Captial of the Northern Kingdom of Israel


Samaria is identified as the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, a significant location in the Book of Mormon. Originally, the city of Shechem served as the primary insignia of the Northern Kingdom before being succeeded by Tirzah, and eventually, the strategically located Samaria was established as the central hub (1 Kings 12:25, 14:17, 16:24). The city was constructed on the purchased hill of Shemer, indicating the origin of its name.

Samaria hosted the central political and religious authorities in the Northern Kingdom, showcasing its significance. The notable instances of strategic battles, sieges, and vital sociopolitical events marked the city’s historical landscape. The city was renowned for its great magnificence and architectural beauty embellished by various influential rulers over time. Despite its grandeur, Samaria also garnered infamy as a center of idolatrous worship due to the profound influence of surrounding pagan cultures (1 Kings 16:32; 2 Kings 3:2; 10:19). Its recurrent scriptural references often serve as prophetic markers depicting the decadence and inevitable consequences of socio-religious corruption (2 Nephi 17:9, 18:4, 19:9, 20:10, 20:11, 20:9).

The physical landscape of Samaria represented a broad hollow fertile area known as Wady esh-Sha’ir or the “valley of barley,” featuring a hill rising above 300 ft with relatively steep sides, particularly towards the East. Empowered by its topographical advantage, the city often successfully withstood prolonged sieges relying on the limitations of ancient projectile weaponry. The land was well covered with olive groves and vineyards, and the viewpoint from the Western crest provided a panoramic view of the Plain of Sharon and the Mediterranean.

The fall of Samaria under Assyrian dominion marked a significant turning point in the history of Israel. As per Assyrian policy, numerous residents were relocated from Samaria, and the vacant places were filled with people from conquered territories like Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim (2 Kings 17:24; Ezra 4:10). The land further faced conquest and restoration through various stages of history under the Greeks, Romans, Persians and others, each period leaving its unique archaeological and sociocultural imprint.

In the narrations of the Book of Mormon, Samaria signifies a central location in Israelite history and the Northern Kingdom’s cultural saga, providing unique insights into the religious, political, and social dynamics of the time.


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