The history of the Samaritans is vast and interesting. This article focuses on the enmity between the Samaritans and the Jews. Of course, the history of the Samaritans would not be complete without mentioning their enmity with the Jews. Any bible reader knows that the Samaritans were heavily despised by the Jews of the 1st century, and they (Samaritans) hated the Jews. But what gave birth to this intense animosity? With many stories dating back several centuries, answering this question accurately proves to be elusive. However, if you put together all these stories, they all boil down to the following issues.
Disagreements in the Post-Exile Era
When the Judeans returned to their homeland from Babylon, the rift between them and Samaritans grew wider. Reliable sources indicate that the Samaritans wanted to help in rebuilding the Jerusalem Temple, but Judeans turned down the offer in the belief that the Samaritans were pagans. However, other sources reveal that it is the Samaritans who refused to offer help. Whatever the claim, one thing is obvious: the Samaritans did not participate in the temple reconstruction.
Disagreement on Worship
When the twelve tribes of Israel entered the Promised Land, it did not take long for the Israelites to disagree on the way of worship. As a result, Israel split into Judah and Samaria after King Solomon’s death. The Samaritans continued to worship their pagan idols, which was not ok with the Judeans. The Samaritans developed their unique way of worship based on Pentateuch. The enmity became even worse when the Samaritans erected their Temple on Mt. Gerizim, which they considered to be God’s dwelling place.
Conquest by Foreign Nations
In 724 B.C., the Syrian army conquered Samaria. The Judeans did not express any sympathy for their northern neighbors. This angered the Samaritans. Later, the Assyrians were conquered by the Egyptians, and the Egyptians were in turn conquered by the Babylonians.
So sad is the fact that differences in worship, wars, and other forms of disagreements caused a long-standing hatred that divided people who were once brothers.