1. One of the three divisions of the Holy Land in the time of our Savior, having Galilee on the north and Judea on the south, the Jordan on the east and the Mediterranean on the west, and occupying parts of the territory assigned at first to Ephraim, Mahasseh, and Issachar, Luke 17:11 John 4:4. It is described as having its hills less bare than those of Judea, and its valleys and plains more cultivated and fruitful. See CANAAN. Many gospel churches were early planted here, Acts 8:1,25 9:31 15:3.
2. A city situated near the middle of Palestine, some six miles northwest of Shechem. It was built by Omri king of Israel, about 920 B. C., and named after Shemer the previous owner of the mountain or hill on which the city stood, 1 Kings 16.23,24. It became the favorite residence of the kings of Israel, instead of Shechem and Thirzah the former capitals. It was highly adorned with public buildings. Ahab built there a palace of ivory, 1 Kings 22:39, and also a temple of Baal, 1 Kings 16:32,33, which Jehu destroyed, 2 Kings 10:18-28. The prophets often denounced it for its idolatry, Isaiah 9:9 Ezekiel 16:46-63. It was twice besieged by the Syrians, 1 Kings 20:1-43 2 Kings 6:24 7:1-20. At length Shalmanezer king of Assyria captured and destroyed the city, and removed the people of the land, B. C. 720, 2 Kings 17:3-6 Hosea 10:5-7 Micah 1:1-6. See OMRI. The city was in part rebuilt by Cuthits imported from beyond the Tigris, but was again nearly destroyed by John Hyrcanus. The Roman proconsul Gabinius once more restored it and calling it Gabinia; and it was afterwards given by Augustus to Herod the Great, who enlarged and adorned it, and gave it the name of Sebaste, the Greek translation of the Latin word Augusta, in honor of the emperor. He placed in it a colony of six thousand persons, surrounded it with a strong wall, and built a magnificent temple in honor of Augustus. Early in the apostolic age it was favored by the successful labors of Philip and others, Acts 8.5-25; and the church then formed continued in existence several centuries, till the city of Herod was destroyed. Sebaste was afterwards revived, and is mentioned in the histories of the Crusades. It is now an inconsiderable village, called Sebustieh, with a few cottages built of stones from the ancient ruins.
The following is the account of the modern city, as given by Richardson: "Its situation is extremely beautiful and strong by nature; more so, I think, than Jerusalem. It stands on a fine large insulated hill, compassed all round by a broad, deep valley; and when fortified, as it is stated to have been by Herod, one would imagine that in the ancient system of warfare nothing but famine would have reduced such a place. The valley is surrounded by four hills, one on each side, which are cultivated in terraces to the top, sown with grain and planted with fig and olive trees, as is also the valley. The hill of Samaria rises in terraces to a height equal to any of the adjoining mountains."
"The present village is small and poor, and after passing the valley, the ascent to it is very steep; but viewed from the station of our tents, it is extremely interesting, both from its natural situation and from the picturesque remains of a ruined convent of good Gothic architecture."
"Having passed the village, towards the middle of the first terrace there is a number of columns still standing. I counted twelve in one row, besides several that stood apart, the brotherless remains of other rows. The situation is extremely delightful, and my guide informed me that they belonged to the serai or palace. On the next terrace there are no remains of solid building, but heaps of stones and lime, and rubbish mixed with the soil in great profusion. Ascending to the third or highest terrace, the traces of former buildings were not so numerous, but we enjoyed a delightful view of the surrounding country. The eye passed over the deep valley that compassed the hill of Sebaste, and rested on the mountains beyond, that retreated as they rose with a gentle slope, and met the view in every direction, like a book laid out for perusal on a writingdesk."
These dictionary topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859. Public Domain, copy freely.
Rand, W. W. "Entry for 'SAMARIA'". "American Tract Society Bible Dictionary".