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People's Dictionary of the Bible


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Samaria (sa-mâ'ri-ah; Lat. săm'a-rî'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.

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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Samaria'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. 1893.

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