Exploring the biblical theology of Christian egalitarianism

A Brief History of the Samaritans

Samaritans observing Passover on Mount Gerizim in 2006. Edward Kaprov.(Wikimedia Commons)

Samaritans observing Passover on Mount Gerizim in 2006.
© Edward Kaprov (Wikimedia Commons)

Israel Splits into Two Kingdoms

At the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, the land of Samaria was situated between the regions of Galilee in the north and Judea in the south. Jews travelling between Galilee and Judea would take the longer, six-day journey along the Jordan River valley rather than taking a shorter, more direct route through Samaria. The Jews avoided the Samaritans because of their bitter history.

Hundreds of years previously, after the death of King Solomon in 975 BCE, the nation of Israel split into north and south. (See 1 Kings 11:26-39 and 1 Kings 12:1-24.) The northern tribes of Israel were collectively called Israel, and their capital city was Samaria (1 Kings 16:24). The southern tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Simeon were collectively called Judah, and their capital city was Jerusalem. A distance of  50kms separated the cities of Jerusalem and Samaria.

A Brief History of the Samaritans (and Jews)

Map of Israel and Judah, showing Samaria and Jerusalem.
© Tyndale House Publishers (Source: Visual Bible Alive)

The Fall of Israel

All the kings of Israel, without exception, were unfaithful and disobedient to God. They embraced idolatrous religions and were extremely wicked. After repeated prophetic warnings about coming disaster—unless Israel repented, the northern kingdom of Israel was overpowered by the Assyrians in around 724 BCE.

Many of the Israelites who had survived the attack were taken to foreign lands where they were assimilated into the native populations (2 Kings 17:5-6; 17:22-41). These northern tribes are referred to as the “lost tribes of Israel”. However, a few groups of Israelite families retained their ancestral integrity.

The Assyrians sent five eastern tribes to live in Northern Israel. These five tribes brought with them their own foreign religions and customs. The tribes were sent with the purpose of diminishing the Israelite identity and culture. The eastern foreigners intermarried with the remaining, much depleted Israelite population. This hybrid people group was the beginning of the Samaritans.

The Assyrian Empire fell to the Egyptians in 612 BCE. The Egyptians had already taken control of Samaria in 610 after taking the life of the Judean king, Josiah, who had himself hoped to conquer Israel. The Egyptians were subsequently defeated by the Babylonians, and Samaria became a minor capital city of the Babylonian empire from 605 to 562 BCE.

The Fall of Judah

In 586 BCE, the southern kingdom of Judah was also conquered by the Babylonians (2 Chron. 36:15ff), and the whole of Israel and Judah came to be known as Samaria. Many Jews[1] were exiled from their homeland and taken captive into Babylon for seventy years, as prophesied by Jeremiah (Jer. 25:11-12; 2 Chron. 36:21). The Jewish population was taken in several stages to Babylon. It seems that only the poorest, sickest, and least skilled were ultimately left behind. These remaining people intermarried with their northern neighbours with the result that foreign beliefs and customs mixed with Jewish beliefs and customs.

The Returning Jews

The Jews were mostly treated well in Babylon. While some Jews lamented their captivity in a foreign land (see Psalm 137), others became established in their new communities. When the Persian King Cyrus was divinely led to allow the Jews to return seventy years later (Ezra 1:1ff), only the most devout Jews returned to Jerusalem with the purpose of rebuilding the city and its temple.

The Babylonian exile had been a punishment for Judah’s unfaithfulness to God, and the Jews had learned from it. The returned Jews were zealous for God and righteous living, and, with some exceptions, they never again engaged in blatant idolatry. The returning Jews were keen to rebuild the Jerusalem temple so that they could worship God in the way he had prescribed. The Samaritans offered to help the Jews in rebuilding the temple but this offer was scornfully rejected (Ezra 4:1-5).

The Jews of the post-exilic period were also zealous for the scriptures. Scribes copied them, and synagogues and schools were established to teach from them. This real repentance over past idolatry, combined with their fervour for scripture, would result in an over-scrupulous interpretation of scripture and fanatically detailed religious observances by various Jewish sects such as the Pharisees and the Qumran community.

The Samaritans

Meanwhile, the Samaritans had developed their own version of Judaism. The Samaritans still believed in the God of Israel, but they worshipped at Mount Gerizim (instead of Jerusalem) with their own adapted worship practices. The Samaritans also had their own Pentateuch in Aramaic, which differed in places from the Hebrew Pentateuch.[2] To this day, the Samaritans do not accept the poetic and prophetic books of the Hebrew scriptures.

In around 400 BCE the Samaritans built a temple on Mount Gerizim. This caused tension and hostility between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Jews ultimately destroyed the Samaritan temple in 128/9 BCE. Nevertheless, the Samaritan religious community still survives today.

Most Jews regarded the Samaritans as ignorant, superstitious, and outside of God’s favour and mercy. The Samaritans, however, were still very much part of God’s plans as shown in the fourth chapter of John’s gospel where Jesus brings the good news to Sychar, a Samaritan village.[3] Moreover, Jesus specifically mentions Samaria in Acts 1:8 where he tells his disciples: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Christian churches were soon established there (Acts 9:31 cf. Acts 8:1, 4-5ff; 9:31; 15:3 CEB).


Footnotes

[1] The word “Jew” is derived from the word “Judah”.

[2] The Pentateuch consists of the first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The Samaritans reject all other books of the Old Testament.

[3] The parable of the Good Samaritan presents the Samaritan in a very favourable light, but we must be mindful that Jesus chose the figure of the Samaritan for effect in his story (Luke 10:25ff). The thankful, healed Samaritan leper is also presented in a favourable light (Luke 17:11-19). The Samaritan woman, and indeed her whole village of Sychar, are presented as people ready to accept that Jesus is the Messiah (John 4:4-42).

© 2nd of September 2009, Margaret Mowczko

A Brief History of the Samaritans (and Jews)

Mt Ebal on the right, Gerizim on the left.
© V. Gilbert and Arlisle F. Beer (Source: Visual Bible Alive)

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The Samaritan Woman of Sychar (John 4)
Christmas Cardology (3): Nazareth to Bethlehem
Jesus and the Samaritan Woman
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48 thoughts on “A Brief History of the Samaritans

  1. Samaritans are not jews they collaborate with romans to harass and persecute the jews – THE SAMARITANS were worshiping idols and not keeping the commandments,

    The rabbis of the Talmud discovered that the Cutheans TODAY THE SAMARITANS were worshiping idols and not keeping the commandments, the sages expelled the Cutheans from the Jewish fold and declared them to be gentiles.

    In the Talmud, a central post-exilic religious text of Rabbinic Judaism, the Samaritans are called Cutheans (Hebrew: כותים‎‎, Kutim), referring to the ancient city of Kutha, geographically located in what is today Iraq –

    “The good Samaritan” was an illegal occupier of Judea and especially an anti-Jew.
    -Some Samaritan men would enlist in the Roman auxiliary troops for a chance to legally harass their Jewish neighbors
    -The Samaritans took pleasure in sabotaging the new month (Rosh hodesh the first commandement in torah) lights used by the Jews to signal that a new month had begun.
    The holiday dates were to be celebrated on certain days of the month, knowing that the first day of the month was necessary.

    During the Roman occupation, Samaritans secretly arriving in Jerusalem began to disperse human bones against the porticoes and throughout the temple (the Samaritans of Flavius Joseph).

    AS TO THE FAMOUS PAROBOLE “THE GOOD SAMARITAN” IT WAS INVENTED BY THE CHRISTIANS SIMPLY BECAUSE THESE GOOD SAMARITANS HAD SO MUCH JEWISH HATRED THAT THEY COLLABORATED WITH THE ROMANS

    1. Hi Jean,

      The Hebrew Bible tells us a bit about the ancestry of the first-century Samaritans who lived in the northern part of the Roman province of Judea. (See map here.) Rabbinic Judaism (and the Talmud) dates after the periods discussed in this article.

      No one denies the hatred and contention between the Samaritans and the Jews, and yet the New Testament, even though it was written by Jews, doesn’t condemn them.

      Interestingly, Josephus, who records that some Samaritans tried to desecrate the temple in Jerusalem with bones (Antiquities of the Jews 18.29-30), was himself a Roman collaborator.

      The Good Samaritan was not a real person. He is a fictitious character who Jesus used to shock his Jewish audience. The story is great, especially because of the unexpected and unlikely figure of the Good Samaritan. The Good Samaritan was “invented” by Jesus.

      All the first Christians were Jews. Tragically, some later Christians, beginning from the mid-second century onwards, were anti-Jewish. But there is no indication whatsoever that their bigotry caused them to alter Bible verses which mention either Jews or Samaritans. Also, some Jews were anti-Christian. For example, Gamaliel II did not allow Jewish Christians to belong to synagogues.

      It would be wonderful if all people could put religious and racial bigotry aside.

      1. Thank you for a good post which was very well done.

        However, I did not find the answer I was looking for. Was Nazareth ever considered to be part of Samaria?
        Was there any basis to the Jew’s accusation that Jesus was a Samaritan? John 8:48. Or was that just intended as an insult?

        1. Hi Ike,

          In Jesus’ time, Nazareth was very much part of Galilee. And there’s archaeological evidence which shows that many of the inhabitants of Nazareth were devout Jews. The town was never part of Samaria.

          The Jewish opponents of Jesus say some foolish things in John 8. For example, “We’ve never been anyone’s slaves” (John 8:33). This is a ridiculous statement. The Israelites, and, later, many Jews, were taken captive numerous times throughout their history.

          Importantly, when they call Jesus a Samaritan, they also say that he has a demon (John 8:48). They are insulting him to the nth degree.

        2. In my view the Jews intended to insult Jesus, because of the long lasting enmity between Jews and samaritans.

    2. Thanks so much Marg, your blog really helped me understand Jn. 4 in a way.

      QUESTION:
      The woman in Jn. 4 outrightly called Jacob, “our father”. Do you think the Samaritans (foreigners and all) adopted Isreal as their nationality or was this woman one of the few Israelites that were not taken to captivity ?

      Thanks.

      1. Hello Ebhodaghe,

        The woman is called a Samaritan, not an Israelite, in John 4. And she does not identify herself as an Israelite or as a Jew.

        It is possible her ancestors escaped deportation by the Assyrians hundreds of years earlier. Jews (Israelites), Samaritans, Muslims, and even Christians, all claim Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as their patriarchs (“fathers”).

        What I think is interesting is that Jesus and the New Testament always speak favourably about the Samaritans (except for Simon Magus). The Jews may have thought the Samaritans were hopelessly compromised and beyond God’s favour, but this was not Jesus’s view.

    3. It seems to me that it was a Jew who betrayed Jesus not a Samaritan. Jesus reached out to the Samaritans and did not differentiate them from the traditional Jews of that time

  2. Ms Mowczko,

    I have a little research that you may find interesting. As we know, the Samaritans were a people traditionally pejoratively described as being of ethnically mixed Israelite and Mesopotamian descent (and therefore not ethnoreligiously Jews), the result of Assyrian deportation of Mesopotamians into Israel (the northern kingdom) after their conquest in 722-721 BCE. Assyrian sources such as the Sargon II Inscriptions and the Nimrud Prisms, per W. W. Hallo & K. L. Younger (eds., Context of Scripture, Vol. 2: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World, Brill, 2000), affirm the ethnic component to the schism. C. F. Kent (A history of the Jewish people during the Babylonian, Persian, and Greek periods. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1923.), also adhering to this position, stated that after the initial construction of the Samaritan temple on Mt. Gerizim ca 400 BCE and the Samaritans’ emulation of the Judean adoption of the Priestly Law, that instead of “reverting to heathenism… they adopted as their law the complete Jewish law.” The Samaritans disputed the ethnic basis from the beginning, noting that the schism was prompted by Eli (I Sam. 1.1-3 and 2.12-17).

    A. D. Crown (Redating the schism between the Judaeans and the Samaritans. The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, 82(1/2), 1991) relates that the differences were primarily ones of religious practice, not theology, although the interpretations of differences were becoming increasingly ethnic/partisan and in a few instances violent in nature. Regardless, S. Schwartz (John Hyrcanus I’s destruction of the Gerizim temple and Judean-Samaritan relations. Jewish History, 7(1), 1993) relates that both considered themselves Israelites throughout the Second Temple era (see John 4.12) with Crown stating that it wasn’t until after the Second Jewish War that the Samaritans were unquestionably considered by Jews to be Gentiles.

    Samaritans and Galileans/Judeans had a complicated relationship, perhaps not monolithic nor consistently hostile over time. As Crown says, I think it was all too easy to devolve to denigration based on ethnic differences when religious-based conflicts arose between Jews and Samaritans… after all, the entire northern kingdom of Israel received the Mesopotamian transplants not to mention that the Bible says plenty about native pagan religious customs creeping into Jewish practices in both kingdoms.

    1. Thanks for this, Rick.

  3. What’s your take that God used President Donald Trump of United States to restore Jerusalem as the Capital of Isreal?

    1. I have no views on this. I am an Australian and have little interest in American politicians.

      In Jesus’ day, the capital city of the Roman province of Judea was Caesarea Maritima not Jerusalem, but that didn’t stop the Jews regarding Jerusalem as their capital city.

  4. Dear Marg,

    wow, loved your article. Thank you so much. So many years of study rendering such insight to us in only a few minutes. Could you please explain to me …. why are the “”Jews”called “”Israel”today while Israel is actually dispersed all over the word? Just interested in the socio historical impact it has on Christians. Judah are the Jews … and although Judah is ONE of the 12 tribes of Israel, they cannot represent ALL 12 of the tribes and thus be called “”Israel””?
    Your insight will be so very much appreciated and will shed light on so many questions I have about this!!!
    God bless you sister you are precious!!!

    1. Hello Paul,

      It’s not as cut and dried as Judah being one tribe and the other tribes being dispersed. For starters, after Solomon’s death, the tribes of Benjamin and Judah both stayed loyal to Rehoboam when the other tribes went with Jeroboam, but they were collectively called “Judah”. And some Levites were with Judah and others were with Israel.

      Also, later on, not every single person from the tribes that were then collectively called “Israel” was dispersed by the Assyrians.

      After the Babylonian exile, the Israelites who returned to Jerusalem were mostly from the tribe of Judah and they were sometimes called Jews and sometimes called Israel.

      But there’s even more to it. There are hundreds of years between the return from exile and the time of Jesus. During those years, the Jews went through many wars and troubles which complicates things. Their culture and beliefs changed in some ways too.

      In the time of Jesus, the Holy Land was divided into different provinces or kingdoms. Jerusalem was in the Roman province of Judea and this fact meant that the inhabitants were often called Judeans, which is equivalent to “Jews”. However, many Jews did not want to be limited by Roman “geography”; they still regarded themselves as “Israel.”

      Paul, who was from the tribe of Benjamin, uses both words “Jews” and “Israel” to refer to Jewish people. He usually used “Jews” to refer to people on a more individual basis (e.g., Gal. 3:28), and he usually used “Israel” to refer to people in a more collective sense for people in the present and people in Israel’s past (e.g., Rom. 11:11; 1 Cor. 10:18).

      Let me point out that Anna, the widow, was from the tribe of Asher (Luke 2:36). Zechariah and Elizabeth were from the tribe of Levi (Luke 2:5).

      The word “Israel” is used about 80 times in the New Testament. The word “Jew(s)” is used about 200 times. “Jews” occurs about 60 times in John’s Gospel, but only a handful of times in the other Gospels. It also occurs about 80 times in the book of Acts. My sense from reading the New Testament is that, in the first century, non-Jews typically referred to Jews as “Jews” but that Jews referred to themselves as “Israel” and sometimes as “Jews.”

      I hope this helps.

  5. Am really satisfied with these insightful contributions. God bless you all.

  6. Hello, I am seeking to better understand why Jesus told his followers in Luke 10 to not go to the Samaritans but to the lost sheep. But then why did he go there in John 4? This led me to learn about the divided nation that I never realized. Then I learned the Assyrians relocated the northern kingdom. And now my question: do you feel all 12 tribes were there in Jesus day? So when Jesus was born in the country of Judah, he did a lot of his ministry in the northern kingdom, so was that a time when all 12 tribes were united under Rome? Or when did they come back after the big move by Assyria? Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Marion,

      In Jesus’ day, there were many more Jews living outside of the Holy Land than within it. But I imagine that descendants from each of the twelve sons or tribes of Israel could be found in the Holy Land. However, generally speaking, Jews did not live in tribal clans or on ancestral tribal lands in the first century. For the most part, unless one was a Levite, a Jew’s tribal heritage did have a significant bearing on their life.

      Thousands of years and several major, even cataclysmic, social upheavals had occurred between the time of Moses and Joshua and the time of Jesus. And Rome did nothing whatsoever to unite the tribes of Israel.

      Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, but he lived most of his life in Galilee. He ministered in both Judea and Galilee, but more so in Galilee.

      Jesus doesn’t mention the Samaritans in Luke 10:1-24. In Matthew 10:5-6, however, Jesus says, “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The difference between Luke 10 and Matthew 10 may be due to the fact that Luke was much more accepting of Gentiles as potentially belonging to the people of God, than Matthew. And the occasion of John 4 may have happened after Matthew 10 and Luke 10.

  7. Dear Ms Mowczko:

    I appreciated your scholarship on the Samaritans. Your version was easier to read and in some areas, more insightful in comparison to other sites that have conducted a similar outline on the Samaritans.

    I am hoping you would give me permission to cite your work in a potential, unrelated future work of my own? If granted, is there a special format for the citation that you would prefer for me to use?

    Thank you in advance

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Thank you for your encouraging feedback.

      I don’t have a preferred format for citations, but I hope you will include my website address and spell my name correctly. Even I get my name wrong occasionally. 😉

    2. You are a blessing to our generation Mrs Marg.
      God bless you.

      1. Thanks, Alex. I appreciate your kind words.

  8. Marg,
    Thank you so much for this. I never knew until now that the Samaritans were actually Jews. This was very well written and very educational. I also read all the q&a and am very impressed with your answers. You have a good soul girl.
    Thank you again
    Kerry

    1. Thanks, Kerry.

  9. Thanks for this article. It can’t be easy for someone with your breadth and depth of knowledge to decide what to include but for me you nailed it. It completely answered the questions I had.

    1. That’s great to hear, Craig.

  10. Thanks so much, ma.
    But why was it said that nothing good comes from Nazareth?

    1. Hi Chinedu,

      Nazareth in Galilee was looked down on by the people who lived in Judea. Jewish people who lived in smaller towns and rural areas of Galilee were thought to be less sophisticated than the Jews who lived in Judea. So Nathaniel is genuinely surprised, or perhaps intrigued, that anything good can come from a place as humble as Nazareth. So he asks the question recorded in John 1:46: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” He doesn’t actually say “nothing good comes from Nazareth.”

      Craig Keener explains this further here.

      I have a bit more about Nathaniel here.

  11. Madam thank you for your answers and the history about the samaritans my question is, your take on the sabbath day is it still binding or not?

    1. Hello Chrispin,

      The command to keep the Sabbath day (Saturday) holy was given to the Israelite community and it is a sign of their covenant relationship with God. There is no clear indication in the New Testament that gentile Christians need to keep the Sabbath day holy. In fact, it would have been difficult, even impossible, for many first-century Christians (and Jews) who lived outside of Israel to refrain from work and keep the Sabbath holy.

      Exodus 31:12-13:
      The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you.'”

      I think the Sabbath day commandments are not binding for non-Jews, but I do not know this for certain.

      1. Hello marg : l thank you for your carefull answer you have given but are you trying to say the ten commandments were also given to the jews only, cause the sabbath day is law number 4. And what do you think are we not spiritual lsrael that we should follow the custom of JESUS according to luke 4:16. To add on james 2:10 says whosoever keeps the whole law yet offends in one point he is guilty of all. Please your help will be highly appreciated.

        1. Hi Chrispin,

          The Ten Commandments were given to the Israelites as a community. The Jews would not exist until centuries after Moses delivered the Ten Commandments, but as direct descendants of the Israelites, it may apply to them also.

          Does spiritual Israel follow the laws that physical Israel were obligated to follow? Paul’s letter to the Galatians would indicate otherwise. Perhaps read Galatians or at least Galatians 3. “Get rid of the slave woman!” (Gal. 4:21-31).

          I do understand your concern. Sabbath-keeping was something I anguished over for years. I didn’t understand why most of the church does not keep Saturday holy. But then I realised it was something unique to the Israelite and to devout Jewish communities who have not accepted Jesus and the new covenant.

          I see no reason to go to a synagogue on the Sabbath day as was Jesus’s custom (Luke 4:16).

          Whether we keep Saturday holy, or another day, does not affect our relationship with God if we have put our continued trust in Jesus as Saviour and Lord and are sincerely following Jesus and his teaching to the best of our ability. Whatever we do, we must do it in faith.

          We are all guilty of breaking the “whole” law as James and Paul put it. That’s why Jesus came to save us and the Holy Spirit came to help us.

          1. Marg,

            Actually, when God gave the commandments, laws, and statutes to the Israelites in the desert HE said they were forever. He also said that they were for the Native and stranger ~ Exo 12:49
            “One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you.” Num 15:29
            ‘You shall have one law for him who sins unintentionally, for him who is native-born among the children of Israel and for the stranger who dwells among them. Num 15:30
            ‘But the person who does anything presumptuously, whether he is native-born or a stranger, that one brings reproach on the LORD, and he shall be cut off from among his people. This is only a few of multiple times God says this. Furthermore, Jesus Himself says that Mat 5:17-19

            “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

            This is a rebuke from Jesus to anyone who teaches not to follow all of God’s Commandments and laws which are Jesus himself the alpha and omega or the aleph tav in Hebrew gave to Moses -look at the hebrew and you will see the Aleph tav.

            Paul can be confusing and Galatians certainly can be but in Romans Paul clearly says we are to uphold the law – Rom 3:31
            “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.”

            Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”

            So the law tells us what sin is therefore if we are not keeping the law, the first five books of the Bible, Torah, not the Talmud which was written by man, then we are sinning.

            Jesus was not crucified so that we could have a free pass to sin. He was crucified so that we could receive the Holy Spirit, live by the spirit, and be free from sin, which there is no law against as Paul says, there is no law against being righteous and so if you aren’t sinning you are not under the law.

            In fact if you sin you are putting Jesus back up on the cross and trampling in His blood.

            Hebrews 10:26-30 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”[fn] says the Lord.[fn] And again, “The LORD will judge His people.”

            Those are some pretty bold words. There are so many scriptures on this, Paul talking about being grafted into the native vine, that would be Israel with all the laws and commandments and covenants. Just like Ruth, she became a part of Israel with all its laws, covenants… as well as Caleb the Kenezite.

            And let’s see what Jesus has to say about the law:
            Mathew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

            When Jesus was rebuking the Pharisees and scribes it was many times about things they had added (the Talmud) to the Mosaic law. For instance, it is not a commandment of God that you wash your hands before you eat.

            I am not saying that you are saved by your works. Please do not think that. What I am saying is that true faith leads us to follow God’s commands. They are commands of God why would anyone who believes in God not follow His commandments. And why would God who does not show partiality say to one group of people you can eat pork but you people over there, you can’t? That would be contrary to God. No, HE wants all people to follow His laws, commandments, and partake in HId covenants which by the way are with Israel NOT the Gentiles. But if the Gentiles choose to follow God and His commandments…. then they will become part of Israel and will no longer be gentiles. Remember there are no gates in heaven for gentiles only the twelve tribes of Israel (rev 21:12).

            James tell us that faith without works is dead. James 2:18-20
            But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your[fn] works, and I will show you my faith by my[fn] works.
            You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!
            But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

            We will be judged by our deeds. Rev. 20:12And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God,[fn] and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.

            God being the righteous and just god that He gives us exactly what we are going to be judged upon – the Mosaic law.

            Man adds the page saying “New testament” in the bible. All the gospels, and letters, are quoting the old testament and teaching from “old testament” scriptures.

            The new covenant does not say the the Mosaic law is gong to disapear and we no longer have to follow it. The new covenant is that Goid is going to write the law on our hearts and in our minds.

            Hebrews 8:10
            “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

            Why would He write the laws on our hearts and in our minds if we no longer had to keep them? That would not make any sense.

            One last thing though I could go on and on with scripture, Read the last few chapters of Ezekiel. The Prince of Peace (we know this is Jesus) will lead all the sacrifices in the thousand-year reign. Jesus himself will lead his people in keeping the sacrifices which are commanded in the law. and during this time if the nations do not come to the feast they will not receive any rain, so basically they will have famines.

            I pray that you wholeheartedly study these scriptures and this topic and that God lead in all your studies!

          2. I don’t disagree with what you’ve written, but I don’t know of a single person who, in the last couple of thousand years, has kept all the laws in the Hebrew Bible. Many of the laws are tied to the Holy Land which makes these particular laws impossible to keep (e.g., keeping the land fallow).

            Jesus didn’t even keep all the laws in the Hebrew Bible. He didn’t stone the woman caught in adultery, for example, when the other men were going to put her to death “lawfully” (Lev. 20:10).

            But we are straying far from the topic of this page.

  12. Best site I ever visited. Histories can be very difficult to understand at times but yours come with easy terms, languages and approach. As if the history should not end. Thanks Mrs Marg.

    1. Thank you, Oyedepo.

  13. Do the Samaritans practise Judaism?

    1. Hi Esther,

      In the first century there were different forms and expressions of Judaism; today there are even more forms and expressions of Judaism. While it might be argued that the Samaritans practised their own form of Judaism, the Samaritans do not identify as Jews. So, they do not practise Judaism.

      By the way, the first Christians were all Jews, and Christianity was initially a form of Judaism.

  14. Thanks Mrs Marg I Liked your answers God bless you my qn is :Is or was the “devil” a fallen angel?

    1. Hello Denis,

      The Devil, or Satan, is traditionally understood as a high-ranking angel who rebelled against God and was thrown out of heaven with other rebellious angels (demons). This understanding is based on interpretations of Ezekiel 28:14–18 and Isaiah 14:12–17. See also Jesus’ statement in Luke 10:18.

      All these rebellious angels are thought of as “fallen angels.”

  15. Denis Tumushabe: Thanks sister Marg I read through those scriptures so fantastic!. God bless you.There is nothing bad like feeling you are unsure of a teaching you really feel pain in the things of faiths. May God really bless you. Here are two qns. 1.Was adam created immortal or mortal? 2.What is ‘666’ about Rev.13:18 and verses like 16 and 17? Here in Uganda

    1. Hi Denis,

      There is nothing in the Genesis creation accounts that plainly states Adam or the first humans were created as immortal beings. But Genesis 1-3 also doesn’t say they were mortal. But there is an implication that eating the tree of life would enable humans to keep living and not die and, therefore, become immortal.

      The number of the beast, 666, may refer to the Roman Empire as a whole or to a Roman emperor who was persecuting Christians towards the end of the first century. Greek letters were used for numbers, and the Greek letters in “666” may point to “Nero Caesar.” More on this here.

      There are many things in the Bible that are not clear to us who are living thousands of years after the words were written and who are living in a very different culture. Pastors cannot know everything. If I don’t know something, I don’t teach about it. I might say something about it, but I will admit that I don’t know.

      I do not believe it is important to be sure of what 666 symbolises. There are many much more important things to teach about from the Bible. And it is very important to love one another and encourage one another in our faith and devotion to the Lord Jesus.

  16. Hello Madam Marg. Your answers are so interesting! and lovely especially for question (1) I am satisfied. May God bless you.

    1. I’m very happy to help. God bless you too.

      1. Some websites were sent to you sis.

        1. I saw that you included a few websites where people put their own web address if they have one. It causes problems when there is more than one web address in that field, so I removed the links.

          You might be interested in this 7-minute video from The Bible Project that explains what kind of writing The Revelation is.

          Here is part one of their video on The Revelation.

          And here is part two.

          The Bible Project has a series of videos about fallen angels and other spiritual beings here:

  17. Hi Marg
    Thanks for your website. I would like to add some key information if I may please:
    The Lord [YHWH] gave only one tribe to the throne of Judah under Rehoboam because of Solomon’s apostacy and that for David’s sake. 1Kings 11: 9-13.
    If that’s meant to be one additional tribe then it was Benjamin owing to locality of Jerusalem Simeon tribal land was landlocked between Judah and Edom so despite its physical position this can’t have been in The Lord’s plans for Judah Kingdom rule. Be that as it may at the time Asa was on the throne in Kingdom Judah, his righteous behaviour attracted people out of the Israel Kingdom implying that they could have either settled in Judah Kingdom and/or went to Jerusalem at major feasts 2 Ch 15: 8-9.
    Kingdom Israel was exiled in four waves over roughly ten years starting with the east of Jordan then second into Israel west bank northern region and third Samaria et al in that region. These waves are well documented in the bible but the fourth is not: And that is when Sennacherib king of Assyria [passed through the already conquered Israel land] and took the walled cities of Kingdom Judah 2Kings 18-13. The Jewish Midrash claims that around 200,000 were exiled into Assyria comprising the tribe of Simeon and those who had come from the Kingdom of Israel under Asa’s rule. Interestingly in 2 Kings 17-18 The Lord was angry with Israel and there was none left except the Tribe [not Kingdom] of Judah.
    The Assyrian-placed people in Samaria [none of them Israelites] 2 Kings 17 23 -24 had learnt about the God of the land from a non-descript priest sent over by the Assyrian king at the time of their placement in response to their plea to rid the land of aggressive lions. So, in an indirect way the new “Samaritans” were aware of YHWH as God of the land but did not serve Him 2Kings 17 25-28.
    After Kingdom Israel exiled Judah became even more apostate as accounted for in the book of Jeremiah and in Jeremiah 13:9 …..Judah shall be carried away captive all of it, it shall be wholly taken away.
    In 6th chapter of Isaiah it states that Isaiah has to keep preaching to Judah until all the cities are uninhabitable no houses occupied and the land laid waste –[being the point when Judah is exiled] but there shall be one tenth of Judah to come back. According to Ezra/Nehemiah [although not consistent] around 30,000 came back [so it is fair to assume that around 300,00 were exiled to Babylon] but even these were to be judged by The Lord.
    These returning Jews had re-written Torah [in Aramaic] with a new overarching verbal law [the Halakah or oral traditions of the fathers]. It was this new law that was given to the people by the self-appointed Pharisees [ a revised Levitical priesthood] and was heavily influenced by the Babylonian Mystery Traditions aka Kabbalah and Gnosticism. This also came with the Babylonian synagogue system.
    About 250 years after the Jews re-occupied the Jerusalem region a self-appointed king of Judah/Judea who also made himself high priest, named John Hyrcanus, decided to expand the borders of the reduced tribal land of Judah/Judea. Large chunks of Samaria and Edom were conquered and under the threat of death, made to accept the Jews religion and traditions.
    Judaism is a neo-modern label for the modern Jews’ religion. The Samaritans had a version of YHWH religion to keep the lions away until John Hyrcanus imposed differently. Because of the Jews hatred however the oral traditions were hard to impose and the main reason why the Samaritans had their own religion.
    Edom land and people were now part of “Judah” and the whole area became known as Judea by the Romans, but the religious elitists [in Judea] called it Israel. King Herod was an Edomite and was a nominal Jew and carried out much temple restructuring in Jerusalem.
    Jesus told His disciples
    Mat 10:5 Jesus sent out these twelve, commanding them, saying, Do not go into the way of the nations, and do not enter into any city of the Samaritans.
    Mat 10:6 But rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
    Or put another way go not to the nations [true meaning of Gentiles] referring to Galilee of Nations [true meaning of Galilee] or places in Samaria but go to the lost sheep of the HOUSE of Israel. There is only one area left and that is Judea known as Israel. In this area would live many Edomites so don’t go unto them but those few who are descendants of Israel [Jacob] most of which will be from tribes of Judah or Benjamin [the principle tribes exiled] with a few other tribal members who were living in that area at that time.

    1. Hi Matthew,

      I understand that God tells Solomon and tells Jeroboam through the prophet Abijah that only one tribe will be given to Solomon’s son (Rehoboam) and that ten tribes will be given to Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:11-13; 11:29-39). Nevertheless, Benjamin seems to have joined Judah under Rehoboam’s rule whether it was God’s will or not. (See 1 Kings 12:21ff; 2 Chron. 11:1, 12, 23; cf, 2 Chron. 10:17.)

      The pairing of Judah and Benjamin continues during Asa’s reign (2 Chron. 14:8; 15:1-2) and during the post-exilic period (e.g. Ezra 1:5; 4:1; 10:9). And, as you say, in 2 Chronicles 15:8-9 we discover some members of northern tribes also joined Judah during Asa’s reign.
      ___________

      I use the word “Judaism” in the context of ancient Judaism in much the same way that Paul did in Galatians 1:13-14 where he uses the word Ioudaismos twice.
      __________

      “The Assyrian-placed people in Samaria [none of them Israelites] …” Yes, the Assyrians didn’t place Israelites in Samaria. Rather, the majority of Israelites were forcibly expelled from Samaria.
      __________

      I’ve studied the Hasmonean Dynasty including Judean independence from the Seleucids, as well as the annexation of Samaria, Idumea (Edom), and Medeba (Moab), by Hyrcanus I. I should include a paragraph about Samaria under Hasmonean domination in my article.

  18. Thanks. Your article clears up quite a bit I was curious about.

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