Why Did The Jews And The Samaritans Hate Each Other? -- By: S. H. Mathews

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 027:3 (Summer 2014)
Article: Why Did The Jews And The Samaritans Hate Each Other?
Author: S. H. Mathews

Why Did The Jews And The Samaritans Hate Each Other?

S. H. Mathews

Jewish/Samaritan Conflict In The Gospels:
Historical Precedents

Several passages in the Gospels indicate that relations were strained between Samaritans and Jews during the time of Christ. For example, Jewish/Samaritan theological conflicts are evident in Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well in John 4, and when Jesus wanted to make a point about neighborly love being found in the least expected places, He spoke about a concept inconceivable to most of His audience—a good Samaritan who displayed an ethic superior to a Jewish priest and a Levite (Lk 10:30–37). In another encounter, Jesus refers to a Samaritan woman as a “dog,” and she understands his reference clearly (Mt 15:21–28). Once, when Jesus’ opponents wished to insult Him, they called Him a Samaritan, and demon-possessed (Jn 8:48).

It is often noted that Jews saw Samaritans as racially and theologically tainted. What is the source of the conflict between Jews and Samaritans that we find in the New Testament? Like many racial and regional conflicts, it is centuries in the making. This brief article will sketch the historical precedents of Samaritan/Jewish conflict in the time to Christ, in order to place relevant biblical passages into context and provide a greater understanding of the cultural setting in which Jesus lived and taught.

Samaria, like Judea, was a region in Palestine. Ten of the twelve tribes of Israel settled in the region after their conquest of the Promised Land. 1 Kgs 16:24 describes the founding of the city of Samaria, for which the entire region was later named, by Omri, a wicked king of Israel. The other two tribes settled in Judea, south of Samaria. In 722 BC, Samaria was conquered by the Assyrians, but Judea remained an independent Jewish state, observing Jewish customs and laws, with Jewish kings. The Assyrians relocated foreign people groups into Samaria, while Judea remained racially and religiously Jewish. Later, in 587 BC, the Babylonians invaded both Judea and Samaria.

They destroyed Jerusalem, and relocated most of the Jewish upper classes to other parts of the Babylonian empire. The book of Daniel depicts the life of a few of these young Jewish men who were relocated and trained for service in the Babylonian

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Sargon II and dignitary. Sargon’s father, Shalmaneser V, completed the defeat o...

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