good samaritan

Cultural Dictionary
Good Samaritan [(suh-mar-uh-tuhn)]

In one of the parables of Jesus, the only one of several passersby to come to the aid of a Jew who had been robbed, beaten, and left to die on the roadside. The kindness of the Samaritan was particularly admirable because Jews and Samaritans (i.e., people of Samaria) were generally enemies. Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan to answer a man who had asked him, “Who is my neighbor?” He forced his questioner to admit that the Samaritan was the true neighbor of the man who had been robbed.

Note: Figuratively, “Good Samaritans” are persons who go out of their way to perform acts of kindness to others, especially strangers.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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