So called from Shemer, its first owner (1 Kgs. 16:24); a city built by Omri and made the capital of the kingdom of Israel. It occupied a strong position on a hill, and the Assyrians could not capture it until after a siege of three years (2 Kgs. 17:5–6). Herod rebuilt it and called it Sebaste. In New Testament times Samaria was the name of the whole of the central district of Palestine west of the Jordan. See also Samaritans.