Listen to the Land (Historical Geography) - Lesson 15


Who was Omri, and why was he significant in making Samaria an important city? When the people of Judah returned from Persia, there was a conflict with the people of Samaria. The animosity that was still present during the ministry of Jesus set the stage for an encounter he had with a woman that was at a well near the city.  

Cyndi Parker
Listen to the Land (Historical Geography)
Lesson 15
Watching Now

I. Samaria

A. The city

B. Assyrian influence

C. Babylonian influence

D. Persian influence

E. Rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem

F. Religious heritage of the people in Samaria

II. Shechem vs. Jerusalem

A. Jesus walks through Samaria

B. Herod the Great's three sons

  • The land influences the people that are living on it by affecting their stories. Learning to listen to the land helps you understand the details that are hiding in the background so that when you read the Bible, it’s like you see the narrative in living color and 3 dimensions.

  • Major rivers in the Ancient Near East provided the resources necessary for empires like Egypt, Assyria, Babylon and Persia to grow and flourish. Israel is on a couple of the major trade routes that connects these cultures. The location of mountains, hills and valleys in Israel affects the lifestyle and travel patterns of the people who live there and the people travelling through.

  • Learn how the geography and climate of the Cisjordan and Transjordan regions shape agricultural and shepherding activities, emphasizing the importance of rain patterns and water management techniques in biblical times.
  • Learn how the granite, sandstone, and three types of limestone shape the lifestyle, agriculture, and building practices in the biblical lands, highlighting the geological factors that influence whether inhabitants are migratory or sedentary.
  • Bashan is in the north and has enough rainfall and arable soil to support crops and large animals like cattle. The Dome of Gilead provides connection points for international and local travel. Ammon and Moab are neighbors and descendants of Lot’s daughters. Edom is south and are descendants of Esau.

  • The people that migrated to live in the coastal plain were known as the Philistines. Because of the location and terrain, the roads were sources of international travel and trade. Cities were built for commerce and control. The Negev was an important area to control for travel.

  • The Rift Valley is valuable because of its location and resources. Bitumen and Balsam were sought after. It was a popular trade route but it was important to know where to get water. Jericho was at crossroads and was near some major springs. Connecting events in biblical history to the event and location of the baptism of Jesus adds weight and significance to it.

  • The hill country of Judah has enough rain to grow grapes and other crops. Hebron was first given to Caleb and then was the city that David ruled from when he first became king. It was a connecting point for local roads. Bethlehem and Tekoa are also cities in this area.

  • Jerusalem is framed by the hills and valleys that are near it. The Sorek Wadi System is to the west and the Mount of Olives is to the east. David built a palace and Solomon later built a temple. Jerusalem was important in Jewish history and also has a place in eschatology.

  • By the beginning of the first century, Jerusalem was the site of a magnificent Jewish temple built by Herod the great. He also built an impressive palace and a Roman fort which overlooked the temple. The events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus take on added layers of meaning when you understand how the geography of the events reminded people of Messianic prophecies.

  • Benjamin has the smallest tribal allotment but it is one of the most significant areas in the nation of Israel. The geographical features, the cities located there and the roads that run through it make it a region of national and international importance.

  • The Shephelah is between the hill country and the coastal plain and has unique geographical features. When you know the location of the roads, valleys and cities in this area, you can see their significance in the stories. When you understand where Micah and Isaiah came from and their historical context, you can understand why there is a difference in their message and tone.

  • The rocks and roads will give you valuable information about the Sharon Plain and Mt. Carmel. The international road took different paths around Mt. Carmel depending on your final destination. The harbor and palace that Herod built in Caesarea were impressive.

  • The hill country of Joseph has abundant resources and nearby roads for commerce. Shiloh was a religious center and the place where Joshua met with representatives from each tribe to determine their tribal allotment. The women of Shiloh also were instrumental in saving the tribe of Benjamin. Shechem was important as far back as Abraham. Every time people would see Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal, it was a reminder of the blessings and curses of their covenant with God.

  • Who was Omri, and why was he significant in making Samaria an important city? When the people of Judah returned from Persia, there was a conflict with the people of Samaria. The animosity that was still present during the ministry of Jesus set the stage for an encounter he had with a woman that was at a well near the city.  

  • Upper and Lower Galilee have the climate soil that is conducive to widespread agriculture. Lower Galilee also has some valleys that became major roads. Major empires of the fertile crescent exerted their influence here as they expanded. When the Greeks took control with their military, they also spread their cultural influence.

  • The Jezreel Valley is the center of activity for many of the biblical narratives. Not only was it an important economic and strategic location for Israel, but also for the Canaanites, Egyptians, Arameans and Assyrians. It is also a place where significant events took place in the lives of the prophets and Jesus.

  • This body of water is often referred to as a, “sea” even though it is fresh water, not salt water. There are not many stories in the Hebrew Bible that take place in this area, but it is a center of activity for Jesus during his ministry. Many of the parables are illustrations taken from local culture and geography.

  • The Huleh basin has an abundance of water from several sources. The soil is also good, but the conditions for growing crops in some areas presents some challenges. Dan is a strategic city in the north as a gateway to the region and a religious center under Jeroboam. Caesarea Phillippi was built by Herod and was a place that Jesus used to teach his disciples about his role as Messiah and their future as leaders of the church.  

  • The Gospel of Luke traces the journey of Jesus to Jerusalem, and the book of Acts traces the journey of the gospel going out from Jerusalem. The events in Pentecost have a connection to the events at Mt. Sinai. The gospel is for the world but the events that made it possible are anchored in Israel. (Don't forget the Epilogue, Lesson 21!)

  • There are two different stories in the Gospels of Jesus feeding large groups of people. One account is in John 6 and another account is in Mark 8. The message is similar but the geography gives you some clues to help you understand why the details are different.

Have you ever read about a place and when you went there in person, it came alive? As you walk through the hills and valleys of Israel with Dr. Parker, you will see the stories of the Bible in living color. 

Your location affects your lifestyle, relationships, worldview, occupation, diet and travel. In ancient Israel, you depended on the resources around you to survive. People often lived near springs or rivers, but it was possible in some places to collect rain water and ration it through the year. The terrain and the type of soil would determine what crops you could grow, or what animals you could raise. Living near a road would give you opportunities to sell what you produced or buy what you needed. Your location would determine the amount of risk you would face from people in neighboring countries. By living in the hill country, you would develop a different mindset than if you lived on an open plain.

Once you begin to have an understanding of the, "rocks and roads" of Israel, reading your Bible with a good map next to you will help you get a 3 dimensional perspective. When the characters and the scenery become life-like in your mind, you will find yourself being inspired and motivated in your understanding of your relationship with God and how you can apply it in your interactions with others. Take this opportunity to learn from Dr. Parker to "Listen to the Land!"


Recommended Reading:

Encountering Jesus in the Real World of the Gospels, by Dr. Cyndi Parker

Holman Illustrated Guide to Biblical Geography, by Paul Wright

Satellite Bible Atlas: Historical Geography of the Bible

Recommended Books

Listen to the Land: Historical Geography - Bible Study

Listen to the Land: Historical Geography - Bible Study

Have you ever read about a place and when you went there in person, it came alive? As you walk through the hills and valleys of Israel with Dr. Parker, you will see the...

Listen to the Land: Historical Geography - Bible Study
Satellite Bible Atlas

Satellite Bible Atlas

A comprehensive guide to biblical geography, The Satellite Bible Atlas by William Schlegel provides historical context and insightful maps to help readers better understand the world of the Bible.
Satellite Bible Atlas

Dr. Cyndi Parker
Listen to the Land
Lesson Transcript 


The capital doesn't stay there, though. 

The Northern Kingdom of Israel has a third capital city. This one was built by Omri. So Omri was a general in the army. And then there was a big insurrection and Omri anointed himself King. Omri moved to the capital from Terzi. He's like, there's an even more strategic place to be. And he goes over here to Samaria. 

So when you're in Samaria, there's something really quite wonderful because when you look to the east, you can see between the regions of Ebal and Gerasene, you can't see them because the mountains are kind of in the way. But you can see where the very center, the very heart of Samaria is, or the Manasah, Ephraim Manasah is, you can see that. But when you stand here, you can also kind of see the blue glint of the Mediterranean Sea. There is something, and again, it's just suggestive, suggestive, and it's a bit of conjecture on my part, but there is a if I just reached my arm out just a little bit more I'm going to be on that international road. Like I'm almost there. You can almost feel Omri saying, “I'm too big and I'm too important to be stuck in the hills.” Right? “I deserve to be out there.” And he's gaining strength and reputation so that he can stretch out of the hills and get into more international waters. 

Omri and then his very famous son, Ahab, lived here. In fact, these are the ruins of the palace that they built. We have, again, like this is always going to be the royal ‘we’ archeologists found a big cache of ivory like highly decorated ivory. These ivory like real small pieces, like they're not huge. They're real small, but they're very intricately designed. The Israelites never did this. This is an imported item. The Phoenicians were known for their ivory trade, so maybe bringing ivory up out of Egypt, out of the African continent. But their artisanship is Phoenician. So we can see Omri going up to Phoenicia being like, Ooh, this fancy stuff. I want this fancy stuff. I'm going to build a couch for myself and I'm going to inlay it with really fancy, beautiful ivory. And we still have some of that ivory that was found there, really beautiful decorative pieces. This area of Samaria is later on going to give its name to the entire region, which is where we're going to get the Samaritan people, which we're going to come back to, because I'm going to explain how all of that works. But it comes from this capital city of Samaria that remains always important, and it is the only capital city of the northern kingdom of Israel until Assyria comes and conquers them and then Assyria. The outsiders are going to come in and say, We took Samaria. We're going to put a governor here to rule over all of the Samarra region. Now when we move a little bit closer to New Testament times, if we were to go to our very good friend Herod the Great, perhaps we've looked at a few of his buildings here and there, and I haven't even showed you all of them. But here in Samaria, very interesting, because Herod the Great in Samaria didn't have a very strong Jewish ideology that he had to be careful of. So up in Samaria, he was able to build a temple, which is the foundations of this building that you see here. But this temple, when he built it, he dedicated it to Caesar. So Herod the great Josephus tells us that Herod the Great built three temples to this Caesar. None of them are in the heartland of Judah, which makes sense because Herod's trying to keep peace there. But one of them is here. One is at Zechariah Maritime. Remember, he builds that harbor. He can build it there because it's virgin territory. There's no Israelite story buried in that soil. And then another one, he builds up Assyria, Philip II. And we'll talk about that maybe once we get up there a little bit further to the north. But this area of Samaria, so we have Armories Palace where Ahab lived, and then all of the other kings after them. And then right on top of it all is this palace or the temple that is dedicated to Caesar. Okay. We're going to we're going to do a quick little historical overview, but I just want to make sure I'm coming to the Samaritans. I just want to make sure that there aren't any questions before I. I go on. 


You mentioned a lot like the Northern Kingdom and the Northern Tribes and Israel and Judah. Can you clarify that a little bit for me? What the tribes are, where geographically the differences. 

Dr. Parker:

I love the geographical question. I can. And let me pull up because I think maybe I have something because we talked about how it took 50 years for the northern and southern kingdom to figure out who is going to take the tribal area of Benjamin. This may not be the right picture to show, but it'll be a little helpful initially. To the south. So we have the tribal allotment of Judah, and Judah pretty much swallows up. Simon The tribal allotment of Simon is kind of. It's never really super independent. Almost immediately gets swallowed up by Judah. Then just north of us, we have Benjamin, which everyone is fighting over everything. To the north of that, all the rest of the tribes become the northern kingdom of Israel. It's tricky. Dan is a tricky one. And we're also going to talk about the tribal allotment of Dan, but Dan ultimately is going to be in the northern kingdom of Israel as well. So that's it's Ephraim and Manasa. Levites are spread out all over the place. But we have over in the Transjordan, we have Reuben, Gad and Manasah. Those are all kind of going to go away pretty quickly. They get absorbed and they kind of fall off the historical map. And then we get Asher on the coast, Zebulon Naphtali, that are all the northern tribes up in Galilee. Judah Basically it's Judah. Judah Simeon who got absorbed early on and a portion of Benjamin. Right. Everything else is northern. Northern Kingdom. Yeah. 


So if part of the sin of Jeroboam is creating a different holiday or a different feast time, then if we look to the New Testament and it talks about how the law is no longer in effect, those kinds of things. But the Protestant church, we create our own holidays that are different than the feasts. So in a couple of sentences, could you talk about the theology of that or are we following in Jeroboam's sin or the feasts important or how does that work? 

Dr. Parker: 

Oh. This is always my problem. People ask me these questions where really they're looking for yes or no. I'm like, Well, 500 years ago, they're like, No, no, no, we don't want all of that. So my instinct is to go through the entire transformation that is there in the New Testament. There is no no encouragement to drop everything from the Hebrew Bible right word. Jesus doesn't set us on a new track. He's the continuation of the track that we're on. And just saying, let me just clarify even more and let me just be the perfect example of what we're supposed to be before me. And we do have Jesus who at the end, like, if we think of the Passover meal in the Last Supper, he starts going, You know what? This meal that always made everyone think of coming out of oppression, coming out of slavery, of God being there, Victor and Jesus going, Yes, yes, all of that. And also all of what I'm about to do, which falls in line with what is that, you know, which is beautiful. He's taking all of these symbols that the Jews are accustomed to celebrating and saying, that is absolutely true and we'll remain true because it speaks of God's character. I'm just another example of what God is doing. They and absorbing these things. 

Now, why don't Protestants do that? Well, they're oh, my goodness. There's a huge we have to go through so many hundreds of years to even get to who Protestants are. I mean, the church goes through massive transformation to even get to Protestants, but there is something of and we will get to this at the very end of class. What happens when the story of God leaves the land thick with the story of God? When it leaves and it goes out into the greater Roman world, where every bit of soil and every stone and every marker on the horizon line is not making people remember who God is like. What is that transformation? Ray And I think it is that transformation into the Roman world that didn't share the same background, the same Israelite background. I think part of that transformation is what gave us a bit of amnesia, because then some of the people who were learning there were early Gentiles who had massive respect for Israelite history, and they learned it. But then that in successive history got a little bit lost. Paul never told us to forget it. Paul was always going back to the Hebrew Bible. In fact, Paul loves the Book of Deuteronomy. By the way, if you just read all of Paul's writings through the lens of Deuteronomy, we would get Paul rate a little bit more than we normally do. Some of my Pauline friends might. I'll see if they'll text me later and say if they agree with me or not. 

So that isn't a super direct way to answer the question, but I think there's those little bits of significant historical time pieces and movement out of geography and into a different geography that is going to push at the story and change the story and the memory of the story in a slightly different way. 

So we are in Samaria. I need to get us to who the Samaritans are who show up in the New Testament, and the roots are here in this place. But we need to pull back just a little bit and take a big international look. We've been so in the details of the local economy and the local people that I want us to remember that there is the Fertile Crescent where the great big, huge riverine communities are that are growing up and fostering great, big, huge empires that are going out and conquering the world. And indeed, at the end of our Hebrew Bible time, we're seeing this brand new country of Assyria, this empire of Assyria that is ruthless and brutal, and it is pushing out of the Mediterranean, and it is just clawing at and swallowing up this area, not because they care about it, but because they're determined to take Egypt. And this just happens to be the way that they are going to get there. 

So we get this Assyrian empire and four Lord of the Rings fans. I always at least of the movies I always think of when the Assyrian empire leaves Mesopotamia, because we have just been following the the pushing and punching and throwing elbows of the local kingdoms. When Assyria comes, it's like the gates of Mordor open and this massive, really scary army comes out. And they were known for being brutal. Brutal. 

So the Assyrian empire, when it invades, it comes down. The Northern Kingdom of Israel is the first to fall in 722. So by the time Samaria is destroyed, the capital city is destroyed. The entire northern kingdom has been taken by the Assyrians. So part of the practice of the Assyrians was when we win a war, we're going to remove people from the place where they grew up. Why? Land is powerful. Land holds a memory of who you are. Land and the memory of who you are will lend itself towards another leader rising up and a revolt that is happening. So a Syrian order to prevent that takes everyone away and scatters them into places where they have no memory. And it's and if you put people in different places, then it's like, yeah, go ahead, try to remember who you are now. There's no collection of people to help form your identity. 

Assyria doesn't leave the land empty. They bring in people, other people, groups. So people they conquered in Babylon, Cuthah, Aviv, Sepharvaim, Hamath in 2 Kings 17. So I love this because people are not always so familiar with this story, but this is a really important part of the text. 

So in 2 Kings it says, “Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Take it there. One of the priests whom you carried away into exile, let him go and live there.” 

Now, why do we need a priest? Because there have been lions and bears. Bears, I think no lions in 17, 2 Kings 17, who are coming out of the woods out of the forests and are attacking the people living there. And in the ancient Near East, gods are connected to the lands. There's no like god who is universal. There's always a god of this hill, a god of this valley. And so all of these new, brand new people who have been moved in are getting attacked by wild animals. And so they turn to their Assyrian governors and they say, we must not know how to worship the god of this hill very well. And so he says, Well, go find a priest from the people who used to live here, from the Israelites who were taken away. Go find one of those priests and the priest can tell you how to worship the god of this hill. 

Okay. And so go find one of the priests in exile. Let him teach them the customs of the God of this land. So one of the priests whom they had carried away into exile from Samaria came and lived at Bethel and taught them how they should fear the Lord. But every nation still made gods of its own and put them in the houses of the high places which the people of Samaria had made every nation in their cities in which they had lived. They also feared the Lord and appointed from among themselves priests of the high places who acted for them in the houses of the high places. Oh. Now, this is really interesting because we have a brand new people group coming into the hills of Samaria, the region of Samaria, knowing they need to learn how to worship God. One of the priests from the Northern Kingdom of Israel comes and shows them at least that version of how to worship God. But the people are looking around and going, Oh, there's high places to other gods here. It must be okay for us to continue worshiping our gods that we're just going to bring with us from home, just in case those gods have influence here as well. And so they learn a little bit about how to worship the God of Israel. Okay. Now, if we were to continue this narrative, we say, well, we have some pretty powerful reforming kings like Hezekiah and Josiah of the southern kingdom of Judah. Josiah, in particular is so struck when when they find the book of the law in the temple as they're refurbishing the temple, he's so struck by how far away they've gotten that they send people throughout the whole kingdom, including the Northern Territory, telling people how to properly obey the God of Israel. We see in the narratives of Josiah how he sends people even to the north. Kind of just beyond the tribal alarm, just beyond the edges of his kingdom. But we still have maybe the poor Israelites from up there. And we have people who have absorbed a portion of God's teachings who are up there. And Josiah is spreading how to properly worship God up there. Now, are any kind of like accurate historical record of what happens up there is missing. So a little bit of that is a little bit up for grabs, which is going to play into complications. Do you have a question before I go on? Because I feel the need to ask a question. 

Are these priests teaching them how to worship the golden calves that are there? 

Good question, at least for the author of Kings. There seems to be more of a proper Yahweh mystic worship. There's a naming of your way and the worship of your way. But it's a priest from the Northern Kingdom. So there's there it is a little bit of which version are they getting and which version are they getting when Josiah sends his reforms north? It's complicated. Okay. So Assyria is not going to last forever and Babylon comes next. And look at how much bigger Babylon is. I mean, Babylon, it's highlighted here, the Arabian Desert. Not that anyone was actually in there. But Babylon is taking all of that trade. So all the super expensive wealth coming out of the Arabian Peninsula, they almost get to. But not quite. Take Egypt. But they're pushing to the west. This is as far west as we've gotten so far. So Babylon is going to take over. Babylon is one that takes the southern kingdom of Judah into exile. And now think of yourselves as the last Israelites in the land. When Jerusalem is destroyed and you're going you're being taken away into exile, scattered throughout the Babylonian empire. How do you preserve your identity or do you? Your entire identity since the time the nation was born was you are an oppressed group of people who Godfried brought out, provided for you in the wilderness, gave you a land of inheritance and told you how to live, and then dwelt among you. What do you do when you don't have any of that? You don't have a temple. What else? They don't have idols to take with them. They don't have anything as a tangible representation of who God is. They don't have this same community identity because there's no longer a kingdom. And so what do you tell your children? How do you teach your children? What do you what do you do in exile? This Babylonian exile is one of the most transformative moments for the Israelites. It was a time where the Israelites, God down, like did the academics among them started saying, Let's edit are sacred scripture. Like, let's write the official version down. Right. There was a complete focus on getting things written. Let's edit it together. Let's figure out which are the versions of the stories that we are going to tell. It's during this Babylonian exile where they formed synagogues and synagogues, not as a building, but synagogues just mean the assembly. So where they started developing the practice of coming together and rehearsing who they are and maybe reciting passages of scripture they had memorized, discussing who God is. And so in the constant, we're just choosing not to forget, even though we're not in our land. But they also have all of these other interpretations that the prophets had given to them, where the prophets kept saying, As we look at scriptures, we see evidence of character of our God who is going to redeem us. And so even when people are here in Babylon, they're like, okay, so there's redemption. So what does that look like? Does redemption require us going back to the land or not? What is all of that? Right. So in Babylon, we have this great working out of identity. What languages can you speak? What do you teach your children? What are the absolute things you have to do to have a Jewish identity? What makes you Jewish? Basically. Right. And it's here because the Babylonians took the southern kingdom of Judah. They took the Jordanians into exile. The Jordanians started being called Jews. And so when they return, the Jews, which is their Judea and it's actually in Greek, it's going to be the exact same word, Judean geographically and Jew, a group of people. It starts getting confusing because the Jews lived scattered throughout the Babylonian Empire. But Judea is a geographical region. Right. So we're going to keep our eye on that because that becomes really interesting when we get to Jesus a little bit later on. I feel a question that needs to be offered. 

It just reminds me of Jeremiah 29. 

Oh, it should. 

And it it's where he's instructed to build houses, settle down plant gardens, and to increase. Don't decrease. Increase. 

Yep. Jeremiah boy, he has strong words for everyone at the beginning of the book because Jeremiah, by the time Jeremiah comes along and Babylon is on its way. Jeremiah's task is to tell people there's no immediate hope. All the prophets before him were. You still have time to change your ways. God can still redeem you guys. You know? And Jeremiah's like, I forget it. Like, if y'all just messed up too much, Babylon's coming. And Jeremiah says, You know what? The redemption is a future redemption, you know? And so invest where you're going because you're going to be there awhile. Right. So, yes, exactly. I'm glad you brought up Jeremiah. Babylon, of course, does not last forever. Persia is going to come and Persia, we should be in complete of this map of where Persia was able to go, because it extends off the map this way because the map isn't big enough. And of course, all of the land between. Look at all of this, Egypt and for the first time going into the southern coast of the Mediterranean and all the way up through and starting to push into what we call modern day turkey. That's incredible. Incredible what Persia was able to do in Persia, because they are just so big. And because they've absorbed everyone, they start to go, you know, it's a little ridiculous, like if you've been taken captive. If you want to go home, you can go on. Like, we don't even care. Like, they just don't even have they don't have the same policies towards foreign people. So they're like, you know, it's a polytheistic culture. Whichever God you also want to serve is fine. Like go build a temple to your God. We don't care. And so it's under this Persian empire that the Judeans were given an option to return to their city and to rebuild a temple. Radios under the Persian Empire. Oh, a question. 


[00:25:19] Because that's modern day Iran, right? So they have a huge heritage. 


[00:25:25] Oh, massive, massive, massive. They share this deep, rich heritage that the Israelites share. I mean, people were living in that Mesopotamian land long before there was ever such a thing as Abraham and the Israelites. Yeah. Okay. So let's bring it back in. We're going to we're leaving the international world. But it was necessary for us to see what was going on internationally, to get us to what is happening locally, locally, like in Ezra. We're going to get Ezra and Nehemiah are the second wave of people who come back. So when Cyrus says, if you want to go back, you can go back. And there's a small little group of people who go back. And then there's another wave that Ezra takes back with him. And so they go back and there's this whole you know, they've been in that pressure cooker of the Babylonian exile defining who we are. And we're so determined, like we have to hold on to our identity, which means there's only one temple to one God we're going to circumcise. That's a mark of the covenant. We're going to eat kosher. That sets us apart from other people. We're going to celebrate festivals and keep track of holy time, including Sabbath, because that's probably why we lost our land to begin with. Right. So there were certain things. They were like, these are the non-negotiables. And it's this idea of identity. And so the Jordanians come back and they're gathering and then they're going to start building a temple. And suddenly there are people from the north. Sam Blot is the one who's named in Ezra and Nehemiah, and he's the leader of these Northern people who come down and tell Ezra Nehemiah, Hey, do you want help? We'll help you build the temple because we're basically your kin. And as here goes. No, you're not. And here I go. No, you're not. No, no, no. We're worshiping the God of Israel. We're the remnant that stayed. We didn't leave. You left. And the people who had been in exile are like, No, no, no, no, no, we're the Jew Dayan's. We know who God is. God went into exile with us like we are the true remnant. So in Ezra four we can hear now win. And I'm going to put they in brackets. I'm saying they and I'll tell you what Ezra actually really says. But now when they heard that the people of the exile were building a temple to the Lord, they come. Now, if you actually were to read this in Scripture, it would actually say Now when the enemies of the Tribe of Judah and Benjamin. Ray. You can hear that they're already looking at these northern people with great suspicion and saying, Oh, but you're not us. And when we read this Ezra and Nehemiah story and they get so dead set on, don't marry foreigners. Don't marry foreigners. Right. There's a there's such a fear of losing their identity and there's such an awareness of wanting to adore God the way God wants to be adored, that that they're pushing others at bay and the others they're pushing at bay are the Samaritans, the people of Samaria who've been living here. What we find later. Sam Bulut, who is the leader who came here, he's like, Fine, you're going to build a temple. We're going to build a temple to God. It's just going to be in Samaria. Well, it just so happens that the grandson or Sam the Lot has a daughter. The high priest from the temple that's being built in Jerusalem has a grandson who marries that daughter. Because he makes that marriage. The people of Jerusalem are like, you got to go. Right. You can't marry foreign women. We're not negotiating on our identity. And so he goes back with symbol right here and they build the temple. Now, it's interesting to make things even more complicated. But the story's even better. The Jordanians in the Babylonian exile who are collecting their narratives, collecting their scrolls, editing everything, putting it all together, like through the pressure of this exile, they're forming and solidifying their identity. We find the people of the North are doing something similar. And out of that time is birthed the Samaritan Pentateuch. So they only have the writings of Genesis Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. But they have their own version. It's very, very, very, very similar to the Pentateuch we have in this book. But we are the receivers of the Jordanian version of the Pentateuch. Okay. So let's go back up to check them to Mount Gerizim and to Mount Ebo. Given the Torah that both people groups have. When we read the Torah or just the Pentateuch, which city is the most significant? Where the most layers of God story is there? The one where you're basically anticipating it's going to be the capital city of the Israelite kingdom when the Israelites come back from slavery in Egypt. Siakam is an option. Jerusalem is an option. Which city is actually in the Torah the most? Shaken Jerusalem is mentioned once. Melchizedek is the king of Melchizedek. The king of the of Jerusalem at the time. Now, here's something also very interesting. In the Judean Bible in Genesis. So this is where some people argue, well, maybe Genesis or maybe Jerusalem is mentioned twice. That potential second option is in Genesis 22, when God tells Abraham to offer his son Isaac, they go to the hills of Moriah. I said Go to the hills of Moriah is kind of a generic that would be me like swinging my arm around and going kind of there. It's those hills. Those hills belong to Mariah. It's not an X marks the spot. It's kind of a go to this region. Right? It is the chronicler at the very end, like when the people are in exile, the chronicler is the one who tells us Solomon built his temple on Mount Maria, one singular mountain. And so at some point the tradition evolves then that it was the uppermost elevated portion of the eastern hill in Jerusalem. That is Mount Moriah and Solomon built his temple there, holding on to layers of memory. In the Samaritan Pentateuch. Genesis 22. Abraham goes to the hills of Moriah, and the Samaritans say, This is the hill of Moriah. This is where Abraham almost offered his son as a sacrifice, which is why we built our temple there. You can't argue because you only have the Pentateuch to argue from. Everything else is the same. Do you see how tricky this is? Right. There's kind of a we understand the animosity, how it developed. And so we get the ruins of the Samaritan Temple up on top of Mount Gerizim at the very top. There's still a small fragment of Samaritan people who are still in existence today, and they still celebrate on top of Mount Gerizim. And you still can visit them and see how they celebrate Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot because they keep all of those traditions because all of those are given to us in the Pentateuch. Okay. So the Samaritans now have a temple. The Jordanians now have a temple. And everyone's going where the true people of God know, where the true people of God know. We know we are the true people of God. And there's a fight over that. And the fighting becomes filled with animosity. And for almost 450 years, 400 years. That friction and that like hatred of the other is so ingrained in the populations that by the time Jesus is walking on this land, they have so deeply hated each other for a very, very, very long time. And so it's interesting when we get to the gospel of John and John tells us. Jesus had to walk through Samaria. You think did he really have to walk through Samaria? Well, maybe what is traditional is Jesus in the Book of John, Jesus is in Judea. So he's down in the area of Jerusalem. In fact, he's been having complicated discussions with Nicodemus during this time. And then he leaves and John tells us he has to get to Galilee. So he's heading up here to the political region of Galilee. There's two ways you can go. The most direct would be that patriarchal highway runs the spine of the hill country to the Jezreel Valley into Galilee. That makes the most sense, and it's the most direct. However, because of 400 years of very complex history, it wasn't uncommon for people to take a slightly longer way just to avoid running into conflict. I mean, they still made this route Jews did through Samaria, just not always. So there's an option of going from Jerusalem down to Jericho on one of those roads that makes the connection. And then up the Rift Valley, up the Harrowed Valley, into the Jezreel Valley and Galilee. This will just take you a couple more days. Right. So when John tells us Jesus has to pass through Samaria, it is not has to because it's the only way to go. It's has to because he seems to have a significant appointment that he has to make. Right. So this is when he goes to Sacre, which is ancient Stockholm or it's just outside ancient Peckham. So the heart of Samaritan territory. And at a well, he ends up meeting a woman. Right now, this story is actually really interesting because it is full of knowledge of Samaritan Torah. They say when the woman who comes out to the well, she does come at an unusual time of the day. I mean, there's no reason why she can't go in the middle of the day to the there's no law. And because we know that Jesus is passing through like slightly after Passover. And so actually right in the middle of the afternoon is kind of a pleasant time to go out to the well. It's more unusual that she's she is very specifically trying to not be social. And so there's an obvious amount of hurt that has happened in her life for her to not want to be social. And so she goes at a time to the well where it can be a little quiet and she can have some time to herself. And then she sees this. Jordan, a Jew who is sitting there. His disciples have gone into the city to go do business, and so they are left a Jordanian and a Samaritan who are sitting there. And the conversation they have is really quite theologically rich because they start discussing water, living water, well, water. It's all very well attested to in the Bible. Who can provide what kind of water she's going are for? Father Joseph was here. Are you greater than Joseph? Yes, I am, actually. You know, but there's this interesting. And then he actually identifies that he understands the basis of her heart and the idea of I like to try to correct something that is sometimes put out day. People try to frame her as a prostitute. She's not a prostitute. She's been married. She probably has not been divorced all of those times. People will also say that of her and try to ostracize her. Women only earned the right to divorce women about 50 years earlier, and they would have never a divorced woman would have never been able to get married multiple times. She doesn't seem to have children. So it could be an issue of barrenness. Whether her husband died and she remarried and he died, she remarried and he died. But she doesn't have any children, it seems, in the text anyway, which is a real shaking up of identity. How do I belong in this community? The community is looking at me as someone who doesn't belong, right? There is so much hurt and Jesus seems to identify that hurt. I know why you're here alone. And then after he has extended this offer of conversation and her direction, she offers one back in his direction. She says, I know you all are expecting a messiah. Now the Samaritans in the Pentateuch, you don't have any promise of a messiah or there's no messianic idea that comes from. So she's actually offering an olive branch back to Jesus, like, I understand you all think there's going to be a messiah. Right. But you can see she is very well learned. And so for her to go, I think, you know, are you're expecting a Messiah? And Jesus is like, oh, yes. And then she's like, We think we should worship here. You think you should worship there? What's the correct place? So it's such an interesting conversation and Jesus is able to gain her trust enough that when he says, Hey, go back home and tell people. She goes, and the town people listen to her. Another clue that she's not ostracized because of her behavior, because she would never go back and be like, Hey, guess what? Jesus told me every ugly thing I've ever done. And people go, Oh, I would love to go meet a person like that right now, but for someone to go, he understands me. You should come meet him. And everyone goes out and Jesus ends up hanging out there for a period of time. It's a really beautiful story. So again, if we kind of do this Ebal and Gerazim and if if Jesus really is there after Passover, which is April, and when we look at our calendar, we go, oh, April, beginning of May is when the barley harvest is in and then the wheat is drying out in the fields. And when the wheat is ready, people call it white for harvest. And the Samaritans, at least modern day, and they say it's historical for them. This is a little bit of a conjecture, but the Samaritans wear white robes. And so when the village comes out to see Jesus and the disciples are going, What are you doing? And he goes, Ah, lift up your eyes and look on the fields. They are white with harvest. This is a I offer it as a suggestion, not fact, because we can't quite prove this, but it is a possibility that belongs in a beautifully contextual way. In this portion, once we locate not only the place, but the time of year that this narrative is taking place. And then I would say I'm going to keep moving on. But I really do think, you know, if you have extra time, write this down and give this as a challenge to yourself. Think of all the different Old Testament narratives that have something to do with people meeting up at a well and then go back and compare this Samaritan woman with her patriarch, Joseph, and just see how many comparisons you can make and draw between them. That's really quite beautiful. We are almost done. So just one last thing before we conclude and take a break. We have to go back to our good friend, Herod the Great Herod the Great who was able to control everything on the map, at least by the end of his days. Is going to die. Ultimately, no one can really take Herod's place. Here it has a few different sons. He was so suspicious of the sons taking his kingdom before Herod died that he would kill his sons in advance. Just based on a rumor. They're rising up an army, and he's like, Oh, let's have him killed. And so he was infamous for this. And Herod, by the end of his life, was going just a little bit crazy. Anyway, based on some of the stories that we have, so Herod dies and three of his sons go to Rome and petition Rome that they can be the king over their father's estate. And Rome says, how about if we just divide everything? And so Rome divides Samaria, Judea and Adama. So all the land we've been spending all of this time looking at, which feels quite cohesive from an outsider point of view, only the insiders know the Romans are Edomites. These are the Jordanians. These are the same, right? Only an insider understands the complication. An outsider goes, that looks like one territory, right? It's kind of random. So Rome takes this territory, says Archilochus, the oldest son. You can have this territory, Herod Antipas. These are all the Herod's that are visible throughout the Gospels. Herod Antipas you get Galilee and you also get this area it's going to call, it's called Perea. Now these aren't joined and that feels really awkward. But Perea and Galilee were filled with Jewish villages with a couple big like Roman cities scattered here and there. So culturally, these are kind of the same. And so why don't you take those and then Herod, Philip, you can have Golan Heights and then it actually fans out and gets really huge. You can get all of this land. And Philip's territory was known for having quite a few Jewish villages, some really big Roman cities, the zealots, when they develop and become a people group, the zealot movement starts from this territory. Philip was just really skilled and somehow he was able to hold the whole bunch of very different people together. And then Rome said, You know what? We have a whole slew of cities on our far eastern barrier. We need to keep these as very strong Roman cities. We're not going to give this to anyone. We're going to have our own governors that are going to rule over Decapolis and the capital is becomes extremely Hellenistic. It holds on to its Hellenistic roots and there's nothing really Jewish over here. There aren't very many Israelite stories over here that are anchored into the soil. Interesting. I just want to say now that we've ended our hill country journey, it's interesting that in the end they are all put together as one. As we move north, we're going to start talking about why it's so significant that there's so many different political units up in the north. But we'll be coming to that next.