199
  • Moses’ Seat 203
  • Mount Gerizim 206
  • Mount Hermon 208
  • Mount of Olives 210
  • Mount Tabor 212
  • Nain (Hebrew Naim) 213
  • Nazareth 214
  • Ointments, Perfumes 216
  • Olive Oil Industry 220
  • Pantera’s Tombstone 223
  • Pontius Pilate’s Stone 225
  • Pottery and Glass 227
  • Qumran 233
  • Ritual Baths (Miqvaoth) 236
  • Samaria, Samaritans 240
  • Sea of Galilee (Yam Kinneret) 245
  • Sepphoris (Hebrew, Zippori) 248
  • Shepherding 251
  • Slaves and Servants 253
  • Sodom and Gomorrah 257
  • Son of Man 259
  • Stone, Stoning 263
  • Sychar-Shechem 267
  • Synagogues 268
  • Tannery, Leather 273
  • Tax and Tax Collectors 275
  • Temple, History, Description 279
  • Temple, Royal Stoa 288
  • Temple, Sacrificial System 291
  • Temple, Service and Ritual 296
  • Temple, Solomon’s Portico 303
  • Temple, Stairs and Gates 304
  • Temple, Treasury 309
  • Temple, Trumpeting Place 311
  • Temple, Warning Signs 312
  • Textiles, Dyeing 313
  • Tiberias (Hebrew, Tveria) 316
  • Traditional Healing 318
  • Tunic without Seam, Dice 324
  • Tyre and Sidon 326
  • Viticulture 328
  • Weapons 332
  • Weights and Measures 336
  • Wood, Furniture 339
  • Tables 343
  • Historical Synopsis 357
  • Glossary 361
  • General Bibliography 365
  • Index of Scriptures Cited 369
  • Index of Early Jewish Writings Cited 379
  • Index of Ancient Writers Cited 382
  • Index of Names, Places, and Subjects 385
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