Do you know that the Samaritan woman by the well is one of the most misunderstood women in the Bible (hint: she wasn’t a prostitute)? The publisher has generously agreed for me to offer a free copy of the chapter I wrote on her in Strengthening Families and Ending Abuse. See details below.
Story of A Samaritan Outcast
The woman didn’t mind coming to the well in the middle of the day. It mattered little that the sun burned like a hot coal in the sky. Other women came at the end of day when it was cooler. She figured that coming in the middle of the day was better than enduring the cold stares of the pious women who waited turns to lower their buckets into the deep waters of Jacob’s well. Not even a cool pot of water in the middle of the desert was worth their silence and condescending eyes.
As the Samaritan woman approached the well, she thought of her ancestor Jacob seeing Rachel for the first time. She liked imagining his giddy stare as he watched Rachel lower and raise her bucket of water. She liked thinking that a man could love a woman so much that he would want her to be bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.
Mount Gerizim rose in the distance. Moving toward the well, she noticed a Jewish man resting. Thoughts stirred in her mind: Why was a Jewish man traveling through Samaria when other Jews traveled around it? Why was he lingering at the well when everybody knew that only morally reprehensible women drew water in the middle of the day? Tentatively she approached the stone mouth of the well. She suspended the pot over the dark hole, and pretended not to notice the man watching as she extended the rope from one hand through the other.
“Give me a drink,” the man said.
She caught her breath and looked up. Beads of sweat ran down his face and neck. Astounded, she wondered why a Jewish man was speaking to her. Surely he knew the rule—that Jews do not share things, including water pots, with Samaritans. The woman shifted from one foot to the other due to the weight of the bucket and her own discomfort. “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” She braced herself for his answer, and wondered what he would want after she gave him a drink.
Messiah Meets A Woman (John 4: 4-26)
The Samaritan woman who Jesus met at the well was thirsty. We know this because she carried an empty water pot from the village of Sychar to Jacob’s well (over a half mile). We know this because she went for water during the hottest time of day—when social outcasts likely avoided confrontations with pious women who drew water during the cooler late afternoon. We know the Samaritan woman was thirsty because Jesus said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that is saying to you, ‘give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” (v. 10) Jesus pointed at a thirst that Jacob’s well could never satisfy. Intrigued, the woman had to have wondered where Jesus would get that living water, especially when he had no bucket and the well was deep. Was it possible the man standing before her was greater than her ancestor Jacob who had built the well?
Speaking with the Samaritan woman, Jesus acted unconventionally. A Jew who addressed a Samaritan might as well have exposed himself to a communicable disease. . . The apostle John does not give many details about the Samaritan woman’s story. However, the culture of her day can tell us some things. The surrounding community would have tolerated two, or maybe three, divorces. Five marriages amounted to a disaster! Notably, Jesus refers to the woman’s illicit relationship with a man (not prostitution as many assume beyond the actual text). In this case, the woman was . . .
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