Discussion with a Samaritan woman
|5Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. 7There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8(For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) 9Then 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. 10Jesus 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. 11The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14But 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. 15The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. 16Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 18For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. 19The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 25The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
Amazingly, Jacob’s well (also known as Jacob’s fountain and Well of Sychar) still exists just outside of modern Nablus and is a short distance from Tell Balata, biblical Shechem. It is often considered one of the most authentic site in the Holy Land — since no one can move a well that was originally more than 40 meters deep.
The well lies within the complex of an Eastern Orthodox monastery. Here visitors can descend below a modern church built over the site in 2007, to see the well. Jesus’ words to the woman - "Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again" - apply to more than water (John 4:13). They relate to everything we draw from in life for meaning and purpose apart from the One who spoke the words.
Immediately after Joshua and the young nation of Israel entered the Promised Land, they made a beeline to a particular valley between two mountains. God had commanded half the people to stand before one mountain and the other to position itself before the other. Each group was to shout either blessings or the curses that Israel would experience as a result of their response to God's Law (Deuteronomy 11:29). As they shouted, their voices echoed in the city of Shechem, which lay in the valley between these hills. Before God's people would conquer and settle the land, they affirmed their obedience to God in the very place where God had promised the land to Abraham (Genesis 12:7). The significance of the place served to strengthen their commitment to God.
In later times Mt. Gerizim would become sacred to the Samaritans, and still is today. Next to Gerizim lies one of two Samaritan villages still in existence today. In the intertestamental period there was a temple here, but it was destroyed by John Hyrcanus (Maccabean ruler) in 111-110 BC. When Jesus conversed with the woman at the well, she said, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain”(John 4:20). She was speaking of Mount Gerizim, which was very much in sight of Jacob's well, where they were talking.
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.