Are the Samaritans Israelites or Gentiles? Secular sources have no shortages of information concerning them. But we first learned from the Bible that they have an extensive history dating from 722 BCE to today. It is all documented in the Bible.
But the information we have from secular sources conflict with that of the Bible. Therefore, we should go back to the Bible to address the discrepancies.
Myths about the Samaritans
The Samaritans claim to be descendants of the Northern Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. They claim to have survived the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in 722 BCE.
Other sources claim they are members of a community of Jews. But though now nearly extinct, they claim blood relationship to the Israelites of ancient Samaria.
Yet some sources claim they were half-Jews and half-Gentiles. They claim that when Assyria captured the northern kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C. some were taken in captivity while others were left behind. But the Bible tells a vastly different story.
The Real Samaritans
The people whom this study represents are shown above. They are reputed to have up to a million people at some point, but their numbers have diminished throughout the years. Their population today is 820 (2019). Most of them reside in the state of Israel (in Holon). 415 (2017) of them. Another 381 (2017) in Mount Gerizim.
“Their Religion is called Samaritanism and their holy book, the Samaritan Pentateuch. This is a modified text of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. It was written in the Samaritan alphabet and used as scripture by them.
But are the Samaritans Israelites or Gentiles? The facts are reported by the Word of GOD
We first read about the Samaritans in the Bible. This was around 722BC. It all started with the dissolution of the state Northern Kingdom of Israel by Assyria.
2 King 15:19-20 In his days Pul king of the Assyrians ascended upon the land. And Menahem gave to Pul a thousand talents of silver for his hand to be with him, to strengthen his kingdom in his hand. And Menahem brought forth the silver for Israel, excised upon every mighty man in strength, to give to the king of the Assyrians -- fifty shekels for the one man. And the king of the Assyrians returned and did not station there in the land.
The Assyrian assault on the Northern tribes commenced during the times of King Menahem who reigned around 750BC. Consequently, Israel became a vassal state of Assyria and paid tribute.
Not long after things deteriorated for Israel. We read in (II Kings 15:22-23) that in 740BCE, Pekahiah murdered Menahem and reigned in his stead. Two years we read in (II Kings 15:32-33) that later in 738BCE Pekah killed Pekahiah and reigned in his stead. But in 718BCE Hoshea killed Pekah and reigned in his stead (II Kings 15:30)
The beginning of the dissolution of the Kingdom of Israel under Hosea
2 kings 17:6 In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of the Assyrians seized Samaria, and he resettled Israel into Assyria, and he settled them in Halah and in Habor, the rivers of Gozan, in the mountains of the Medes.
I must interject that this verse has spawned many tales, including the one about the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel or that Israel became assimilated with Assyria. But these are not facts
The Bible will introduce the Samaritans and show if they are Israelites or Gentiles
In the following passage, we are introduced to the Samaritans for the first time. There are some commentators who think these people are Hamites. I think they were mixed Hamite and Japhetite. But whomever they are the Bible is clear that they are not the Sons of Israel. because we read the following:
2Ki_17:24 And the king of the Assyrians led from out of Babylon the one from out of Cuthah, and from out of Ava, and from out of Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and settled them in the cities of Samaria instead of the sons of Israel. And they inherited Samaria, and they settled in its cities.
The Assyrians took people from other parts of their empire. Namely, Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and Sepharvaim. They settled them into cities (Towns) of Samaria. One can only be a son of Israel if your parents are sons of Israel. You cannot become a son of Israel by virtue of being settled into the land they occupy.
If that is not convincing, Listen to the Words of YESHUA some 750 years later.
Luke 17:12-18 And of his entering into a certain town, there met with him ten leprous men, which stood at a distance. And they lifted their voice, saying, Jesus, master, show mercy on us! And one of them, beholding that he was healed, returned with a great voice glorifying God, and he fell upon his face by his feet giving thanks to him; and he was a Samaritan. And responding Jesus said, Were there not ten cleansed; but where are the nine? Were there not found any returning to give glory to God, except this foreigner?
In this verse, JESUS referred to the Samaritan as “Foreigner!” Therefore the individual is NOT an Israelite as the other nine lepers!
JESUS just repudiated the Idea that Samaritans are of the people of Israel.
The Samaritan Pentanuclear is an adaptation of the first five books of Moses. It is not the Word of GOD
But let us continue to expand this a little further in 2Ki_17 to examine the Samaritan relationship if any, to the sons of Israel or to the GOD of Israel. Speaking of the Samaritans that the Assyrians settled in Samaria, we read further:
2Ki_17:25 And it came to pass in the beginning of their place of sitting down, they did not fear the LORD. And the LORD sent among them the lions, and they were being killed by them.
The Greek word “fearG5399” or the Hebrew version H3372 conveys the same meaning. It basically means that they were not afraid of the GOD of Israel. HE does not frighten them; they do not have any respect for HIM. They continued with the same idolatrous practices they took from their former homeland. But quickly GOD got their attention. They became prey for lions HE sent among them.
2Ki_17:26 And they said to the king of the Assyrians, saying, The nations which you resettled and relocated, in the cities of Samaria, they know not the distinguishing manner of the God of the land. And he sent to them lions, and behold, they are killing them, in so far as they do not know the distinguishing manner of the God of the land.
The Assyrian king believed the solution is in observance the correct way of serving the god of the new land they occupy. They believe they need to bring back one of the priests of the Sons of Israel whom they had taken out of Samaria and resettled in Assyria.
2Ki_17:27 And the king of the Assyrians gave charge, saying, Lead away there one of the priests whom I resettled from Samaria! and let him go and let him dwell there! and he shall enlighten them on the distinguishing manner of the God of the land.
The Samaritans were taught by Idolators Israelites priests but they are Gentiles
Notice two important things here: The priest they brought back was not a legit priest or even a Levite. Around 782BC King, Jeroboam has initiated false worship for Israel. During this time, the Northern Kingdom had completely turned its back on the GOD of Israel. Because we read
1Ki 12:27 if this people should ascend to offer a sacrifice in the house of the LORD in Jerusalem, then the heart of the people shall turn towards their master, to Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me. 1Ki 12:28 And the king consulted, and made two heifers of gold. And he said to the people, Let it be enough for you to ascend to Jerusalem! Behold, your gods, O Israel, the ones leading you from out of the land of Egypt. 1Ki 12:29 And he put the one in Beth-el, and the other one he put in Dan. 1Ki 12:30 And this account came to pass for sin. And the people went after the one unto Dan. 1Ki 12:31 And he made houses upon high places, and he appointed priests from any part of the people who were not of the sons of Levi. 1Ki 12:32 And Jeroboam made a holiday feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, according to the holiday, the one in Judah. And he ascended unto the altar which he made in Beth-el, to sacrifice to the heifers which he made. And he placed in Beth-el the priests of the high places which he made.
2Ki_17:28 And they brought one of the priests which they resettled from Samaria, and he settled in Bethel. And he was enlightening them how they should fear the LORD.
The GOD of Israel was never the Samaritans god
They put him to live in Bethel. Bethel was the seat of the calf worshipping religion that Jeroboam had instituted in Israel hundreds of years earlier.
2Ki_17:29 And nation by nation were making their gods. And they put them in the houses of the high places, which the Samaritans made, nation by nation in their cities in which they dwelt.
This is where we encounter the word Samaritans for the very first time in the bible. In the KJVBible it is H8118. It is right there in 2Ki_17:29. The GOD of Israel is making the determination for posterity as to whom the Samaritans are. The Samaritans are NOT of the sons of Israel. They are gentiles who want to be in Israel. Also, they have no spiritual relationship to the GOD of Israel, they are gentile idolaters.
2Ki_17:30-31 And the men of Babylon made Succoth Benoth. And the men of Cuth made Nergal. And the men of Hamath made Ashima. And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak. And the Sepharvites incinerated their sons by fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, gods of the Sepharvaim
2Ki_17:30 And the men of Babylon made Succoth Benoth. And the men of Cuth made Nergal. And the men of Hamath made Ashima. 2Ki_17:31 And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak. And the Sepharvites incinerated their sons by fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, gods of the Sepharvaim
If the Samaritans were in fact Israelites instead of Gentiles, GOD would have had a covenant relationship with them. The GOD of Israel would not permit them to carry out the pretense of fearing HIM while serving their idols. HE showed you what HE did to Israel when they served idols.
2Ki_17:32 And they were fearing the LORD, and they made for themselves priests of the high places; and they offered for themselves in the houses of the high places. 2Ki_17:33 They were fearing the LORD, and they served their gods, according to the distinguishing manner of the nations from where he resettled them from there.
Being taught by the idolatrous priest sent among them, they made priests of the high places and did offerings and sacrifices. believing they can serve and worship GOD. All they were doing was serving their customary gods.
The Samaritans are not Israelites, they are Gentiles. GOD never ordained a covenant with them
The LORD only ordained a covenant with the people of Israel and not any other nation.
2Ki_17:34 Until this day they do according to their distinguishing manner. They are not fearing the LORD, and they do not do according to their ordinances, and according to their judgment, and according to the law, and according to the commandment which the LORD gave charge to the sons of Jacob, of whom he established his name Israel. 2Ki_17:35 And the LORD ordained with them a covenant, and he gave charge to them, saying, You shall not fear other gods, and you shall not do obeisance to them, and you shall not serve to them, and you shall not sacrifice to them.
GOD has re-introduced the sons of Israel as a reference to the Samaritan mode of Worship. Yes, these people have instituted a religious system, but it is quite unlike the ordnances and according to their judgment, and according to the law, and according to the commandment which the LORD gave charge to the sons of Jacob. In “whom he established his name Israel. And the LORD ordained with them a covenant, and he gave charge to them, saying, you shall not fear other gods, and you shall not do obeisance to them, and you shall not serve to them, and you shall not sacrifice to them” All below is a reference to the sons of Israel only.
2Ki_17:41 And these nations were fearing the LORD, and they served to their carvings; even indeed their sons, and the sons of their sons -- they do as did their fathers unto this day. This is referencing the Samaritans only! Apparently, they have a newfound respect for the GOD of Israel since that lion eating episode earlier in their existence. But until today they continue to worship their idols of their forefathers. There was and still is a big difference between the Samaritans of that time and their contemporary neighbors, the sons of Israel. The sons of Israel were Idolatrous in the most part, but their descendants have a covenant relationship with the GOD of Israel. The descendants of the Samaritans do not have a covenant relationship with GOD.
Samaritans are not half Israelites and half Gentiles. There is no genetic relationship
The is, that is another gross misrepresenting of the Bible. It is never easy to determine where these myths and legends got started but I will propose and discuss a few: For example, we read the following:
Ezra 9:1 And as these things were finished, the rulers approached to me, saying, The people of Israel did not separate, and the priests and the Levites, from the peoples of the lands in their abominations -- of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite, the Ammonite, the Moabite, and the Moserite, and the Amorite. Ezra 9:2 For they took of their daughters to themselves, and to their sons, and the holy seed mixed together among the peoples of the lands; even by the hand of the rulers and of the commandants in this breach-of-contract in rule.
But notice the nations mentioned here do not include Samaritans. They only include Canaanite, Hittite, Perizzite, Jebusite, Ammonite, Moabite, Moserite, and Amorite. Furthermore, Ezra remedied that situation. The transgressing men were ordered to divorce their foreign wives and send them away with the children they bore. (Ezra 10:1-44)
This myth could also come from an incident described in (Nehemiah 13:23-31). For example, we read:
Neh 13:23 And in those days I saw the Jews who settled with wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and Moab. But in that case Nehemiah apparently fixed that. (NEH 13:30) And I cleansed them from all aliens, and appointed watches to the priests and the Levites, each one in his work,
But one quickly notes that the foreign nation referenced here are Ashod, Ammon, and Moab only. This is pure conjecture. It occurs from the spurious association of the name Sanballat the Horanite with the Samaritans in Neh 4:2.
Sanballat was a Moabite, not Samaritan
Neh 4:2 And he (Sanballat) spoke before his brethren, and the force of the Samaritans, and he said, What do these Judahmen do -- the Jews? Shall we not abandon them? Is it to sacrifice? Is it that they will be able to? And today, will they repair the stones with the embankment rubbish for being burnt?
The name Sanballat appears only in the book of Nehemiah. On the other hand, the word Samaritans only appear in the Old Testament two times (2Ki_17:29 and Neh_4:2) In Nehemiah 4:2 each time it is rendered as the force of the Samaritans; the army of Samaria; the multitude of the Samaritans. Therefore, this is telling you that Samaritans were present in numbers.
Yet historians and Christian scholars use this to make the erroneous connection that Sanballat the Horanite is a Samaritan. The nations that were in contention with the men of Judah in the time of Nehemiah were Horonite, Ammonite, Arabian, Ashdodites, and Samaritans.
Apparently, at the time of this confrontation, there were the Horanites, Samaritans, and Ammonites. The problem with this theory is that Sanballat was a Moabite, not a Samaritan.
The “Brown-Driver-Briggs” Definition:
Horonite = “native of Horonaim”
1) an inhabitant of Horonaim in Moab
1a) the designation of Sanballat, the opponent of Nehemiah
But it only got worse. Consequently, after making the spurious association of Sanballat with the Samaritans, they made the association of mixed marriage in Neh 13:28
Neh 13:28 And from the sons of Joiada, Eliashib the great priest, in-law to Sanballat the Horonite -- even I threw him from me.
If there were intermarriages, it was between Moabite and Israel. Not a Samaritan and Israel.
The woman at the well near Sychar was an Israelite, not Samaritan!
As proof of this we read the following:
Joh 4:6-7 And the spring of Jacob was there. Then Jesus being tired from the journey, sat thus at the spring; it was about the sixth hour. There comes a woman from out of Samaria G4540 to draw water. Jesus says to her, Give to me to drink!
Let us clear up the semantics of Samaria Samaritan/s and Samarian/s. The key to understanding these sentences is to understand the usage of the context of the verse.
See the map above for the location of the city of SamariaG4540. This is saying simply that this woman lives in a village called Sychar in the city of Samaria. She is not a Samaritan.
The Masoretic replaced the word “Judea” with “Jews”
Joh 4:9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
The woman identified so far as a woman from out of the city of Samaria says to YESHUA. “How do you be a Jew…” YESHUA is from the tribe of Judah although HE resided in Galilee for HIS entire life.
The problem in understanding this statement is in the insertion of the word “Jew.” It is a fake insertion from the Masoretic text. Over time they replaced the original words of “Judean” or a man of Judea with Jew.
The Romans created Judea in 6AD as a geographical entity. Temple worship in Jerusalem was associated with the Judeans. Historically always at odds with peoples of the other provinces. she just acknowledges again that she is a woman who resides in the ancient city limits of Samaria(G4542). The ancient city limits of Samaria have been associated with an ethnic group called Samaritans.
There was a long-going schism between the Samaritans and the men of Judah about the proper place of worship. The Samaritans worship at the temple on Mount Gerizim. The Israelites worship in Jerusalem. The Israelites in Galilee and Samaria still travel to Jerusalem to worship at the temple. There are also some racial aspects to the division. The Judeans do not regard the Samaritans as Israelites, and rightly so.
Irrefutable proof the woman out of Sychar is an Israelite
The woman out of Samaria asks JESUS the following question:
John 4:12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave to us the well, and himself drank from it, and his sons, and his livestock?
Her forefather is Jacob. This is the tradition of “Jacob’s well” Now if you were in doubt of this woman’s ethnicity, John 4:20 is the final proof.
John 4:20 Our fathers in this mountain did obeisance, and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where it is necessary to do obeisance.
If a Samaritan made this statement, they would be lying. If YESHUA did not correct her then she must be correct. Her forefather is Jacob. She is an Israelites. But her forefathers did false worship in those hills she referred to. Even though GOD commanded her forefathers to worship in Jerusalem. She is just relating the experiences of her ancestors, the ten northern tribes as they disobeyed GOD’s Words and suffered the consequences of no longer having a nation.
John 4:22 You do obeisance to whom you know not; we do obeisance to whom we know; for the deliverance is of the Jews.
The phrase “the deliverance is of the Jews” is complicated from the replacement of the original word Juda (sometimes spelled Judah) with the word “Judea” and Judean which the Masoretic corrupted into “Jews.”
Judah is the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. They consisted of the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The Bible earlier prophesized that the MESSIAH would come out of Judah.
Gen 49:10 A ruler shall not fail from Judah, and one leading from his thighs, until whenever should come the things reserved to him. And he is expectation of nations.
Only an Israelite can confess a messiah
John 4:25 The woman says to him, I know that Messiah comes, the one being called Christ; whenever he should come, that one will announce to us all things.
The Samaritans cannot confess this because they are not Israelites but Gentiles. Their customs never spoke of a coming MESSIAH. The idea of a messiah is arcane only to the people of Israel. She was talking to her promised MESSIAH and was unaware.
John 4:29 Come, see a man who told to me all things as much as I did! Maybe this is the Christ?
There is no Samaritan culture that speaks of a CHRIST. This is what any true Israelite would do in this situation. She would tell her brothers and sisters of Israel. Therefore, this woman and the men of her village are Israelites.
In summary, YESHUA fully acknowledges that the sons of Israel and Samaritans live near each other in the city of Samaria. (See map) Israelites live all over the provinces of Samaria and Galilee
Matthew 10:5-6 These twelve Jesus sent, exhorting them, saying, Unto the way of the nations you should not go forth, and unto a city of Samaritans you should not enter. But you go rather to the lost sheep of house of Israel!
Therefore, the question if the Samaritans are Israelites or Gentiles is clearly answered. Israel and the Samaritans never shared any ancestral relationship. They are Gentile in the sight of the GOD of Israel.