Micah 1:5 NASB All this is for the rebellion of Jacob And for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the rebellion of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? What is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem?
The Amplified Bible puts it this way,
- “All this is because of the transgression of Jacob,
- “and the sins of the house of Israel.”
The verse itself asks, and then answers the question when it says, “Is it not Samaria?
But then, there is this covert question within the verse that asks,
“What is the high place of Judah?” Again, an answer is given, but what does it mean when it says, “Is it not Jerusalem?”
When you read any mention of Samaria in the New Testament, you would think it was a forbidden city to the Jews; that was not the case; however, the hatred and animosity of the Samaritans indeed ran deep for a very long time. This disgust and hatred began developing over 930 years earlier. Perhaps this brief history lesson may help us understand where this disgust and hatred began.
A brief history lesson – from the Chronological Bible.
We are told that “the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah was one of gradual decay with only brief interludes of hope. The two nations spent most of their existence as vassal states, serving first the Neo-Assyrian Empire (934-612 B.C.) and then the Neo-Babylonian Empire (626-539 B.C.) Israel was destroyed by the Neo-Assyrians; Judah [in the south] by the Neo-Babylonians. Israelite kings built a new capital for the northern kingdom at Samaria.
King Ahab [of the northern kingdom] rebuilt the stables at Megiddo and made it once again a great city. He also built a palace at Hazor as part of the renovation of the city. His economic power made him an international force. According to an inscription of Shalmaneser 111 of Assyria, ‘Ahab the Israelite’ brought 2,000 chariots and 10,000 infantry the battle of Qarqar (853 B.C.) Israel appears in other important inscriptions of the period. The famous Moabite Stone tells how King Mesha of Moab rebelled successfully against Israel in the 9th century B.C.
The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser 111 (840 B.C.) shows conquered kings paying tribute to the Neo-Assyrian emperor. King Jehu of the Northern kingdom, Israel, is one of those shown kissing Shalmaneser’s feet. Records and annals of Assyrian kings reveal multiple contacts between the Neo-Assyrian empire and the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah.
The Neo-Assyrian empire fell around (612 B.C.) to the Medo-Persian empire approximately (612 B.C. – 609 B.C.), but in its place arose the Neo-Babylonian empire, which would ultimately destroy Jerusalem and carry the kings of Judah into exile. The Assyrian’s were one of the great superpowers of the ancient world, with an empire centered on the Tigris river. While they were skilled in the arts, they were also unspeakably cruel and tortured prisoners on a regular basis.
The other superpower in the East was the Babylonian kingdom. One of their greatest kings was Nebuchadnezzar, whose armies destroyed Jerusalem in (586 B.C.)
Biblical books that relate to this period come from three groups, the first consisting of portions from Kings and Chronicles. The second group of books relates to the Neo-Assyrian period and includes the prophetic writings of Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, Jonah, and Zephaniah.”
“Amos and Hosea preached in Israel, with an emphasis on social and economic injustice.” To give you an example, look at what the prophet Micah has to say.
Micah 3:2-5 CJB Yet you hate what is good and love what is bad. You strip off their skin from them and their flesh from their bones, 3) you eat the flesh of my people, skin them alive, break their bones; yes, they chop them in pieces, like flesh in a cauldron, like meat in a pot.’ ” 4) Then they will call to Adonai, but he will not answer them; when that time comes, he will hide his face from them, because their deeds were so wicked. 5) Here is what Adonai says in regard to the prophets who cause my people to go astray, who cry, “Peace” as soon as they are given food to eat but prepare war against anyone who fails to put something in their mouths:
While Micah’s words are metaphorical, the weight they carry is tremendous. Micah is speaking to community and religious leadership, which is proved out in Micah 3:1.
Micah 3:1 NASB And I said, “Hear now, heads of Jacob And rulers of the house of Israel. Is it not for you to know justice?
Our history lesson continues with excerpts from the Chronological Bible.
“Isaiah was a counselor to the kings of Judah. He worked through tow major international crises, which he saw as God’s rule over the nations.” “Micah,” on the other hand, “was a rural contemporary of Isaiah who also preached against injustice, but lifted up a vision of a day of peace and salvation.”
“The third group of books relates to the Neo-Babylonian period. Parts of the book of Daniel tell the story of a Jewish youth exiled to Babylon, while the book of Lamentations mourns the destruction of Jerusalem. Included in this third group are prophecies form Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Nahum, Ezekiel, and Obadiah.
Jeremiah lived through the destruction of Jerusalem; Habakkuk records the pain of seeing the Babylonians on the march, while asking the question – where is God; Nahum rejoices over the defeat of Assyria; Ezekiel was the first prophet to write from exile in Babylon; and Obadiah, is a song of anger against the people Edom for their part in the destruction of Jerusalem.
Samaria was the capital of the Northern kingdom, Israel.
Samaria was taken by Shalmaneser (2Ki_17:6) in (724 B.C.); razed to the ground by Hyrcanus (Josephus, Ant. l. xiii. c. 18); restored by Herod, and called Sebastê; and is now a small village called Sebusta, its ancient site being converted into gardens. The Ultimate Cross-Reference Treasury
2 Kings 17:5-6 NASB Then the king of Assyria invaded the whole land and went up to Samaria and besieged it three years. 6) In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and carried Israel away into exile to Assyria, and settled them in Halah and Habor, on the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
In Micah 1:6 (NASB) we are told, “For I will make Samaria a heap of ruins in the open country, Planting places for a vineyard. I will pour her stones down into the valley And will lay bare her foundations.”
Samaria is right in the middle of the Megiddo valley, a place destined to be one of the bloodiest places on earth.
2Kings 17:7 – 23 is entitled by the NASB, in speaking about Samaria and Judah, as
Exile(s) Because of Idolatry
2 Kings 17:7-18 NASB Now this came about because the sons of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and they had feared other gods 8) and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD had driven out before the sons of Israel, and in the customs of the kings of Israel which they had introduced. 9) The sons of Israel did things secretly which were not right against the LORD their God. Moreover, they built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. 10) They set for themselves sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, 11) and there they burned incense on all the high places as the nations did which the LORD had carried away to exile before them; and they did evil things provoking the LORD. 12) They served idols, concerning which the LORD had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.” 13) Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah through all His prophets and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments, My statutes according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you through My servants the prophets.” 14) However, they did not listen, but stiffened their neck like their fathers, who did not believe in the LORD their God. 15) They rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers and His warnings with which He warned them. And they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the LORD had commanded them not to do like them. 16) They forsook all the commandments of the LORD their God and made for themselves molten images, even two calves, and made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. 17) Then they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, and practiced divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him. 18) So the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah.
It is not clear to me why, but the king of Assyria decided to have the land resettled. We see this process in 2Kings 17 starting at verse 24.
2 Kings 17:24 NASB The king of Assyria brought men from Babylon and from Cuthah and from Avva and from Hamath and Sephar-vaim and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the sons of Israel. So they possessed Samaria and lived in its cities.
But look at who the Assyrian king put there: Babylonians from Cuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sephar-vaim, and “settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the sons of Israel. So they possessed Samaria and lived in its cities. There were no Israelites left. There was, as far as we know, no one who knew to put their trust in the God of Israel.
Watch what happens next.
At the beginning of their living there, they did not fear the LORD; therefore the LORD sent lions among them which killed some of them. 2 Kings 17:25 NASB)
The next voice we are made aware of, is either those settlers of Samaria who are surviving or they are counselors to the king giving him a heads up.
So they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, “The nations whom you have carried away into exile in the cities of Samaria do not know the custom of the god of the land; so he has sent lions among them, and behold, they kill them because they do not know the custom of the god of the land.” Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, “Take there one of the priests whom you carried away into exile and let him go and live there; and let him teach them the custom of the god of the land.” 2 Kings 17:26-27 NASB)
Watch how the Assyrian’s respond to this disaster.
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. 2 Kings 17:28 NASB)
Now the Assyrian’s would not have known this, nor cared about it, but didn’t we just read that no one in Israel followed God’s ways or instructions?
I get it, this is another of those examples where we are shown the extreme when you know there had to be good people in this mix.
Look at 2 Kings 17:7-18 and you will understand how I might say there was no one left who followed after God.
So maybe they got lucky and this priest is adept at what he is doing. Perhaps, he is even teaching these people, who could probably care less, how to live under the commands of Jehovah. However, what happens next.
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 lived. 2 Kings 17:29 NASB)
At this point, if I was from Judah, in the south, my reasons to hate those from Samaria may be starting to develop, especially since there isn’t a Jew among them.
Based on verse 29 I don’t see nations, I see one nation Babylon, but Babylon is a collection of conquered peoples, some fortunate enough to live.
When the Assyrian king places these people there, they use the facilities that Israel built to false gods for their own; these places of “worship” were everywhere.
This integration of peoples made their own cities. As best I can figure, there were five different nations represented here.
The men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima, and the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech the gods of Sepharvaim. 2 Kings 17:30-31 NASB)
Here is where it all turns against them.
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. They feared the LORD and served their own gods according to the custom of the nations from among whom they had been carried away into exile. 2 Kings 17:32-33 NASB)
Alright, the language is a little deceptive because of this phrase, “They also feared the LORD.”
The word LORD is yehôvâh – yeh-ho-vaw’, “(the) self Existent or eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God.”
So where did these people come to recognize and/or fear God?
Fear is the Hebrew word yare meaning to fear: The implications are that they became…frightened.
- They literally feared God.
- They appointed priests from among themselves to administer over the high places.
- And, they served their own gods according to the custom of the nations from whom they had been carried away.
If they kept that last part to themselves perhaps they would not have been a bother. On the other hand, this was land God had chosen for His people, not the nations.
To this day they do according to the earlier customs: they do not fear the LORD, nor do they follow their statutes or their ordinances or the law, or the commandments which the LORD commanded the sons of Jacob, whom He named Israel; with whom the LORD made a covenant and commanded them, saying, “You shall not fear other gods, nor bow down yourselves to them nor serve them nor sacrifice to them. 2 Kings 17:34-35 NASB)
Now, when it says, to this day, it is not, as a rule, talking about October 29, 2018. The author is talking about the time frame in which they are living.
Can I exclude any application in the future?
If I took the command, “You shall not fear other gods, nor bow yourselves down to them nor serve them nor sacrifice to them,” and applied it today; does it work? Absolutely.
About 730 years later, when Jesus was admonishing the Pharisees and the Jewish people, the commandments were just as valid.
Now, to get to the point.
Jesus strolled through Samaria because He was on a mission. We are not privy to the details until they start to unfold before us, but the impact, after this meeting with the Samaritan woman, demonstrated what kind of fruit He came to pick. He came to rescue people.
Go to John chapter 4 and you can experience the shock in the woman and religious banter as she tried to claim a heritage based upon “their father Jacob.” Jacob was buried in Samaria.
Knowing now that one Jewish priest was placed among the representatives of five non-Jewish nations, that choose instead to serve the gods they were comfortable with; how could they call themselves any form of Jewry simply because they decided to claim an inheritance through Jacob.
They were not Jews by any stretch; they were stepchildren at best.
Now, is it still that way? No, I would say that Jesus made himself real to them, and thus began an amazing series of changes for the better.