During the period of the kingdom of Israel and Judah, Samaria was the second most important city in the land of Israel after Jerusalem.
As cited in 1 Kings, 16:24 KJV: “And he bought the hill Samaria of Shemer for two talents of silver, and built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, after the name of Shemer, owner of the hill, Samaria.”
Samaria also is describe as an important village in the New Testament where Jesus meet the Samaritan woman and ask for water.
Samaria is shaped like a watch tower. Located in the heart of the mountains of Israel, a few miles northwest of Shechem, stands the “hill of Shomeron,” a solitary mountain, a great “mamelon.” It is an oblong hill, with steep but not inaccessible sides, and a long flat top. Omri, the king of Israel, bought this hill from Shemer its owner for the price of two talents of silver, and built on its broad summit the city to which he gave the name of “Shomeron”, i.e., Samaria, as the new capital of his kingdom instead of Tirzah (1 Kings 16:24). As such it possessed many advantages. Here Omri resided during the last six years of his reign. As the result of an unsuccessful war with Syria, he appears to have been obliged to grant to the Syrians the right to “make streets in Samaria”, i.e., probably permission to the Syrian merchants to carry on their trade in the Israelite capital. This would imply the existence of a considerable Syrian population. “It was the only great city of Palestine created by the sovereign. All the others had been already consecrated by patriarchal tradition or previous possession. But Samaria was the choice of Omri alone. He, indeed, gave to the city which he had built the name of its former owner, but its especial connection with himself as its founder is proved by the designation which it seems Samaria bears in Assyrian inscriptions, Beth-khumri (‘the house or palace of Omri’).”, Stanley.
Samaria was frequently besieged. In the days of Ahab, Benhadad II. came up against it with thirty-two vassal kings, but was defeated with a great slaughter (1 Kings 20:1-21). A second time, next year, he assailed it; but was again utterly routed, and was compelled to surrender to Ahab (20:28-34), whose army, as compared with that of Benhadad, was no more than “two little flocks of kids.”
In the days of Jehoram this Benhadad again laid siege to Samaria, during which the city was reduced to the direst extremities. But just when success seemed to be within their reach, they suddenly broke up the seige, alarmed by a mysterious noise of chariots and horses and a great army, and fled, leaving their camp with all its contents behind them. The famishing inhabitants of the city were soon relieved with the abundance of the spoil of the Syrian camp; and it came to pass, according to the word of Elisha, that “a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two measures of barely for a shekel, in the gates of Samaria” (2 Kings 7:1-20).
Shalmaneser invaded Israel in the days of Hoshea, and reduced it to vassalage. He laid siege to Samaria (B.C. 723), which held out for three years, and was at length captured by Sargon, who completed the conquest Shalmaneser had begun (2 Kings 18:9-12; 17:3), and removed vast numbers of the tribes into captivity. (See SARGON.)
This city, after passing through various vicissitudes, was given by the emperor Augustus to Herod the Great, who rebuilt it, and called it Sebaste (Gr. form of Augustus) in honour of the emperor. In the New Testament the only mention of it is in Acts 8:5-14, where it is recorded that Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached there.
It is now represented by the hamlet of Sebustieh, containing about three hundred inhabitants. The ruins of the ancient town are all scattered over the hill, down the sides of which they have rolled. The shafts of about one hundred of what must have been grand Corinthian columns are still standing, and attract much attention, although nothing definite is known regarding them. (Comp. Micah 1:6.)
In the time of Christ, Western Palestine was divided into three provinces, Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. Samaria occupied the centre of Palestine (John 4:4). It is called in the Talmud the “land of the Cuthim,” and is not regarded as a part of the Holy Land at all.
It may be noticed that the distance between Samaria and Jerusalem, the respective capitals of the two kingdoms, is only 35 miles in a direct line.
“Samaria,” Easton’s Bible Dictionary, paragraph 6312.
Flavius Josephus relates (Ant. 11:8, 2-4) that Sanballat built a temple for the Samaritans on this mountain, and instituted a priesthood, as rivals to those of the Jews at Jerusalem. This temple was destroyed after it had stood two hundred years. It was afterwards rebuilt by Herod the Great. There is a Samaritan tradition that it was the scene of the incident recorded in Gen. 22. There are many ruins on this mountain, some of which are evidently of Christian buildings. To this mountain the woman of Sychar referred in John 4:20. For centuries Gerizim was the centre of political outbreaks. The Samaritans (q.v.), a small but united body, still linger here, and keep up their ancient ceremonial worship.
“Gerizim,” Easton’s Bible Dictionary, paragraph 2874.
Jesus and the Samaritan Woman
And he must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.(For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
John 4:4–26 KJV
Jesus and the Samaritans People
And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.
But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.
And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. And many more believed because of his own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
John 4:27–42 KJV