|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:4-26 There was great hatred between the Samaritans and the Jews. Christ's road from Judea to Galilee lay through Samaria. We should not go into places of temptation but when we needs must; and then must not dwell in them, but hasten through them. We have here our Lord Jesus under the common fatigue of travellers. Thus we see that he was truly a man. Toil came in with sin; therefore Christ, having made himself a curse for us, submitted to it. Also, he was a poor man, and went all his journeys on foot. Being wearied, he sat thus on the well; he had no couch to rest upon. He sat thus, as people wearied with travelling sit. Surely, we ought readily to submit to be like the Son of God in such things as these. Christ asked a woman for water. She was surprised because he did not show the anger of his own nation against the Samaritans. Moderate men of all sides are men wondered at. Christ took the occasion to teach her Divine things: he converted this woman, by showing her ignorance and sinfulness, and her need of a Saviour. By this living water is meant the Spirit. Under this comparison the blessing of the Messiah had been promised in the Old Testament. The graces of the Spirit, and his comforts, satisfy the thirsting soul, that knows its own nature and necessity. What Jesus spake figuratively, she took literally. Christ shows that the water of Jacob's well yielded a very short satisfaction. Of whatever waters of comfort we drink, we shall thirst again. But whoever partakes of the Spirit of grace, and the comforts of the gospel, shall never want that which will abundantly satisfy his soul. Carnal hearts look no higher than carnal ends. Give it me, saith she, not that I may have everlasting life, which Christ proposed, but that I come not hither to draw. The carnal mind is very ingenious in shifting off convictions, and keeping them from fastening. But how closely our Lord Jesus brings home the conviction to her conscience! He severely reproved her present state of life. The woman acknowledged Christ to be a prophet. The power of his word in searching the heart, and convincing the conscience of secret things, is a proof of Divine authority. It should cool our contests, to think that the things we are striving about are passing away. The object of worship will continue still the same, God, as a Father; but an end shall be put to all differences about the place of worship. Reason teaches us to consult decency and convenience in the places of our worship; but religion gives no preference to one place above another, in respect of holiness and approval with God. The Jews were certainly in the right. Those who by the Scriptures have obtained some knowledge of God, know whom they worship. The word of salvation was of the Jews. It came to other nations through them. Christ justly preferred the Jewish worship before the Samaritan, yet here he speaks of the former as soon to be done away. God was about to be revealed as the Father of all believers in every nation. The spirit or the soul of man, as influenced by the Holy Spirit, must worship God, and have communion with him. Spiritual affections, as shown in fervent prayers, supplications, and thanksgivings, form the worship of an upright heart, in which God delights and is glorified. The woman was disposed to leave the matter undecided, till the coming of the Messiah. But Christ told her, I that speak to thee, am He. She was an alien and a hostile Samaritan, merely speaking to her was thought to disgrace our Lord Jesus. Yet to this woman did our Lord reveal himself more fully than as yet he had done to any of his disciples. No past sins can bar our acceptance with him, if we humble ourselves before him, believing in him as the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
Verse 8. - For his disciples had departed into the city to buy food. This is stated as a reason why he asked water from the chance wayfarer, who had obviously with her the "water pot" and the ἄντλημα (ver. 11), a word used for the rope with which the bucket or water jar was let down into the well. There are very discordant statements as to the degree of separation which the Jews insisted upon between themselves and Samaritans. The later rabbis greatly aggravated the feeling. They refused to eat the bread of Samaritans, as though it were more defiling than swine's flesh; objected to drink their wine or vinegar; and, if this animosity at the time of Christ had been equally pronounced, would have limited the disciples in their choice of food to uncooked eggs, fruits, and vegetables, and possibly to meal and wine. But it seems, from the earlier rabbinical books (Edersheim quotes several, which modify Lightfoot's authorities), that the meat of a Samaritan was lawful food if an Israelite had witnessed its killing, and that their bread, wine, etc., were not forbidden. We see no reason for thinking that Jesus was left absolutely alone on this occasion, and, from John's habitual method of avoiding direct mention of himself, it becomes perfectly possible that he was there listening silently to all these gracious words. Moulton cannot doubt that the beloved disciple subsequently received the whole from the Lord's own lips; but there is no reason to conclude that he must have been absent, and very much to suggest his quiet presence (Weiss, 'Life of Christ,' 2:34).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For his disciples were gone away,.... This is related, not so much to give a reason why Christ asked the woman for water, because his disciples were not present, to minister to him; but rather to show, that Christ took the opportunity, in their absence, to converse with her; partly to avoid the scandal and offence they might take, at his conversation with her, being a Samaritan; as it appears to have been astonishing to them, when they found him talking with her, John 4:27. And partly, that he might not put the woman to shame and blushing before them all; he chooses to tell her of the sins of her former life, in a private way. The disciples were gone
unto the city: to the city Sychar, which was hard by; and their business there, was
to buy meat: for though it is said, in the following verse, that the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans; yet this is not to be understood in the strictest sense; for they had dealings with them in some respects, as will be seen hereafter; particularly their food, eatables, and drinkables, were lawful to be bought of them, and used: it is said by R. Juda bar Pazi, in the name of R. Ame (g),
"a roasted egg of the Cuthites (or Samaritans), lo, this is lawful: says R. Jacob bar Acha, in the name of R. Lazar, the boiled victuals of the Cuthites (Samaritans), lo, these are free; this he says concerning boiled food, because it is not their custom to put wine and vinegar into it,''
for these were forbidden: hence it is often said (h), that
"the unleavened bread of the Cuthites (or Samaritans), is lawful, and that a man is allowed the use of it at the passover.''
And there was a time when their wine was lawful; for one of their canons runs thus (i);
"he that buys wine of the Cuthites (Samaritans), says, the two logs that I shall separate, lo, they are first fruits, &c.''
It is indeed said in one place, R. Eliezer (k).
"that, he that eats the bread of the Cuthites (or Samaritans), is as if he eat flesh; to when (who reported this) says (R. Akiba) be silent, I will not tell you what R. Eliezer thinks concerning it.''
Upon which the commentators serve (l), that this is not to be understood strictly; cause he that eats bread of the Samaritans, does deserve stripes according to the law, but according to the constitutions of the wise men; but these, Christ and his disciples had no regard to.
(g) T. Hieros. Avoda Zara, fol. 44. 4. (h) T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 10. 1. & Cholin, fol. 4. 1. & Kiddushin, fol. 76. 1.((i) Misn. Demai, c. 7. sect. 4. Vid. Bartenora in ib. (k) Misna Sheviith, c. 8. sect. 10. Pirke Eliezer, c. 38. (l) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. ib.
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