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Samaritans: The name given to the new and mixed inhabitants whom Esarhaddon (B.C.
677) the king of Assyria, brought from Babylon and other places and
settled in the cities of Samaria, instead of the original inhabitants
whom Sargon (B.C. 721) had removed into captivity
(2 Kings 17:24) comp.
(Ezra 4:2,9,10) These strangers (comp.)
(Luke 17:18) amalgamated with
the Jews still remaining in the land, and gradually abandoned their
old idolatry and adopted partly the Jewish religion. After the return
from the Captivity, the Jews in Jerusalem refused to allow them to
take part with them in rebuilding the temple, and hence sprang up an
open enmity between them. They erected a rival temple on Mount
Gerizim, which was, however, destroyed by a Jewish king (B.C. 130)
They then built another at Shechem. The bitter enmity between the Jews
and Samaritans continued in the time of our Lord: the Jews had "no
dealings with the Samaritans"
(John 4:9) comp.
(Luke 9:52,53) Our Lord
was in contempt called "a Samaritan"
(John 8:48) Many of the
Samaritans early embraced the gospel
(John 4:5-42; Acts 8:25; 9:31; 15:3)
Of these Samaritans there still remains a small population of about
one hundred and sixty, who all reside in Shechem, where they carefully
observe the religious customs of their fathers. They are the "smallest
and oldest sect in the world."