The Thing That Happens When Men Meet Women by Wells

June 26, 2012 — 4 Comments

Jesus conversation with the Samaritan woman isn’t the first time a man goes to a foreign land, sits down by a well of water, meets a girl and asks for a drink. In fact it happens quite a few times in the Old Testament with the same surprising result.


Genesis 24, Genesis 29 and Exodus 2:15-22 also recount the story of a man meeting a woman at a well. And in each it leads to the two getting hitched. In Genesis 24 Abraham’s servant finds a bride for Isaac, in Genesis 29 Jacob finds his future wife Rachel and Moses, in Exodus 2, meets his future wife Zaphora.

John 4 parallels these stories on several points. Here’s how Lyle Eslinger breaks it down in his article “The Wooing of the Woman by the Well.”

  1. The future bridegroom (or surrogate) journeys to a foreign land (vv. 1-6)
  2. There he meets a girl at a well (vv. 6-7)
  3. Someone, the man or maiden, draws water from the well (vv. 7-15)
  4. The maiden rushes home to bring news of the stranger (vv. 28-30, 39-42)
  5. a betrothal is arranged, usually after the prospective groom has been invited to a betrothal meal (vv. 31-38).
Sound familiar?  Well of course Jesus encounter with the woman doesn’t overtly parallel all of these items.   Numbers 3 and 5 are a little out of sync.  Unlike Rebekah, Rachelle and Zaphora, the Samaritan woman never draws water from the well.  Or does she?  Read 4:15 and 4:28.   Likewise, there is no specific mention of an arranged marriage.  But there is that invitation for Jesus to stay with the Samaritans.
Lyle Eslinger also finds a unique link to each of these Old Testament stories.
  1. Vv. 1, 3, 6 (Exodus 2,14-15): like Moses, Jesus believes that the Pharasees (cf. Pharaoh) have heard about his actions and he leaves his country to avoid them. On his journey in a foreign land he sits down by a well and there meets a girl.
  2. V. 6b (Gen 29.7) Both Jacob and Jesus come to the well at noon.
  3. Vv. 7, 9 (Gen 24.17-18). Like Eliezer, Jesus says give me a drink. Unlike Rebekah, the Samaritan woman does not immediately comply.
Meeting a woman by a well is a biblical type-scene. In the same way we know that princes who kiss comatose women causes them to wake up, so the ancient reader understood that men who meet woman by wells end up getting married.
HERE ME!  I am NOT an advocate for the Da Vinci Code.  I do not believe that Jesus was ever married – at least not in the way the Da Vinci Code describes.  It’s clear though that John wants his readers to see Jesus encounter with the Samaritan woman like an engagement.
If this and the last post haven’t proven it to you yet, there is one more hint.  Be warned though, it’s not nearly as romantic.

Why We Don’t Talk About that Plot of Ground

This is part two in a five part series on the sexual subtext in Jesus encounter with the Samaritan woman.  You can read part one here – The Sexual Subtext in Jesus Encounter with the Samaritan Woman

Matthew Scott Miller

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