previous next


Σαμάρεια; Hebr. Shomron).


A district of Palestine extending along the coast from near Caesarea to Joppa on the south. (See Palestina.)


An important city of Palestine on a line west of the Jordan River. It was founded by Omri, King of Israel, in the tenth century B.C., and was the capital of the Israelites until taken by Shalmaneser of Assyria, about B.C. 720. When the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity, those of the Samaritans who worshipped Jehovah offered to assist them in rebuilding the temple at Jerusalem; but their aid was refused, and hence arose the lasting hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans. This religious animosity reached its height when, in the reign of Darius Nothus, the son of the Jewish high-priest, having married the daughter of Sanballat, governor of Samaria, went over to the Samaritans and became high-priest of a temple which his father-in-law built for him, on Mount Gerizim, near Sichem. The erection of this temple had also the effect of diminishing the importance of the city of Samaria. Under the Syrian kings and the Maccabean princes, we find the name of Samaria used distinctly as that of a province, which consisted of the district between Galilee on the north and Judaea on the south. Samaria was taken by Alexander the Great, by Ptolemy I. (B.C. 312), and by Demetrius Poliorcetes (B.C. 276). In the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, the Samaritans escaped by conforming to the king's edicts and dedicating the temple on Mount Gerizim to Zeus Hellenius (B.C. 167). As the power of the Asmonean princes increased, they attacked the Samaritans; and, about B.C. 110, the Jewish leader John Hyrcanus took and destroyed the temple on Mount Gerizim and the city of Samaria. The latter seems to have been soon rebuilt. Pompey assigned the district to the province of Syria, and Gabinius fortified the city anew. Augustus gave the district to Herod, who greatly renovated the city of Samaria, which he called Sebasté in honour of his patron. By the fourth century A.D. Samaria had ceased to be a place of any importance. There still exist remains of a basilica of the time of Herod, and of a Roman temple. See Appel, De Reb. Samar. sub Imperio Romanorum (1874).

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: