The origin of the name Samaria (Shomron in Hebrew) is associated with a certain Shemer, to whom Omri, king of Israel (886-875 BC) bought a hill, which he fortified to build a city on it.
He gave the city the name of Samaria. It became the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel. Being a lush and very wealthy city, Damascus became its rival.
The name of Samaria was later dedicated to the entire center of the kingdom of Israel, and more particularly, the mountainous region which surrounded it.
The religion of the Samaritans ( Shomronim in Hebrew ) is based on the first five books of the Bible. Therefore, their only prophets are Moses and Joshua. Until today, the Samaritans are faithful to the Law of Moses. They practice circumcision on the eighth day of the birth of a baby boy and observe Shabbat scrupulously. They celebrate the pilgrimage festivals on Mount Garizim (which means ‘sacrifice’ in ancient Hebrew), where they sacrifice the Passover lambs.
The origin of the conflict between the Jews and the Samaritans dates back to 722 BCE (before the common era) Following the conquest of the northern kingdom by the Assyrians and the inevitable arrival of foreign settlers, who would mix with the jewish local population. This combination of different people would be born as the Samaritan people. To their traditional gods they will add the worship of YHWH (Yahweh = G-d). The Samaritans are since then considered heretics by the other Jews.
Over the course of history, relations between Jews and Samaritans would gradually deteriorate. The construction of a Temple in 323 BC on Mount Garizim, recognized by the Samaritans as the site of the sacrifice of Isaac would be the beginning of the conflict with Jerusalem.
The final break between Jews and Samaritans occurred in 107 BC .Jean Hyrcan, king of Jerusalem, destroyed the city of Sichem and the Temple of Garizim.
In the Christ era, the Jews regarded the Samaritans as strangers. They did not socialize. The Jews considered the objects, animals or crops that crossed Samaria, were unsuitable for worship.
According to the New Testament, some Samaritans rally to Jesus, who gave them as an example in the Acts of the Apostles, the Church opens without discrimination to the Samaritans and John the Baptist would have exerted an influence in Samaria.
In recent history, they have even managed to get in the good graces of Christians, eager to see in them the descendants of the “Good Samaritan”.
In 1907, a family of Samaritans from Nablus settled in Jaffa, on the Mediterranean coast, still in Palestine. In 1955, a few years after the creation of the State of Israel, other members of the community, eager to find work, obtained the right to settle in Holon and south of Tel Aviv.
One of the main rules of the samaritan is the prohibition of marriages outside the “family”. This consanguinity, preserved over the centuries, has caused a degeneration of the population.
Following the 1st intifada in 1987, to avoid any further conflict, the Samaritans left the city of Nablus. They settled at the foot of Mount Garizim. In 1990, they obtained an Israeli identity card, on which they are defined as “Samaritan”. This card allows them to freely travel the West Bank and Israel. This is an undeniable advantage compared to the local Palestinians, especially during periods of tension.
There are 820 Samaritans in 2019 living in Nablus or Holon.