About The Samaritan People
Most of the world knows of the Israelite Samaritan people from the famous parable of the Good Samaritan. In the days of the Christian gospels, Samaritans were treated with hostility and prejudice. Today, approximately 700 Israelite Samaritans still live in the shadow of the sacred Mount Gerizim and practice their ancient religion.
The Samaritan Israelites are descended from the ancient Kingdom of Israel. In the fourth and fifth centuries CE, the Israelite Samaritans numbered about 1,200,000 persons dwelling in many cities and villages in the Land of Israel, from southern Syria to northern Egypt. Cruel religious decrees, forced conversions to Islam and Christianity, slaughter and persecution thinned the Samaritan Community to a bare 146 persons in 1917. In the 1930s, the community reached a turning point and began to increase. Since then, it has been gradually developing in all areas of life; now, in addition to being the smallest and oldest people in the world, it is also the youngest community from the standpoint of its members’ average age.
Nonetheless, throughout all history, the Samaritans never lost their unique status and image as a people. They write using the ancient Hebrew script; they speak the ancient Hebrew dialect, and they are brought up in accordance with a unique, millennia-old historical tradition, dating back to the return of the People of Israel, under Joshua son of Nun, to its homeland.
For a more detailed view of the Samaritan people of the Holy Land, visit the mystae.com/reflections/messiah/Samaritans