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SAMA´RIA

SAMA´RIA (Eth. Σαμαρεῖιτις, LXX. Joseph.; Eth.Σαμαρεύς, Eth.χώρα Σαμαρέων, Eth. Σαμαρίς, Σαμάρεια, Ptol.). The district has been already described in general, under PALAESTINA [p. 518], where also the notice of Josephus has been cited [p. 532]. It remains to add a few words concerning its extent, its special characteristics, and its place in classical geography. It lay, according to Josephus, “between Judaea and Galilee (comp. St. John, 4.4), extending from a village called Ginaea in the great plain (Esdraelon) to the toparchy of Acrabatta.” Ginaea there can be no difficulty in identifying with the modern Jenin, at the southern extremity of the plain, on the road from Nablûs to Nazareth. The toparchy of Acrabatta, mentioned also by Pliny, it is difficult to define: but it certainly lay between Nablûs and Jericho, and therefore probably east of the toparchy of Gophna and in the same parallel of latitude. (Eusebius, Onomast. s. v. Ἀκραββεὶν; Reland, Palaest. p. 192.) The northern boundary of Samaria is well defined by a continuous line of hills, which, commencing with Mount Carmel on the W., runs first in a SW direction and then almost due E. to the valley of the Jordan, bounding the great plain of Esdraelon on the S. Its southern boundary is not so distinctly marked, but was probably conterminous with the northern limits of the tribe of Benjamin. It comprehended the tribe of Ephraim, and the half of Manasseh on this side Jordan, and, if it be extended as far E. as Jordan, included also some part of Issachar, that skirted these two tribes on the E. Pliny (5.13) reckons to Samaria the towns Neapolis, formerly called Mamortha, Sebaste, and Gamala, which last is certainly erroneous. [GAMALA] Ptolemy names Neapolis and Thena (Θῆνα, 5.16.5), which last is evidently identical with Thanath (Θανὰθ) of the tribe of Joseph, mentioned by Eusebius (Onomast. s. v.), and still existing in a village named Thena, 10 miles E. of Neapolis, on the descent to the Jordan. St. Jerome notes that the most precious oil was produced in Samaria (in Hoseam, cap. xii.), and its fertility is attested by Josephus.

[G.W]

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