If you Knew the Gift of God
If you knew the gift of God
What is the gift of God?
4. Describing Jesus’ return to Galilee, the evangelist says, Now he had to go through Samaria. There were three routes between Jerusalem and Galilee—only one passed through Samaria; the others bypassed it.30 The normal route taken by Jews travelling between Galilee and Jerusalem was through Samaria. Josephus comments, ‘Samaria was now under Roman rule and, for rapid travel, it was essential to take that route, by which Jerusalem may be reached in three days from Galilee’ (Life 269), and ‘It was the custom at the time of a festival [for Galilean Jews] to pass through the Samaritan territory on their way to the Holy City’ (Antiquities xx.118). Jesus, then, ‘had to go through Samaria’ because it was the shortest and normal way people travelled between Jerusalem and Galilee. However, in the light of the narrative that follows (the conversation with the Samaritan woman and the Samaritan townspeople coming to believe in him), Jesus’ need to go through Samaria may have been determined by the divine will as well as geographical factors (34).
After the captivity of Israel, B.C. 721, and in our Lord’s time, the name was applied to a peculiar people whose origin was in this wise: At the final captivity of Israel by Shalmaneser, we may conclude that the cities of Samaria were not merely partially but wholly depopulated of their inhabitants in B.C. 721, and that they remained in this desolated state until, in the words of 2 Kings 17:24, “the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava (Ivah, 2 Kings 18:34), and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof.” Thus the new Samaritans were Assyrians by birth or subjugation. These strangers, whom we will now assume to have been placed in “the cities of Samaria” by Esar-haddon, were of course idolaters, and worshipped a strange medley of divinities. God’s displeasure was kindled, and they were annoyed by beasts of prey, which had probably increased to a great extent before their entrance upon the land. On their explaining their miserable condition to the king of Assyria, he dispatched one of the captive priests to teach them “how they should fear the Lord.” The priest came accordingly, and henceforth, in the language of the sacred historian they “feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.” 2 Kings 17:41.