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 stares and whispers 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 Rebecca for the first time. She liked imagining his giddy stare as he watched Rebecca 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 . . . To continue reading, order book . . .