KUTIM, JEWS AND THE BAR KOKHVA REVOLT OF 132CE-135CE
Until the middle of the second century CE, Jewish sages commonly applied the nickname Kutim to a unified people whose territory lay between what we know today as Ramalla, 9 km north of Jerusalem, as far as the Beit Shean valley in the north, the Jordan river in the east and a line between Jenin and Tul Karen (Tulkarm) in the west. Historians usually understand the term Kutim to mean Samaritans.
Interactions Between Kutim and Jews
Interactions between the Kutim and the Jews were mostly positive. In many villages on the western and northern borders of the Samaritan lands they lived side by side. Both communities suffered under Roman rule, and they managed to coexist. They respected the border between them, despite a certain amount of mutual suspicion and antagonism based on religious differences.
After the Romans bloodily suppressed the Bar Kochva revolt (132-135CE), many Jews fled to established Jewish communities in neighbouring countries. Jewish lands in the north became sparsely populated. The Samaritans, whose numbers had increased, moved into territory west and south of Samaria during the second half of the 2nd century CE and during the 3rd century CE.
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4th Century CE
Consequently, by the beginning of the 4th century CE, the majority of the population in many nominally Jewish areas was actually Samaritan. Some centres considered culturally Jewish, such as Yavne in the south, (Jamnia in some texts – about 12km southwest of Lydda), possessed a Samaritan majority. Caesarea and Dor (on the coast, about 25km north of Caesarea) in the west, also fall into this category. Samaritan villages were numerous on the Plain of Sharon. The Samaritans held their Council in Shechem (about 8km southwest of Sychor).
Samaritan population expansion also led to a calamitous change in the way Samaritans were regarded. Jewish sages sought a decisive separation from the Samaritans. They wanted to keep the remaining Jews in the Land of Israel united in the Jewish tradition. They overturned the attitude that had prevailed since the 1st century BCE. From this time on, they treated the Samaritans as gentiles who had encroached on Jewish territory, rather than as Israelites, like themselves.
In the religious dispute between Jews and Samaritans following the 3rd century CE, the Jewish sages did not always understand the differences between the beliefs of mainstream Samaritans and the beliefs of sects such as the Dusitheans. Consequently, their accounts of Samaritan religious life contain factual errors, confusion and misunderstandings.
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