Jews Vs. Samaritans: Origin of Conflict

Map of Samaria

Map of Samaria

 

Anyone who’s read the Bible knows it: first century Jews despised the Samaritans and the Samaritans held no love for their southern brothers.

But how did the enmity between these two groups begin? What led to the intense hatred that we see in the New Testament?

As with most stories that span a thousand years, it’s complicated. But it boils down to four main issues:

Early disagreements on pagan worship:

Trouble started not long after Moses brought the twelve tribes of Israel to the Promised Land. At the death of Solomon in 975 B.C., the kingdom of Israel was split into two parts, Judah in the south, and Samaria in the north. The two kingdoms were often in disagreement. The northern kings loved their pagan idols and were constantly at odds with Jerusalem.

 Conquering armies:

So, when the Assyrians conquered Samaria in 724 B.C., the inhabitants of Judah were not sympathetic. The Assyrians took their captives home and sent their own pagan people to occupy the land of Samaria. Still, some Samaritans remained in their homeland and continued to practice the faith of Moses while intermarrying with the pagan settlers.

Assyria fell to the Egyptians a hundred years later, and Egypt, in turn, was conquered by Babylon. In 586 B.C., the southern kingdom of Israel also fell to the Babylonians, and what the Jews refer to as the “Babylonian Exile” followed.

 Post-exile disagreements:

When the Babylonians allowed the Judeans to return to their homeland,  the rift between the Samaritans and the Judeans widened. Some sources say that the Samaritans offered to help rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, but were rudely refused because of their pagan impurity. Other sources say the Samaritans were the ones who refused to help their brothers of Judah to rebuild.

 Differences in worship:

Meanwhile, the Samaritans who had resisted paganism developed their own version of worship, using only the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy  – and rejecting all other books of the Old Testament. Tensions increased when the Samaritans built their own Temple for worship on Mt. Gerizim, and stated that their mountain was the dwelling place of the Lord, not the Temple in Jerusalem. With that, any hope of reconciliation between the two peoples was lost.

Sadly, disagreements, wars, differences in worship, and miscommunication resulted in the simmering hatred that divided the people of Israel that were once brothers.

Can you see any similarities between the first century Jewish/Samaritan problem and cultural and religious conflicts we face today?
Next time . . .  Jews Vs. Samaritans: Insults and Injury

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6 Responses to “Jews Vs. Samaritans: Origin of Conflict”

  1. A.J. Cattapan | April 30, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    Enjoying the history lesson! I’ve always wondered what caused such enmity between the two.

    • Stephanie Landsem | May 1, 2013 at 9:29 am #

      Glad you liked it, Amy. Next week I’m going to write about how this dislike played out and what they did to each other that cemented this long-standing hatred.

  2. Olaniyi Ayeni | February 8, 2014 at 4:06 am #

    Please, kindly give bible references to back the origin of conflict between them. I need them. I will appreaciate so much, thanks.

  3. Jayson Salano | May 26, 2014 at 6:52 am #

    Woow! I really apreciate the lesson about the history of the enemity between Jews n Samaritans! I’ve always wonderd how this bad blood started n now I know the mystery behind all this! God bless, Shallom

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Jews Vs. Samaritans: Insult and Injury | Stephanie Landsem - May 8, 2013

    [...] week, we saw how the conflicts between the Jews and Samaritans began. So how did the two warring peoples treat each other, living side by side in first century [...]

  2. Jews Vs. Samaritans: What's the Difference? | Stephanie Landsem - May 19, 2013

    [...] journey to find Jesus. And so, as the release of The Well approaches, we’ve learned about the history of this conflict and the injuries and insults the Jews and Samaritans visited on each [...]

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