After the feast Jesus left Jerusalem and went to Galilee. He took the unpopular but shortest route. Jesus went through Samaria to Galilee, a route that no respectful Jew would take.
Samaria means mountain of watching. Samaria is a name for a city, a mountain and a region as well as the residents that live there.
1 Kings 16:23-28; 22:37; 2 Kings 6:24-30
- Samaria was the only city founded by the Northern Kingdom.
- Shechem was the capital city of the Northern Kingdom until Jeroboam changed it to Tirzah. Omri the sixth king of Israel and the father of Ahab reigned in Tirzah for six years and then he bought the hill called Samaria from Shemer. Omri built a city on the hill which he fortified and he called the city Samaria in honor of Shemer. The city of Samaria became the capital of the Northern Kingdom from where Omri ruled another six years.
- Ahab, Omri’s son built an ivory palace in Samaria. Amos the prophet denounced him. (Amos 6:1; 1 Kings 22:39).
- Jezebel, Ahab’s wife convinced Ahab to make Samaria the center of Baal worship. She also killed the prophets of the Lord here (1 Kings 16:29-33; 18:2-4).
- Naaman, from Syria came to Samaria to be healed by Elijah, from his leprosy (2 Kings 5).
- Jehu killed Ahab’s 70 sons in Samaria (2 Kings 10).
- Samaria was the capital city, the residence and the burial place of all the kings of Israel.
- Herod the Great changed Samaria’s name to Sebaste and it was one of his major cities in 30 B. C. Sebaste is the Greek word for Augustus the emperor.
Although the city was called Samaria, the entire region became known as Samaria and later the Northern Kingdom was also known as Samaria (1 Kings 13:32; Jeremiah 31:5).
Samaria had a history
- In Joshua 16 we read that the area called Samaria was part of the tribal portion allocated to the tribe Ephraim and half of the tribe Manasseh.
- The 12 tribes revolted because of the arrogance of Rehoboam, Solomon’s son and successor. The kingdom was split into the 10 tribes called the Northern Kingdom who were ruled by Jeroboam and the 2 tribes that were ruled by Rehoboam. The Northern Kingdom refused to go to Jerusalem to worship. Samaria was part of the region that followed Jeroboam into idolatry.
- The idolatry of the Israel resulted in captivity. The king of Assyria took the 10 tribes into captivity and they were dispersed amongst other nations. The king of Assyria did the same with Samaria; he left Jewish people and placed other people from different nations there. The result was intermarriages and different religions. (Ezra 4:9-10)
- Judah was also exiled because of their sins. They were taken captive to Babylon for 70 years. When a remnant of the exiles returned to Jerusalem they did not allow the Samaritans to take part in the rebuilding of the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem.
- The Samaritans believed in God.
- They adopted the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) as their Bible.
- Their place of worship became Mount Gerizim, the mountain that the blessings were read from (Deuteronomy 11:26-29).
- The Samaritans were also expecting the Messiah to come but they did not have the accurate truth.
- A bitter animosity resulted between the Jews and the Samaritans.
Jesus was not bound by prejudice and he went through Samaria on His way to Galilee.