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.