For many years, accurately writing the history of the Samaritans has proven to be elusive for two main reasons: the records of the Samaritans history are very scarce and the references tend to contradict each other sometimes. In the entire Old Testament, “Samaritans” appears just once in II Kings 17:29. The bible authors used this term to refer to the colonist newcomers who perpetuated paganism. However, majority of the Samaritans included the people of Israel who did not face deportation and continued to perpetuate their Israelite faith. The beliefs imported by the newcomers failed to survive in Israel, and according to the Jews, the later Samaritan theology does not contain any traces of paganism.
The Samaria’s mixed population was not considered to be ‘Jewish’ by the Jews from the south. As recorded in Ezra 4: 1-6, after the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon, they began to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple. When the Samaritans offered to help in the reconstruction, the Jews rejected the offer. Although the Samaritans resorted to frustrating the project, their efforts failed. When the Samaritans saw the Jews, who had returned from the exile to reconstruct the walls of Jerusalem, they protested to King Artaxerxes, leading to the suspension of the project.
The project resumed later following the return of Nehemiah whom the King appointed as governor. As recorded in Nehemiah 6: 1-13, the Samaritans’ hostility against Nehemiah was still alive and well, and the division now became clear as the Jews forbade the Samaritans from offering their sacrifices at the Jerusalem Temple. This prompted the Samaritans to construct their own temple at Mount Gerizim. Additionally, they were forbidden from intermarrying with the Jews. The Samaritans came up with their own bible, which included Pentateuch alone. Contrary to the accepted Hebrew bible, this text, in an extra verse, affirmed Mount Gerizim as the location of the temple. These events resulted in the long-standing animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans.