Template:Two other uses

Hills of Samaria, 2011
Site of Dothan, where according to the Book of Genesis, Joseph was sold by his brethren

Samaria (/sə.ˈmɛr..ə/[1]), or the Shomron (Hebrew: שֹׁמְרוֹן, Standard Šomron Tiberian Šōmərôn ; Arabic: السامرة, as-Sāmirah – also known as جبال نابلس, Jibāl Nāblus ) is a name for the mountainous, central region of ancient Palestine,[2] based on the borders of the biblical Northern Kingdom of Israel. The name "Samaria" derives from the ancient city Samaria, the capital of the Kingdom of Israel.[3] In modern times the territory is generally and almost universally known as part of the West Bank.[4]

Jordan ceded its claim to the area to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in November 1988. In 1994, control of Areas 'A' (full civil and security control by the Palestinian Authority) and 'B' (Palestinian civil control and joint Israeli-Palestinian security control) were transferred by Israel to the Palestinian Authority. Palestinian Authority did not recognize the term Samaria within its domain. In 2013, with the official transition from the Palestinian Authority to the State of Palestine, large parts of Samaria came to be internationally recognized under State of Palestine control.


According to biblical tradition, the name "Shomron" is derived from the individual [or clan] Shemer, from whom Omri purchased the site for his new capital city. (1 Kings 16:24).[5] In modern times, Samaria was one of six administrative districts of the British Mandate for Palestine.[6] Following the occupation of the West Bank by Israel in 1967, the Israeli right began to refer to the territories by their biblical names and argued for their integration into Israel on historical, religious, nationalist and security grounds.[4][7]


To the north, Samaria is bounded by the Jezreel Valley; to the east by the Jordan Rift Valley; to the west by the Carmel Ridge (in the north) and the Sharon plain (in the west); to the south by the Jerusalem mountains. In Biblical times, Samaria "reached from the [Mediterranean] sea to the Jordan Valley",[8] including the Carmel Ridge and Plain of Sharon. The Samarian hills are not very high, seldom reaching the height of over 800 metres. Samaria's climate is more hospitable than the climate further south.

The mountain ranges in the south of the region continue into Judaea without a clear division.[2]


Samaria (green) within Palestine, under Persian rule


Map of Israeli settlements administered by the Shomron Regional Council in the West Bank

According to biblical tradition, the region known as Samaria was captured by the Israelites from the Canaanites and was assigned to the Tribe of Joseph. After the death of King Solomon (c.931 BC), the northern tribes, including those of Samaria, separated from the southern tribes and established the separate kingdom of Israel. Initially its capital was at Tirzah until the time of king Omri (c.884 BC), who built the city of Shomron and established it as its capital.

The region was conquered by the Assyrians in c. 722 BC, and reportedly much of its population was taken into captivity and deported.

In the 6th century the region became part of the Roman province of Judaea, after the death of king Herod the Great.

Over time, the region has been controlled by numerous different civilizations, including Israelites, Babylonians, the classical Persian Empire, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, and Ottoman Turks.[9]

Post World War II

The modern history of Samaria begins when the territory of Samaria, formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, was entrusted to the United Kingdom to administer in the aftermath of World War I as a British Mandate of Palestine District of Samaria between 1918–1948.

As a result of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, most of the territory was unilaterally incorporated as Jordanian-controlled territory and was administered as part of the West Bank (west of the Jordan river). The Jordanian-held West Bank came under the control of Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War. Jordan ceded its claims in the West Bank (except for certain prerogatives in Jerusalem) to the PLO in November 1988, later confirmed by the Israel–Jordan Treaty of Peace of 1994. In the 1994 Oslo accords, the Palestinian Authority was established and given responsibility for the administration over some of the territory of West Bank (Areas 'A' and 'B').

Samaria is one of several standard statistical districts utilized by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics.[10] "The Israeli CBS also collects statistics on the rest of the West Bank and the Gaza District. It has produced various basic statistical series on the territories, dealing with population, employment, wages, external trade, national accounts, and various other topics."[11] The Palestinian Authority however use Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarm, Qalqilya, Salfit, Ramallah and Tubas Governorates as administrative centres for the same region.

The Shomron Regional Council administers the Israeli population and settlements throughout the area. Israeli settlements in the West Bank are considered by the international community to be illegal under international law, but the Israeli government disputes this.[12]

New Testament reference

The New Testament mentions Samaria in Luke chapter 17:11-20, in the miraculous healing of the ten lepers, which took place on the border of Samaria and Galilee. John 4:1-26 records Jesus' encounter at Jacob's well with the woman of Sychar, in which he declares himself to be the Messiah. In Acts 8:5-14, it is recorded that Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached there. In the time of Jesus, Iudaea of the Romans was divided into three toparchies, Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. Samaria occupied the centre of Iudaea (John 4:4). (Iudaea was later renamed Syria Palaestina in 135, following the Bar Kokhba revolt.) In the Talmud, Samaria is called the "land of the Cuthim".


Samaria ruins, 1925

The ancient site of Samaria-Sebaste covers the hillside overlooking the modern Palestinian village of Sebastia on the eastern slope of the hill.[13] Remains have been found from the Canaanite, Israelite, Hellenistic, Herodian, Roman and Byzantine era.[14]

Archaeological finds from Roman-era Sebaste, a site that was rebuilt and renamed by Herod the Great in 30 BCE, include a colonnaded street, a temple-lined acropolis and a lower city, where John the Baptist is believed to have been buried. According to biblical archaeologists, the impressive ruins in Samaria have suffered under the control of the Palestinian Authority: "[A]fter the second intifada began in 2000, the site has been closed and has not received proper maintenance or protection. The neglected archaeological site is reported to be covered in litter, and antiquities have been smashed or sprayed with graffiti."[15]


The Samaritans (Hebrew:Shomronim) are an ethnoreligious group named after and descended from ancient Semitic inhabitants of Samaria, since the Assyrian Exile of the Israelites.[16] Religiously the Samaritans are adherents of Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism. Based on the Samaritan Torah, Samaritans claim their worship is the true religion of the ancient Israelites prior to the Babylonian Exile, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel. Their temple was built at Mount Gerizim in the middle of fifth century BC and was destroyed by the Macabbean (Hasmonean) John Hyrcanus late in 110 BC, although their descendants still worship among its ruins. The antagonism between Samaritans and Jews is important in understanding the Bible's New Testament stories of the "Samaritan woman at the well" and "Parable of the Good Samaritan".

See also


  1. ^ LDS.org: "Book of Mormon Pronunciation Guide" (retrieved 2012-02-25), IPA-ified from «sa-mĕr´ē-a»
  2. ^ a b Encyclopedia Britannica: Samaria
  3. ^ Harvard Expedition to Samaria, 1908–1910, Harvard University
  4. ^ a b Neil Caplan (19 September 2011). The Israel-Palestine Conflict: Contested Histories. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 18–. ISBN 978-1-4443-5786-8.
  5. ^ "This Side of the River Jordan; On Language", Forward, Philologos, 22 September 2010.
  6. ^ Essaid, Aida. Zionism and Land Tenure in Mandate Palestine.
  7. ^ Alan Dowty (11 June 2012). Israel / Palestine. Polity. pp. 130–131. ISBN 978-0-7456-5612-0.
  8. ^ Nelson's Encyclopædia, v. IX, p. 204, (London, 1907)
  9. ^ Harvard Expedition to Samaria, 1908–1910, Harvard University
  10. ^ Israel Central Bureau of Statistics
  11. ^ Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  12. ^ "The Geneva Convention". BBC News. 10 December 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  13. ^ Michael Hamilton Burgoyne and Mahmoud Hawari (May 19, 2005). "Bayt al-Hawwari, a hawsh House in Sabastiya". Levant. 37. Council for British Research in the Levant, London: 57–80. Retrieved 2007-09-14.
  14. ^ "Holy Land Blues". Al-Ahram Weekly. 5–11 January 2006. Retrieved 2007-09-14.
  15. ^ Wiener, Noah (6 April 2013). "Spurned Samaria: Site of the capital of the Kingdom of Israel blighted by neglect". Biblical Archaeology Society. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  16. ^ 2 Kings 17 and Josephus (Ant 9.277–91)


32°08′35″N 35°15′38″E / 32.14306°N 35.26062°E / 32.14306; 35.26062