John 4:1-19… Samaria and the well

4:1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made* and baptized more disciples** than John,

  • G4160 ποιέω poieo (poi-ye’-ō) v. to make or do, to appoint, + band together
  • G3101 μαθητής mathetes (ma-thee-tees’) n. a learner, i.e. pupil.

(Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)

He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.

And he must needs* go through Samaria.

  • G1163 δεῖ dei (d̮ei’) v. it is (was, etc.) necessary (as binding).

Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar*, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

G4965 Συχάρ Suchar (sï-char’) n/l. a place in Israel. of Hebrew origin (H7941) shekar n-m. an intoxicant, i.e. intensely alcoholic liquor. {Shechem or Nablus (Genesis 48:22) corrupted into Sichem, or Sychar. Some think it an intentional corruption, as if from sheker “falsehood,” or shikor “drunkard” (Isaiah 28:1; Isaiah 28:7), due to Jewish bigotry against the Samaritans.

Being “drunk” in the scriptures is most often associated to one being deeply influenced by false doctrine.

  • Revelation 17:2 “With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”

Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

  • Israel has a fairly consistent time range of sunrise and sunset, between 11 and 12 hours for the entirety of the year. 1st century Israelites did not count time as we do today. The analog clock was not invented until the 14th century and as it was, the sundial was relatively new (approx. 164 bce). Israelites would count the time from sunrise and assign it a “time”. We can approximate the time as noon and the text should affirm this. [see vs 8]

There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

(For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

  • this should verify a time frame; it was close to lunch/noontime

Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

In the Middle East, water is scarce and precious, and very much needed for survival. Only a few months of the year does rain fall in Israel, and the rest of the time the ancient peoples survived on stagnant water that was stored in cisterns in the ground. When rain does fall after many months of clear blue skies, it seems to be a miraculous gift from God.

Out of this arose the idea of living water, or mayim chaim (MY-eem KHY-eem), which refers to water in the form of rain or flowing from a natural spring, which has come directly from God, not carried by human hands or stored in cisterns. It also is a contrast to sea water, especially that of the Dead Sea, which looks refreshing but is poisonous, and makes the land around it barren.

Even other nations understood this picture of the gods being associated with sources of living water.  Pagans of the first century who worshiped Pan set up their shrines at the great cave from which the Jordan emerged at Caesarea Philippi, north of Galilee, and called it the “Gates of Hades”.

This image was common to many cultures of that area, and God used that image to teach his people about himself. Later in John’s gospel, during the feast of Sukkot, on the last and greatest day, when the prayers of Israel were an impassioned plea for God to bless them with rain, Jesus stood up and shouted, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink! He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this he spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37 – 39)

An interesting rabbinic insight is that “living water” is also understood to mean a true knowledge of God. Certainly this is associated with the Holy Spirit, who teaches us God’s will and guides and directs us.

Undoubtedly it is associated with Jesus’ ministry, that of revealing God’s true character by Jesus’ sacrificial love for us. It is in contrast with that of “brackish water” like that of the Dead Sea, which is a false knowledge of God, that false prophets and twisted doctrines yield. Although it looks fine to the eye, it is quite poisonous!

11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?

  • In chapter 14 we will the learn the biblical meaning of widows and orphans, this woman is a widow/orphan from YHVH. The Samaritans practiced a version of Torah observance as they were related to the Israelites.

12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? {confirms the relationship}

13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this (well) water shall thirst again:

14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

  • Jesus’ offer was the elimination of the things that separated the woman from God (sins) and thus defeating the internal yearning for satisfaction. Then with His teachings she could live a full life without fear returning to that separated state.

15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

  • Revelation 3:18 “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”
  • Matthew 13:13-14 “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:”
  • Isaiah 6:9 “And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.” This apparently is an ages old problem.

16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:

18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.


One thought on “John 4:1-19… Samaria and the well

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  1. Considering the Assyrians removed the “indigenous” people from a conquered region and replace them with another conquered peoples, I think it would have been appropriate for Judeans not to want to have anything to do with the “Samaritans”. The people that were moved in were constantly under attack so they asked how to appease the god of the region as each region had a god over it. The Assyrians sent the corrupt Israelite priests who had led the northern kingdom astray and they continued in their sun-god worship mixture! Now you know the REST of the story.

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