Samaritans

2 Kings 17:24‑41; Ezra 4:1‑4; Nehemiah 13:28; John 4; Luke 9:52‑53; John 8:48; John 4:9‑42; Acts 8:5‑17  •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 11
The only place in the Old Testament 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 17:24-4124And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, 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. 25And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the Lord: therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which slew some of them. 26Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land. 27Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land. 28Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Beth-el, and taught them how they should fear the Lord. 29Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt. 30And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, 31And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32So they feared the Lord, and made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, which sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places. 33They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence. 34Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the Lord, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment which the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel; 35With whom the Lord had made a covenant, and charged them, saying, Ye shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves to them, nor serve them, nor sacrifice to them: 36But the Lord, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice. 37And the statutes, and the ordinances, and the law, and the commandment, which he wrote for you, ye shall observe to do for evermore; and ye shall not fear other gods. 38And the covenant that I have made with you ye shall not forget; neither shall ye fear other gods. 39But the Lord your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies. 40Howbeit they did not hearken, but they did after their former manner. 41So these nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children's children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day. (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 4:1-41Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the Lord God of Israel; 2Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, 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. 3But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the Lord God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us. 4Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, (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 (Neh. 13:2828And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was son in law to Sanballat the Horonite: therefore I chased him from me. (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 9:52-5352And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. 53And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. (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 8:4848Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? (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 Lord said, “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 4:9-429Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. 10Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. 15The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. 16Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 18For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. 19The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 25The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. 27And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? 28The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, 29Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? 30Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. 31In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. 32But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. 33Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? 34Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. 35Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. 36And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. 37And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. 38I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor: other men labored, and ye are entered into their labors. 39And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. 40So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. 41And many more believed because of his own word; 42And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. (John 4:9‑42); Acts 8:5-175Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 6And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. 8And there was great joy in that city. 9But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: 10To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. 11And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. 12But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. 14Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. (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, for which they claim great antiquity.