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Samaria


A watch-mountain or a watch-tower. In the heart of the mountains "of Israel, a few miles north-west of Shechem, stands the "hill" "of Shomeron," a solitary mountain, a great "mamelon." It is an" "oblong hill, with steep but not inaccessible sides, and a long" "flat top. Omri, the king of Israel, purchased this hill from" "Shemer its owner for two talents of silver, and built on its" "broad summit the city to which he gave the name of "Shomeron"," "i.e., Samaria, as the new capital of his kingdom instead of" Tirzah (1 Kings 16:24). As such it possessed many advantages. Here Omri resided during the last six years of his reign. As the "result of an unsuccessful war with Syria, he appears to have" "been obliged to grant to the Syrians the right to "make streets" "in Samaria", i.e., probably permission to the Syrian merchants" to carry on their trade in the Israelite capital. This would "imply the existence of a considerable Syrian population. "It was" the only great city of Palestine created by the sovereign. All the others had been already consecrated by patriarchal tradition or previous possession. But Samaria was the choice of Omri "alone. He, indeed, gave to the city which he had built the name" "of its former owner, but its especial connection with himself as" its founder is proved by the designation which it seems Samaria "bears in Assyrian inscriptions, Beth-khumri (`the house or" "palace of Omri').", Stanley." "Samaria was frequently besieged. In the days of Ahab, Benhadad "II. came up against it with thirty-two vassal kings, but was" defeated with a great slaughter (1 Kings 20:1-21). A second "time, next year, he assailed it; but was again utterly routed," "and was compelled to surrender to Ahab (20:28-34), whose army," "as compared with that of Benhadad, was no more than "two little" "flocks of kids." "In the days of Jehoram this Benhadad again laid siege to "Samaria, during which the city was reduced to the direst" extremities. But just when success seemed to be within their "reach, they suddenly broke up the seige, alarmed by a mysterious" "noise of chariots and horses and a great army, and fled, leaving" their camp with all its contents behind them. The famishing inhabitants of the city were soon relieved with the abundance of "the spoil of the Syrian camp; and it came to pass, according to" "the word of Elisha, that "a measure of fine flour was sold for a" "shekel, and two measures of barely for a shekel, in the gates of" "Samaria" (2 Kings 7:1-20)." "Shalmaneser invaded Israel in the days of Hoshea, and reduced it "to vassalage. He laid siege to Samaria (B.C. 723), which held" "out for three years, and was at length captured by Sargon, who" completed the conquest Shalmaneser had begun (2 Kings 18:9-12; "17:3), and removed vast numbers of the tribes into captivity." (See [548]SARGON.) "This city, after passing through various vicissitudes, was given "by the emperor Augustus to Herod the Great, who rebuilt it, and" called it Sebaste (Gr. form of Augustus) in honour of the emperor. In the New Testament the only mention of it is in Acts "8:5-14, where it is recorded that Philip went down to the city" of Samaria and preached there. "It is now represented by the hamlet of Sebustieh, containing about three hundred inhabitants. The ruins of the ancient town "are all scattered over the hill, down the sides of which they" have rolled. The shafts of about one hundred of what must have "been grand Corinthian columns are still standing, and attract" "much attention, although nothing definite is known regarding" them. (Comp. Micah 1:6.) "In the time of Christ, Western Palestine was divided into three "provinces, Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. Samaria occupied the" centre of Palestine (John 4:4). It is called in the Talmud the "land of the Cuthim, and is not regarded as a part of the Holy" Land at all. "It may be noticed that the distance between Samaria and "Jerusalem, the respective capitals of the two kingdoms, is only" 35 miles in a direct line.


See where Samaria occurs in the Bible...


Definition of Samaria:
"watch-mountain"