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General Articles and Essays

The Samaritan Woman at Jacob’s Well - A Lenten Reflection

By Rev. Dn. Joseph Varghese, NY

Bible Reading:

"Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour."
St. John 4: 6

Who are the Samaritans?

When Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C, they deported a large number of Jews to other parts of the Assyrian empire and brought into the area many people from other nations they had conquered.

Since many of these people intermarried with the Jews who remained in Israel, resulted in a mixed population with diverse culture, religion and worships. These people are followed the religious practice that were not wholly Jewish.

Because the capital city of the Kingdom of Israel was Samaria, the people came to be known as Samaritans.

When the Jews of the Southern Kingdom of Judah returned from exile in Babylon in 538 B.C., the Samaritan actively opposed their desire to build the city of Jerusalem. So, by the time of Jesus, there was lingering hostility between Jews and Samaritans.

The Jacob’s well:

The traditional site of Jacob’s well is located in the region of Samaria, about 30 miles north of Jerusalem. The remains of the well can be found about six miles to the northwest of the city of Shechem, near the modern city of Nablus.

The well is located on land that Old Testament says was purchased by Jacob. Nearby the well is a tomb which is believed to contain the remains of Jacob’s son, Joseph.

Today, we can see the ruins of a Byzantine Church which was built near the well in 1917.

“Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon”. (St. John 4:6)

Well: A Source of life and Wisdom.

In the Old Testament, well is related to the Source of life and Symbol of Wisdom. King Solomon compares the fountain to the source of life and wisdom “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life” (Proverb 13:14). In these barren land the physical life is very much depend on the water sources.

The word fountain is associated with general biblical image of water. The Psalmist refers God as the “fountain of life” (Psalm 36:9) and “all my fountains are in Zion” (Psalm 87:7). In Proverb the fountain is associated with the Wisdom. The abundant blessing is also referred for the fountain.

The Source of Water is also connected to show the Messianic times (Ezekiel 47:1; Zechariah 14:8; Joel 4:18).

Jesus sat down:

Jesus sat down near the well showing His authority over the Law and Wisdom. It is like a teacher who sat down with authority. It corresponds to the “Chair” in modern scholarship.

It was Noon:

Noon is associated with the God’s revelation. God is revealed Himself at noon on the Cross. Here, God revealed Himself to the Samaritan woman at noon.


Jesus who is the source of life and wisdom revealed Himself to the Gentiles.

See Also:

Lenten Rumination
The Lent is meant to cleanse the whole being, both the inner and chemical by being with God. How to clean the physical man? The abstinence from food for hours and days allow the body to consume all the toxins accumulated by our day to day inherent infirmities.

The Significance of Fasting in the Struggle against Fallen Spirits
Fasting is acceptable to God when it is preceded by the great virtue of mercy; fasting prepares a reward in heaven when it is foreign to hypocrisy and vainglory; fasting works when it is joined with another great virtue – prayer.

The Lamb of God
John pointed out the Lamb who, when sacrificed, would end all sacrifices in the temple, because He would takes away the sins of the world. The lamb was most often used as a victim of sacrifice.

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