Who are the Samaritans and why are they considered to be so good?
Many people are familiar with the expression "good Samaritan," which came into our lives as a result of a parable told by Jesus to his disciples. He told the story of the robbed traveler and the man who saved him in it. That unidentified savior was a Samaritan. Since then, these people have come to represent kindness and selflessness in the Christian world.
THE SAMARITANS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
A Samaritan is defined in dictionaries as someone who helps others without expecting anything in return. This expression has been used in the language since the 17th century, owing to biblical parables.
Following from Jerusalem, the traveler met robbers who robbed him, beat him, and abandoned him half-dead on the road. The clergyman, who happened to be nearby, walked right past him. So, did the Levites happen to pass by? The third bystander approached a man who had been beaten by robbers and was lying on the ground. He was a kind person. He bandaged the victim's wounds after washing them with wine and oil. He strapped it to the donkey, spread his raincoat, and led him to the hotel. A bystander dropped him off and left him in the care of the owner. This person paid for both lodging and medical care for the sick.
"Which of the three do you think was your neighbor?" Jesus asked at the end of the story. The clergyman responded that the third passerby was, of course, the neighbor. Jesus advised him to follow the example of the Samaritan.
The priest and Levite looked down on poor and unfortunate people and did not consider them neighbors. In their hearts, there was no love for people. And, according to the biblical Christian commandment, "love your neighbor as yourself, and do to him as you would have done to you." The described case demonstrates that the Samaritan personifies kindness and love for man. He was unconcerned about the robbers returning and brutally dealing with him. He acted with dignity.
WHO ARE THE SAMARITANS?
True, the vast majority of people have only a hazy idea of what kind of nation this is and how it appeared in Judea.
The Samaritans (also spelled Samaritans in some sources) are an ethnoreligious group with a long history. According to some Jewish theorists, this nation descended from a man named Samer, a non-Jew who fled Egypt with the Jews. They consider themselves to be descendants of the Jewish tribe of Joseph, who was one of the first settlers in the Israelite kingdom.
Most Jews, however, regard the Samaritans as immigrants from the Mesopotamian city of Kuta, as well as people returning from Babylonian captivity. There is even a term for them, "kutim," which indicates that they are from this city. These people first appeared in Eretz Israel after 722 BC, when the first Israeli kingdom was defeated by Assyrian conquerors. Then a significant part of Israel's indigenous population was taken into Babylonian captivity. Foreigners began to populate the empty territories, giving birth to new people.
These settlers were the Hufeis, according to Josephus (in the modern reading of the Gutia). They were compactly located on the territory of Samaria as they moved from Assyria to conquer Israel. The last center of the very first king of Israel, leading from King Omri, was located here. Settling in and around Samaria, the settlers gradually adopted the Jewish faith and some local traditions, while retaining their identity in some cases.
Thus, the Samaritans, in particular, claimed to be the only true keepers of the Old Testament, of which only the Book of Joshua and the Samaritan Pentateuch are considered sacred by them. They, on the other hand, completely reject the Talmud and the books of the Prophets. Such nuances are related to the fact that the Samaritans practice a form of pre-prophetic Judaism, which is only a distant branch of classical Judaism.
This, however, is not the main argument between Jews and Samaritans. The disagreement between these peoples arose from Moses' explanation of the choice of a location for the Temple's construction. The Jews believe Moses mentioned Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, but the Samaritans believe he mentioned Mount Gerizim, which is located west of the Jordan River near Nablus (another name for the city of Nablus). These discrepancies in Moses' words led to a long period of hostility between these people.
Despite having their calendar, the Samaritans observe the Sabbath and the traditional eating habits of true Jews. Their ritual of slaughtering animals for food is identical to that of Jews. The Samaritans, on the other hand, celebrate Passover on Mount Gerizim. Seven lambs are sacrificed there according to a long-standing tradition.
Throughout history, the Jewish people have been far from united. There have been cultural differences between the north and south of Canaan since ancient times. The demarcation between native Jews and Samaritans reached a climax when people enriched by a different culture began to arrive from Babylon and settle in Samaria. This resulted in long-term mutual enmity, as well as a different attitude toward the events that occurred around them.
Taking advantage of Alexander the Great's conquest of Judea, the Samaritans built their temple on Mount Gerizim. However, it was destroyed by the Hasmonean king after two centuries. The Samaritans were granted autonomy with the arrival of the Romans in Judea. However, to do so, they had to honor pagan gods, which true Jews categorically rejected. The Jewish wars against Rome resulted in a significant decrease in the number of Jews in Judea. This resulted in a greater proportion of the Samaritan population being unaffected by the wars. Significant communities began to appear in areas that were not theirs: Caesarea, Emmaus, Bet-Shean, and so on. Following the fall of the Roman Empire and Byzantium's subjugation of the Israeli lands, the Samaritans staged several uprisings and even declared their independence twice, enthroning their kings. These speeches, however, were censored.
MODERN SAMARITANS IN ISRAEL
Following failed uprisings, the number of Samaritans steadily decreased. By the turn of the twentieth century, their population had shrunk to a critical 146 people. Nonetheless, this ethnic group was able to thrive. To prevent this nation from completely dissolving among the Jews, it was decided in 1954 in Israel to bring the Samaritans together. They now number over 700 people, who live in the village of Kiryat Luza near Nablus and the Tel Aviv suburbs, in the Pinchas Ayalon quarter of the city of Holon. The Samaritans' writing has also been preserved. It has a Hebrew alphabet that is similar to the Phoenician alphabet. People communicate in two languages: Aramaic and Arabic, both of which are ancient.