Samaritan Temple
Samaritan woman at Jacob's well
      While Jesus was traveling through Samaria, he stopped at the well of Jacob to rest from his journey. There he encountered a Samaritan woman who was about to find out what true worship was all about.  She said to Jesus "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say the place to worship is in Jerusalem."
      The mountain she was referring to was Mt. Gerizim and archaeology has recently uncovered the remains of a temple complex up on this very mountain. You see the Samaritans built their own temple on that mountain many years earlier. And during the time it existed, they also had their own high priest carrying out all the duties found in the Old Testament books of Moses.
      The story surrounding this Temple and how it came into being is a very fascinating one. The account is given to us by the historian Josephus. A summary of his account is as follows:
      During the time of Darius the third, king of Persia, a man by the name of Sanballat was sent by Darius to be a governor over Samaria.  (This Sanballat was a descendant of an earlier Sanballat who is mentioned in the Bible who attempted to kill Nehemiah the prophet when he began to rebuild the walls and the temple 100 years earlier.) Now Sanballat, wanting to live peacefully with the Jews, decided to give his daughter in marriage to one of the overseers of the Jews, a man by the name of Manasseh. He was serving in the temple in Jerusalem as a priest along with his brother Jaddua the high priest. (Jaddua is mentioned in the Bible’s book of Nehemiah 12:11)
      But because Manasseh married a woman who was not an Israelite, something the law prohibited, the Jewish leaders commanded him to either divorce Sanballat’s daughter or stop serving in the Temple.
      Manasseh disturbed at this demand tells his father-in-law the situation. Sanballat not wishing to see his daughter divorced promises to build a Temple on Mount Gerizim where Manasseh would become the high priest. Sanballat also offers Manasseh a position of governing over the people in Samaria. In this fashion, Manasseh agreed not to divorce Sanballat’s daughter and this set into motion the wheels that began the construction of a temple in Samaria. But it was not by the command of God, but that of Sanballat himself.
       During this time Alexander the Great of Greece attacks Darius around 332 B.C and defeats the Persian ruler. Alexander the Great sends a letter to the high priest in Jerusalem asking for supplies and asking the Jews to break any ties they have with Darius. When they refuse, Alexander becomes furious and vows to march out and destroy the Jewish high priest.
      On hearing of Darius defeat, Sanballat along with a Samaritan army of around 8,000 decides to join forces with Alexander. He also asks Alexander permission to build a Samaritan temple, telling Alexander that this would divide the Jews. Alexander agreed and the new temple was built on mount Gerizim where Manasseh was made the Samaritan high priest.
      Meanwhile, when Jaddua the high priest in Jerusalem heard that Alexander was coming, he ordered his people to pray and offer sacrifice to the God of Israel for protection. God later appeared to Jaddua in a dream and told him not to be afraid. He told him to decorate the city in wreaths and as Alexander approached, the people were to go out and greet him dressed in white. The priests were to do likewise dressed in their priestly robes. And God reassured him that no one would be harmed. On awaking from his dream Jaddua rejoiced and spoke of all these things to the people.
       Now it came to pass when Alexander advanced near the city, Jaddua went forth wearing the high priestly robes of blue and gold along with all the other priests dressed in linen forming a long procession behind him. On Jaddua’s head was placed a miter on which a golden plate was attached inscribed with the name of God.
       On seeing this Alexander dismounted from his horse and approached alone prostrating himself before the high priest and greeting him. The rest of the Jews circled around Alexander and welcomed him.
Alexander the Great bows to the high priest
      But on seeing this his soldiers pondered these things and thought that Alexander had gone crazy. One of his officers went up and asked Alexander what was happening.
      Alexander replied “When I was at Dium in Macedonia, I pondered how I could conquer all of Asia.That night I saw this person, dressed as he is now, urging me to cross over immediately and defeat the Persians.”
      The high priest and his attendants then escorted Alexander into the city, there he was shown the Book of Daniel which predicted that a Greek ruler would arise to battle the Persians. In Daniel chapter 11 verses 1-3 it states: "Also in the first year of Darius the Mede, I, even I, stood up to confirm and strengthen him. “And now I will tell you the truth: Behold, three more kings will arise in Persia, and the fourth shall be far richer than them all; by his strength, through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece. "Then a mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will.”)
       After hearing these words Alexander realized he was the one of whom the prophecy spoke. He then offered the Jews whatever they wished. The high priest then requested that the Jews in Israel, as well as Babylon  and Media be allowed to live according to their own laws, to which Alexander agreed. Finally he told them that if any would like to join his army, they could continue observing their own laws. And many Jews joined Alexander’s army.  
      The Samaritan troops from Shechem, located near Mount Gerizim, saw how Alexander had honored the Jews. So they claimed to be Jews as well and asked Alexander to visit their Temple. But Alexander declined the invitation. But during this time many Samaritans joined the Greek army as well.
      This reference by the historian Josephus to the Samaritans joining with the Greeks has some archaeological confirmation. A reference to the descendants of these very Samaritans who worshiped on Mount Gerizim and who joined Alexander’s army was found on the Greek Island of Delos. The Samaritans seemed to have immigrated to this Mediterranean Island after serving in the Greek army. The inscription which dates to between 250-175 B.C. states: “The Israelites of Delos, who donate to the temple of Mt. Gerizim.”
       Now even though the other tribes of Israel looked down upon the Samaritans because they disobeyed God and intermarried with foreigners, the Samaritans referred to themselves as Israelites on the inscription just as they had declared in the past to Alexander the Great.
        Roughly 200 years after the Samaritan temple was built it would be destroyed by a Jewish high priest by the name of John Hycranus. Josephus accounts the following: “Hycranus now rebelled against the Macedonians (the Greeks) and no longer had dealings with them. He also decided to attack his nearby enemies, including the Samaritans.
        Hycranus attacked Mount Gerizim, destroying its temple there. And then marched against the city of Samaria. Having put the siege of the city under the command of his two sons, he left the battle. The Samaritans had assistance from the Syrians, but were finally defeated. Their city was laid to ruins and its residents were enslaved.”
       So at the time Jesus was speaking to the woman at Jacob’s well, that very Samaritan temple was in ruins sitting atop mount Gerizim. But she probably still went up on that mountain to worship God, because she thought the place was important. But Jesus told her,  "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father."
      “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.
       "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
      "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."   John 4:21-24
Are you worshiping the Lord in Spirit and in Truth?
      This article is a chapter from our 3 volume book series "Bible Believer's Archaeology" which can be downloaded for your ebook reader or mobile device by visiting our resource download page by Clicking Here.
Photo Links to Artifacts Mentioned in this Article
Delos Inscription
Jaddua coin
Coin of Jaddua the High Priest
Delos  Samaritan Inscription
The Holy Bible, Author: The Lord God
Scripture taken from the New King James Version unless noted.
Josephus The Essential Writings, ISBN 0-8254-2963-3
Author : Paul Maier
P197-200: How the Samaritan Temple was Built by Sanballat for Manasseh and the account of Alexander the Great’s experience in Jerusalem
P221 Hycranus attacked the Samaritans who were allied with the Macedonians and destroyed the temple at Gerizim
Coin from Jaddua the high priest
Article: “A silver coin of Yohanan” (Pls II-V) L.S. Fried
Coins from Jaddua the high priest, and his father Johanan, both mentioned in Nehemiah 12:11
A coin of  John Hycranus has been found as well
Synagogue on Delos: Identification and Context , Author Daniel Schindler (2012)  
pg.43 Photo, Text  and Translation of the Delos Inscription
Donation for the Samaritan Temple full inscription:
“The Israelites of Delos, who donate to the temple of Mt. Gerizim, crown with a golden crown Sarapion, son of Jason, from Knossos on account of the benefaction towards them”
Discovered in 1982 Hanson dates 150-50 B.C. others date
250-175 B.C.  If dated after the temple was destroyed it would have shown that the Samaritans continued to worship on mount Gerizim even without a temple.
Art: Samaritan woman speaking to Jesus at Jacob’s well, illustrated in
"Sacred Pageant of the Ages Vol 05., publisher: Sacred Pageant Society  (1927)
Artwork: Alexander the Great kneeling before the Jewish High Priest. Artist: Casper Luyken (circa 1700 A.D.)
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Ancient History confirms Biblical History