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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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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.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Samaria'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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