SAMARITANS - After the division of the ten tribes, Samaria became the capital of the dissident kingdom of Israel. Destroyed and rebuilt various times, under Roman rule it became the administrative head of Samaria, one of the four divisions of Palestine. Herod the Great beautified Samaria with sumptuous monuments and to gratify Augusto, gave it the name of Augusta, in Greek Sébaste.
The Samaritans were almost constantly at war with the kings of Judah. Profound aversion, dating from the time of the separation, perpetuated between the two tribes causing them to avoid any kind of reciprocal relations. In order to widen the schism, and to avoid going to Jerusalem for religious festivities, they built themselves a private temple and adopted some reforms. They only admitted the Pentateuch, which contained the laws of Moses, rejecting all other books to which these were annexed, and their sacred books were all written in ancient Hebrew characters. According to orthodox Jews, they were heretics and consequently despised, excommunicated and persecuted. The antagonism between the two nations was founded exclusively upon their religious divergencies, despite the fact that the origin of their belief was the same. They were the Protestants of their time.
Some Samaritans are still to be found in certain regions of the Lavent, especially near Nablus and in Jaffa. They observe the laws of Moses more strictly than other Jews and only marry amongst themselves.