The Samaritan Woman


Staff member
The Samaritan Woman
By Grant Phillips

In John 4:3-42 is John’s account of Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well and the result of that encounter.

Jesus had left Judaea and departed to Galilee, but instead of taking the usual route the Jews took to avoid Samaria, He went directly toward Sychar, a city of Samaria. This route was actually shorter anyway, but Jesus didn’t go this way to shave off miles. He went there to speak to a nation through an outcast woman.

John says in verse six that Jesus sat down by Jacob’s well, which was on a plot of land near Sychar, at about the sixth hour. Since Jesus and His disciples traveled roughly 30 miles, and a day’s journey back then was 20-25 miles, He had to arrive about 6:00 P.M.

Obviously, John used Roman time instead of Hebrew time, as did Matthew, Mark, and Luke. I don’t know John’s reason for this, but we do know that the Synoptic Gospels were written much earlier than John’s Gospel. Also, notice that in John 19:14 John says that Jesus was before Pilate at about the sixth hour, which would have to be about 6:00 A.M. since Mark clearly says in Mark 15:25 that Jesus was crucified at 9:00 A.M. The important thing is that a disgraced Samaritan woman was about to meet Someone that would change her life.

Before going on, we need to consider why there was so much hatred for the Samaritans by the Jews. This will take us back to 2 Kings 17:24, 29-34. When the

Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom, Israel, most all the Jews were taken off into captivity, but that’s not all. The king of Assyria brought Gentile captives from other nations into Israel. They came from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim (vs. 24). In turn, these foreigners brought their own gods (vss. 29-31).

At this point the Israelites and Gentile nations intermarried and became a nation of half-breeds. Even worse, they “feared the Lord” while at the same time worshipping their own man-made gods (vs. 32-34).

And then there is the reading of Ezra and Nehemiah when the inhabitants of the land interfered with the Jews in Judah from restoring the temple. Ezra 4:4-5 says, “Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah. They troubled them in building, and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.”

Three more reasons for the Jews animosity toward the Samaritans are:

One: The Samaritans built their own temple at Mount Gerizim and actually insisted that it was authorized by Moses.

Two: The Samaritans accepted only the Torah (Pentateuch); the first five books of the Bible written by Moses.

Three: Samaria became a refuge for every outlaw, criminal and refugee from justice.

So, here is Jesus in Samaria speaking to an unaccompanied woman (prohibited by the Jews), speaking to a Samaritan (strongly prohibited), and lastly speaking to a woman with a ‘sketchy’ past (definitely prohibited).

The other women of the area would draw their water in the cool of the day, probably early morning, so why was this Samaritan woman drawing her water in the evening? According to Jesus and her own admission, she had had five husbands and the man she was currently living with was not her husband.

Regardless of the reason for her five husbands and now living with a man who was not her husband, she was ostracized by others in the community, and probably especially the other women. Can you imagine her feelings of rejection and loneliness? Many folks today can identify with her, and not necessarily for the same reason. The good news is that Jesus is willing to meet with anyone who will come to Him.

Jesus asked her for a drink, and she replied, “…How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman? For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” (John 4:9)

Jesus said to her, as He says to us today, “…If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” (John 4:10)

She then says, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” (John 4:11-12)

She didn’t know at this time, but yes, Jesus was greater that their father Jacob. It was probably Jesus that gave Jacob that limp he had when he walked.

Jesus never once condemned her, but gave her the best news she could ever receive. He said to her, “…Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14)

At this point let’s read what John records in John 7:37-39.

“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

This dear woman finally realized what Jesus was saying, and was so overtaken with joy, she ran back to the village and told others about her encounter with Jesus. Because of her witness, Jesus and His disciples spent two days with the outcasts of Samaria, and many were saved. They were not outcasts in the eyes of God.

In Isaiah 55:1-2 the Lord proclaims to us all, “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.”