Why do groups of people hate each other? Sometimes that dividing line is race, but what if the race issue is indistinguishable? Sometimes they battle over territory. But what if the territory is already established? Money? Culture? Jews and Samaritans had so much in common, but the dividing lines were drawn early, as a result of a broken and fallen world.
Samaritans are not ethnically Jewish or Arab. They were originally Jewish, but mixed with other races so they were no longer considered to be Jews. The Samaritans began when they stayed in the Northern Kingdom while the Assyrians overran them in 722 BC.
The divided Israel was composed of ten of its tribes in the north (plus the Samaritans), while the south had two, Judah and Benjamin. Jerusalem was in the south and after the divide those in the north would no longer travel to the temple to worship.
Hatred began after the tribes were divided
Almost immediately after the division, the hatred began. Because of the split, the northerners changed their worship practices to avoid traveling to Jerusalem for sacrifices. They set up idols instead. Then the Assyrians overtook the Israelites and the Israelites began to intermarry, which was in direct opposition to the warning issued by Moses concerning marriage in Deuteronomy 7:3.
As a result, the Jews, from the south, called the northerners “half breeds” and “dogs.” Over time, Jews and Samaritans also became enemies because of religious differences.
Jews maintained that one must worship at the Temple in Jerusalem. Unfortunately for the Samaritans, that wasn’t an option. The Samaritans held only to the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, rejecting the other writings entirely.
The two groups hated each other. For centuries they lived next to each other, but never established a friendship. Their hatred was not unlike many racial hatreds that exist around the world today.
Jews hated Samaritans because of all of the upheaval
Israel was always in the state of uproar. Even in the days of King David, there was always conflict and turmoil. The rift between Jews and Samaritans was just a byproduct of all the upheaval. Politics, self-interest, greed and the lust for power all played a part in tearing the two groups apart. To this day, the troubles continue as politicians try to negotiate a two-state system in Israel.
Jesus bridged the divide between Jews and Samaritans
“The Chosen” television series, tells the story of the woman at the well and shows the divide between the two groups. In a very touching and tender scene, Jesus makes a connection with a Samarian woman to begin His public ministry. In an instant, the dividing lines are obliterated.
The Lord Jesus Christ united Jews and Samaritans. He brought gentiles into the fold and continues to reach out to every living human being. We are all beloved of God, but it is only through Christ that the world will ever become united.