By Bill Warren, NOBTS
Question: Why were people in the area north of Samaria not hated like the Samaritans in the New Testament period?
NOBTS Professor Bill Warren responds: The division between the Jews and Samaritans is rooted in the time when Solomon’s son Rehoboam heavily taxed the northern Israelite tribes and treated them disrespectfully, resulting in them seceding with Jereboam as their king and thereby creating the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
As told in 2 Kings 17, when Israel was conquered in 721 B.C., the Assyrians sent people to the Samaria region (the area of the two tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim, mainly) who intermarried with the Israelites, thereby creating a people later considered “half-Jews” by those of Judah. The resulting group came to be called Samaritans, with their name deriving either from the city of Samaria or a word that means “observer of the law,” as Samaritans defined it.