Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Significance of the Samaritans

“The Jews regarded the Samaritans as heretical outsiders. … The hostility between Jews and Samaritans had lasted a thousand years. It began with the break-up of the monarchy in the tenth century BC when ten tribes defected, making Samaria their capital, and only two tribes remained loyal to Jerusalem. It began steadily worse when Samaria was captured by Assyria in 722 BC, thousands of its inhabitants were deported, and the country was re-populated by foreigners. In the sixth century BC, when the Jews returned to their land, they refused the help of the Samaritans in the rebuilding of the temple. Not till the fourth century BC, however, did the Samaritan schism harden, with the rebuilding of their rival temple on Mount Gerizim and their repudiation of all Old Testament Scripture except the Pentateuch. The Samaritans were despised by the Jews as hybrids in both race and religion, as both heretics and schismatics. John summed up the situation in his simple statement that “Jews do not associate with Samaritans” (John 4:9). Jesus’ sympathy for them, however, is already apparent in Luke’s Gospel (eg Luke 9:52-56; 10:30-37; 17:11-19).

[From Stott, J.R.W. (1991) The Message of Acts pp 144, 147-8.]

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