Part 6: Scriptural Insights to Jesus’ Encounter with the Samaritan Woman at the Well. John 4:1-42

John 4:27-30 “Just then his [Jesus’] disciples return and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, ‘What do you want? Or Why are you talking to her?’ Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?’ They came out of the town and made their way toward him.”

What is interesting is that when the disciples returned from purchasing food in the village of Sychar they find Jesus engaged in conversation with a female. They were surprised as we have mentioned before as Jewish men and rabbis did not talk to women in public in general and specifically without male witnesses. Interestingly enough, the disciples did not question him on what was an obvious cultural anomaly. After the conversation with Jesus wraps up the woman returns to her village, leaving the water pot at the well and goes back to the men of the village and challenges the men to come and meet Jesus with the catchphrase, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did [most likely not a truism] and could this be the Christ?” She was not friends with the village women so she went to the men to whom despite her many marriages she must have still maintained some credibility. It would have been culturally appropriate for the men of the village to return with her to check out her story and meet Jesus.

John 4:39-42 “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man is the Savior of the world.'”

What is interesting here relative to the Samaritans ultimately believing in Jesus to be the Savior of the world is that the Samaritans only accepted the first five books of our present Bible, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy as authoritative. By not accepting the rest of the books of the Old Testament as authoritative, they missed out on reading so many of the prophetic passages about the coming Messiah, Jesus. Because of their limited understanding relative to a coming Messiah, they differed from their Jewish counterparts and were expecting a Taheb, who was modeled after Deuteronomy 18:18, which stated, “I will raise us for them a prophet like you from among their brethren, and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I commanded them.” This Taheb was to be a teacher like Moses. What I think is so interesting is that when the Samaritan woman returned to the village challenging the men to come and see if this man was the Christ, did she make this leap of faith after her conversation with Jesus, or did she have insight from other sources so that she was looking for the Christ and not a Taheb. Time and eternity will tell us. What is interesting as you read through the Gospels and the ministry of Jesus, is that women seemed to pick up on certain of Jesus’ teachings i.e. His impending death more quickly than his male disciples. It would seem that on occasion women tended to have more discernment or insight into Jesus and his prophetic teachings well ahead of the male curve at times.

As a result of the men of the village encounter with Jesus at Jacobs well, they invite Jesus and his disciples to spend two days and nights with them in their village of Sychar. Again for a Jewish rabbi and his disciples to dine, sleep and interact with these Samaritans was totally unheard of for that day or any other prior period in history. Remember from our earlier post that the average Jew would have never eaten, drank, and stayed overnight at the home of a Samaritan, as that would have made them ceremonially unclean in their interpretation of scripture. This was truly a mind-blowing radical cultural departure on the part of Jesus and his disciples.

In summary of this passage of scripture, the great Eastern scholar, Ephrem the Syrian, stated this regarding the woman at the well, “At the beginning of the conversation he [Jesus] did not make himself known to her, but first she caught sight of a thirsty man, then a Jew, then a Rabbi, afterwards a prophet, last of all a [the] Messiah.

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