Bible Meaning: Watch (station) mountain, guardianship
Strong's Concordance #H8111, #G4540
The city of Samaria came into existence after one of Israel's kings decided it was time to move.
Shechem, after a united Israel split in 930 B.C., became the first capital of the Northern Kingdom under Jeroboam (1Kings 12:25). He soon changed it, however, to Tizrah (1Kings 14:17). The city stayed Israel's capital until the reign on Omri who, after ruling from Tizrah for six years, purchased a hill he named Samaria after its owner Shemer (1Kings 16:24). He then made the bought property his residence.
The word Samaria first referenced Israel's capital but later was a synonym for the entire northern kingdom (1Kings 18:2, Jeremiah 31:5, Ezekiel 16, etc.). The city stayed Israel's capital from about 879 to 723 B.C. when the kingdom was conquered and taken captive by Assyria.
New Testament references
The Roman province of Judea was originally formed in 6 A.D. It was composed of the regions (districts) named Samaria, Judea itself (where Jerusalem is located) and a part of Idumea (another name for the land of Edom).
At the time of the New Testament, those living in the region of Samaria were hated by most Jews living south of the territory. This animosity, which was hundreds of years old by the time of Jesus' ministry, produced some extreme behavior.
Jews, for example, as they traveled between Galilee and Judea, were known to bypass the area by making the much longer journey through Perea! See our article on the Good Samaritan for more on the history of this bitterness.
Jesus' behavior toward those in Samaria flew in the face of the bitter attitudes held by many. He rebuked James and John for wanting to destroy one of their cities with fire from heaven (Luke 9:51 - 56). He also healed a Samaritan leper (Luke 17:16) and was willing to preach the gospel to them (John 4:39 - 42). His famous Good Samaritan parable used an example of a kind and merciful resident of the area to highlight the self-righteousness and hard hearts of many Jews (Luke 10:30 - 37).
Christ, on the day of his ascension, commanded his disciples to take the gospel not only to Judea but also to Samaria and the whole world (Acts 1:8)!
For the saying which he cried by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel, and against all the houses of the high places which are in the cities of Samaria, shall surely come to pass.
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.
But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron?
2Kings 17:6, 24
In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes . . .
And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel . . .
And I (God) have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria: they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.
And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
John 4:5, 7, 9
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 . . .
There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink . . .
Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me . . . for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost (Spirit) is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Acts 8:5, 14
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.