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The woman at the well had five husbands

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When Jesus speaks with the Samaritan woman in John , is the passage about her husbands literal, or symbolic of the five different tribes that were settled in her town? The Samaritan woman, unlike other individuals who speak with Jesus in the Gospel of John, is never named. Some interpreters have taken this anonymity as an invitation to view her as an abstraction, a symbol of Samaria itself. If she is a symbol, the thinking goes, then surely her five husbands could represent the five locations in Samaria that settlers are supposed to have been brought according to 2Kings This approach treats the Samaritan woman as a mere allegory.

SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: Jesus and the Woman at the Well. John Chapter 4 Bible Movie

SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: Ep.46: The Samaritan Woman (John 4)


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F lorence came to my house twice a week, selling vegetables. She carried on her back a bag weighing nearly 40 pounds. With its strap across her forehead and the load on her back, she hunched along dirt roads about two hours each way to the cluster of houses where my husband and I lived in Kijabe, Kenya. One day, as Florence rested with me on my porch, we began to chat about her life.

She told me her husband had died when her children were young. It was important that she remarry, she said, so her children could have a father figure. Florence smiled, confessing that at first she disliked the idea. But then she saw the wisdom of their choice. I later met him, a wonderful, wizened man—mostly blind and deaf, but dignified. Florence cared for her elderly husband, and the marriage gave her stability and self-respect. As I listened to her, I began to think about the Samaritan woman at the well John — And I saw parallels immediately, even as I recognized the distinct qualities of each culture.

They called each other husband and wife, had children together, and were seen by their community as married. They had no money for a wedding ceremony, and no government certificate establishing their relationship in a legal sense. To my Western and evangelical Christian sensibilities, they were cohabitating. But in their culture, they were married. With these new perspectives, I took a closer look at the Samaritan woman. I researched the life settings of first-century women and discovered details about ancient marriage customs that illuminated her situation.

My research—along with that of a small but growing number of other scholars—led me to suspect that the Samaritan woman has been misunderstood. Most people in the ancient world got married—women often in their teens, men in their late 20s. Given the high death rate, people were often widowed and then remarried, perhaps two or three times. The Greeks and Romans did not practice polygamy, but evidence shows that some Jews entered bigamous marriages. The only legal document for marriage was a dowry document listing the property and wealth that the bride brought to the marriage.

The husband could use this money however he wanted, and any profit he made was his to keep. Should they divorce, however, he must return the entire dowry. But if his wife was found guilty of adultery, he could keep the dowry. Couples could live together as husband and wife without a dowry contract, or even a wedding. By setting up house together, they signaled to their community that they considered themselves married. Divorce was an option; it was typically not shameful, unless it resulted from adultery.

Women could not initiate a divorce, but they could ask a male advocate to do so and thus regain the dowry. Even Joseph considered it when he learned that Mary was pregnant Matt. The culture in which Jesus taught was indeed diverse and complicated. To understand his conversation with the Samaritan woman, we must examine it within its first-century Jewish and Greco-Roman context. John 4 tells us that Jesus left Judea because his ministry was heavily scrutinized.

Returning to Galilee, he decided to travel through Samaria rather than take a longer route around the territory. Jews usually took the long route to avoid interacting with Samaritans, whose false religious views they opposed. Jesus stayed behind while his disciples went to town to get food. What follows is a one-on-one encounter between Jesus and a religious seeker, as is frequent in the Gospel of John.

Jesus is thirsty, and a woman comes along with a bucket. Some scholars suggest she was a prostitute looking for customers. They argue that morally upright women drew water in the morning when it was cooler, not at midday. It certainly would have been more efficient to get water earlier, but this value did not govern all ancient societies—nor does it today.

In the village near my home in Kenya, for example, women washed and dried clothes in the hot equatorial sun. It would be more efficient to wash clothes early in the day, so that by evening the dry clothes could be folded and brought inside the house. But my Western assumptions were challenged when I saw women begin their washing at mid-afternoon and then hang the clothes to dry overnight and into the next afternoon.

Hardly efficient, but perhaps more conducive to their food preparation and fellowship with neighbors. Perhaps she was helping a neighbor with young children. Or maybe she needed more water to finish her tasks.

John tells us the time of day to explain why Jesus would be hot and tired, not to comment on when virtuous women drew water. It is a detail later in the story—that the man she is with now is not her husband—that seems to cast a shadow of shame on her.

When the woman says that she has had five husbands and the one she is with now is not her husband, it sounds like she is confessing sexual immorality. It sounds like she has treated marriage flippantly in the past, and is now cohabitating.

But our assumption clashes with the other details John gives. He presents her as an inquisitive religious seeker who is trusted—perhaps even admired—by her fellow townspeople.

No man would dare marry a convicted adulteress with neither fortune nor fame. Further, we have no evidence that anyone in the ancient world, man or woman, divorced five times. The closest parallel is the first-century B. General Pompey the Great, who married five times: he was divorced twice and widowed twice. And since barrenness was not always a cause for divorce, we cannot assume she was divorced for that reason.

Think of the long, childless marriage of Elizabeth and Zechariah, who were blessed late in life with a son, John the Baptist. Yet if she was known to be barren, can you imagine five men risking marriage to a woman everyone knew was infertile? Not in their culture. It is more likely that her five marriages and current arrangement were the result of unfortunate events that took the lives of several of her husbands.

Perhaps one or two of them divorced her, or maybe she initiated divorce in one case. Perhaps he was already married, making her his second wife. This means Jesus could not have guessed her situation; it was clear that his knowledge of her was divine.

Second, her response reminds us of Nathanael — Stunned, Nathanael asks why Jesus would say such a thing. Jesus replies that he saw Nathanael under a fig tree just moments beforehand. Jesus could not say to the Samaritan woman that she served God well, because she, a Samaritan, held erroneous religious beliefs. But he could speak about her identity. Like most women, her identity was tied to her father, husband, or son. By knowing her history and current situation, Jesus signaled to her that he knew her.

Third, John presents her—along with other women, such as Martha —27 —as theologically astute or inquisitive. Fourth, Jesus does not label her as a sinful woman. But would Jesus really be dissuaded from pursuing his case? That happens nowhere in the Gospels. Here is a man who might have answers, so she asks him questions that have puzzled her.

Finally, the fact that the townspeople listen to her testimony suggests that she was not a shunned sinner. Rather, they believe because of her testimony.

They probably knew she had religious questions and was not easily swayed by every preacher passing through.

She was, therefore, a credible witness. For most early church and medieval interpreters, the Samaritan woman was a careful, polite seeker—a sinner who, once illumined, truthfully witnessed her new faith to others.

But in the Reformation, she became a symbol of promiscuity. Whereas the church fathers believed Jesus was revealing himself to her, says historian Craig Farmer, the Reformers suggested that Jesus was revealing herself to her to get her to see her sin and repent.

Florence helped me to see marriage in a new way. She shared with me her dreams, disappointments, and joy in the Lord. Her situation encouraged me to research more deeply and to see the Samaritan woman as three-dimensional.

I now see her as one who probably endured more than the typical number of tragedies, yet never stopped seeking God. She was not an outcast or sexually immoral—according to the social codes of her village.

Though tired and thirsty, he looked to the needs of another. He made clear that the Samaritan woman sinned in rejecting the one true God. Moreover, Jesus guides us to answers for which we had no questions. Jesus challenges social prejudices, and brings visibility and voice to the invisible and silent in society. In giving a voice to the Samaritan woman, John encourages us to tell others about our encounters with the Savior.

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Clueless preaching about the Samaritan woman misses the point

By Rev. John Trigilio, Jr. Kenneth Brighenti. The Samaritan woman at the well is no angel.

What you have just said is quite true. What you have said is true. You certainly spoke the truth!

There is a shorter Lectionary option, but reading the full narrative of the woman at the well is crucial to understanding her significance. She is an open, engaged recruiter of disciples in Christ, and she is a model for women preachers. Many of the Samaritans began to believe because of the word of the woman. Jn Jesus meets an unnamed Samaritan woman at a well.

Samaritan woman at the well

Jump to navigation. We used the reading from Year A since we have six people entering the church. Other parishes may have used the Year C Gospel, Luke This reading overflows with good news that "true worship" is not found in any building or cult but in the hearts of believers who worship God "in Spirit and in Truth. Rather than highlight the Samaritan woman's inspired missionary leadership, preachers too often rant that she was a five-time divorcee before Jesus saved her from a dissolute life of sin. I'm grateful that the deacon preaching at our parish Mass focused on an interpretation favored by New Testament scholar and Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Sandra Schneiders. She points to Israel's use of spousal metaphors to describe God's passionate, covenant love for the chosen people. Samaritans had strayed from monotheism and episodically worshipped other gods.

Why Did The Samaritan Woman At The Well Have So Many Marriages?

F lorence came to my house twice a week, selling vegetables. She carried on her back a bag weighing nearly 40 pounds. With its strap across her forehead and the load on her back, she hunched along dirt roads about two hours each way to the cluster of houses where my husband and I lived in Kijabe, Kenya. One day, as Florence rested with me on my porch, we began to chat about her life. She told me her husband had died when her children were young.

It was at Shechem, many years prior to this event, that the nation of Israel renewed its covenant with God, committing to worship Him exclusively Joshua This article looks at the link that exists between these two events, and its application for us today.

This is the third part of a series that looks at events in the Gospel of John in which we find Jesus interacting with various people who need help—physical help and spiritual help. In John 4 , Jesus speaks with a Samaritan woman. It is interesting that John records this interaction right after his interaction with Nicodemus. The Samaritan woman could not be more different than Nicodemus.

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When Jesus was traveling from Judea to Galilee, he took an unusual route. He went through Samaria. Samaritans and Jews were not on friendly terms and most Jews tried to avoid that route. The Samaritan woman is surprised at his request because Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.

Search This Site. This is also the longest private conservation Jesus had with anyone in the New Testament John It was about noon. It was not geographically necessary for Jesus to go through Samaria, and Jewish travelers normally traveled around Samaria. Jesus and his disciples entered a Samaritan village, and the disciples went to buy food v. A woman from the nearby village of Sychar came for water.

The Woman at the Well and Her Husbands

There are positive and negative aspects to visualizing the stories of the Bible as you read. Often, I will have a running movie in my head as I read, and it makes for an immersive encounter with the text. On the flip side, sometimes my assumptions about the characters are way off and reveal an unhealthy bias. Such may be the case with the story of Jesus and the woman at the well in Samaria, in John 4. The story is familiar. A woman came to the well, and Jesus asked for a drink, surprising her because Jews and Samaritans typically did not interact v. After a brief lesson about water and the living water Jesus offers, Jesus told the woman to bring her husband.

Jul 13, - Jesus said to her, 'You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not.

By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy , Privacy Policy , and our Terms of Service. Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. It only takes a minute to sign up. When the Samaritan woman finally accepts Jesus' offer of living water, he says to her: "Go, call your husband and come here. The new focus on her husband and marital status seems abrupt — out of place.

Spiritual Rebirth: The Samaritan Woman at the Well

For you have had five husbands; and he whom you now have is not your husband: in that said you truly. Genesis But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife. Genesis ,7,8,31 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her….

The Samaritan woman at the well is a figure from the Gospel of John , in John — The woman appears in John 4 :4—42, However below is John — But he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar , near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.





Comments: 3
  1. Kajikree

    Between us speaking, in my opinion, it is obvious. You did not try to look in

  2. Faegis

    Excuse, that I interrupt you, but, in my opinion, there is other way of the decision of a question.

  3. Nikorisar

    Certainly. I agree with you.

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