Who Were The Ancestors Of The Samaritans Of Jesus Day

Who Were the Samaritans?

In the course of Jesus’ career, he came into touch with a group of people who were known as the Samaritans. The Samaritans were a mixed race of Jews and Gentiles. The race began in 721 B.C., following the Assyrian captivity of the northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians. Several individuals from the nation of Israel remained in the country. The Samaritans are descended from these people who intermarried with the Assyrians. They had no business dealings with Jews. According to tradition, the Jews had no business contacts with the Samaritans.

As a result, the Samaritan lady confronted him, saying, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask me for a drink while I am a Samaritan woman?” she wondered.

They had their own temple and religious system, which they were quite proud of.

There was a disagreement between the Jews and the Samaritans over where the legitimate site of worship should be.

In response, the woman stated, “I can tell that you are a prophet.” It was on this mountain that our forefathers worshiped, but you Jews insist that the proper place for us to worship is in Jerusalem:” “Believe me, lady, there will come a day when you will no longer worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem,” Jesus stated.

  • A day will come, and indeed has already come, when sincere worshipers will come before the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the sort of worshipers the Father desires in the world (John 4:19-23).
  • In his journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, on his way to die for the sins of the world, Jesus traveled through Samaria.
  • The time was drawing near for Jesus to be carried up to heaven, and he resolved to make his way to the city of Jerusalem.
  • SummarySamaria was inhabited by the Samaritans, a group of people who resided in a territory north of Jerusalem known as Samaria.
  • In 721 BCE, Assyria conquered the northern kingdom of Israel and abducted some of its citizens, while leaving others to die in captivity or exile.
  • As a result, these individuals were neither wholly Hebrew nor totally Gentile.

At the time of Jesus, Jews and Samaritans did not have a good relationship with one another. Jesus, on the other hand, ministered to the people of Samaria, bringing them the good news of salvation.

The Samaritans: Hope from the History of a Hated People

A “good Samaritan” is a person who goes out of their way to aid others in need. But what exactly is a Good Samaritan? Following the Assyrian conquest, the Samaritans were a people group that resided in the territory of Israel that was mentioned in the Bible. They lived during the time of Jesus and, in some cases, even into the modern era, albeit in small numbers. In the Bible, there are several stories regarding Samaritans, and the animosity that exists between Jews and Samaritans is clearly depicted in the Gospels.

Photograph courtesy of Getty Images/Tony Baggett

Who Were the Samaritan People?

The history of the Samaritans begins with the monarchs, and we must travel back to those times to understand their roots. Following King Solomon’s reign over the Israelites – God’s people – the imprudent acts of his son Rehoboam in the tenth century BC resulted in the division of the kingdom into two kingdoms, each with its own king: the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Although God’s prophets warned them repeatedly, both kingdoms fell into corruption and sin despite the warnings of the prophets.

  • The northern kingdom suffered worse than the southern kingdom, owing to a long succession of evil monarchs that ruled over it.
  • During the year 721 B.C., the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrians.
  • They were called as the Samaritans because they were half-Jewish and half-Gentile.
  • It is in the writings of Ezra and Nehemiah, written in the 5th century B.C., that the Samaritans are first referenced in the Bible.
  • Nehemiah, a Jew, was able to curry favor with the king and return to Jerusalem to begin the rebuilding process.
  • This marked the beginning of a long-lasting animosity between Jews and Samaritans that continues today.

Where is Samaria Today?

Samaria, as a city, served as the capital of Israel’s northern kingdom for many years. After Israel’s defeat, Samaria as a territory was located in the heart of what had been the northern kingdom’s administrative center. Samaria was a region in northern Israel that stretched from Galilee to the south, and it was home to Jesus throughout his lifetime.

Samaria is currently located in what is today known as the northern West Bank. In Israel, there are still several hundred Samaritans who live and worship their religion, which is based on the Pentateuch and Mount Gerizim.

Why Were the Samaritans Disliked So Much in Jesus’ Time?

With their mixture of already spiritually diseased Israelites and pagan strangers, the Samaritans formed a religion for themselves that was labeled heresy by the Jewish community. They built a temple atop Mount Gerizim, believing it was the location where Moses had meant for the Israelites to worship in the beginning of their religion. In addition to having their own unique interpretation of the five books written by Moses, known as the Pentateuch, they disregarded the writings of the prophets and the Jewish customs that were passed down through generations.

When Jews returned to Jerusalem to restore it, they were met with resistance by the Samaritans.

An Arab was considered more disgusting than a Gentile (a pagan) by the Jews; Arabs were considered half-breds who sullied the purity of pure faith.

Who Was the Good Samaritan?

Parables and tales were frequently used by Jesus to convey spiritual concepts. The parable of the good Samaritan is one of his most well-known stories. This tale may be found in the book of Luke 10:25-37. An expert in the law rose to his feet to put Jesus to the test and inquired as to what he needed do in order to receive eternal life. Upon hearing Jesus refocus the question back on his own life, he was forced to respond by reminding the crowd that the law declared that a person had to love God and his neighbor as himself.

  • “Jesus responded by saying, ‘A man was traveling down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was ambushed by thieves.’ They stripped him of his clothing, beat him, and then fled, leaving him half-dead on the street a short time later.
  • In the same way, a Levite, upon arriving at the location and spotting him, passed by on the other side.
  • He went to him and treated his wounds with oil and wine, then left him to rest.
  • The next day, he went to the bank and withdrew two denarii, which he delivered to the innkeeper.
  • As a result, the Good Samaritan did not exist as a real person.
  • A devout guy desired to restrict the kind of neighbors he may have and thereby justify himself.
  • He utilized the backdrop of Jewish hostility toward Samaritans to demonstrate that everyone was his neighbor, including those who were considered enemies.

Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain Image /Nicolaes Roostandael is credited for the use of this photograph.

Who Was the Samaritan Woman at the Well?

Parables and tales were frequently used by Jesus to convey spiritual messages. The story of the good Samaritan is one of his most well-known works. It is found in Luke 10:25-37, and it is a tale about forgiveness. Unknown to Jesus, a legal expert came up to challenge him, asking what he needed to do in order to receive eternal life. Jesus said, “You must do what the law says.” Then, when Jesus redirected the question to him, he had to explain that the law declared that a person’s obligation was to love God and to love his neighbor as oneself.

  1. Jesus said this in Luke 10:29.
  2. “Jesus responded by saying, ‘A man was traveling down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was ambushed by thieves.’ ” It seemed as though they dragged him out of his clothing and battered him before abandoning him half-dead.
  3. When a Levite passed by and noticed him, he went around the other side of the building.
  4. He went to him and dressed his wounds, rubbing oil and wine on them to make them more comfortable.
  5. After that, he went to the innkeeper’s house and took out two denarii from his pocket.
  6. After all, the Good Samaritan was a fictional character created by the writers of the Bible.
  7. It was the desire of a religious man to restrict the kind of neighbors he may have and therefore justify himself.
  8. It was against the backdrop of the Jews’ hostility against Samaritans that he demonstrated that everyone was his neighbor, including those who were deemed enemies of Israel.
  9. ‘Go, and do likewise,’ Jesus said (Luke 10:36-37).

Why Did Jesus Interact with Samaritans So Much?

Jesus frequently used parables or tales to convey spiritual principles. The tale of the good Samaritan is one of his most well-known works of literature. This tale may be found in the book of Luke 10:25–37. An expert in the law stepped up to put Jesus to the test and inquired as to what he had do in order to obtain eternal life. When Jesus redirected the question back to him, he had to explain that the law declared that a person had to love God and love his neighbor as himself. However, the agitated expert felt the need to defend himself, so he said, “And who is my neighbor?” (See also Luke 10:29.) Jesus answered with a fable to illustrate his point.

  1. A priest happened to be traveling along the same route at the time, and when he noticed the man, he passed him by on the opposite side of the road.
  2. However, a traveling Samaritan happened to come across the man and, upon seeing him, decided to help him.
  3. Then he loaded the man onto his own donkey and transported him to an inn, where he was taken care of.
  4. When I returned, he told me to look after him and that he would compensate me for any further expenses he had incurred” (Luke 10:30-35).
  5. He served as a symbol.
  6. Instead, Jesus responded by flipping the question.

“‘Which of these three do you believe was a neighbor of the man who was robbed?’ ‘The one who had pity on him,’ the expert in the law said. ‘Go, and do likewise,’ Jesus instructed him (Luke 10:36-37). Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain Image /Nicolaes Roostandael is credited for the use of this photo.

Hope for Samaria

The Samaritans have had a tumultuous history, which has included everything from the collapse of the rebellious northern kingdom of Israel to the establishment of a mixed pagan religion to the creation of an ethnic group despised by Jews. The Gospel, on the other hand, provided hope to Samaria. Following Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, the followers of Jesus spread the Good News throughout the entire globe, beginning in Jerusalem. It was those who had been dispersed who proclaimed the gospel wherever they went.

  1. They all paid great attention to what Philip had to say when they heard him speak and observed the signals he made as a result of his performance.
  2. As a result, there was a lot of happiness in that city” (Acts 8:4-8).
  3. Image courtesy of GettyImages/Motorization Alyssa Roat attended Taylor University, where she majored in literature, theology, and the Bible.
  4. Literary Agency, as the PR manager for Mountain Brook Ink, and as a freelance editor for Sherpa Editing Services, among other positions.
  5. More information about her may be found here, as well as on social media at @alyssawrote.
See also:  What Nationality Was Mary Mother Of Jesus


It has been a hard road for the Samaritans, who have endured everything from the fall of the rebellious northern kingdom of Israel to the establishment of a mixed pagan religion to being a detested people group by the Jews. The Gospel, on the other hand, gave Samaria reason to hope. On hearing the Good News of Jesus’s death, resurrection, and ascension, his followers immediately began spreading it across the world. They moved from place to place preaching the word of God,” says the author. Philip traveled to a city in Samaria and announced the arrival of the Messiah in that location.

  • Because many filthy spirits were expelled with shrieks, and many people who were disabled or lame were healed.
  • No matter who you are or where you come from, the history of Samaria serves as a constant reminder that there is Good News available to everyone through Jesus Christ.
  • In her time at Taylor University, Alyssa Roat studied writing, biblical studies, and theology.
  • Literary Agency, as the PR manager for Mountain Brook Ink, and as a freelance editor for Sherpa Editing Services, among other places.

Her books include Dear Hero, and she has more than 200 bylines in periodicals ranging from The Christian Communicator to Keys for Kids. Visit her website here and follow her on social media at @alyssawrote for more information.

The Samaritans by Jürgen K. Zangenberg

In Shechem, when Jesus arrived at the famed well and inquired about a drink, the Samaritan lady responded with astonishment, “Jews do not mingle with Samaritans” (John 4:9). It is true that in the ancient world, ties between Jews and Samaritans were strained to some extent. According to Josephus, a number of unpleasant occurrences occurred: Samaritans harassed Jewish pilgrims going through Samaria between Galilee and Judea, Samaritans scattered human bones in the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and Jews in turn burned down Samaritan towns and villages.

  • Exactly when the animosity between Jews and Samaritans originally developed in history—or when Jews and Samaritans first began to regard themselves (and each other) as different communities—is impossible to determine.
  • However, it is possible that documents like these will not truly bring us any closer to understanding the historical beginnings of the Samaritans.
  • The existence of an early and distinctively Samaritan version of the Pentateuch has been known to scholars for a long time, and it has served as a valuable source for textual criticism of the Bible for generations.
  • For example, the Decaloguecommandment to build an altar on Mount Gerizim, which Samaritans considered to be the only “place of blessing” in the world, is included in this version of the Pentateuch (see alsoDeut 11:29,Deut 27:12).
  • With the aggressive expansion of the Jewish Hasmoneankingdom and the destruction of the shrine and city on Mount Gerizim in 110 BCE, the division between Samaritans and Jews became even more entrenched and lasted for centuries.
  • But despite all of these contentious traditions, Samaritans and Jews shared a lot more in common than we might expect.
  • It is more accurate to say that rather than a “split” occurring at a certain point in time, the relationship between Samaritans and Jews is defined by a lengthy process of estrangement and parallel growth between the fourth and third centuries BCE and the fourth century CCE.
  • They held Moses and (to a lesser extent) Joshua in high regard.
  • Whatever their historical roots as a unique community, the Samaritans are perhaps best understood as one of the many religious communities that make up post-exilic Judaism’s varied variety of religious organizations.
  • There were several rabbinic arguments about the Samaritans that took place throughout the fourth–sixth centuries C.E.
  • Despite being marginalized by their Jewish brethren and frequently ruthlessly persecuted by Byzantine authorities (particularly under Justinian), Samaritans shared many characteristics of a late-antique society with Jews and Christians.

The Samaritans’ status initially improved under Islamic administration, but their numbers began to diminish over time as the Islamic empire expanded. Currently, just a few hundred Samaritans dwell on Mount Gerizim and in Holon, which is located close to Tel Aviv.


In Shechem, when Jesus arrived at the famed well and inquired about a drink, the Samaritan lady responded with astonishment: “Jews do not mingle with Samaritans” (John 4:9). It is true that ties between Jews and Samaritans were tense in the ancient world. Many unpleasant occurrences are described by Josephus, including Samaritans harassing Jewish pilgrims passing through Samaria between Galilee and Jerusalem, Samaritans scattering human bones in the Temple Mount, and Jews in turn destroying Samaritan homes.

  • Exactly when the animosity between Jews and Samaritans originally developed in history—or when Jews and Samaritans first began to perceive themselves (and each other) as different communities—is impossible to determine.
  • It’s possible that documents like these won’t bring us any closer to understanding the historical origins of the Samaritans.
  • The existence of an old and distinctively Samaritan version of the Pentateuch has been known to scholars for a long time, and it has long served as a valuable source for textual critique of the Bible.
  • All traditions and institutions associated with Jerusalem, including royalty and Messianic eschatology, were passionately rejected by them, despite the fact that the city is not mentioned by name in the Pentateuch.
  • In response to the claims of the “Jewish heretics in Jerusalem,” the Samaritans came to view themselves as the actual Israelites and “keepers of the covenant,” and they continue to see themselves as such today (shomronim or shomriminHebrew, echoing the Hebrew name for Samaria,Shomron).
  • It was the Pentateuch that anchored their religious beliefs for both of them.
  • In light of the fact that the Samaritans exclusively acknowledged the Pentateuch, they ardently pushed for Yahwistic monotheism and, above all, held Moses and (to a lesser extent) Joshua in high regard.
  • No matter how they came to be recognized as a separate group in history, the Samaritans are most often considered to be one of the many religious groups that have sprung up in the aftermath of the Exodus.
  • Many rabbinic arguments regarding the Samaritans took place between the fourth–sixth centuries C.E., confirming their piety but also highlighting fundamental discrepancies in the adherence of some rules, such as those governing marriage and the priestly office.
  • Many traces of a broad, Greek-speaking Samaritandiaspora may be traced back to the Hellenistic to the Byzantine periods (for example in Delos, Egypt,Asia Minor, and Italy).

After initially benefiting from Islamic authority, the Samaritans’ circumstances deteriorated, and their numbers began to diminish over time. Mount Gerizim and Holon, near Tel Aviv, are home to only a few hundred Samaritans today.

The last of the good Samaritans

The last of the good Samaritans comes to our aid. (Photo courtesy of Yaacov Dagan/Alamy.) You may be familiar with the story of the good Samaritan, which appears in the New Testament. However, you are probably unaware that there are perhaps 800 ancient Israelite Samaritans who are still alive today.

See also:  What Ethnicity Is Jesus Christ

Our Unique World

A celebration of what makes us unique, Our Unique World explores diverse subcultures from throughout the world in celebration of what makes us unique. Each week throughout August and September, come back to find a new and distinct environment to explore. A good Samaritan is someone who helps those in need. Many people are familiar with the parable of the good Samaritan, which is found in Luke’s Gospel. In this story, a Samaritan assists a man who has been beaten and stripped naked by the side of a road, and is left there to die.

When I first heard this, I was completely captivated, and I resolved to find a way to meet them while I was in Israel.

Despite the high level of hostility between Israelis and Palestinians, I was able to find a tour guide who consented to take me from Israel to the northern West Bank, where we would then climb Mount Gerizim to the Samaritan community of Kiryat Luza.

On the inside, which was the size of a big living room, I saw a diorama of old priestly vestments, a sample of roundmatza (unleavened bread), and a genealogical tree in the shape of an amenorah (seven-branched candelabrum) that traced the family’s lineage back hundreds of years.

When the priest, who was in charge of the exhibit, pointed to one of them, he said, “That was my father, thekohen gadol, or high priest of the Samaritans, standing over there.” “The priesthood lineage may be traced down to Aaron, Moses’ younger brother.” “Do you want to be Moses of the Ten Commandments?” I inquired.

  • And it was at that point that I lost it.
  • I had the distinct impression that I had come onto something incredibly ancient, strong, and truthful.
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  • Christian pilgrims go to the holy Mount Gerizim in large numbers, attracted by a New Testament tale and the fact that the Samaritans still speak the old Hebraic language that Jesus learned while on the mountain.
  • Having led the Israelites through the wilderness for 40 years following the Exodus from Egypt, Joshua led them to the summit of Mount Gerizim.
  • I had the distinct impression that I had been transported back in time to the days of the Hebrew Bible.
  • “There were two old kingdoms,” he added, “Judea (Jews) from the south and us (tribes from the north).” “Even if we finally parted ways, our roots are the same.” During the 6th Century CE, he claimed that the Israelite Samaritans totalled 1,500,000 people.

Only 141 Samaritans remained by 1919, when World War I ended.

They are one of the world’s oldest and tiniest religious organizations, and their songs are some of the world’s oldest songs still in existence today.

(Photo courtesy of Eddie Gerald/Alamy) Later, on my second visit to the region, I traveled to Holon and met Tsedaka.

In addition to being tall and grey-haired, and having cocoa-colored complexion, he enjoyed cracking jokes and singing Shirley Bassey songs and Broadway melodies.

During our stroll, we passed into Holon, where around 80 Samaritan families lived and worked as attorneys, teachers, bankers, and engineers at the time.

There were heaps of prayer books inside, but there were no chairs.

Men are required to attend synagogue on Sabbath; however, women are not required to do so.

(Photo courtesy of Boris Diakovsky/Alamy) Friday afternoon, before the Sabbath, Tsedaka drove me from his home in Holon across the West Bank to his second home in Kiryat Luza, where we arrived without incident despite the fact that a Palastinian rebellion was rocking the area at the time.

Numerous Samaritans are Arabic speakers, have Arabic names in addition to their Hebrew names, and are fluent in both ancient and modern Hebrew; some are also fluent in English.

In Tsedaka’s words, “this is known as the Eternal Hill.” “This is the holiest of holies.” “I’m aware that the Jews have a different version of where these events took place, but our history indicates that they occurred here.” We took a walk around the archaeological site on Mount Gerizim, which had only recently opened to the public.

  1. Today, the region is a national park, which is administered by the State of Israel.
  2. As the sun began to sink below the horizon, we made our way into Tsedaka’s home in order to prepare for Sabbath.
  3. A long, white robe, a tarboosh, (a red cylindrical hat with the white band of an elder), and sandals were the only clothing items he wore, which were customary ancient Israelite attire.
  4. They left their sandals in front of the sanctuary’s entrance.
  5. There was a deep and throaty quality to the sound of their prayers.
  6. The following day after the service, a group of guys approached me on a plastic chair at the rear of the synagogue, where I was sitting on my own.
  7. On the Sabbath, Samaritans are not authorized to watch television or use any electronic devices of any kind.
  8. Tsedaka, like all the other males, goes to the synagogue three times on the Sabbath day, beginning at 03:30 and ending at 17:30.
  9. When we returned to the synagogue at 13:00, we prayed for 90 minutes in a melodious manner, and then we visited numerous Samaritan houses, as is customary on Sabbath.

In addition, Tsedaka stated that “we get along with Palestinians and Jews” and that “we would want to propose Mount Gerizim as an international peace center.” Towards the end of the day, half of the men recited their final prayers before the Sabbath, while the other half prayed on the sacrificial grounds on Mount Gerizim, site of the stunningly horrific Samaritan Passover ceremony.

  1. The High Priest examines the lamb or sheep belonging to each family to ensure that it is free of blemishes.
  2. A bloody ritual takes place, and participants, who are dressed in white, apply blood to their foreheads in order to ward off the angel of death.
  3. A large number of scholars and visitors go from all over the world to see the Paschal sacrifice, which is carried out exactly as written in the Book of Exodus.
  4. Jacob’s Well is linked with the patriarch Jacob, who fathered the 12 ancient tribes of Israel, and it is thought to be the location where Jesus talked to a Samaritan woman.
  5. While in Nablus, we took a quick detour to Joseph’s Tomb, which has been a source of contention between Muslims, Christians, and Jews over the years for control of the site.
  6. “How do you think it’s going?” Tsedaka was the one who inquired.
  7. “It’s completely overwhelming,” I responded.

The Samaritans are supposed to be derived from three of Israel’s twelve tribes: Menasseh, Ephraim, and Levi, according to tradition.

Tsedaka obtained permission for me to meet with him during my most recent visit to Mount Gerizim in 2012.

Inside, the grey robe and scarlet turban of the High Priest with his white beard greeted the crowd.

He indicated for me to take up a position next to him on a couch chair.

“Can I be of assistance to you?” he said with a polite air of politeness.

The High Priest’s face became gloomy, and his family members turned aside, as though humiliated.

I vowed to myself that I would never eat camel again.

With my confidence completely shattered, I began skulking out of the room in humiliation.

“It’s been interesting getting to know.

I subsequently learned through Tsedaka that the High Priest inquired about the camel-eater after I had departed, and that he had answered positively.

(Photo courtesy of Boris Diakovsky/Alamy) It was the second time I realized that Samaritans have one foot in orthodoxy and serious tradition, and the other in a world of humour – as well as a welcoming attitude toward visitors who come to learn about their religion and traditions.

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Josephus on Samaritan Origins

As described by Joachim Jeremias, the Samaritans in Josephus are considered to be members of a “mixed Judeo-Gentile race,” a concept that is still believed in some quarters today. Jeremias, on the other hand, is incorrect. It is the aim of this article to examine Josephus’ origin myths for the Samaritans, as well as the names that he used to refer to this people. However, as we will see, these names have less to do with the Samaritans’ actual origins than they do with the names Josephus applies to them.

  1. In addition, see Jesus the Samaritan: Ethnic Labeling in the Gospel of John (Brill 2019).
  2. The study of the Samaritans in Josephus is a distinct area that is supported by a substantial amount of research.
  3. See Reinhard Pummer’s work on the Samaritans in Josephus for a thorough examination of the subject (2009).
  4. According to Jeremias, the Samaritans were a mixed Judeo-Gentile race throughout the post-biblical period, and their attitude toward the Jews changed dramatically and reached severe levels.
  5. The fact that Jeremias has also produced a “false picture” of the Samaritans, particularly with regard to the concept of a “mixed race,” may be seen fifty years later.
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Due to the fact that Jeremias’ discussion of Samaritans is included in “Part Four: The Maintenance of Racial Purity,” I encourage everyone to reconsider what we know about the Samaritan people based on our primary source material, and it is my hope that this essay will serve as an impetus in that regard (see also Coggins 1975).

As a result, the people group with whom Josephus identifies himself is known as “Jews/Judeans.” His explanation is as follows: “This appellation, by which they have been known since their exodus from Babylon, is derived from the Tribe of Judah; because this tribe was the first to arrive in those places, both the people and the country have acquired their names from it” (Ant.

  • While Josephus acknowledges that the term Jew/Judean was first used in the post-exile era (538 BCE), he also points out that the term Jew/Judean is a derivation of Judah, the tribe that occupied the region at the time of his writing.
  • I believe, as do other historians, that Josephus used ethnic categories for both Jews and Samaritans (Mason 2001, 2007; Esler 2009), as well as for the Samaritans (Mason 2001, 2007).
  • Because Josephus categorizes Jews/Judeans and Samaritans according to ethnic categories, I employ a social-scientific model of ethnicity in order to call attention to Josephus’ presentation of Samaritan origins in his work.
  • A number of cultural characteristics have been found by John Hutchinson and Anthony Smith, who have utilized them instrumentally (that is, in the context of everyday practice) to 1) instill their members with the culture and 2) distinguish them from other ethnic groups.
  • Anth.
  • Anth.
  • (cf.Ant.

With the use of these six cultural characteristics, we can see that Josephus’ condemnation was not directed against Samaritans because they were a “mixed race” (whatever that phrase implies) or even because they were Gentiles, as some have suggested.


Because it is in the origin myths that Josephus firmly establishes his fundamental critique of faltering communal cohesion against the Samaritans, I have chosen to concentrate my attention on these accounts (Ant.

Josephus provides two different origin myths for the Samaritans in Antiquities.

However, there is a third probable origin story for the Samaritans that has to do with the term “Sidonians,” but for the purpose of simplicity, we will only be concerned with the first two.

“Samaritans are Cutheans,” says one.


e” (Ant.

Josephus further “explains” that “those who are called Chthaioi (Cuthim) in the Hebrew language are called Samareitai (Samaritans) by the Greeks” (Ant.


The fact that Josephus’ interpretation differs from the tale in 2 Kings is perhaps the most fascinating detail.

According to both versions, the introduction of Yahwi resulted in the Samaritans being “liberated from the plague” (Ant.


the Samaritans’ religious practices are not denigrated by Josephus in the Cuthean genesis tale of the Samaritans, but rather by their opportunistic connection with Judean racial identities Annotation 9.29: At the conclusion of his first story, Josephus argues that his main critique is that the Samaritans “change their attitude according to situation” (Ant.

  1. 1) When the Judeans flourish, the Samaritans refer to them as “their” and remind them that they are sprung from Joseph (Ant.
  2. One exception is that, when the Judeans are in difficulties, the Samaritans “claim that they have nothing whatever in common with them (the Judeans), and they (the Samaritans) declare themselves to be foreigners of a different race” (Ant.
  3. 1) According to this origin tale, the Samaritans were Cutheans from Persia who had converted to Yahwistic Samaritan-Israelite beliefs and practices.
  4. A Second Origin of the Samaritans as Renegade Judeans: A Theological Perspective Josephus repeats his criticism from Ant.
  5. 11.34).
  6. The Samaritans meet Alexander the Great outside of Jerusalem, and because “Alexander had so signally honored the Jews,” the Samaritans “decided to profess themselves Jews,” according to Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, 11.34).

11.34) Josephus observes that when times are good for the Judeans, the Samaritans “suddenly grasp at the connection with, claiming that they are related to them and tracing their line back to Ephraim and Manasseh, the descendants of Joseph.” The Samaritans eventually did not “profess themselves Jews” when they met Alexander; instead, they stated to him that “they were Hebrews” (Ant.

  • The claim of the Samaritans to be Hebrews is a distinct possibility in this, Josephus’ second origin story, given that here Josephus states that the Samaritans’ main city of Shechem “was inhabited by apostates from the Jewish nation (o)” (Ant.
  • To this end, Josephus states that “whenever any individual was falsely accused by Jerusalem’s citizens of eating unclean food or violating the Sabbath or committing any other such sin, the individual would flee to the Shechemites, claiming that he had been unjustly expelled” (Ant.
  • The presence of Judean deserters in Shechem, therefore, would lend credence to the Samaritans’ claim of Israelite/Hebrew ancestry (see 347-348).
  • Regardless of this possibility, however, Josephus concludes this section with double reference to the Samaritans as “Shechemites” (Ant.11.344, 347).
  • 5.240–1, 243, 247, 248, and 25 0–1).
  • In this case, then, Josephus uses the name “Cuthean” to designate the Samaritans as foreigners and outsiders to Israel, whereas the name “Shechemites” is used to denote the Samaritans as heretics (apostates/deserters) within Israel but not Jud eans.
  • 11.340), the Samaritans ultimately did not do this but rather self-identified themselves as “Hebrews” (Ant.


Instead, the Samaritans professed they were “Hebrews” by “tracing their line back to Ephraim and Manasseh, the descendants of Joseph” (Ant.



Joseph and his descendants were “Hebrews,” and in this way, the Samaritans only denied their identification with the Yahwist Judeans to the s outh.

Since the Samaritans identified themselves as the descendants of Joseph (H-S2), theywere an inherent danger to the construction of Judean iden tity.

The third and final occurrence of Josephus’ criticism of opportunism against the Samaritans is during the Maccabean revolt: “When the Samaritans saw the Jews suffering these misfortunes, they would no longer admit that they were their kin or that the temple on Gerizim was that of the Most Great God, thereby acting in accordance with their nature, as we have shown” (Ant.

9.291; 11.

Ingrid Hjelm has shrewdly observed that since Josephus’ criticism is “the hypocrisy of the Samaritans,” and given that these “accounts state that they are not Jews, which, in consideration of their hypocrisy, should imply that they, in fact, are Jews and therefore should partake in the fate of the Jews whether good or bad” (Hjelm 2000, 208).

According to sociologist Everett Hughes, it is “the living of a shared existence and the face of common problems”that fosters the formation of a common ethnic identification (Hughes 1994 , 92).In light of Hughes’ principle, it is reasonable for Josephus to condemn the Samaritans for their wavering communal cohesiveness (H-S 6) instead of critiquing the Samaritans similar, if not identical, ethnic features such as Yahwistic cultic practices (H -S 4).

For example, the Samaritans beg to Alexander “to remit their contribution in the seventh year, stating that they did not sow therein” (Ant.


11.344; added empha sis).

Although the Samaritans were Sabbath-breakers in Ant.

12.259, despite the fact that they were Sabbath-breakers in Ant.

Regardless of whether Josephus felt the Samaritans were excellent or poor at keeping the Sabbath, the relevant issue is that the Samarians had anything to do with the Yahwistic practice in the first place if the Samaritans were really aliens from Cilicia (modern-day Turkey).

The distinction between the Judeans and the Samari was unquestionably important for Josephus and the other Judeans, as well as for the rest of the Jewish people.

tans In this regard, Pummer states: “If one considers to what extent intra-community quarrels may go, one can see that they can go rather far.” “Any argument will do—contradictions aren’t a hindrance” (Pummer 2009, paraphrased).


In any case, Jeremias’ remark that Samaritans “were viewed as blended Judeo-Gentile race” does not take into consideration these “extreme” differences.

This led Jeremias to construct a “false picture” of the Samaritans as a “racially dirty people,” yet as we have shown, this was not Josephus’ concoction.



Theo’s Strengthening Points logy.


are devoted to this topic.

Feldman, Louis H., and others.


2000.The Samaritans and Early Judaism: A Literary Anal ysis.

The pages 91–96 of On Work, Race, and the Sociological Imagina are devoted to this topic.


The University of Chicago Press (Chicago).

1996.Ethni Oxford University Press, New York, P Joachim Jeremias is the ress.




& al., Loeb Classical Library, volume 10, page 10 Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1926.

The Samari’s Origins were discovered in 2009.

Leiden, the B Joachim Jeremias, rill.

“It was 1964.

Pi have collaborated on this project.

Mason, S.

“Journal of the American Academy of Religion39 (2): 2,” says sus.” 01–3.

Reinhard Pummer is the author of this work. 2009. The Samaritans in the town of Flavius Jose. In Tübingen, there is a Mohr Sie. beck — — —. — — —. The Samaritans: A Profession in 2016 Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan mans.

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