On the Gospel of John, Part 13: A Tale of Two Women

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I began this evening with a short discussion of Ten Years of Christogenea, which is found at the Christogenea Forum.

On the Gospel of John, Part 13: A Tale of Two Women

In our last presentation in this series, discussing the first 20 verses of John chapter 4, we gave some background into the history of Samaria from the time of the Assyrian deportations, in order to show that there were many Persians, Babylonians, Syrians and others who were resettled there by the ancient Assyrians at the height of their empire, and the Judaean historian Flavius Josephus generally referred to these new inhabitants as Cutheans. But, as we showed from the historical accounts of Scripture, there was also a significant number of remnant Israelites who had remained there, who had escaped the Assyrian captivity. Then in addition to these groups, there was also a large number of Levites and Judahites from Jerusalem who had relocated themselves to the area around Gerizim as early as the late 4th century BC, and who by this time could be called Judaeans. Many of these had mixed with the Cutheans, as Josephus had also explained. We also pointed out the fact that on at least a couple of occasions, Josephus certainly seemed to distinguish the inhabitants of Shechem and Gerizim from the peoples whom the Assyrians had imported. Then, around 330 BC, a second temple was built on Gerizim, and from that time a community of Judaeans and proselytes worshipped at Gerizim before that temple fell into disuse, over a period of about two hundred years. But even though the temple was abandoned, it is apparent that both remnant Israelites and the more recently introduced Judaeans had continued to inhabit the area.

Flavius Josephus, describing the period of the rule of John Hyrcanus which began around 130 BC, said that the temple at Gerizim “was now deserted two hundred years after it was built” (Antiquities 13:256), where it is evident that that period of 200 years must have been from the building of that temple to the time of John Hyrcanus. So to us, that also suggests that it was the Maccabees themselves, who were the Levitical high priests at Jerusalem, that had most likely put an end to the worship at Gerizim after their conquest of the area – although Josephus does not state that explicitly. But here in John chapter 4 it is also apparent that at least some of the people around Gerizim, whether descendants of the remnant Israelites or of those Judaeans who relocated there in the 4th century, had continued in the customs of their ancestors.

In our last presentation we also asserted that the Samaritan woman of John chapter 4 must have been a descendant of the remnant of ancient Israel, although we admitted the possibility that she may have been, in whole or in part, descended from some of the relocated Judaeans. We made this admission because while the woman was indeed a descendant of the ancient Israelites, we really cannot tell with certainty from the historical record which of those groups of Israelites she was descended from. We only concluded that we leaned toward the former, that the woman must have been a descendant of Ephraim, and we gave our reasons for that conclusion. But there is another way to be certain that this is the correct view, and that is in the words of Christ here in verse 22, where it becomes evident that the woman is not from Judah, nor from of the Judaeans, and therefore she must have descended from the remnant Israelites.

As we have seen and discussed, the woman’s claim that she was a descendant of the ancient Israelites must have been valid since it was not refuted by Christ. We provided the history in order to demonstrate how it was possible that the claim was valid, and how at one time there was indeed a temple on Gerizim where Israelites had worshipped. So it is also apparent, as we have also already described, that many aspects of the character of the Samaritan woman and her encounter with Yahshua Christ stand as a type and as a sort of parable representing aspects of the relationship which the so-called “lost sheep” of the children of scattered Israel had with Yahweh their God. Notably, the encounter happened at Sychar, which is a name from the same Hebrew word for drunkenness or drunkard that is found in the prophecies of Hosea which referred to the “drunkards of Ephraim”, and Sychar was located very much near the ancient city of Shechem in Mount Ephraim. This woman was certainly a descendant of those ancient “drunkards of Ephraim”, and therefore the encounter evokes that very prophecy in Hosea. Aspects of her life which were noted here by Christ, such as her having had five husbands, and her being with a man who was not her husband, also correlate to the conditions suffered by those same “lost sheep” of the children of Israel, as a nation held captive under the power of a series of empires, having been put off by Yahweh who is their only legitimate King.

We have often said that Christ could have had no real communion with the “lost”, or divorced, tribes of Israel until after His death and resurrection made possible their reconciliation. However here we have a seeming exception, and another example. This woman attested that her “fathers worshipped in this mountain”, and further on, in verse 25, we see her express an expectation of the coming of the Messiah. Therefore she must have kept the ancient faith, at least to some degree, and her Israelite ancestors, even if they had previously been in a state of apostasy, would have been reacquainted with that faith, at least in part, through their attendance at the temple on Gerizim.

Towards the end of our last presentation we referred to the Judaeans at Jerusalem, who despised the Samaritans, as being “those of the circumcision”. While it is possible that these remnant people of Israel who had worshipped at Gerizim had practiced circumcision, we cannot be certain of that, and it nevertheless seems unlikely. This is elucidated in the treatise of Flavius Josephus Against Apion (1:171), where Josephus had attested that “there are no inhabitants of Palestine that are circumcised excepting the Judaeans”. We must remember that the tribes of the Northern Kingdom were actually pagan after the death of Solomon, from the time of Jeroboam I. If her menfolk were circumcised, they should have been able to worship at the temple in Jerusalem, and that also seems not to be the case here, since later in the chapter the disciples of Christ also marveled that He had even conversed in this manner with a Samaritan woman.

But regardless of the likelihood of their not having been circumcised, the woman certainly did retain aspects of the faith of her ancestors, and a reverence for and anticipation of the expected Messiah. Therefore it is apparent that in her we see an instance of the fulfillment of yet another prophecy, which is found in Isaiah chapter 56: “1 Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. [This is addressed to the Israelites in captivity.] 2 Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil. 3 Neither let the son of the stranger [referring to the estranged people of Israel], that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people [so they must have been His people in the first place]: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree [the ‘cut-off’ children of Israel are metaphorically referred to here as eunuchs and dry trees]. 4 For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; 5 Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. 6 Also the sons of the stranger [the children of those estranged people of ancient Israel], that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; 7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. 8 The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him [others being the Israelites who would be born in the wilderness], beside those that are gathered unto him.” Once again, this Samaritan woman was one of those “outcasts of Israel”, a child of those who had been estranged from their God in ancient times. So, having kept aspects of the faith and an expectation of the Messiah, and therefore hoping to take hold of the covenant, she earned a place better than that of sons and daughters, to which this Gospel here attests. But that is not to say that she wasn’t a daughter in the first place, for she certainly was or she would not have had Jacob for a father, and she would not have had any expectation in a Messiah.

Understanding this, and before we continue with our commentary on John chapter 4, we should compare the encounter of Christ with this Samaritan woman to another encounter which He had, which is recorded only in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, with a Canaanite woman. An honest comparison of the two events also helps to establish that the scope of the Gospel and the hope in Christ are indeed limited to the physical seed of the children of Israel.

The Canaanite woman, as she was identified by Matthew, had instead been described as “a Greek, a Syrophenician” in the Gospel of Mark. However the term Canaanite was not used as either an ethnic or a geographical designation at the time of Christ. Ostensibly, Matthew being a Hebrew was identifying the woman in Old Testament terms so as to convey her true nature, while Mark, who wrote for a Roman audience, merely offered cultural and geographical identification. Both labels were true, but from a Biblical perspective that of Matthew is more informative.

Evidently hearing of the many miracles which Christ performed, the Canaanite woman pursued Him as He traveled through her area. She tried to get His attention, and He ignored her. But when the apostles became vexed at her persistence, they asked Christ to send her away, expecting Him to comply with that request. So for their sake, Christ gave her His attention, and informed her that she had no part with Him, even calling her a dog, in reference to her daughter, while affirming that He was sent only for the children, for the “lost sheep of the House of Israel”. Ultimately, Christ had granted the Canaanite woman her wish, but only when she voluntarily agreed with Him and with what He had said. So she admitted that she was indeed a dog, and Yahshua found her confession to be sincere. So for her belief, after the ancient custom of the suppliant, she was granted mercy even in spite of whether or not she deserved it. However in the end, she was still a dog, she could never be a sheep, she was never a candidate for repentance or discipleship, Yahshua never shared with her the Gospel of God, and she was told to “go thy way”, as it is recorded in Mark 7:29.

Quite contrary to that episode, the Samaritan woman came to the well intent on going about her own business, and when she encountered Yahshua, He initiated conversation with her, even asking her a favor. When the woman was startled by His request, He made a great promise if she complied. Once the woman saw that He was a prophet, and professed confidence in Him, He agreed to share with her those living waters which lead to eternal life. Sending her off for her menfolk, the woman persuaded them and they also believed, begging Christ to stay and instruct them further. The disciples, who ostensibly were not aware that the woman was an Israelite, but who only knew her as a Samaritan, were surprised at this development, but they did not object. Christ complied with the later request of her menfolk, He stayed to instruct them for two days, and He described that to His disciples as the reaping of the harvest of God.

The Canaanite woman may have received a temporal reward for her agreement with Christ, but there was no mention of her having any part in the greater hope in Christ, and by her agreement she also showed that she could not have expected to partake in any such hope. However the Samaritan woman did have a hope and expectation of a Messiah, and the end result was that “many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him… [saying] for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” The saviour of their world, they also being of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel which were represented on the breastplate of the high priest, which represents the world which He came to save. It is clear that the Canaanite woman was a tare, but the Samaritan woman and her kinfolk were wheat – white for the harvest.

In our last presentation, in verse 20 of this chapter, we saw that upon recognizing that Yahshua was a prophet, the Samaritan woman had asked Him whether “in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” The act of worship was not even a factor in the episode of the Canaanite woman, who only sought a temporal favor. Now here in the next verse Yahshua answers her inquiry.

21 Yahshua says to her: “Believe Me, woman, that the hour comes when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem shall you worship the Father! 22 You worship that which you do not know. We worship that which we know, because salvation is from among the Judaeans.

Here Christ refutes both the concept of organized worship at Gerizim and the future viability of the temple at Jerusalem. But He also distinguished the worship of the Samaritans from that of the Judaeans in a way which indicates to us that while the claim of the woman to be a descendant of Jacob went unchallenged and must have been true, she certainly was not a Judaean, who would be expected to have been instructed in the Law and the prophets.

Concerning the declaration that “salvation is from among the Judaeans”, this is not a quotation from any particular prophecy, but the denominational commentators usually cite Isaiah 2:3 where it says “3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” Now that is nice, but they clearly chose a passage to reference which may seem to support their universalism, while the concept itself certainly does not promote universalism. The “many people” of that passage in Isaiah are the Israelites who increased in the time of their captivity and their dispersions, which is evident later in the chapter.

A remnant of Judah was required in order to produce the Messiah for many reasons, and that was a subject of prophecy especially in Daniel chapter 9. But from a general Scriptural viewpoint, firstly, salvation is impossible without the Law, which was preserved by that remnant of Judah. So we read in a prophecy in Genesis chapter 49, “10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” Secondly, as it says in Psalm 114: “1 When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language; 2 Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion.” Thirdly, in Hosea we see that Judah was preserved in Judaea for reason of salvation, where it says in chapter 1: “6 … And God said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away. 7 But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.” As a result of this, we see a little further on in the chapter: “11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.” So it is evident that Judah was preserved in large degree so that both Judah and Israel would ultimately be saved.

But more significantly, the Messiah Himself was expected to be from the tribe of Judah, of the seed of David, and from Bethlehem in Judaea, as it is attested in the answer of the priests to Herod in Matthew chapter 2, where those priests had cited Micah chapter 5 where we read: “2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me [he] that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” At the time when it was given, this prophecy could only describe the expected Messiah. As a digression, Bethlehem means house of bread, and in John chapter 6 Christ declares Himself to be the bread of life. So salvation, in the form of the Messiah, was certainly to come “from among the Judaeans”, as Christ has declared here.

But while we have these allusions in other prophets, more than anywhere else we may see what Christ had referred to in the words of the prophet Zechariah, in chapters 8, 10 and 12.

First, in Zechariah chapter 8, where Judah is also given first mention over Israel, we read: “13 And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong. 14 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the LORD of hosts, and I repented not: 15 So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not.” Most of Judah was taken away along with Israel, but a remnant of Judah was left at Jerusalem for the reason given, that in this manner the houses of Israel and Judah would be saved.

Then, in Zechariah chapter 10 we read: “6 And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the LORD their God, and will hear them.” Historically, the house of Judah in Palestine was strengthened in the days of the Maccabees, by which the people who maintained the Law and the Prophets were preserved from the persecutions of the Syrians under the Seleucids, as Antiochus Epiphanes had sought to stamp out the worship of Yahweh at Jerusalem. If that strengthening had not happened, then the connection of our Christian history to the Creator God of the Old Testament, as well as the law and the prophets themselves, may have disappeared, and we would have no knowledge whatsoever of the hope of our salvation or of the plan of Yahweh God for our race. So Judah was strengthened in order that the House of Joseph and the remainder of Israel, those of the captivity, could be saved.

Finally, in Zechariah chapter 12 we read: “6 In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem. 7 The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah.” Not only was the Gospel first announced among the Judaeans, where there was a remnant of Judah, but preference was given to the tribe of Judah scattered abroad. As we explained in our concise essay, Classical Records of Trojan-Roman-Judah, the Gospel was brought overseas first to Rome [long before Paul had ever brought it to Greeks], and then Paul himself was instructed to go to Macedonia, where he also went to the Illyrians, before preaching to the Greeks in Asia. We believe that the Romans and Illyrians both were descended from the Trojans, which in turn were descended from the tribe of Judah, and in that manner was the prophecy of Zechariah chapter 12 symbolically fulfilled.

Where Christ had told the woman that “You worship that which you do not know”, this is also evident in the history and prophecy concerning the children of Israel. We have already explained that the woman understood that she was an Israelite and had understood some of the traditions while she also had an anticipation of a Messiah, but we have also seen that she was not versed in the law or the prophets. So she hoped for a Messiah who would “announce to us all things”, as she had attested. If she did understand the law, or if she had been brought up with it, perhaps she may not have had five husbands, and perhaps she would not have been with a sixth man who was not her husband.

Thus we read, where it is speaking of scattered Israel in Isaiah chapter 42: “16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.” Even though they did not know Him, He would not forsake them. Then again in Jeremiah chapter 4: “22 For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.” Once more, we read in Hosea chapter 5: “3 I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me: for now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, and Israel is defiled. 4 They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the LORD.” Neither could this woman, who had five husbands, have actually “known the LORD”, or she would have known and kept His law.

We can see in Jeremiah chapter 9 that dwelling in the presence of Yahweh in His temple is not enough for the people to know Him, but that to know Him, the people must also cease from iniquity, where it says: “4 Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders. 5 And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity. 6 Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the LORD.”

Christ continues to answer her question concerning where it was necessary to worship:

23 But the hour comes and is now, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeks such as those worshipping Him. 24 Yahweh is a Spirit, and for those worshipping Him [א and D want “Him”; the text follows P66, P75, A, B, C, 086 and the MT] it is necessary to worship in spirit and in truth.”

The Christian hope is not in a stone building, but rather it is in a God who “dwelleth not in temples made with hands”, as we read in Acts chapters 7 and 17. Rather than another stone temple, Yahweh has promised instead to ultimately set His tabernacle among men, which is in the person of Yahshua Christ, as it is prophesied in relation to a new covenant in Ezekiel chapter 37: “26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” This promise is also repeated in Revelation chapter 21: “3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”

This is why the many promises of a return to Zion or to Jerusalem do not necessarily mean that the people of Israel will return to those old places physically. Rather, these promises represent a return to God Himself, a return in Spirit and not in geography. A departure from Yahweh means a departure from His law, as we see in Malachi chapter 3: “7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me [keep the commandments], and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.” In this same manner we see a similar plea in Isaiah chapter 44, following a reminder of their idolatry and other sins, where we read: “ 21 Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me. 22 I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee. 23 Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.” Redemption in Christ requires the children of Israel to keep His law.

In Exodus chapter 20 we see a reference to Yahweh where He is described as “6 … shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” Then in John chapter 14 Christ says “21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him…. 23… If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” To return is to keep the commandments, and then shall God come to His people. So where Paul attests that “we know that the law is spiritual”, we can see that a keeping of the law is the worshipping of Yahweh in Spirit and in truth, where in Jeremiah chapter 9 we have seen that the people of ancient Jerusalem had rejected the law and the truth even though they had the benefit of the presence of Yahweh in the temple of Solomon.

Now the woman makes an attestation which reveals her expectancy of a saviour and the fact that she was indeed a “dry tree” worthy of and awaiting the water which leads to eternal life:

25 The woman says to Him: “I know that Messiah comes, who is called Christ. When He should come, He shall announce to us all things.”

Ostensibly, from the prophecies found in Daniel and perhaps also from other sources which are unknown to us today, it is apparent that many Israelites in Judaea and elsewhere were expecting a Messiah to appear at this very time. So the first such expectancy is found in the account of the Magi in Matthew chapter 2, and then in the testimony of John the Baptist who declared Yahshua to be the Lamb of God. Thereafter, there was the exclamation of Andrew in John chapter 1 where he informed his brother Simon Peter that “We have found the Messiah”. Here we see that a humble woman of Samaria had that same expectation, by which it is evident that she certainly was a daughter of Israel, as she had said. Anyone of another race and an alien culture would not even have such an expectation in a Messiah – which was strictly a Hebrew word.

The Canaanite woman was not expecting a Messiah, and she admitted that she was not worthy of one. She merely noticed that this Man could heal people and do other wonderful things, and she sought Him out for the purpose of procuring a temporal benefit for herself, for the health of her daughter. Even devils are willing to agree with Christ if they think they may gain a profit from it. But in contrast, the Samaritan woman expected nothing from a Messiah except that He “announce to us all things”, hoping to learn and to grow spiritually rather than merely to profit temporally. So Christ replies accordingly:

26 Yahshua says to her: “I am He, who is speaking to you.”

Of course these words explicitly declare the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy found in Isaiah chapter 52, which is also a prophecy of the gospel: “6 Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I. 7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” There are several other similar prophecies in Isaiah, where Yahweh in connection with a promised saviour and redeemer declares that “I am he”, and Christ made that same assertion quite frequently during His ministry, as He was indeed Yahweh God Incarnate.

We are also persuaded, as we explained earlier in this series in relation to the wedding feast in Cana described in John chapter 2, that the event in Nazareth which is recorded in Luke chapter 4 happened somewhat earlier than this encounter in Sychar, as it was evidently not long after the wedding feast in Cana. There, Yahshua had implied that He was the Messiah where He said in reference to that prophecy which He had read in the synagogue, and which is found in Isaiah chapters 58 and 61, that “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21). But this instance here is the first time recorded in Scripture where Yahshua Himself had explicitly admitted to being the Messiah, an admission that He often denied to others, and especially to His adversaries. Later, when Yahshua Himself had finally told the apostles that He was the Messiah, He even asked them not to reveal it, as the record attests in Matthew 16:20 and Mark 8:30.

27 And with this His students had come, and they wondered that He had spoken with a woman, yet no one said [א and D have “said to Him”] “What do You seek?” or “Why do You speak with her?”

The apostles would be expected to wonder why Yahshua would speak with a Samaritan woman, as the woman herself described the attitude of Judaeans toward the Samaritans. Several years later, as it is recorded in Acts chapter 10, Peter needed to see the vision of the sheet three times to get the message that “The things which Yahweh has cleansed, you do not deem profane!” Yahweh had promised to cleanse the “lost sheep” of the children of Israel, but not even Peter could have known the full extent of that as he received the vision. Many years later, when he wrote his epistles, it is evident that he came to know it. The Samaritan woman was a daughter of Israel, and so was the Roman Cornelius and those of his household. Yet the apostles did not know that here at this time, where it is evident that John himself had marveled as to why they did not question Christ when He was found speaking to the woman.

So here we see that the apostles did not protest the fact that Yahshua spoke to a Samaritan woman, even though earlier in the chapter the woman herself testified that “the Judaeans have no dealings with the Samaritans.” But when the apostles were vexed with the pleas of the Canaanite woman, which happened much later in the ministry of Christ, they tried to run her off. So evidently they were not compelled to apply to her the lesson they received here. When upon her persistence they failed to run her off, they begged Christ to run her off, and they fully expected Him to do so. Yet even though He decided to grant her mercy, the apostles were never criticized for their desire to run her off. Clearly, the apostles themselves not knowing the character of either woman, the ethnicity of the women – which the apostles did recognize – could have been only reason for the difference in how each of them was treated, as no other apparent reason existed.

28 Then the woman left her water and went off to the city and says to the men: 29 “Come, see a man who has told me all things whatever [א, B and C have “which”; the text follows P66, P75, A, D, 086 and the MT] I had done! Could it be that He is the Christ?”

Ostensibly, the woman did not live in the city, which was Shechem, but in the nearby village Sychar where the well was located, so she would not have wanted to carry it to the city.

In verse 16, after the woman had expressed her desire for living water, Yahshua had said to her “Go, call thy husband, and come hither.” From that point we had a digression in the resulting extended dialog, but here the woman gladly complies, and announces to her menfolk with confidence that she has met the Messiah. The response of the men also indicates that they too were of the children of Israel:

30 So [P75, A and B want "So"; C and D have "And"; the text follows P66, א and 086] they came out of the city and came to Him.

This does not necessarily conflict with our interpretation of verse 8, where we noted that the place where the woman drew water must have been a small town or village outside of the city, and that must also have been where she lived. It is not likely that the woman traveled a great distance every time she needed water for her house, which may even have been several times each day. Here the woman did not necessarily go to the city because her menfolk lived there. Rather, since it is now early afternoon, she most likely went to the city because that was where they would have been working during the day.

Knowing the likelihood that these men are also children of Israel, as the woman had attested for herself, this entire episode is indeed a fulfillment of prophecy such as that which is found in Isaiah chapter 55: “1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. [The word of God is the water, wine and milk that is without price.] 2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. 3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. 4 Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. 5 Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee [the nations of estranged and scattered Israel] shall run unto thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee.” We had already cited this passage in reference to the comparison by John the Baptist of the Messiah to a bridegroom, in Part 11 of this series of presentations. We may cite it again before the series is completed.

Before the focus returns to the men who were brought by the Samaritan woman, there is a discourse between Christ and His recently-arrived disciples, who had been off in the markets of Shechem in order to procure food:

31 In [P75, A, 086 and the MT have "But in"; the text follows P66, א, B, C and D] the meantime His students asked Him saying: “Rabbi, eat!” 32 But He said to them: “I have food to eat which you do not know.” 33 Then the students said to one another [D has “said among themselves”] “Has anyone brought for Him to eat?”

As a digression, the disciples of John the Baptist also referred to him as “Rabbi”. Later, Christ tells His own disciples to reject the title for themselves, which is a derivative of a Hebrew word meaning “my great one” or “my master”. In the Old Testament, the root of the term appears in compound words such as rabmag, rabsaris, or rabshakeh, which respectively are interpreted to mean chief soothsayer, chief eunuch, and chief cupbearer, words which describe various officers of an ancient court.

But concerning the Godly order of society, Christians have only one chief, as Christ had said, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 23, “8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” In that context, father refers not to a true biological father, but to those who would assume such a title in a manner which is supposed to convey authority over others, such as the professional priests have done, so their presumption of authority is certainly not righteous according to Christ. The organization of the children of Israel into a body of peers with one head reflects the original government which was ordained by Yahweh in the period of the Judges. Before the children of Israel demanded a king, Yahweh Himself was their King. In the Gospel, Christ revealed that it is the will of God for men to ultimately return to that form of government, where rather than seeking earthly kings, Yahweh Himself as Christ is King.

34 Yahshua says to them: “My food is that I shall do [א, A and the MT have “that I do” or perhaps “that I would do”; the text follows P66, P75, B, C and D] the will of He who has sent Me and that I shall finish His work.

Like Nicodemus, and then the Samaritan woman, the apostles at first interpreted His words in their literal sense. But Yahshua did not need to eat at this moment, because He was filled with the Word of God and it was time to share it with the children of Israel. So it says in Proverbs chapter 18: “20 A man's belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.” Another Old Testament type for this circumstance is found in Ezekiel chapter 3, which also seems to be a prophecy which Christ alludes to by the analogy which He offered here: “1 Moreover he said unto me, Son of man [a phrase by which Yahshua often described Himself], eat that thou findest; eat this roll [or scroll], and go speak unto the house of Israel. 2 So I opened my mouth, and he caused me to eat that roll. 3 And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness. 4 And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them.” Thusly Christ was full, and needed to speak His Words to the house of Israel before any concern for His own fleshly needs. Now Yahshua makes yet another analogy:

35 Do you not say that ‘There are still [P75, D and 086 want “still”] four months and the harvest comes’? Behold, I say to you: lift up your eyes and see the fields, that they are already white for harvest! 36 He reaping receives a wage, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that [א, A, D and the MT have “that also”; the text follows P66, P75, B, and C] he sowing and he reaping would rejoice together.

In verse 35, it is unclear from the manuscripts whether the word for already, which is ἤδη, belongs there or at the beginning of verse 36, “Already he reaping…”

In Proverbs chapter 10 we read: “5 He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.” Earlier in this commentary, in another context, we cited Isaiah chapter 27 where it says that “6 He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.” But although there are many prophecies concerning a future gathering of scattered Israel, and many describing the children of Israel as plants or as fruit, the analogy here is not found directly except in many of the statements and parables of Christ found elsewhere in the Gospel. In the words of the prophets, usually at least where they speak in relation to the gathering of Israel, the children of Israel are either explicitly referred to as sons and daughters, or are described as a flock of scattered sheep.

There is, however, an example in the prophet Amos which seems to presage the words of Christ here. First, where Amos is asked by Amaziah not to prophecy in Bethel, we read: “12 Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there: 13 But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king's chapel, and it is the king's court. 14 Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdsman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit: 15 And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.” So the humble Amos was both a shepherd and a gatherer of fruit before he was called to prophesy.

Then a little further on in Amos, in chapter 8, we read a judgment against Israel: “1 Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit. 2 And he said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the LORD unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more.” Then in the last verses of his prophecy, in chapter 9, there is a message of hope, where we see that he sowing, or the plowman, is not he who gathers, or the reaper: “13 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. 14 And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. 15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.”

So Christ continues with what had evidently become a proverb in Israel:

37 For in this the word is true: that it is one who sows and another who reaps.

The 3rd century papyrus P75 wants this entire verse, which was likely a scribal error, as the Nestle-Aland edition of the Greek New Testament notes.

Where this concept usually appears in Scripture, such as in Deuteronomy chapter 28, Job chapter 31, Micah chapter 6 or Zephaniah chapter 1, it is in a negative context, as a punishment upon the disobedient. The contrary predicament, where a man eats the fruit of what he himself plants, also appears in Scripture, in a positive context as a sign of deliverance and blessing in Isaiah chapter 65 and in Amos chapter 9. Another positive context is found in Joshua chapter 24, where the conquest of Canaan was referenced, and the children of Israel were reminded of their reward where we read “13 And he gave you a land on which ye did not labour, and cities which ye did not build, and ye were settled in them; and ye eat of vineyards and oliveyards which ye did not plant. 14 And now fear the Lord, and serve him in righteousness and justice; and remove the strange gods, which our fathers served beyond the river [referring to Abraham and his ancestors beyond the Euphrates], and in Egypt; and serve the Lord.” So in any event, the saying must have become a proverb, and it is a reward to the reaper to be able to reap or to gather what he did not sow. In that manner Christ continues:

38 I have sent you to reap for that which [D wants the pronoun, or “that which”] you did not labor. Others labored and you entered in for their labor.

This is also a matter of prophecy, but the prophecy is not expressed in precisely the same manner, or even in an apparently explicit manner. Concerning the children of Israel, this is a prophecy which is found in the words of Hosea, in chapters 1 and 2, in a passage which is certainly relevant to what is transpiring here in the land which had once belonged to Ephraim, as the name of Ephraim is used synonymously for Israel through most of the words of the prophet Hosea:

First, from Hosea chapter 1: “8 Now when she had weaned Loruhamah [which means no mercy], she conceived, and bare a son. 9 Then said God, Call his name Loammi [which means not my people]: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. 10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. 11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.”

And then from Hosea chapter 2: “19 And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. 20 I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD. 21 And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; 22 And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. 23 And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy [meaning Israel]; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people [meaning Israel]; and they shall say, Thou art my God.”

Where it says in Hosea “that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God”, this is a reference to the bringing of the Gospel of God to the scattered children of Israel by the apostles of Christ. In his epistle to the Romans, Paul of Tarsus explained in chapter 4 that the nations to whom the promise was certain were the very nations which came from the seed Abraham, and then in chapter 9 he cited this very passage in relation to the “vessels of mercy” which were the descendants of Jacob. In Romans chapter 8, Paul explained to them that they were indeed the children of God. As Hosea explains, it was the cast-off children of Israel who were “not my people”, and it is the reconciled children of Israel who are the “sons of the living God”.

The word Jezreel (Strong’s # 3157), which appears in each of these passages, means God sows. We have also already read this earlier, where Yahweh said in Amos chapter 9: “15 And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.” That prophecy in turn evokes a much earlier one found in 2 Samuel 7:10, where Yahweh had spoken through the mouth of Nathan the prophet, who said to David: “10 Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more…” So the apostles would ultimately be sent by Christ to gather the harvest, although it was not they who had done the sowing. It is Yahweh Himself who had done the sowing, He planted them, and the apostles were thereby given the task of doing the reaping.

Now the object of focus shifts back to the people of the village who would be brought back by the Samaritan woman from the nearby city:

39 And from that city many of the Samaritans had believed in Him [א wants “in Him”] through the word of testimony of the woman that “He told me all the things which [P66, A, D and the MT have “whatever”; the text follows P75, א, B, and C; note verse 28] I had done!”

That Yahshua could reveal things He normally should not have known indicated to the woman that He was extraordinary, by which she was also persuaded that He was indeed the Messiah.

40 Therefore as the Samaritans came to Him, having asked Him to stay with them, then He stayed there for two days.

This episode is a symbolic representation of the fulfillment of the prophecy in Jeremiah chapter 31, the same chapter where the New Covenant is promised, where Yahweh says “4 Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry. 5 Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things. 6 For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God. 7 For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.” This event also evokes yet another prophecy concerning Ephraim which is found in Hosea chapter 6, where the people are depicted as saying: “1 Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. 2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.” Continuing to describe the event, John writes:

41 And with many more they believed through His word, 42 and [P66 and D have “but”] they had said to the woman that “No longer do we believe because of your speech [א and D have “testimony”], for we ourselves have heard [D has “for we have heard Him”] and we know that [B wants “that”] He is truly the Savior of the Society [A, D and the MT add “, the Christ”; the text follows P66, P75, א, B and C] !”.

The people were able to perceive the nature of Christ and believe with their own eyes what the woman had at first attested. This is the “opening of the eyes of the blind” which is prophesied in Isaiah, that Christ had cited in reference to Himself. (That will be an interesting topic of discussion when we get to John chapter 9.)

43 And after two days He had [A and the MT have “He left there and”; the text follows P66, P75, א, B, C and D] departed from there for Galilaia.

As we had discussed presenting the earlier portion of this chapter, at the well of Jacob in Sychar Yahshua had only taken a respite from His long journey from Jerusalem to Cana in Galilee, a distance of nearly 70 miles by air and probably many more than that on foot. Now John writes in conclusion:

44 For Yahshua Himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own fatherland.

Yahshua did not necessarily make this statement to the Samaritans, but rather, John only seems to be recalling something that Yahshua must have said at an earlier time. As we have explained, the first time He was rejected in Nazareth, as it is recorded in Luke chapter 4, was shortly after the wedding feast in Cana and before his visit to Jerusalem where he had overthrown the tables of the moneychangers, recorded in John chapter 2. John did not record that first rejection in Nazareth, but Yahshua’s having been there at that time is mentioned in Matthew 4:13, and a full account of His rejection after speaking in the synagogue there was recorded in Luke chapter 4. So while we do not actually find a record of Yahshua’s statement that “A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house” until a later time, in reference to another event which is recorded in Matthew chapter 13 and in Mark chapter 6, it is very likely that John had heard it from Christ in reference to an earlier event, such as the rejection at Nazareth which he did not record.

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