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Don Stewart :: Who Were the Samaritans?

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Don Stewart
During the ministry of Jesus there was contact with a group of people known as the Samaritans. The Samaritans were half-Jew, half-Jew. The race came about after the Assyrian captivity of the northern kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C. Certain people from the nation of Israel stayed behind. These people intermarried with the Assyrians producing the Samaritans.

They Had No Dealings With The Jews

We are told that the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans. In a conversation that Jesus had with a Samaritan woman we are told that she said the following.

Therefore the Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?" (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans) (John 4:9).

They Had Their Own Temple And Religious System

The Samaritans had their own temple, their own copy of the Torah - the first five books of the Old Testament - and their own religious system. There was an issue among the Jews and Samaritans as to where the proper place of worship. The following exchange took place between Jesus and the Samaritan woman.

"Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem:" Jesus said, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks (John 4:19-23).

They Rejected Jesus When He Passed Through Their Region

When Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem to die for the sins of the world he passed through Samaria. The Samaritans did not receive him because he was on his way to Jerusalem.

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem (Luke 9:51-53).

Summary

The Samaritans were a group of people who lived in Samaria - an area north of Jerusalem. They were half-Jews and half-Gentiles. When Assyria captured the northern kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C. some were taken in captivity while others left behind. The ones left behind intermarried with the Assyrians. Thus these people were neither fully Hebrews nor fully Gentiles. The Samaritans had their own unique copy of the first five books of Scripture as well as their own unique system of worship. At the time of Jesus the Jews and the Samaritans did not deal with one another. Jesus, however, ministered to the people of Samaria preaching the good news to them.
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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