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Who Were The Samaritans?
by Wayne Blank
The Arrival Of The Samaritans In The Land Of Israel
With most of the people of Israel taken away into exile, the Assyrian king brought in foreigners to tend to the land. Because they were pagans, they soon found themselves the subject of God's wrath, not because of who they were, not because of their nationality, but because of the abominable religious things that they did - God accepts anyone who obeys Him.
In an effort to save them from the wrath of God, the Assyrians had a Levite priest (see Levites) brought back from exile to teach the pagans how to obey God (ironic, since the people of Israel, and the Levites with them, had been sent away into exile for doing the very same sort of abominable things that the Samaritans were then doing). The Levite was not very successful, but then he obviously hadn't been a very effective religious leader and teacher for his own people either. Some Samaritans may have listened, but most "made gods of their own."
"So was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day."
Years later, after the people of the southern kingdom of Judah (the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, who became totally separate from the northern ten tribes of "Israel") returned to the land of Israel from their exile (see Why Babylon?) they refused to allow the Samaritans to take part in the rebuilding of the Temple because they were not Israelites. This contemptuous relationship continued right into New Testament times e.g "for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans" (John 4:9 KJV). "Samaritan" became a term of derision - in an intended insult to Jesus Christ, some of the Jewish authorities said to Him, "Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?" (John 8:48 KJV)
Ironically, the non-Israelite, non-Jewish, Samaritans fared far better when Judaism blossomed into Christianity. The Messiah freely and openly accepted and associated with Samaritan people (John 4:1-26), and ironically, they recognized and accepted Him as The Savior (John 4:39-42), while the Jewish leadership, His own people, generally rejected Him (see Pharisees and Sadducees). Samaritans were among the earliest Christians (Acts 8:25, 9:31, 15:3).
Fact Finder: How did the story of the "good Samaritan" originate?