woman at the well

John 4

A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus spoke to her. ‘Give me a drink,’ he said. (The disciples had gone off into the town to buy food.) ‘What!’ said the Samaritan woman. ‘You, a Jew, asking for a drink from me, a woman, and a Samaritan at that?’ (Jews, you see, don’t have any dealings with Samaritans.)

Notice we are not told the Samaritan woman is alone. We just assume she is because of the ensuing conversation. What we are seeing here is Jesus breaking a bunch of taboos.

First, we know Jesus is already considered a holy man and in his religion he would not be alone with a woman in public. He would certainly not speak to her. Strike one. We know this is highly unusual because later we will see his disciples are shocked when they see what is happening.

Second, the woman is a Samaritan. The enemy. And with the heavy Jewish religious emphasis on clean and unclean utensils, the last thing you would do is drink from her cup. Strike two.

And third, the woman may not have the best of character. She is drawing water at noon, probably by herself. Now, it is not unheard of for a woman to draw water from a well at noon as this could be a time for clothes washing, rather than going in the morning for water for the day for cooking, bathing and drinking. Not unheard of, but unusual that she is not with other women who mainly go in the morning. Noon would be the least likely time to meet someone. Something is not quite right with her. Strike three.

But, notice the woman is breaking taboos, too. And everything is made highly unusual by her confidence in speaking to Jesus the way she does. It is not usual in her day to speak as an equal.


Now, what does this scene have to say about the earlier phrase, “He had to go through Samaria?”

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