Affirming the Ministry of Women in the Lutheran Church of Australia

The Woman at the Well

Does the traditional reading still hold water?

Introduction

My interest in the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar has been aroused by the current debate on the ordination of women in the Lutheran Church of Australia. Advocates of women’s ordination have been challenged to discover a command of our Lord or one of the apostles as a foundation for the practice, a task almost as difficult as finding a mandate for the ordination of anyone at all, let alone women. Our church teaches that the public ministry, while not co-extensive with or a continuation of the apostolic office, at least continues the functions of that office. Those functions are understood primarily as preaching the gospel and administering the sacraments. A proposal has taken shape in my mind, that a close study of John 4 reveals a woman who functions in ways that match, in fact far outstrip, the functioning of the twelve disciples.

The standard interpretation of the woman at the well
If not public outcast, what then?
The bride of Christ
The Samaritan woman is an exemplary evangelist
The Samaritan woman outranks the disciples
Jesus’ co-worker
Conclusion
Works consulted

Raymond Brown has argued (1975:688-99) that John assigns ‘quasi-apostolic’ roles to a number of women, but three in particular: Martha of Bethany, sister of Mary and Lazarus; Mary Magdalene; and the Samaritan woman. Martha is described as ‘serving’ at table (12:2). At the time of the writing of John’s gospel, the verb diakonein contained clear echoes in all likelihood of the office of deacon. But Martha is far more than diakonos in John. When Jesus reveals himself to her as ‘the resurrection and the life’ (11:25), and questions her about her faith, she makes the remarkable confession:

‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world’ (11:27).

Brown suggests that the Johannine community has replaced Peter with Martha as the follower of Jesus who makes the great confession concerning the person of Christ (1975:693-94).

Mary Magdalene is assigned a still more honourable role in John’s gospel. If apostleship is the first and foremost office of the early church (1 Cor 12:281 Cor 12:28
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28 God has set some in the assembly: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracle workers, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, and various kinds of languages.

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; Eph 4:11Eph 4:11
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11 He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds The word for “shepherds” can also be correctly translated “pastors.” and teachers;

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), Mary of Magdala is arguably the person with the best claim to the title. According to most NT scholars the two marks of an apostle were ‘having seen the risen Lord Jesus and having been sent to proclaim him’ (Brown 1975: 692). Mary Magdalene is the one to whom the risen Lord Jesus first appears after he has risen from the dead, and she is the first one commissioned to proclaim the good news of the resurrection – to the apostles themselves (20:1-18). In fact, the early church regarded Mary Magdalene as apostola apostolorum (Brown: 693). Sad to say, in what can only be seen as an unconscious, maybe even a deliberate, attempt to diminish the role of Mary Magdalene, she has been consistently portrayed as a woman of dubious morality.

The standard interpretation of the woman at the well

(Jesus’) disciples were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or, ‘Why are you speaking with her?’ (4:27).

The disciples are thunderstruck by what they see, Jesus speaking with a woman. Even though they can’t bring themselves to say anything, their thoughts are made clear. It could even be that they think Jesus’ intentions are less than honourable (so Schneiders: 250). One of their unspoken thoughts may well be that Jesus has designs on the woman. ‘What are you looking for? or, What are you after?’ could well be equivalent to, ‘What do you have in mind, Jesus? We hope it’s not what it looks like?’ At all events, the evangelist is under no illusions that a significant portion of the official church, represented by the disciples, is highly offended by Jesus’ approach to women and consistently ignores it, trivialises it, or puts the worst possible construction on it (4:27).

But readers of John 4 have typically had far more trouble with the woman than with Jesus’ attitude towards the woman. The charges leveled against the Samaritan woman bear an uncanny resemblance to the charges laid at the door of Mary Magdalene. The shocked retreat from Jesus’ warm welcome and extended conversation extends far beyond the New Testament era. The most common form it takes is to question the integrity of the women Jesus associates with, or in the case of those with disreputable lives to make their past the main point of the story. They are portrayed as public sinners, and the stories are said to be about rebuke, confession and absolution. It is said that Jesus confronts the Samaritan woman with the truth about herself as a prelude to her repentance, forgiveness and rehabilitation.

After all, she is drawing water from the town’s well at midday when the sun beats down relentlessly. She comes alone for the simple reason that she can’t come with the other women in the cool of the evening, because they despise her and wouldn’t be seen dead in her company. Theodor Zahn speaks of her ‘immoral life, which has exhibited profligacy and unbridled passions for a long time’ (1921: 244). After all, she has had five husbands, disposing of each in turn as regularly as other people discard last season’s clothes. One critic has called her ‘a five-time loser .currently committed to an illicit affair’ (Paul Duke 1985: 102e 1985: 102
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Izbrano poglavje ne obstaja!

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). The man she has now she has taken home on approval, to try on for a while, to see whether he’s worth marrying. She is a cheap woman, it is said, who uses men for sexual gratification or financial gain, bleeding them dry before throwing them on the scrap-heap.

The woman at the well has been portrayed as a temptress, a seductress, with long eyelashes, painted nails, low cut dress, deliberately waiting at the well for Jesus, the male catch to end all catches. She is provocatively lying in wait. She lets Jesus know she has no husband; in other words, she is available. She chatters on about trivial domestic matters as a prelude to conquest, completely failing to appreciate the profound theological significance of Jesus’ words (vv 7-15). She has mistaken the well of life-giving water springing up to eternal life, that he is offering, as some kind of self-replenishing water source akin to Norman Lindsay’s Magic Pudding. Greedily she asks for the miraculous potion, imagining that her thirst will be slaked for ever, and the drudgery of her daily walk to the well will no longer be necessary. Apparently ignoring her request, Jesus says to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back’ (v 16). To Hendriksen the connection between the woman’s request for unfailing water and Jesus’ command that she summon her husband is only too clear:

Does the woman desire living water? Then there must be a thirst for this water. This thirst will not be truly awakened unless there be a sense of guilt, a consciousness of sin. The mention of her husband is the best means of reminding the woman of her immoral life. The Lord is now addressing himself to her conscience (1954: 164).

Her response, ‘I have no husband’ (v 17) marks a profound change in her attitude. Suddenly she is smitten with a bad conscience. Her initial teasing banter gives way to a curt and clipped confession. Hendriksen says that Jesus is ‘revealing and laying bare her entire immoral present and past life’ (1954: 165). Tasker echoes the sentiment, although somewhat more poetically:

Her slumbering conscience is reawakened, and the beginning of a new birth becomes apparent. She abandons any further attempt at subterfuge. She no longer tries to escape either from herself, or from the all-seeing eye of her Maker. She speaks the truth, I have no husband (1995: 83).

By telling the woman to call her husband Jesus is said to be speaking the accusing voice of the law, forcing her to face the bare truth about herself. He is nudging to the surface things she would rather keep hidden. There is to be no more cover up, no more pretence. Instead she is to confess her sin and guilt and acknowledge her need of forgiveness. Only then will she be ready to appreciate and receive the wonderful gifts of forgiveness and peace, life and salvation. She is shocked beyond words and comes within a cat’s whisker of admitting her guilt by calling Jesus a prophet, that is, someone who can read secrets (Hendriksen: 165).

But Jesus has to overcome more resistance, it is said. The woman is not ready to change. She does not want to talk about her sordid past, her guilty secrets. She knows how to use diversionary tactics. By raising the age-old question that divided Jews and Samaritans – the proper place of worship – she is casting around desperately for a new topic of conversation, trying frantically to draw Jesus away from her Achilles’ heel.

This reading of John 4 reveals more about the theological presuppositions of the interpreter than it reveals about the text. The pattern of sin, judgment and grace always stands at the ready, waiting to be superimposed on any and every biblical text. But its ingredients are absent on this occasion. Even though Jesus knows all about the woman, he neither accuses nor condemns her. He doesn’t call on her to change her ways or reform her life. He doesn’t pronounce the absolution or tell her to go and sin no more.

The words of Sandra Schneiders provide a useful summary.

As anyone familiar with the major commentaries on the Fourth Gospel knows, the treatment of the Samaritan Woman in the history of interpretation is a textbook case of the trivialization, marginalization, and even sexual demonization of biblical women, which reflects and promotes the parallel treatment of real women in the church (1997: 245).

If not public outcast, what then?

The story contains no clear indication (a) that the Samaritan woman has romantic designs on Jesus, or (b) that her past has been especially immoral or sordid. For all the reader knows, she could well be the victim of a series of tragic circumstances. Her husband may have died, leaving her under obligation to marry his brother, according to the law of levirate marriage (Dt 25:5-10Dt 25:5-10
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5 If brothers dwell together, and one of them die, and have no son, the wife of the dead shall not be married outside to a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in to her, and take her to him as wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. 6 It shall be, that the firstborn whom she bears shall succeed in the name of his brother who is dead, that his name not be blotted out of Israel. 7 If the man doesn’t want to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuses to raise up to his brother a name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me. 8 Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak to him: and if he stand, and say, I don’t want to take her; 9 then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face; and she shall answer and say, So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house. 10 His name shall be called in Israel, The house of him who has his shoe untied.

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). Maybe this man also died, and then three more brothers, until finally the last brother, thinking that marriage to the woman brought bad luck, agreed to live with her but refused to marry her. At all events, the woman gives no hint of being ashamed of her past. She doesn’t try to avoid her fellow Samaritans. After all she does go and invite them to come and see the man who has told her everything she has ever done. If her past was a public scandal, she was hardly likely to have been so eager to raise the topic once more in the market place.

The possibility has been widely canvassed that the story is to be read symbolically rather than literally. Like Nicodemus, the royal official, the man born blind, the beloved disciple, and Mary the Lord’s mother, she is a representative figure (Collins 1976). She represents the gentiles who come to faith in Jesus, the Samaritans in particular. Christ is the bridegroom; they the bride, the new Israel. Possibly the evangelist is at pains to honour the Samaritan component in the Johannine community. Given the evangelist’s penchant for working at two levels, the literal and the symbolical or metaphorical (temple, birth, living water, food, sight, washing) it is totally conceivable that the woman’s marital history is a vehicle used to carry her people’s national history. The woman constantly alternates between speaking of herself and her people, between first person singular and plural. The five husbands could well refer to the ancient tradition that Samaria was reputed to worship five gods, brought to the northern kingdom by five foreign cities following the Assyrian conquest of 722 BCE (2 Kgs 17:27-312 Kgs 17:27-31
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27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry there one of the priests whom you brought from there; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach them the law of the god of the land. 28 So one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and lived in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear Yahweh. 29 However every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities in which they lived. 30 The men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima, 31 and the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burnt their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.

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; Josephus, Antiquities 9: 288es 9: 288
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). The woman’s previous five husbands (Samaria’s five gods) represent Samaria’s past. Craig Koester tells us that ‘the issue of intermarriage continued to cloud relations between Jews and Samaritans in the first century’ (49). Koester goes on to explain:

Herod the Great continued the pattern of colonization that began under the Assyrians by settling thousands of foreigners in the Samaritan capital. The Samaritans lived alongside the foreigners but did not intermarry with them as extensively as before (my emphasis). The woman’s personal history of marriage to five husbands and cohabitation with a fifth parallels the colonial history of Samaria (49).

Samaria’s troubled political history has had a detrimental effect on its worship practices. Immediately after Jesus tells the woman, ‘The man you are living with is not your husband’, she responds with the words, ‘Sir, I see you are a prophet’, and asks him to give his opinion in relation to the standing dispute between Jews and Samaritans over Gerizim and Jerusalem (vv 19,20). Hendriksen says: ‘Here, as it seems probable to us, we see a woman who in her anxiety to drop a painful subject proposes a question about which she has heard much and in which she has developed a certain interest’ (166). Beasley-Murray says the woman ‘evades the issue’ of her sordid past (61). On the contrary, the woman speaks of Jesus as a prophet because he has just spoken as a prophet by declaring that she has no husband. He has employed the terminology of Hosea, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, who denounce Israel for its apostasy by calling it harlotry, and its idolatry by calling it adultery (Hos 2:2Hos 2:2
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2 Contend with your mother! Contend, for she is not my wife, Neither am I her husband; And let her put away her prostitution from her face, And her adulteries from between her breasts;

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; Jer 2:20Jer 2:20
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20 For of old time I have broken your yoke, and burst your bonds; and you said, I will not serve; for on every high hill and under every green tree you did bow yourself, playing the prostitute.

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; Ezek 16; 23).

Far from trying to get Jesus to drop a hot topic, the woman has captured the drift of the conversation precisely by observing that Jesus must be a prophet. Francis Moloney may say, ‘there is no need to read the five husbands symbolically’ (127), but the woman quickly understands that Jesus is operating at two levels, the personal and the national.

Some critics go so far as to claim that the story is purely symbolic; it is not to be read as an historical incident at all (Schneiders; Moore). Schneiders points out that the synoptics rule out any ministry by Jesus in Samaria. Jesus instructed the twelve apostles to ‘go nowhere among the gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt 10:5,6Matt 10:5,6
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5 Jesus sent these twelve out, and charged them, saying, “Don’t go among the Gentiles, and don’t enter into any city of the Samaritans. 6 Rather, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

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; see also Lk 9:52,53Lk 9:52,53
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52 and sent messengers before his face. They went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, so as to prepare for him. 53 They didn’t receive him, because he was traveling with his face set towards Jerusalem.

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). In fact, the Samaritan mission is a movement of the post-resurrection community; it is spearheaded by Philip following the stoning of Stephen and the first widespread persecution of the early church (Acts 8).

Stephen Moore claims (283) that an exclusively literal reading of the five husbands is to lapse into the very literalism, or crass materialism, that the woman gradually outgrows as the conversation with Jesus continues. To read Jesus’ words about the woman’s five husbands and her current partner literally, as a history of immorality, is to read as simplistically as she does at the start of her conversation with Jesus. She learns to think laterally, or at two levels. Those who construe Jesus’ words about her one-dimensionally thereby virtually place themselves among the men who throw stones at the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11John 8:1-11
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8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Now very early in the morning, he came again into the temple, and all the people came to him. He sat down, and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman taken in adultery. Having set her in the midst, 4 they told him, “Teacher, we found this woman in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now in our law, Moses commanded us to stone such. What then do you say about her?” 6 They said this testing him, that they might have something to accuse him of. But Jesus stooped down, and wrote on the ground with his finger. 7 But when they continued asking him, he looked up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. 9 They, when they heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning from the oldest, even to the last. Jesus was left alone with the woman where she was, in the middle. 10 Jesus, standing up, saw her and said, “Woman, where are your accusers? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way. From now on, sin no more.”

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).

Arguably Schneiders and Moore have erred in the opposite direction. Ruling out the literal reading of Jesus’ words, and the historicity of the account, they overlook for the moment John’s consistent use of deliberate ambiguity. So also here, the woman has a troubled marital story, and it provides a window into Samaria’s troubled political and religious story.

Jesus’ disciple ‘Scarlet lady’ readings of the Samaritan woman deflect the reader’s attention from the true import of the story. The conversation with the woman at the well is the longest that Jesus holds with any individual in the gospels (so Craddock 1990: 243). He is the teacher, she the disciple. Jesus’ progressive self-revelation is met by progressive growth in insight and understanding, faith and commitment.

The reader is shown a woman whose responses to the remarkable events of that day indicate an energetic, truth-seeking, life-affirming woman. She is depicted neither as a woman of dubious morality nor of feigned piety. Her reactions to Jesus are as one would expect, in turn surprised that as a Jewish male he should deign to talk with her (v 9), and then excited by the prospect of the gift of a potion that replenishes itself as if by magic. She is sick of the daily grind of the walk out to the well to draw water (v 15).

Misunderstandings have to be cleared away. Jesus makes it clear that he is not talking about a self-replenishing water fountain but himself as the source of eternal life (v 14). He also wants the woman to know that he knows every detail of her life (vv 17,18), not the way a Nosy Parker has to know everything, or a condemning judge, but as one who is interested in and concerned about all the highs and lows of her life. He agonises with her in times of heartache and celebrates with her in times of joy. He comforts her in times of anguish and knows how much she is hurting. She has had to endure many trials in her life. Jesus’ profound knowledge of her life’s journey gives the woman cause for joy and excitement, not guilt and fear of punishment.

The encounter between the woman and Jesus is characterised by openness and honesty, concern and compassion. There is a refreshing candour about the exchange between the two. It is another meeting of two people ‘in whom there is no deceit’ (1:47). The disciples, on the other hand, are not so capable of saying what is on their hearts and minds (v 27), and the contrast is not to be missed.

The woman’s appreciation of Jesus progresses from Jew (v 9), to Sir (vv 11,15,19), prophet (v 19), Messiah (v 29), and finally, with her fellow Samaritans, saviour of the world (v 42).

In terms of its subject matter the conversation ranks amongst the most profound in the NT. According to the OT, God is the source of life-giving water (Jer 2:13; 17:13Jer 2:13; 17:13
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13 For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the spring of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. 13 Yahweh, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be disappointed. Those who depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken Yahweh, the spring of living waters.

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; Ezek 47:1-12Ezek 47:1-12
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47 1 He brought me back to the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward; and the waters came down from under, from the right side of the house, on the south of the altar. 2 Then he brought me out by the way of the gate northward, and led me round by the way outside to the outer gate, by the way of the gate that looks toward the east; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side. 3 When the man went forth eastward with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he caused me to pass through the waters, waters that were to the ankles. 4 Again he measured one thousand, and caused me to pass through the waters, waters that were to the knees. Again he measured one thousand, and caused me to pass through the waters, waters that were to the waist. 5 Afterward he measured one thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass through; for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. 6 He said to me, Son of man, have you seen this? Then he brought me, and caused me to return to the bank of the river. 7 Now when I had returned, behold, on the bank of the river were very many trees on the one side and on the other. 8 Then said he to me, These waters issue forth toward the eastern region, and shall go down into the Arabah; and they shall go toward the sea; into the sea shall the waters go which were made to issue forth; and the waters shall be healed. 9 It shall happen, that every living creature which swarms, in every place where the rivers come, shall live; and there shall be a very great multitude of fish; for these waters are come there, and the waters of the sea shall be healed, and everything shall live wherever the river comes. 10 It shall happen, that fishermen shall stand by it: from En Gedi even to En Eglaim shall be a place for the spreading of nets; their fish shall be after their kinds, as the fish of the great sea, exceeding many. 11 But the miry places of it, and the marshes of it, shall not be healed; they shall be given up to salt. 12 By the river on the bank of it, on this side and on that side, shall grow every tree for food, whose leaf shall not wither, neither shall the fruit of it fail: it shall bring forth new fruit every month, because the waters of it issue out of the sanctuary; and the fruit of it shall be for food, and the leaf of it for healing.

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; Ps 36:8,9Ps 36:8,9
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8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the abundance of your house. You will make them drink of the river of your pleasures. 9 For with you is the spring of life. In your light shall we see light.

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), and the days are foreshadowed when God will reappear in the Jerusalem temple to pour out that life-giving water on all flesh (Zech 14:8Zech 14:8
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8 It will happen in that day, that living waters will go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the eastern sea, and half of them toward the western sea; in summer and in winter will it be.

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). The prophet of the exile depicts God as a generous host, inviting and urging people to come to him to drink and live (Isa 55:1Isa 55:1
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55 1 Ho, everyone who thirsts, come you to the waters, and he who has no money; come you, buy, and eat; yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

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). The seer gives the reader a glimpse into heaven itself where the river of the water of life flows from the throne of God and gives abundant life forever (Rev 22:1,2Rev 22:1,2
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22 1 He showed me a TR adds “pure” river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the middle of its street. On this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruits, yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

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). This biblical theme achieves full expression in the gospel of John. In yielding his life on the cross Jesus pours forth the water that will give life to the world (19:34; see also 2:7,9so 2:7,9
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7 The coast will be for the remnant of the house of Judah. They will find pasture. In the houses of Ashkelon, they will lie down in the evening, for Yahweh, their God, will visit them, and restore them. 9 Therefore as I live, says Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, surely Moab will be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, a possession of nettles, and salt pits, and a perpetual desolation. The remnant of my people will plunder them, and the survivors of my nation will inherit them.

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) wherever his sacrificial death is received by baptism (3:5) and in the thirst of faith (7:37-39). God, Jerusalem, and temple as sources of life culminate in Jesus himself. He is the promised Messiah of God; indeed Jesus is one with the great ‘I am’ of the Old Testament (v 26). In Jesus all God’s promises are fulfilled.

And the woman at the well is the one to whom Jesus chooses to reveal these remarkable truths. Jesus’ radical self-disclosure of his divine nature and public office places the woman of Sychar in a remarkably privileged position. In fact, in telling her story John tells the story of one who in the normal course of daily life hears and responds to God’s gracious invitation to the thirsty to come to him and drink (Isa 55:1Isa 55:1
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55 1 Ho, everyone who thirsts, come you to the waters, and he who has no money; come you, buy, and eat; yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

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,2), to come to his Son Jesus and believe and live (4:13-15; 7:37,38).

The bride of Christ

The early chapters of John’s gospel are replete with marital imagery. At the wedding at Cana, Jesus is revealed as the true bridegroom who provides wine in abundance for the nuptial festivities (2:9,10). It is frequently argued (eg Cahill: 44-47; Beck: 42; Schneiders: 244) that the evangelist casts the Samaritan woman, and her community, in the role of Christ’s bride. In chapter 4 the newly revealed bridegroom, in the words of Schneiders, ‘comes to claim Samaria as an integral part of the New Israel, namely, the Christian community and specifically the Johannine community’ (244). The Jewish scholar Robert Alter was first to categorise the stories of men and women meeting at wells as conventional ‘type scenes’ (1981: 47-62). The connections between John 4 and the stories at Genesis 24:1-61, 29:1-14Genesis 24:1-61, 29:1-14
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24 1 Abraham was old, and well stricken in age. Yahweh had blessed Abraham in all things. 2 Abraham said to his servant, the elder of his house, who ruled over all that he had, “Please put your hand under my thigh. 3 I will make you swear by Yahweh, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live. 4 But you shall go to my country, and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” 5 The servant said to him, “What if the woman isn’t willing to follow me to this land? Must I bring your son again to the land you came from?” 6 Abraham said to him, “Beware that you don’t bring my son there again. 7 Yahweh, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my birth, who spoke to me, and who swore to me, saying, ‘I will give this land to your seed or, offspring.’ He will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. 8 If the woman isn’t willing to follow you, then you shall be clear from this my oath. Only you shall not bring my son there again.” 9 The servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter. 10 The servant took ten camels, of his master’s camels, and departed, having all goodly things of his master’s in his hand. He arose, and went to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor. 11 He made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at the time of evening, the time that women go out to draw water. 12 He said, “Yahweh, the God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 Behold, I am standing by the spring of water. The daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. 14 Let it happen, that the young lady to whom I will say, ‘Please let down your pitcher, that I may drink.’ She will say, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink.’ Let the same be she who you have appointed for your servant Isaac. Thereby will I know that you have shown kindness to my master.” 15 It happened, before he had done speaking, that behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with her pitcher on her shoulder. 16 The young lady was very beautiful to look at, a virgin, neither had any man known her. She went down to the spring, filled her pitcher, and came up. 17 The servant ran to meet her, and said, “Please give me a drink, a little water from your pitcher.” 18 She said, “Drink, my lord.” She hurried, and let down her pitcher on her hand, and gave him drink. 19 When she had done giving him drink, she said, “I will also draw for your camels, until they have done drinking.” 20 She hurried, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again to the well to draw, and drew for all his camels. 21 The man looked steadfastly at her, holding his peace, to know whether Yahweh had made his journey prosperous or not. 22 It happened, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden ring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold, 23 and said, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me. Is there room in your father’s house for us to lodge in?” 24 She said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.” 25 She said moreover to him, “We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in.” 26 The man bowed his head, and worshiped Yahweh. 27 He said, “Blessed be Yahweh, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his loving kindness and his truth toward my master. As for me, Yahweh has led me in the way to the house of my master’s relatives.” 28 The young lady ran, and told her mother’s house about these words. 29 Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban. Laban ran out to the man, to the spring. 30 It happened, when he saw the ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, “This is what the man said to me,” that he came to the man. Behold, he was standing by the camels at the spring. 31 He said, “Come in, you blessed of Yahweh. Why do you stand outside? For I have prepared the house, and room for the camels.” 32 The man came into the house, and he unloaded the camels. He gave straw and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him. 33 Food was set before him to eat. But he said, “I will not eat until I have told my message.” He said, “Speak on.” 34 He said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35 Yahweh has blessed my master greatly. He has become great. He has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, men-servants and maid-servants, and camels and donkeys. 36 Sarah, my master’s wife, bore a son to my master when she was old. He has given all that he has to him. 37 My master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live, 38 but you shall go to my father’s house, and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son.’ 39 I said to my master, ‘What if the woman will not follow me?’ 40 He said to me, ‘Yahweh, before whom I walk, will send his angel with you, and prosper your way. You shall take a wife for my son of my relatives, and of my father’s house. 41 Then will you be clear from my oath, when you come to my relatives. If they don’t give her to you, you shall be clear from my oath.’ 42 I came this day to the spring, and said, ‘Yahweh, the God of my master Abraham, if now you do prosper my way which I go. 43 Behold, I am standing by the spring of water. Let it happen, that the maiden who comes forth to draw, to whom I will say, Give me, I pray you, a little water from your pitcher to drink. 44 She will tell me, “Drink, and I will also draw for your camels.” Let the same be the woman whom Yahweh has appointed for my master’s son.’ 45 Before I had done speaking in my heart, behold, Rebekah came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder. She went down to the spring, and drew. I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’ 46 She hurried and let down her pitcher from her shoulder, and said, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink.’ So I drank, and she made the camels drink also. 47 I asked her, and said, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bare to him.’ I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her hands. 48 I bowed my head, and worshiped Yahweh, and blessed Yahweh, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me in the right way to take my master’s brother’s daughter for his son. 49 Now if you will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me. If not, tell me. That I may turn to the right hand, or to the left.” 50 Then Laban and Bethuel answered, “The thing proceeds from Yahweh. We can’t speak to you bad or good. 51 Behold, Rebekah is before you, take her, and go, and let her be your master’s son’s wife, as Yahweh has spoken.” 52 It happened that when Abraham’s servant heard their words, he bowed himself down to the earth to Yahweh. 53 The servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and clothing, and gave them to Rebekah. He gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things. 54 They ate and drank, he and the men who were with him, and stayed all night. They rose up in the morning, and he said, “Send me away to my master.” 55 Her brother and her mother said, “Let the young lady stay with us a few days, at least ten. After that she will go.” 56 He said to them, “Don’t hinder me, seeing Yahweh has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master.” 57 They said, “We will call the young lady, and ask her.” 58 They called Rebekah, and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will go.” 59 They sent away Rebekah, their sister, with her nurse, Abraham’s servant, and his men. 60 They blessed Rebekah, and said to her, “Our sister, may you be the mother of thousands of ten thousands, and let your seed possess the gate of those who hate them.” 61 Rebekah arose with her ladies. They rode on the camels, and followed the man. The servant took Rebekah, and went his way. 62 Isaac came from the way of Beer Lahai Roi. For he lived in the land of the South. 63 Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the evening. He lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, there were camels coming. 64 Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel. 65 She said to the servant, “Who is the man who is walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” She took her veil, and covered herself. 66 The servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. 67 Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife. He loved her. Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. 25 1 Abraham took another wife, and her name was Keturah. 2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. 3 Jokshan became the father of Sheba, and Dedan. The sons of Dedan were Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim. 4 The sons of Midian: Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. 5 Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac, 6 but to the sons of the concubines who Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts. He sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, to the east country. 7 These are the days of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived: one hundred seventy-five years. 8 Abraham gave up the spirit, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years, and was gathered to his people. 9 Isaac and Ishmael, his sons, buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron, the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre, 10 the field which Abraham purchased of the children of Heth. There was Abraham buried, with Sarah his wife. 11 It happened after the death of Abraham, that God blessed Isaac, his son. Isaac lived by Beer Lahai Roi. 12 Now this is the history of the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s handmaid, bore to Abraham. 13 These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to the order of their birth: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebaioth, then Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. 16 These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their villages, and by their encampments: twelve princes, according to their nations. 17 These are the years of the life of Ishmael: one hundred thirty-seven years. He gave up the spirit and died, and was gathered to his people. 18 They lived from Havilah to Shur that is before Egypt, as you go toward Assyria. He lived opposite all his relatives. 19 This is the history of the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham became the father of Isaac. 20 Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Paddan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian, to be his wife. 21 Isaac entreated Yahweh for his wife, because she was barren. Yahweh was entreated by him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 The children struggled together within her. She said, “If it be so, why do I live?” She went to inquire of Yahweh. 23 Yahweh said to her, Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples will be separated from your body. The one people will be stronger than the other people. The elder will serve the younger. 24 When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 The first came out red all over, like a hairy garment. They named him Esau. 26 After that, his brother came out, and his hand had hold on Esau’s heel. He was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. 27 The boys grew. Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field. Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. 28 Now Isaac loved Esau, because he ate his venison. Rebekah loved Jacob. 29 Jacob boiled stew. Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. 30 Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am famished.” Therefore his name was called Edom. 31 Jacob said, “First, sell me your birthright.” 32 Esau said, “Behold, I am about to die. What good is the birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” He swore to him. He sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils. He ate and drank, rose up, and went his way. So Esau despised his birthright. 26 1 There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, to Gerar. 2 Yahweh appeared to him, and said, “Don’t go down into Egypt. Dwell in the land which I will tell you of. 3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you, and will bless you. For to you, and to your seed, I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. 4 I will multiply your seed as the stars of the sky, and will give to your seed all these lands. In your seed will all the nations of the earth be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” 6 Isaac lived in Gerar. 7 The men of the place asked him about his wife. He said, “She is my sister,” for he was afraid to say, “My wife,” lest, he thought, the men of the place might kill me for Rebekah, because she was beautiful to look on. 8 It happened, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was caressing Rebekah, his wife. 9 Abimelech called Isaac, and said, “Behold, surely she is your wife. Why did you say, ‘She is my sister?’” Isaac said to him, “Because I said, ‘Lest I die because of her.’” 10 Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us!” 11 Abimelech charged all the people, saying, “He who touches this man or his wife will surely be put to death.” 12 Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year one hundred times what he planted. Yahweh blessed him. 13 The man grew great, and grew more and more until he became very great. 14 He had possessions of flocks, possessions of herds, and a great household. The Philistines envied him. 15 Now all the wells which his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped, and filled with earth. 16 Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go from us, for you are much mightier than we.” 17 Isaac departed from there, encamped in the valley of Gerar, and lived there. 18 Isaac dug again the wells of water, which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father. For the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham. He called their names after the names by which his father had called them. 19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. 20 The herdsmen of Gerar argued with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water is ours.” He called the name of the well Esek, because they contended with him. 21 They dug another well, and they argued over that, also. He called the name of it Sitnah. 22 He left that place, and dug another well. They didn’t argue over that one. He called it Rehoboth. He said, “For now Yahweh has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.” 23 He went up from there to Beersheba. 24 Yahweh appeared to him the same night, and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you, and will bless you, and multiply your seed for my servant Abraham’s sake.” 25 He built an altar there, and called on the name of Yahweh, and pitched his tent there. There Isaac’s servants dug a well. 26 Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath his friend, and Phicol the captain of his army. 27 Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, since you hate me, and have sent me away from you?” 28 They said, “We saw plainly that Yahweh was with you. We said, ‘Let there now be an oath between us, even between us and you, and let us make a covenant with you, 29 that you will do us no harm, as we have not touched you, and as we have done to you nothing but good, and have sent you away in peace.’ You are now the blessed of Yahweh.” 30 He made them a feast, and they ate and drank. 31 They rose up some time in the morning, and swore one to another. Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace. 32 It happened the same day, that Isaac’s servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had dug, and said to him, “We have found water.” 33 He called it Shibah. Shibah means “oath” or “seven.” Therefore the name of the city is Beersheba Beersheba means “well of the oath” or “well of the seven” to this day. 34 When Esau was forty years old, he took as wife Judith, the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath, the daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 They grieved Isaac and Rebekah’s spirits. 27 1 It happened, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his elder son, and said to him, “My son?” He said to him, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “See now, I am old. I don’t know the day of my death. 3 Now therefore, please take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field, and take me venison. 4 Make me savory food, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat, and that my soul may bless you before I die.” 5 Rebekah heard when Isaac spoke to Esau his son. Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it. 6 Rebekah spoke to Jacob her son, saying, “Behold, I heard your father speak to Esau your brother, saying, 7 ‘Bring me venison, and make me savory food, that I may eat, and bless you before Yahweh before my death.’ 8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command you. 9 Go now to the flock, and get me from there two good kids of the goats. I will make them savory food for your father, such as he loves. 10 You shall bring it to your father, that he may eat, so that he may bless you before his death.” 11 Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. 12 What if my father touches me? I will seem to him as a deceiver, and I would bring a curse on myself, and not a blessing.” 13 His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son. Only obey my voice, and go get them for me.” 14 He went, and got them, and brought them to his mother. His mother made savory food, such as his father loved. 15 Rebekah took the good clothes of Esau, her elder son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob, her younger son. 16 She put the skins of the kids of the goats on his hands, and on the smooth of his neck. 17 She gave the savory food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. 18 He came to his father, and said, “My father?” He said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” 19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done what you asked me to do. Please arise, sit and eat of my venison, that your soul may bless me.” 20 Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He said, “Because Yahweh your God gave me success.” 21 Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, whether you are really my son Esau or not.” 22 Jacob went near to Isaac his father. He felt him, and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 He didn’t recognize him, because his hands were hairy, like his brother, Esau’s hands. So he blessed him. 24 He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He said, “I am.” 25 He said, “Bring it near to me, and I will eat of my son’s venison, that my soul may bless you.” He brought it near to him, and he ate. He brought him wine, and he drank. 26 His father Isaac said to him, “Come near now, and kiss me, my son.” 27 He came near, and kissed him. He smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him, and said, “Behold, the smell of my son Is as the smell of a field which Yahweh has blessed. 28 God give you of the dew of the sky, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and new wine. 29 Let peoples serve you, Nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, Let your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, Blessed be everyone who blesses you.” 30 It happened, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob had just gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31 He also made savory food, and brought it to his father. He said to his father, “Let my father arise, and eat of his son’s venison, that your soul may bless me.” 32 Isaac his father said to him, “Who are you?” He said, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” 33 Isaac trembled violently, and said, “Who, then, is he who has taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before you came, and have blessed him? Yes, he will be blessed.” 34 When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with an exceeding great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, my father.” 35 He said, “Your brother came with deceit, and has taken away your blessing.” 36 He said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright. See, now he has taken away my blessing.” He said, “Haven’t you reserved a blessing for me?” 37 Isaac answered Esau, “Behold, I have made him your lord, and all his brothers have I given to him for servants. With grain and new wine have I sustained him. What then will I do for you, my son?” 38 Esau said to his father, “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, my father.” Esau lifted up his voice, and wept. 39 Isaac his father answered him, “Behold, of the fatness of the earth will be your dwelling, and of the dew of the sky from above. 40 By your sword will you live, and you will serve your brother. It will happen, when you will break loose, That you shall shake his yoke from off your neck.” 41 Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him. Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are at hand. Then I will kill my brother Jacob.” 42 The words of Esau, her elder son, were told to Rebekah. She sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said to him, “Behold, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you. 43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice. Arise, flee to Laban, my brother, in Haran. 44 Stay with him a few days, until your brother’s fury turns away; 45 until your brother’s anger turn away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him. Then I will send, and get you from there. Why should I be bereaved of you both in one day?” 46 Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth. If Jacob takes a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these, of the daughters of the land, what good will my life do me?” 28 1 Isaac called Jacob, blessed him, and commanded him, “You shall not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. 2 Arise, go to Paddan Aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father. Take a wife from there from the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3 May God Almighty bless you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, that you may be a company of peoples, 4 and give you the blessing of Abraham, to you, and to your seed with you, that you may inherit the land where you travel, which God gave to Abraham.” 5 Isaac sent Jacob away. He went to Paddan Aram to Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, Rebekah’s brother, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother. 6 Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan Aram, to take him a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, “You shall not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan,” 7 and that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Paddan Aram. 8 Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan didn’t please Isaac, his father. 9 Esau went to Ishmael, and took, besides the wives that he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth, to be his wife. 10 Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. 11 He came to a certain place, and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. He took one of the stones of the place, and put it under his head, and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 He dreamed. Behold, a stairway set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. Behold, the angels of God ascending and descending on it. 13 Behold, Yahweh stood above it, and said, “I am Yahweh, the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac. The land whereon you lie, to you will I give it, and to your seed. 14 Your seed will be as the dust of the earth, and you will spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south. In you and in your seed will all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you, and will keep you, wherever you go, and will bring you again into this land. For I will not leave you, until I have done that which I have spoken of to you.” 16 Jacob awakened out of his sleep, and he said, “Surely Yahweh is in this place, and I didn’t know it.” 17 He was afraid, and said, “How dreadful is this place! This is none other than God’s house, and this is the gate of heaven.” 18 Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil on the top of it. 19 He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. 20 Jacob vowed a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, and Yahweh will be my God, 22 then this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, will be God’s house. Of all that you will give me I will surely give the tenth to you.” 29 1 Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the children of the east. 2 He looked, and behold, a well in the field, and, behold, three flocks of sheep lying there by it. For out of that well they watered the flocks. The stone on the well’s mouth was great. 3 There all the flocks were gathered. They rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again on the well’s mouth in its place. 4 Jacob said to them, “My relatives, where are you from?” They said, “We are from Haran.” 5 He said to them, “Do you know Laban, the son of Nahor?” They said, “We know him.” 6 He said to them, “Is it well with him?” They said, “It is well. See, Rachel, his daughter, is coming with the sheep.” 7 He said, “Behold, it is still the middle of the day, not time to gather the cattle together. Water the sheep, and go and feed them.” 8 They said, “We can’t, until all the flocks are gathered together, and they roll the stone from the well’s mouth. Then we water the sheep.” 9 While he was yet speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she kept them. 10 It happened, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban, his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban, his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. 11 Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept. 12 Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s brother, and that he was Rebekah’s son. She ran and told her father. 13 It happened, when Laban heard the news of Jacob, his sister’s son, that he ran to meet Jacob, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things. 14 Laban said to him, Surely you are my bone and my flesh. He lived with him for a month. 15 Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my brother, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what will your wages be?” 16 Laban had two daughters. The name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful and well favored. 18 Jacob loved Rachel. He said, “I will serve you seven years for Rachel, your younger daughter.” 19 Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you, than that I should give her to another man. Stay with me.” 20 Jacob served seven years for Rachel. They seemed to him but a few days, for the love he had for her. 21 Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in to her.” 22 Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast. 23 It happened in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him. He went in to her. 24 Laban gave Zilpah his handmaid to his daughter Leah for a handmaid. 25 It happened in the morning that, behold, it was Leah. He said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Didn’t I serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” 26 Laban said, “It is not done so in our place, to give the younger before the first born. 27 Fulfill the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you will serve with me yet seven other years.” 28 Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week. He gave him Rachel his daughter as wife. 29 Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah, his handmaid, to be her handmaid. 30 He went in also to Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years. 31 Yahweh saw that Leah was hated, and he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32 Leah conceived, and bore a son, and she named him Reuben. For she said, “Because Yahweh has looked at my affliction. For now my husband will love me.” 33 She conceived again, and bare a son, and said, “Because Yahweh has heard that I am hated, he has therefore given me this son also.” She named him Simeon. 34 She conceived again, and bare a son. Said, “Now this time will my husband be joined to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore was his name called Levi. 35 She conceived again, and bare a son. She said, “This time will I praise Yahweh.” Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing. 30 1 When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I will die.” 2 Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in God’s place, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” 3 She said, “Behold, my maid Bilhah. Go in to her, that she may bear on my knees, and I also may obtain children by her.” 4 She gave him Bilhah her handmaid as wife, and Jacob went in to her. 5 Bilhah conceived, and bore Jacob a son. 6 Rachel said, “God has judged me, and has also heard my voice, and has given me a son.” Therefore called she his name Dan. 7 Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid, conceived again, and bore Jacob a second son. 8 Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and have prevailed.” She named him Naphtali. 9 When Leah saw that she had finished bearing, she took Zilpah, her handmaid, and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid, bore Jacob a son. 11 Leah said, “How fortunate!” She named him Gad. 12 Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid, bore Jacob a second son. 13 Leah said, “Happy am I, for the daughters will call me happy.” She named him Asher. 14 Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother, Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” 15 She said to her, “Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes, also?” Rachel said, “Therefore he will lie with you tonight for your son’s mandrakes.” 16 Jacob came from the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, “You must come in to me; for I have surely hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” He lay with her that night. 17 God listened to Leah, and she conceived, and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Leah said, “God has given me my hire, because I gave my handmaid to my husband.” She named him Issachar. 19 Leah conceived again, and bore a sixth son to Jacob. 20 Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good dowry. Now my husband will live with me, because I have borne him six sons.” She named him Zebulun. 21 Afterwards, she bore a daughter, and named her Dinah. 22 God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her, and opened her womb. 23 She conceived, bore a son, and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” 24 She named him Joseph, Joseph means “may he add.” saying, “May Yahweh add another son to me.” 25 It happened, when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own place, and to my country. 26 Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me go: for you know my service with which I have served you.” 27 Laban said to him, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, stay here, for I have divined that Yahweh has blessed me for your sake.” 28 He said, “Appoint me your wages, and I will give it.” 29 He said to him, “You know how I have served you, and how your cattle have fared with me. 30 For it was little which you had before I came, and it has increased to a multitude. Yahweh has blessed you wherever I turned. Now when will I provide for my own house also?” 31 He said, “What shall I give you?” Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything. If you will do this thing for me, I will again feed your flock and keep it. 32 I will pass through all your flock today, removing from there every speckled and spotted one, and every black one among the sheep, and the spotted and speckled among the goats. This will be my hire. 33 So my righteousness will answer for me hereafter, when you come concerning my hire that is before you. Everyone that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and black among the sheep, that might be with me, will be counted stolen.” 34 Laban said, “Behold, I desire it to be according to your word.” 35 That day, he removed the male goats that were streaked and spotted, and all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had white in it, and all the black ones among the sheep, and gave them into the hand of his sons. 36 He set three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks. 37 Jacob took to himself rods of fresh poplar, almond, plane tree, peeled white streaks in them, and made the white appear which was in the rods. 38 He set the rods which he had peeled opposite the flocks in the gutters in the watering-troughs where the flocks came to drink. They conceived when they came to drink. 39 The flocks conceived before the rods, and the flocks brought forth streaked, speckled, and spotted. 40 Jacob separated the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the streaked and all the black in the flock of Laban: and he put his own droves apart, and didn’t put them into Laban’s flock. 41 It happened, whenever the stronger of the flock conceived, that Jacob laid the rods before the eyes of the flock in the gutters, that they might conceive among the rods; 42 but when the flock were feeble, he didn’t put them in. So the feebler were Laban’s, and the stronger Jacob’s. 43 The man increased exceedingly, and had large flocks, maid-servants and men-servants, and camels and donkeys. 31 1 He heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, “Jacob has taken away all that was our father’s. From that which was our father’s, has he gotten all this wealth.” 2 Jacob saw the expression on Laban’s face, and, behold, it was not toward him as before. 3 Yahweh said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers, and to your relatives, and I will be with you.” 4 Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field to his flock, 5 and said to them, “I see the expression on your father’s face, that it is not toward me as before; but the God of my father has been with me. 6 You know that I have served your father with all of my strength. 7 Your father has deceived me, and changed my wages ten times, but God didn’t allow him to hurt me. 8 If he said this, ‘The speckled will be your wages,’ then all the flock bore speckled. If he said this, ‘The streaked will be your wages,’ then all the flock bore streaked. 9 Thus God has taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me. 10 It happened at the time that the flock conceive, that I lifted up my eyes, and saw in a dream, and behold, the male goats which leaped on the flock were streaked, speckled, and grizzled. 11 The angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am.’ 12 He said, ‘Now lift up your eyes, and behold, all the male goats which leap on the flock are streaked, speckled, and grizzled, for I have seen all that Laban does to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you vowed a vow to me. Now arise, get out from this land, and return to the land of your birth.” 14 Rachel and Leah answered him, “Is there yet any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house? 15 Aren’t we accounted by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and has also quite devoured our money. 16 For all the riches which God has taken away from our father, that is ours and our children’s. Now then, whatever God has said to you, do.” 17 Then Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his wives on the camels, 18 and he carried away all his cattle, and all his substance which he had gathered, the cattle of his getting, which he had gathered in Paddan Aram, to go to Isaac his father to the land of Canaan. 19 Now Laban had gone to shear his sheep: and Rachel stole the teraphim teraphim were household idols that may have been associated with inheritance rights to the household property. that were her father’s. 20 Jacob deceived Laban the Syrian, in that he didn’t tell him that he was running away. 21 So he fled with all that he had. He rose up, passed over the River, and set his face toward the mountain of Gilead. 22 Laban was told on the third day that Jacob had fled. 23 He took his relatives with him, and pursued after him seven days’ journey. He overtook him in the mountain of Gilead. 24 God came to Laban, the Syrian, in a dream of the night, and said to him, “Take heed to yourself that you don’t speak to Jacob either good or bad.” 25 Laban caught up with Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the mountain, and Laban with his relatives encamped in the mountain of Gilead. 26 Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done, that you have deceived me, and carried away my daughters like captives of the sword? 27 Why did you flee secretly, and deceive me, and didn’t tell me, that I might have sent you away with mirth and with songs, with tambourine and with harp; 28 and didn’t allow me to kiss my sons and my daughters? Now have you done foolishly. 29 It is in the power of my hand to hurt you, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Take heed to yourself that you don’t speak to Jacob either good or bad.’ 30 Now, you want to be gone, because you sore longed after your father’s house, but why have you stolen my gods?” 31 Jacob answered Laban, “Because I was afraid, for I said, ‘Lest you should take your daughters from me by force.’ 32 With whoever you find your gods, he shall not live. Before our relatives, discern what is yours with me, and take it.” For Jacob didn’t know that Rachel had stolen them. 33 Laban went into Jacob’s tent, into Leah’s tent, and into the tent of the two maid-servants; but he didn’t find them. He went out of Leah’s tent, and entered into Rachel’s tent. 34 Now Rachel had taken the teraphim, put them in the camel’s saddle, and sat on them. Laban felt about all the tent, but didn’t find them. 35 She said to her father, “Don’t let my lord be angry that I can’t rise up before you; for the manner of women is on me.” He searched, but didn’t find the teraphim. 36 Jacob was angry, and argued with Laban. Jacob answered Laban, “What is my trespass? What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued after me? 37 Now that you have felt around in all my stuff, what have you found of all your household stuff? Set it here before my relatives and your relatives, that they may judge between us two. 38 These twenty years have I been with you. Your ewes and your female goats have not cast their young, and I haven’t eaten the rams of your flocks. 39 That which was torn of animals, I didn’t bring to you. I bore the loss of it. Of my hand you required it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. 40 Thus I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep fled from my eyes. 41 These twenty years have I been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. 42 Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty. God has seen my affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked you last night.” 43 Laban answered Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine: and what can I do this day to these my daughters, or to their children whom they have borne? 44 Now come, let us make a covenant, you and I; and let it be for a witness between me and you.” 45 Jacob took a stone, and set it up for a pillar. 46 Jacob said to his relatives, “Gather stones.” They took stones, and made a heap. They ate there by the heap. 47 Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, “Jegar Sahadutha” means “Witness Heap” in Aramaic. but Jacob called it Galeed. “Galeed” means “Witness Heap” in Hebrew. 48 Laban said, “This heap is witness between me and you this day.” Therefore it was named Galeed 49 and Mizpah, for he said, “Yahweh watch between me and you, when we are absent one from another. 50 If you will afflict my daughters, and if you will take wives besides my daughters, no man is with us; behold, God is witness between me and you.” 51 Laban said to Jacob, “See this heap, and see the pillar, which I have set between me and you. 52 May this heap be a witness, and the pillar be a witness, that I will not pass over this heap to you, and that you will not pass over this heap and this pillar to me, for harm. 53 The God of Abraham, and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.” Then Jacob swore by the fear of his father, Isaac. 54 Jacob offered a sacrifice in the mountain, and called his relatives to eat bread. They ate bread, and stayed all night in the mountain. 55 Early in the morning, Laban rose up, and kissed his sons and his daughters, and blessed them. Laban departed and returned to his place. 32 1 Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2 When he saw them, Jacob said, “This is God’s army.” He called the name of that place Mahanaim. 3 Jacob sent messengers in front of him to Esau, his brother, to the land of Seir, the field of Edom. 4 He commanded them, saying, “This is what you shall tell my lord, Esau: ‘This is what your servant, Jacob, says. I have lived as a foreigner with Laban, and stayed until now. 5 I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, men-servants, and maid-servants. I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favor in your sight.’” 6 The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau. Not only that, but he comes to meet you, and four hundred men with him.” 7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and was distressed: and he divided the people who were with him, and the flocks, and the herds, and the camels, into two companies; 8 and he said, “If Esau comes to the one company, and strikes it, then the company which is left will escape.” 9 Jacob said, “God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, Yahweh, who said to me, ‘Return to your country, and to your relatives, and I will do you good.’ 10 I am not worthy of the least of all the loving kindnesses, and of all the truth, which you have shown to your servant; for with just my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I have become two companies. 11 Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he come and strike me, and the mothers with the children. 12 You said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your seed as the sand of the sea, which can’t be numbered because there are so many.’” 13 He lodged there that night, and took from that which he had with him, a present for Esau, his brother: 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty milk camels and their colts, forty cows, ten bulls, twenty she-donkeys and ten foals. 16 He delivered them into the hands of his servants, every herd by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass over before me, and put a space between herd and herd.” 17 He commanded the foremost, saying, “When Esau, my brother, meets you, and asks you, saying, ‘Whose are you? Where are you going? Whose are these before you?’ 18 Then you shall say, ‘They are your servant, Jacob’s. It is a present sent to my lord, Esau. Behold, he also is behind us.’” 19 He commanded also the second, and the third, and all that followed the herds, saying, “This is how you shall speak to Esau, when you find him. 20 You shall say, ‘Not only that, but behold, your servant, Jacob, is behind us.’” For, he said, “I will appease him with the present that goes before me, and afterward I will see his face. Perhaps he will accept me.” 21 So the present passed over before him: and he himself lodged that night in the camp. 22 He rose up that night, and took his two wives, and his two handmaids, and his eleven sons, and passed over the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them, and sent them over the stream, and sent over that which he had. 24 Jacob was left alone, and wrestled with a man there until the breaking of the day. 25 When he saw that he didn’t prevail against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was strained, as he wrestled. 26 The man said, “Let me go, for the day breaks.” Jacob said, “I won’t let you go, unless you bless me.” 27 He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” 28 He said, “Your name will no longer be called ‘Jacob,’ but, ‘Israel,’ for you have fought with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” He said, “Why is it that you ask what my name is?” He blessed him there. 30 Jacob called the name of the place Peniel Peniel means “face of God.”: for, he said, “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” 31 The sun rose on him as he passed over Peniel, and he limped because of his thigh. 32 Therefore the children of Israel don’t eat the sinew of the hip, which is on the hollow of the thigh, to this day, because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew of the hip. 33 1 Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau was coming, and with him four hundred men. He divided the children between Leah, Rachel, and to the two handmaids. 2 He put the handmaids and their children in front, Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph at the rear. 3 He himself passed over in front of them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. 4 Esau ran to meet him, embraced him, fell on his neck, kissed him, and they wept. 5 He lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, “Who are these with you?” He said, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant.” 6 Then the handmaids came near with their children, and they bowed themselves. 7 Leah also and her children came near, and bowed themselves. After them, Joseph came near with Rachel, and they bowed themselves. 8 Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company which I met?” Jacob said, “To find favor in the sight of my lord.” 9 Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; let that which you have be yours.” 10 Jacob said, “Please, no, if I have now found favor in your sight, then receive my present at my hand, because I have seen your face, as one sees the face of God, and you were pleased with me. 11 Please take the gift that I brought to you; because God has dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough.” He urged him, and he took it. 12 Esau said, “Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before you.” 13 Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are tender, and that the flocks and herds with me have their young, and if they overdrive them one day, all the flocks will die. 14 Please let my lord pass over before his servant: and I will lead on gently, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come to my lord to Seir.” 15 Esau said, “Let me now leave with you some of the folk who are with me.” He said, “Why? Let me find favor in the sight of my lord.” 16 So Esau returned that day on his way to Seir. 17 Jacob traveled to Succoth, built himself a house, and made shelters for his cattle. Therefore the name of the place is called Succoth. succoth means shelters or booths. 18 Jacob came in peace to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan Aram; and encamped before the city. 19 He bought the parcel of ground, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money. 20 He erected an altar there, and called it El Elohe Israel. El Elohe Israel means “God, the God of Israel” or “The God of Israel is mighty.” 34 1 Dinah, the daughter of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. 2 Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her. He took her, lay with her, and humbled her. 3 His soul joined to Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the young lady, and spoke kindly to the young lady. 4 Shechem spoke to his father, Hamor, saying, “Get me this young lady as a wife.” 5 Now Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah, his daughter; and his sons were with his cattle in the field. Jacob held his peace until they came. 6 Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to talk with him. 7 The sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it. The men were grieved, and they were very angry, because he had done folly in Israel in lying with Jacob’s daughter; which thing ought not to be done. 8 Hamor talked with them, saying, “The soul of my son, Shechem, longs for your daughter. Please give her to him as a wife. 9 Make marriages with us. Give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 You shall dwell with us: and the land will be before you. Live and trade in it, and get possessions in it.” 11 Shechem said to her father and to her brothers, “Let me find favor in your eyes, and whatever you will tell me I will give. 12 Ask me a great amount for a dowry, and I will give whatever you ask of me, but give me the young lady as a wife.” 13 The sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father with deceit, and spoke, because he had defiled Dinah their sister, 14 and said to them, “We can’t do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised; for that is a reproach to us. 15 Only on this condition will we consent to you. If you will be as we are, that every male of you be circumcised; 16 then will we give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people. 17 But if you will not listen to us, to be circumcised, then we will take our sister, Hebrew has, literally, “daughter” and we will be gone.” 18 Their words pleased Hamor, and Shechem, Hamor’s son. 19 The young man didn’t wait to do this thing, because he had delight in Jacob’s daughter, and he was honored above all the house of his father. 20 Hamor and Shechem, his son, came to the gate of their city, and talked with the men of their city, saying, 21 “These men are peaceful with us. Therefore let them live in the land and trade in it. For, behold, the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters. 22 Only on this condition will the men consent to us to dwell with us, to become one people, if every male among us be circumcised, as they are circumcised. 23 Won’t their cattle and their substance and all their animals be ours? Only let us give our consent to them, and they will dwell with us.” 24 All who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor, and to Shechem his son; and every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city. 25 It happened on the third day, when they were sore, that two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword, came upon the unsuspecting city, and killed all the males. 26 They killed Hamor and Shechem, his son, with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went away. 27 Jacob’s sons came on the dead, and plundered the city, because they had defiled their sister. 28 They took their flocks, their herds, their donkeys, that which was in the city, that which was in the field; 29 and all their wealth. They took captive all their little ones and their wives, and took as plunder everything that was in the house. 30 Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have troubled me, to make me odious to the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites. I am few in number. They will gather themselves together against me and strike me, and I will be destroyed, I and my house.” 31 They said, “Should he deal with our sister as with a prostitute?” 35 1 God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel, and live there. Make there an altar to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.” 2 Then Jacob said to his household, and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, change your garments. 3 Let us arise, and go up to Bethel. I will make there an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.” 4 They gave to Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the rings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem. 5 They traveled: and a terror of God was on the cities that were round about them, and they didn’t pursue the sons of Jacob. 6 So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of Canaan , he and all the people who were with him. 7 He built an altar there, and called the place El Beth El; because there God was revealed to him, when he fled from the face of his brother. 8 Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried below Bethel under the oak; and the name of it was called Allon Bacuth. 9 God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan Aram, and blessed him. 10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob. Your name shall not be Jacob any more, but your name will be Israel.” He named him Israel. 11 God said to him, “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations will be from you, and kings will come out of your body. 12 The land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, and to your seed after you will I give the land.” 13 God went up from him in the place where he spoke with him. 14 Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he spoke with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink-offering on it, and poured oil on it. 15 Jacob called the name of the place where God spoke with him “Bethel.” 16 They traveled from Bethel. There was still some distance to come to Ephrath, and Rachel travailed. She had hard labor. 17 It happened that, when she was in hard labor, that the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for now you will have another son.” 18 It happened, as her soul was departing , that she named him Ben-oni, “Ben-oni” means “son of my trouble.” but his father named him Benjamin. “Benjamin” means “son of my right hand.” 19 Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath . 20 Jacob set up a pillar on her grave. The same is the Pillar of Rachel’s grave to this day. 21 Israel traveled, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Eder. 22 It happened, while Israel lived in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and Israel heard of it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve. 23 The sons of Leah: Reuben , Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. 24 The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 25 The sons of Bilhah : Dan and Naphtali. 26 The sons of Zilpah : Gad and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob, who were born to him in Paddan Aram. 27 Jacob came to Isaac his father, to Mamre, to Kiriath Arba , where Abraham and Isaac lived as foreigners. 28 The days of Isaac were one hundred eighty years. 29 Isaac gave up the spirit, and died, and was gathered to his people, old and full of days. Esau and Jacob, his sons, buried him. 36 1 Now this is the history of the generations of Esau . 2 Esau took his wives from the daughters of Canaan: Adah the daughter of Elon, the Hittite; and Oholibamah the daughter of Anah, the daughter of Zibeon, the Hivite; 3 and Basemath, Ishmael’s daughter, sister of Nebaioth. 4 Adah bore to Esau Eliphaz. Basemath bore Reuel. 5 Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. These are the sons of Esau, who were born to him in the land of Canaan. 6 Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the members of his household, with his cattle, all his animals, and all his possessions, which he had gathered in the land of Canaan, and went into a land away from his brother Jacob. 7 For their substance was too great for them to dwell together, and the land of their travels couldn’t bear them because of their cattle. 8 Esau lived in the hill country of Seir. Esau is Edom. 9 This is the history of the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in the hill country of Seir: 10 these are the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz, the son of Adah, the wife of Esau; and Reuel, the son of Basemath, the wife of Esau. 11 The sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, and Gatam, and Kenaz. 12 Timna was concubine to Eliphaz, Esau’s son; and she bore to Eliphaz Amalek. These are the sons of Adah, Esau’s wife. 13 These are the sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. These were the sons of Basemath, Esau’s wife. 14 These were the sons of Oholibamah, the daughter of Anah, the daughter of Zibeon, Esau’s wife: she bore to Esau Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. 15 These are the chiefs of the sons of Esau: the sons of Eliphaz the firstborn of Esau: chief Teman, chief Omar, chief Zepho, chief Kenaz, 16 chief Korah, chief Gatam, chief Amalek: these are the chiefs who came of Eliphaz in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Adah. 17 These are the sons of Reuel, Esau’s son: chief Nahath, chief Zerah, chief Shammah, chief Mizzah: these are the chiefs who came of Reuel in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Basemath, Esau’s wife. 18 These are the sons of Oholibamah, Esau’s wife: chief Jeush, chief Jalam, chief Korah: these are the chiefs who came of Oholibamah the daughter of Anah, Esau’s wife. 19 These are the sons of Esau, and these are their chiefs. The same is Edom. 20 These are the sons of Seir the Horite, the inhabitants of the land: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 21 Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan. These are the chiefs who came of the Horites, the children of Seir in the land of Edom. 22 The children of Lotan were Hori and Hem

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, and Exodus 2:15-22Exodus 2:15-22
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15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and lived in the land of Midian, and he sat down by a well. 16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters. They came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 The shepherds came and drove them away; but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. 18 When they came to Reuel, their father, he said, “How is it that you have returned so early today?” 19 They said, “An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and moreover he drew water for us, and watered the flock.” 20 He said to his daughters, “Where is he? Why is it that you have left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.” 21 Moses was content to dwell with the man. He gave Moses Zipporah, his daughter. 22 She bore a son, and he named him Gershom, “Gershom” sounds like the Hebrew for “an alien there.” for he said, “I have lived as a foreigner in a foreign land.”

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are extensive. ‘The basic elements identified by Robert Alter are present here. A man traveling in a foreign land meets a woman at a well and is given water; the woman runs home to tell; the man is invited to stay; and the betrothal occurs’ (Beck: 72).

Further, the encounter of Jesus and the woman takes place at Jacob’s well, connecting it with the initial meeting between Jacob and Rachel. And like that ancient meeting it occurs at midday (Gen 29:7Gen 29:7
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7 He said, “Behold, it is still the middle of the day, not time to gather the cattle together. Water the sheep, and go and feed them.”

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; Jn 4:6Jn 4:6
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6 Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being tired from his journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour noon.

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). Are such allusions far from our account? It is hard to deny, especially in light of what has preceded. John the Baptist has just portrayed himself as a matchmaking bestman:

He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease (3:29,30).

One of the traditional images of the church is ‘the bride of Christ’ (Rev 21:2Rev 21:2
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2 I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband.

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). The writer of John’s gospel seems to be hinting at an initial courtship scene taking place at the well outside the town of Sychar. The Baptist has joyfully stepped aside to allow the groom to claim his bride. The woman at the well is portrayed as having no husband. The text remains delightfully suggestive, tantalisingly open-ended. Given the themes associated with well-side meetings in the OT and the copious marital imagery in the early chapters of John, it is reasonable to conjecture that John is at least alluding to the figure of the bride of Christ in his portrait of the Samaritan woman. As a result, her position of status and privilege increases insurmountably.

The Samaritan woman is an exemplary evangelist

How does the woman respond to her encounter with Jesus? Jesus has revealed himself as omniscient (vv 17,18), as the source of the waters of eternal life (v 14), as the Messiah (v 26), as the Lord God incarnate (v 26), and as the one in whom and through whom God the Father is properly worshipped (vv 23,24). Now she is called by Jesus into service. Terminology reminiscent of the call of the twelve is employed. She leaves her water jar (v 28), just as Simon Peter and Andrew left their nets (Matt 4:20Matt 4:20
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20 They immediately left their nets and followed him.

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) and James and John left their father’s boat (4:22) to follow Jesus. Moloney puts a somewhat different spin on her departure from the well by saying, ‘The woman flees, leaving her water jar behind’ (130). Any notion of flight is absent from the text. Front and centre stands the woman’s instant response to Jesus’ call to discipleship.

How does she perform as a disciple? Instructed, she now bears witness. But she is not gullible. She is not taken in immediately, as spiritually thirsty as she undoubtedly is. Jesus has awakened deep longings within her, and in the hope that what he says is true she sets out to invite her fellow Samaritans to join her on the voyage of discovery.

The Samaritan woman makes a remarkable witness. She doesn’t threaten people with fire and brimstone if they don’t come to Jesus. She isn’t one of those over confident people who are so sure that they are right and everyone else is wrong. It is not as if she knows the truth about God, and no one else does. Nor does she go about promising eternal bliss and happiness. And her words hardly amount to the most profound confession of faith in the Bible. Her witness to Jesus is simply an invitation. ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?’ (v 29).

She is amazed about Jesus, not only for what he has revealed about his identity, but equally – possibly mostly – for his knowledge of her, his concern about her, his interest in her. He has aroused in her a sense of her thirst for God. Initially the encounter with Jesus is too good to be true; it is beyond the realm of possibility that she should have stumbled onto the path of the Messiah. ‘He cannot be the Messiah, can he?’ she asks, hoping against hope that the long awaited day has arrived (v 29). The Samaritan expectation concerning the Messiah, that he would reveal everything that God commanded (Deut 18:18Deut 18:18
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18 I will raise them up a prophet from among their brothers, like you; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I shall command him.

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), may well be echoed in her words, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! (v 29; see also vv 25,39). If what she longs to believe about him is true she wants her fellow townspeople to share in the good news.

The woman’s excited invitation to the villagers of Sychar to join her spiritual quest is highly infectious. In terms of the enterprise of winning others for Christ, she virtually gets everything just right, and her townspeople respond en masse.

The Samaritan woman outranks the disciples

The evangelist structures the story of the Samaritan woman and chooses his words in such a way as to compare and contrast the twelve and the woman. The account is bracketed at the beginning with Jesus and his disciples making disciples by means of baptism (vv 1,2), and at the end with Jesus and his new found woman disciple making disciples by means of proclamation (vv 39-42). The twelve and the woman are placed in matching positions in the story, performing disciple-making tasks.

After the resurrection Jesus commissions his disciples to do the work of evangelism (20:19-23), conferring on them the power of the Spirit to forgive and retain sins. He sets in train a process of sending people out to invite others to come and see Jesus; that is come to Jesus, believe in Jesus, and live. The witness of John the Baptist leads some of his disciples to Jesus (1:29-37), and the circle of disciples rapidly grows as those who have seen and heard Jesus for themselves go and tell others the good news (1:40-49). The woman is called to play a major role in that vital process (4:16,29,39). As for word selection, John places the woman among the ranks of a vast array of witnesses, including the disciples, who testify that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world (4:39; 15:27).

The woman is shown performing the precise role that the disciples are commissioned to perform. In his high priestly prayer Jesus prays for ‘those who will believe in (him) through (the disciples’) word’ (17:20). However, the reader catches no glimpse of people coming to faith in Jesus through the word of the twelve disciples. On the other hand, John states explicitly that ‘many Samaritans from that city believed in him through the word (dia ton logon) of the woman who bore witness’ (v 39). Jesus has prayed that the Father would empower the disciples to proclaim the gospel in such a way that people, drawn from north, south, east and west, would be led to place their faith in Jesus. The story of the Samaritan woman provides the most outstanding example in John’s gospel of a person doing precisely that which the disciples are commissioned to do, and doing so with amazing results.

The twelve, on the other hand, are off stage for the major part of the story. They are preoccupied with their search for food (vv 8,31). They are astounded by Jesus and silently critical of him for speaking with a woman. They think his intentions are less than honourable (v 27). They do not hear Jesus’ words about living water and the proper locus of worship; so their instruction does not progress one iota. And when they are instructed, on the food that truly interests and satisfies Jesus (v 34), they proceed by way of total incomprehension (v 33) down the path to total silence. They fail to ask questions, to prod and push the way the woman does; they fail to give Jesus the opportunity to say more and reveal more of himself and his mission. Vast is the gulf between the woman and the twelve.

Jesus’ co-worker

Jesus employs the analogy of sowing and reaping a wheat harvest for the task of evangelism (vv 35-38; see also Matt 9:37,38Matt 9:37,38
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37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest indeed is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Pray therefore that the Lord of the harvest will send out laborers into his harvest.”

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). The disciples have been sent (apostellein) by Jesus to harvest a crop that they did not sow (v 38). It is others who perform the back-breaking toil of ploughing and sowing. The disciples are merely sent out to play their part in the process after all the hard work has been done. Their task is to harvest the ripe crop, to carry out what amounts to little more than a mopping up operation (v 38). The heavy work in the story is performed first and foremost by Jesus, and then by the woman.

Even though the technical term for commissioning evangelists, apostellein, is not used of the woman, Jesus does tell her to leave her water jar and go (v 16), and the story is told in such a way as to make it quite clear that it is her tilling and sowing, her proclaiming and inviting, her excitement about Jesus and her labour for the gospel, that lead to the rich harvest of Samaritan villagers. The woman stands with Jesus at the beginning of the process, toiling, ploughing, sowing; the disciples stand at the end, entering into the labour of others by reaping that for which they did not labour (v 38).

The verb kopian, ‘to toil’, refers to the toil of farm work and by extension to the toil of proclaiming the gospel (v 38). The word is ‘almost a technical term for missionary work in Paul’s letters’ (Pfitzner 1988: 96r 1988: 96
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Izbrano poglavje ne obstaja!

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). Jesus and the Samaritan woman end up being engaged in the same enterprise. Early in the story Jesus is said to be weary (kekopiakos) because of his journey (v 6). Then the woman complains about the tiresomeness of her repeated trips to the well (v 15). Both Jesus and the woman are toilers. Both Jesus and the woman are travellers. Both Jesus and the woman are weary from their toil and their travel.

But the point and purpose of the toil and travel undertaken by Jesus and the woman is the proclamation of the gospel. John has structured the last verses of the account (vv 39-42) in such a way as to highlight the parallel between the word and witness of the woman that leads the Samaritans to faith (v 39), and the word of Jesus that leads still other Samaritans to faith (v 41) and confirms the faith of those already converted by the woman’s testimony (v 42). With breathtaking speed Jesus has drawn the Samaritan woman into a remarkably collaborative role alongside himself in the most important work that is done in the kingdom of God. The two are vigorously engaged in the same enterprise, doing all they can to lead people to place their faith in Jesus.

The process culminates in Jesus coming to take up residence in hearts and homes and communities. It is highly appropriate, then, that John should fasten together the preaching of the woman and the preaching of Jesus with a note about Jesus’ ready response to the Samaritans’ invitation to come and stay (menein) in their midst (v 40; see also 1:38,39so 1:38,39
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).

Conclusion

It is frequently argued that the public ministry should be reserved for males because Jesus only called men to be his disciples. It is worth noting in John’s gospel how faintly the line of demarcation is drawn between the band of 12 and the wider circle called to follow Jesus. Jesus prayed for those who would come to faith through the word of the disciples (17:20), but there is only one person – the Samaritan woman – through whose word a specific group of people are actually said to come to faith (4:39). John appears to be intimating that the 12 and all who proclaim the name of Jesus and spread the gospel are co-extensive. There is no room for any kind of arbitrary distinction.

Similarly, the expression ‘his own’, which appears at first to signify the 12 disciples (13:1; 17:6-19), quickly broadens out to include all of Jesus’ sheep and lambs whom he knows most affectionately and calls by name (10:3,4,14; 20:16). In John the disciples are representative of all followers of Jesus, male and female, rather than a unique class of people. Just as the 12 disciples enjoy no status and privilege not shared by succeeding generations of disciples, so also their ranks are not closed by features such as race or gender. In fact, not only is the woman of our story depicted as an exemplary evangelist, she is also portrayed virtually as a figure of the bride of Christ, working alongside him, rolling up her sleeves, ploughing the field, scattering the seed, and eagerly anticipating a bountiful harvest.

No-one disputes that women were included among the wider circle of Jesus’ disciples. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet (Lk 10:39Lk 10:39
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39 She had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.

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), the posture of a disciple, and in his account of the crucifixion Mark speaks about the women ‘looking on from a distance’ who ‘used to follow’ Jesus during his earthly ministry (15:40). A discipleship of women was unheard of previously and represents a remarkable elevation in their status. But the disciples of Jesus were never only disciples. Their tuition was preparation. Discipleship led to commissioning to bear witness (or evangelism), delightfully encapsulated in the story of the Samaritan woman. She was instructed in the word of God. In fact she was taught by the Word of God himself. And then she was sent to bear witness to that word of life. At the same time, Jesus’ disciples always remained disciples their whole life long. Those whom Jesus taught he also sent, and their training continued after their sending. The discipling task was never finished; but it was always purposeful, goal oriented. The Lord issued no mandate for the ordination of women. But women were involved in the first rank of service to Jesus at the time of his earthly ministry. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that no lesser role should be open to them today.

Works consulted

  • Alter, Robert 1985
    The art of biblical narrative, New York, Basic Books.
  • Barrett, C K 1955
    The gospel according to St John, London, SPCK.
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    John, Word biblical commentary 36, Waco TX, Word Books.
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    The discipleship paradigm: readers and anonymous  characters in the fourth gospel, New York, Brill.
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    ‘Roles of women in the fourth gospel’, Theological Studies 36, 688-99.
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    The gospel according to John, 2 vols, Anchor Bible, New York, Doubleday.
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    ‘Narrative art in John IV’, Religious studies bulletin 2 (April) 44-47.
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    ‘The representative figures in the fourth gospel’, Downside Review 94 (January) 26-46 and (April) 118-132.
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    ‘The witness at the well’, Evangelical Times (March) 243.
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    Irony in the fourth gospel, Atlanta.
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    The gospel of John, New Testament Commentary, Edinburgh, Banner of Truth.
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    Symbolism in the fourth gospel: meaning, mystery, community, Minneapolis, Fortress.
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    John, Augsburg commentary on the New Testament, Minneapolis MN, Augsburg.
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    The gospel of John, Sacra Pagina series 4, Collegeville MN, The Liturgical Press.
  • Moore, Stephen D 1996
    ‘Are there impurities in the living water that the Johannine Jesus dispenses? Deconstruction, feminism, and the Samaritan woman’, in John Ashton, ed, The interpretation of John, Edinburgh, T and T Clark, 279-299
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    The gospel according to John, revised edition, The New   International Commentary on the New Testament, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans.
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    The gospel according to St John, Chi Rho Commentary,   Adelaide, LPH.
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    The gospel according to St John, volume 1, London, Burns  and Oates.
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    ‘A case study: a feminist interpretation of John 4:1-42John 4:1-42
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    4 1 Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 , 3 he left Judea, and departed into Galilee. 4 He needed to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son, Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being tired from his journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour noon. 7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. 9 The Samaritan woman therefore said to him, “How is it that you, being a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” 10 Jesus answered her, “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.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. From where then have you that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father, Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself, as did his children, and his cattle?” 13 Jesus answered her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst again; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I don’t get thirsty, neither come all the way here to draw.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You said well, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands; and he whom you now have is not your husband. This you have said truly.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, will you worship the Father. 22 You worship that which you don’t know. We worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to be his worshippers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah comes,” . “When he has come, he will declare to us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who speaks to you.” 27 At this, his disciples came. They marveled that he was speaking with a woman; yet no one said, “What are you looking for?” or, “Why do you speak with her?” 28 So the woman left her water pot, and went away into the city, and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything that I did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the city, and were coming to him. 31 In the meanwhile, the disciples urged him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.” 33 The disciples therefore said one to another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work. 35 Don’t you say, ‘There are yet four months until the harvest?’ Behold, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and look at the fields, that they are white for harvest already. 36 He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit to eternal life; that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this the saying is true, ‘One sows, and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you haven’t labored. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” 39 From that city many of the Samaritans believed in him because of the word of the woman, who testified, “He told me everything that I did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they begged him to stay with them. He stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of your speaking; for we have heard for ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

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    ′ (1991), in John Ashton, ed, The Interpretation of John, Edinburgh, T and T Clark, 235-59.
  • Tasker, R V G 1995
    John, Tyndale New Testament commentaries, Leicester,   IVP.
  • Zahn, Theodor 1921
    Das evangelium des Johannes ausgelegt, Leipzig.
Prof Peter Lockwood, April 1999
Peter is a lecturer at Luther Seminary,
North Adelaide, South Australia

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