on 1-kings 16 :24
He bought the hill Samaria of Shemer - This should be read, "He bought the hill of Shomeron from Shomer, and called it Shomeron, (i.e., Little Shomer), after the name of Shomer, owner of the hill." At first the kings of Israel dwelt at Shechem, and then at Tirzah; but this place having suffered much in the civil broils, and the place having been burnt down by Zimri, Omri purposed to found a new city, to which he might transfer the seat of government. He fixed on a hill that belonged to a person of the name of Shomer; and bought it from him for two talents of silver, about 707 3s. 9d. Though this was a large sum in those days, yet we cannot suppose that the hill was very large which was purchased for so little; and probably no other building upon it than Shomer's house, if indeed he had one there. Shomeron, or, as it is corruptly written, Samaria, is situated in the midst of the tribe of Ephraim, not very far from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and about midway between Dan and Beer-sheba: thus Samaria became the capital of the ten tribes, the metropolis of the kingdom of Israel, and the residence of its kings. The kings of Israel adorned and fortified it; Ahab built a house of ivory in it, 1 Kings 22:39; the kings of Syria had magazines or storehouses in it, for the purpose of commerce; see 1 Kings 20:34. And it appears to have been a place of considerable importance and great strength.
Samaria endured several sieges; Ben-hadad king of Syria, besieged it twice, 1 Kings 20:1, etc.; and it cost Shalmaneser a siege of three years to reduce it, 2 Kings 17:6, etc. After the death of Alexander the Great, it became the property of the kings of Egypt; but Antiochus the Great took it from the Egyptians; and it continued in the possession of the kings of Syria till the Asmoneans took and razed it to the very foundation. Gabinius, pro-consul of Syria, partially rebuilt it, and called it Gabiniana. Herod the Great restored it to its ancient splendor, and placed in it a colony of six thousand men, and gave it the name of Sebaste, in honor of Augustus. It is now a place of little consequence.
on 1-kings 16 :24
"Samaria" represents the Greek form of the name Σαμάρεια Samareia; the original is שׁמרון shômerôn (margin). The site is marked by the modern "Sebustiyeh," an Arabic corruption of Sebaste, the name given by Herod to Samaria when he rebuilt it. Sebustiyeh is situated on a very remarkable "hill." In the heart of the mountains of Israel occurs a deep basin-shaped depression, in the midst of which rises an oblong hill, with steep but not inaccessible sides, and a long flat top. This was the site which Omri chose for his new capital. Politically it was rather more central than Shechem, and probably than Tirzah. In a military point of view it was admirably calculated for defense. The country round it was especially productive. The hill itself possessed abundant springs of water. The result is that we find no further change. Shechem and Tirzah were each tried and abandoned; but through all the later alterations of dynasty Samaria continued uninterruptedly, to the very close of the independence, to be the capital of the northern kingdom.
Omri purchased the right of property in the hill, just as David purchased the threshing-floor (2 Samuel 24:24; compare 1 Kings 21:2). Two talents, or 6,000 shekels (Exodus 38:24 note) - about 500 British pounds (or perhaps 800 pounds) of our money - may well have been the full value of the ground. And while naming his city after Shemer, Omri may also have had in view the appropriateness of such a name to the situation of the place. Shomeron, to a Hebrew ear, would have necessarily conveyed the idea of a "watch-tower." This name, however, appears not to have been at first accepted by the surrounding nations. The earlier Assyrian kings knew the Israelite capital, not as Samaria, but as Beth-Khumri, i. e., "the city (house) of Omri." It is not until the time of Tiglath-pileser that they exchange this designation for that of "Sammirin."
on 1-kings 16 :24
16:24 Two talents - Two talents is something more than seven hundred pounds.