After King Solomon’s death, the nation Israel divided north of the tribe of Benjamin’s border. Jerusalem stayed the capital in the south. Jeroboam chose Shechem as the capital for the Northern Kingdom, but the capital wasn’t there for long. Succeeding kings relocated Israel’s principal city from Shechem to Tirzah. Shechem, which lay between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, provided central Israel’s most important crossroads.
King Omri moved the capital back to Samaria, and it served as the northern kingdom’s administrative center for 160 years. Samaria took its name from Shemer, the man
who sold Omri the hill (1 Kings 16:24-28). After the Assyrians dragged the Northern Kingdom into exile in 722 BC, they repopulated the area, producing a mixed breed - partly Jewish, partly Assyrian - called Samaritans. Caesar Augustus gave Samaria to Herod the Great, who rebuilt the city to his usual exorbitant standards and renamed the site Sebaste, the Greek name for Augustus.