3 Visions You'll Catch When You Visit Samaria
A Region, a Kingdom and a City
1) Visit Samaria The Region.
When you visit Samaria, you'll notice the region of Samaria is located in the Central Hill Country of Israel. It is surrounded by the Sharon Plain to the west, the Jordan Rift Valley to the east, the Jezreel Valley to the north, and the Hill Country of Ephraim to the south.
During biblical times, there were two major international highways: the Coastal Highway and the King's Highway. Both of these highways extended from Egypt to Assyria. Between these two highways lay the land of Israel. In order to travel from Egypt to Assyria, one must travel through Israel. Several east-west passes run through the Central Hill Country connecting these two major highways, a major one being the Megiddo Pass which runs through the Jezreel Valley, just north of the region of Samaria.
Perhaps the two most well-known New Testament references to the region of Samaria are the stories of the Good Samaratin (Luke 10:25-37) and the story of Jesus speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42).
2) Visit Samaria the Kingdom.
Many people know the stories of Saul, David and Solomon and how they were the first kings of Israel. But, what many people don't realize is that during Solomon's reign (931 B.C.) the once united kingdom of Israel divided into two kingdoms:
- the northern kingdom of Israel (made up of 10 tribes)
- and the southern kingdom of Judah (see 1 Kings 12)
The land of Samaria belonged to the northern kingdom of Israel. Throughout the scriptures the northern kingdom is often referred to as Israel, however, it is also known by several other names. One of those names is Samaria (see Hosea 8:5).
The books of 1 & 2 Kings record the acts of all of the kings of both the northern and southern kingdoms. Of the northern kingdom (Israel or Samaria), not one king is said to have done what was "right in the sight of the Lord" rather all "did evil in the sight of the Lord." As a result of the evil that they did, after warning the people through the prophets (Hosea 8:5; Amos 3:1-4:3), the Lord sent the Assyrians who destroyed the northern kingdom and carried off the inhabitants into exile in 722 B.C. (see 2 Kings 17).
3) Visit Samaria the City
Following the division of the kingdom, one of the kings of the northern kingdom, Omri (885 B.C.), purchased the hill Samaria. He built a city on the hill and named the city Samaria, and made it the capital city of the northern kingdom (see 1 Kings 16:23-24).
Omri's son Ahab is said to have done more evil than all of the kings of the northern kingdom before him (1 Kings 16:30). What was that? He built an altar to Baal in the temple that he built for Baal in Samaria! Who was Baal? He was one of the gods in the Canannite pantheon and was often depicted by a bull calf. Thus, the words of the prophet Hosea: "He has rejected your calf, O Samaria."