He had to go through Samaria, and he came to a town in Samaria named Sychar. It was near the place which Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, tired from the journey, sat down there by the well. It was about midday.
Samaria. What is it? When you look at a map of Israel you see it is between Judea to the south and Galilee to the north.
If you look at a map of ancient Israel, you will notice that you can get to Galilee from Judea without going through Samaria. So why does John say Jesus “had to go” through Samaria. Jesus is compelled to go through Samaria for a reason. And it must be a good one because Jews and Samaritans at the time didn’t get along.
Jews and Samaritans originally were both part of the 12 tribes of Israel. Then when the Babylonian’s conquered Israel around 587 BC, they took many of the Jews back with them to Babylon. These were the best and the brightest Jews. The people who were left behind, like the Samaritans, made due. The Samaritans followed God’s law strictly. They recognized only the first five books of the Bible as the Bible. They interpreted the Bible to say Abraham brought Isaac to be sacrificed on Mt. Gezarim, not Mt. Zion, present day Jerusalem.
And so when the exiles returned from Babylonia they accused the Samaritans of worshipping falsely. The Samaritans did intermarry with non-Jews and were accused of making up new stuff because of their pagan spouses. The Samaritans accused the Jews returning from Babylon of doing the same thing. Intermarrying with the Babylonians and changing the true nature of Judaism. So, from this point on, the Samaritans and Jews were enemies.
It is not unheard of for Jews to travel through Samaria and Jesus does so. He is tired, just another indication that Jesus is truly a human being, and we will see next he is also thirsty. He stops at Jacob’s well which is near Mt. Gerazim. The village is originally called Shechem, which means “shoulder”, but it is called Sychar here. Why the difference? Well, Sychar means “liar” or “drunkard”. Guess which group got the change the name?
What is an example of one group of people accusing another group of not being authentic, though they are supposed to represent the same group?