Page images

ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well; and it was about the sixth hour.-While the disciples were away, a Samaritan woman came with a bucket to draw water out of the well, and Jesus being thirsty desired her to give him some of it. For as he was not spirited with the passions of his countrymen, he did not think himself bound by the rules which they observed, especially when they hindered the common offices of friendship and humanity. Nevertheless, his demand surprised the woman, who knowing him. to be a Jew either his by speech or dress, could not understand how he came to ask any good office of her that was a Sa


But if Sychar, in our Lord's time, as is probable, extended farther towards the well than Naplosa does at present, the propriety of the evangelist's expression will appear yet more fully. I think it evident, however, from the history, that Sychar was at some distance from the well, for the disciples are said to have gone away into the city to buy meat, ver. 8. while the woman talked with Jesus at the well, and ver. 30. we are told that the Samaritans on hearing what the woman said concerning Jesus, went out of the city and came to him, see ver. 40. Besides, that the town was at some distance from the well, seems highly probable from the earnestness wherewith the woman begged Jesus to give her such water as would prevent her from being athirst, and from coming thither to draw water. seems her coming from the town to the well was a great labour, and what she wished to be freed from.


Ver. 6. Now Jacob's well was there.] Mr Maundrel in his Travels gives the following account of Jacob's well, p. 62. “About one third of an hour from Naplosa, the ancient Sychar, as it is termed in the New Testament, stands Jacob's well, famous not only on account of its author, but much more for the memorable conference which our blessed Lord had there with the woman of Samaria. If it should be inquired whether this be the very place it is pretended to be, seeing it may be suspected to stand too remote from Sychem for the woman to come and draw water, we may answer, that in all probability the city extended farther in former times than it does now, (see Antiq. Dissert. ii. at the beginning) as may be conjec tured from some pieces of a very thick wall (the remains perhaps of the ancient Sychem) still to be seen not far from hence. Over it stood formerly a large church, erected by that great and devout patroness of the Holy Land, the empress Irene. But of this the voracity of time, assisted by the hands of the Turks, have left nothing but a few foundations remaining. The well is covered at present with an old stone vault, into which you are let down by a very strait hole, and then removing a broad flat stone, you discover the well itself. It is digged in a firm rock, and is about three yards in diameter, and thirty-five in depth, five of which we found full of water. This confutes a story commonly told to travellers who do not take the pains to examine the well, viz. that it is dry all the year round, except on the anniversary of that day on which our blessed Saviour sat upon it, but then bubbles up with abundance of water At this well the narrow valley of Sychem ends, opening itself into a wide field, which is probably part of the parcel of ground given by Jacob to his son Joseph. It is watered by a fresh stream running between it and Sychem, which makes it so exceeding verdant and fruitful, that it may well be looked upon as a standing token of the tender affection of that good patriarch to the best of sons, Gen. xlviii. 22.”

maritan. 7. Then cometh a woman of Samaria, an inhabitant of the country not of the town of Samaria, to draw water: for Sebaste, the ancient Samaria, according to Mr Maundrel, is about two hours or six miles from Sychar, consequently about seven miles from the well, a distance by far too great for one, even in that country, to come with a pitcher to fetch water.—Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink, 8. For his disciples were gone away into the city to buy ment. 9. Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it, that thou being a Jew, askest drink of me which am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have no dealings, intercourses of friendship, with the Samaritans.—On this occasion, Jesus shewed the greatness of his condescension and benevolence; for though this was a person of an infamous character, and though he himself was pressed with thirst, he delayed refreshing himself, that he might bring her who was spiritually dead to the waters of life. 10. Jesus answered and said unto

her, If thou knewest the gift of God, what an opportunity God hath put into thine hand of receiving the greatest blessing that ever was bestowed, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, instead of scrupling to grant him so small a favour, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.-11. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? She meant water from a running spring; for so the phrase signifies in the language of Judea.—12. Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Are you a person of greater power, or more in favour with God than our father Jacob, that you can procure water for yourself by supernatural means? He was obliged to dig this well, in order to provide drink for himself and his family: Can you create water?-13. Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: this water can allay the pain of thirst only for a little while, because, though it be drank ever so plentifully, the appetite will soon return. 14. But whe soever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst: shall at no time be subject to any vehement painful sensations arising from unmortified irregular appetites--but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life: shall yield him divine satisfaction now, and shall be the source of his happiness to all eternity in heaven, 'where he shall feel none of the bodily appetites or wants so troublesome to men in th's life. Thus Jesus, under the image of liv ing or springing water, taken from the well beside which he was sitting, as his manner was, beautifully described the efficacy of the influences of the Spirit of God; for as water quenches thirst, these, by quieting the agitation, and cooling the fervency


of earthly desires, beget an unspeakable inward peace. By this image also he set forth the plenitude and perpetuity of the celestial joys flowing from holy dispositions produced by the influences of the Spirit of God. For these by an innate power satisfying all the capacities and desires of the soul, render it so completely happy, that it is not able to form a wish or a thought of any thing better. The woman taking Christ's words in a natural sense, had a mind it seems to turn them into ridicule; for she desired him by all means to give her some of that excellent water, which by preserving her from ever thirsting again, would save her the trouble of coming so far every day for water. 15. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. But to check this impertinence, Jesus shewed her that he was perfectly acquainted with her character, for he bade her call her husband; and when she replied that she had no husband, he told her that she had had five husbands, and was then living in adultery with a man that was not hers, but another's husband. 16. Jesus saith unto her, Go call thy husband, and come hither. 17. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said I have no hushand, 18. For thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast, is not thy husband; in that saidst thou truly. The woman hearing such a particular account of her life from an entire stranger, was not only humbled by the discovery, but concluded that he certainly had intercourse with heaven. 19. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive thou art a prophet. And being glad of the opportunity, perhaps also desiring to shift the discourse, she mentioned the principal point in controversy between the two nations, that she might have his opinion upon it. The dispute was, whether mount Gerizim or Jerusalem was the place appointed by God for worship and sacrifice. The Samaritans declared for Gerizim, because it was in their country, and because Abraham and Jacob, whom they called their fathers, had built altars and worshipped in that mountain. 20. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, and ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.-Jesus replied, you need not be very solicitous about settling that point, for the time is at hand when an end will be put to the worship both at Jerusalem and mount Gerizim. Nevertheless, I must tell you that Jerusalem is the place which God has appointed for offering sacrifice, as you yourselves are bound to allow, since you acknowledge that you derive your religion from the Jewish sacred books. For these books fix the worship of God to a place which

• Ver. 20. Our fathers] Mr Mode thinks that by their fathers the woman meant the Ephraimites, from whom the Samaritans pretended to be descended; and that the mountain on which they worshipped was mount Ephraim, where was Shilch the seat of the tabernacle for several ages, P 263.

which he promised to chuse in our tribes, Deut. xii. 5. and which he did chuse by putting his name or symbol of his presence in the temple of Jerusalem as soon as it was dedicated, making it his habitation according to his promise, 2 Kings xxiii. 27. 21. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem worship the Father. 22. Ye worship ye know not what; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jeros. But the thing you are chiefly concerned to know is, that a dispensation of religion is now beginning, under which all languages, countries and places being sanctified, men are to worship God, not in Jerusalem, but in spirit, by offering the sacrifice, not of beasts, but of themselves, to love and obey him in all things, which is the truth of worship, the thing signified by every sacrifice and service enjoined in the law, and what alone was acceptable to the Father, even under the legal dispensation. 23. The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him. Moreover, as a farther answer to the woman's question, Jesus delivered a doctrine which may justly be called his own, as it exhibits an idea of the supreme Being, and of the worship that is due to him, far more sublime than the best things said by the philosophers on that subject. 24. God is a spirit, and they that


Ver. 22.] Υμεις προσκυνείτε ὁ εκ οιδατε, ημείς προσκυνημεν ὁ οίδαμεν. The Samaritans worshipped the true God, and seem to have had as just notions of his perfections in general as the Jews, for they drew them from the five books of Moses, the authority of which they acknowledged. If so, the meaning of the above Greek clause can hardly be what our version has affixed to it, Ye worship ye know not what; but its proper translation seems to be, Ye worship the Deity whom you do not know, viz. by any revelation which he has made of himself directly to you, (the word to Jack being understood) whereas que Jews worship the Deity, whom are know, viż. by a revelation which he has made of himself to us-fer salvation is of the Jews what knowledge you have of salvation, as well as the author of sal vation, cometh by your own confession from us; you have your religion from us. If the reader thinks this interpretation makes too great a supplement necessary, let them look to the following passages as they stand in the common translation: Mark vii. 4, 11. Luke vi. 22. John i. 8. ix. 1. xv. 25. and particularly to John xviii. 28. where the original words aλλ'iva Qafaci to Tacxa, must be thus rendered, but stood without that they might eat the passover. These examples prove that the elliptical style is familiar to John; and the one last mentioned is no less harsh than that which I suppose in the passage under consideration. See also 2 Thess. ii. 3. where the words, that day shall not come, are necessarily supplied by our translators. Some indeed give our Lord's words a more easy sense thus since God has declared that Jerusalem is the place of offering sacrifices acceptably, ye worship him without just conceptions of him, when you fancy he has chosen Gerizim. Yet I doubt whether the Samaritans error concerning so small a matter as the place of worship, would be reckoned by our Lord a sufficient reason for saying of them, that they worshipped they

knew not what.

worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth. God is the supreme mind or intelligence, who by one act sees the thoughts of all other intelligences whatever, so may be worshipped in every place. And the worship to be offered him from henceforth, does not consist in sacrifices or other external rites, but in faith and love; for these constitute the true spiritual worship due to the Supreme Being from all his creatures, and which cannot but be acceptable to him wherever it is offered.-The woman being. affected with this doctrine, replied, that she could not but acknowledge, as he said, (ver. 22.) that Messiah was to arise among the Jews, but she hoped when he did come, he would teach the Samaritans also. 25. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah cometh (namely, from among the Jews) which is called Christ: when he is come he will tell us all things. The general expectation which now prevailed, that a great prince was to arise in Judea, together with Moses's prophecy concerning him, constrained the Samaritans to a right faith with respect to the Messiah's nation. For though they contended that the true place of acceptable worship was in their country, they did not assume the honour of being progenitors of the deliverer of mankind.26. * Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. Thus far had Jesus proceeded in his conversation with the woman, when the disciples returned from the city. His condescension in talking with the Samaritan, and instructing her, raised their astonishment, yet none of them presumed to find fault with him, or to ask the reason of his conduct. 27. And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman; yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? When the woman heard Jesus call himself the Messiah, she set down her pitcher, and ran into the city, where she published the news in the streets, and desired all she met to go with her and see him, assuring them that he had told her the principal occurrences of her life; so strong an impression had that circumstance made upon her mind. The Samaritans, struck both with wonder and VOL. I. 3 H curiosity,

Ver. 26. Jesus saith unto her, &c.] The Samaritans seem to have formed just notions of the Messiah's character. For his kingly dignity being chiefly described in the prophetical books which they rejected, they con sidered him only as a Saviour, ver. 42. and a teacher, according to Moses's description of him, Gen. xxii. 18. Deut. xviii. 18. To the latter description Nehemiah refers, when speaking of Messiah he calls him a priest with Urim and Thummim, a priest under the immediate influence of inspiration. Neh. vi. 65. And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim. Hence the woman speaking of the Messiah, saith, When he is come be will tell us all things. And therefore, while our Lord industriously avoided the title of Messiah among the Jews, he without scruple discovered himself now to the Samaritans, because he could do it with success and safety, the meanness of his condition being no ways inconsistent with the prophetical cha


« PreviousContinue »