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Settlers and Invaders From Iraq
by Wayne Blank
"Now The Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves." (Genesis 12:1-3 RSV)
Abraham obeyed The Lord; he went and settled in the new land. After there, a son was born to Abraham, named Isaac. Years later, Isaac had a son named Jacob, who The Lord renamed Israel. From Jacob, the grandson of Abraham the Iraqi immigrant, came the national name Israel.
Israel's connection to the old country did not end. When the Israelites became corrupt, He used some of the Israelites' own cousins to bring The Lord's punishment upon them, first the Assyrians, then the Babylonians, who took the people of Israel into exile, back to their Iraqi ancestral homeland. Other Iraqis where sometimes brought in to resettle parts of the land, some of the most well-known of which were the "Samaritans."
The Arrival Of The Samaritans In The Land Of Israel
The people of the northern kingdom of Israel (see When Israel Became "Israel" and "Judah") were entirely conquered and taken away from Samaria (see also The Galilee Captivity) by the Assyrians under Sargon (see Ancient Empires - Assyria) by 721 B.C. Later, about 677 B.C., the Assyrians under Esarhaddon brought people of other nations, mostly out from the region of Babylon (where the Israelites were taken into exile), to keep the land from turning back into a wilderness. Those people from Babylon became known as "Samaritans."
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).