John 4:11
The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
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(11) The woman saith unto him, Sir . . .—Her tone changes to one of respect. Something in His voice and manner, it may be, has touched her. She does not understand His words, but she is conscious of their latent force. She feels the presence of One who teaches with authority, and the “Thou, being a Jew,” passes to the reverential “Sir.” Still, she does not see how He can give her living water. Where will He get it? He has no means for drawing it, and the water in the well is far below His reach. His word, too, strikes her, and she dwells on it;—“that living water.” She thinks of spring water, as in Genesis 26:19, and Leviticus 14:5, where the Hebrew is “living water.” He cannot draw from that well. Does He mean to say that He knows of another, with better water? The word used here for “well” is different from that in John 4:6, where the surface only was thought of. Here, and in the next verse, the depth is prominent, and we have the same word, which is rendered “pit,” in Luke 14:5.

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.Hast nothing to draw with - It seems that there were no means of drawing water affixed to the well, as with us. Probably each one took a pail or pitcher and a cord for the purpose. In traveling this was indispensable. The woman, seeing that Jesus had no means of drawing water, and not yet understanding his design, naturally inquired whence he could obtain the water.

The well is deep - If the same one that is there now, it was about 100 feet deep.

10. If thou knewest, &c.—that is, "In Me thou seest only a petitioner to thee but if thou knewest who that Petitioner is, and the Gift that God is giving to men, thou wouldst have changed places with Him, gladly suing of Him living water—nor shouldst thou have sued in vain" (gently reflecting on her for not immediately meeting His request).Ver. 11 What our Saviour spake metaphorically, comparing his grace, or his Spirit, or the doctrine of his gospel, to living water, this poor woman understandeth literally; and knowing that the well was very deep, (some say forty cubits), and seeing him, as a traveller, not provided with any thing to draw with, or into, she asks him whence he had that living water? A question much like that of Nicodemus, John 3:4. So ignorant are persons of spiritual things, till they are enlightened by the Holy Spirit of God.

The woman saith unto him, Sir,.... Which was an usual, way in those countries, of addressing men, and especially strangers; and expresses no uncommon respect to Christ, of whose dignity and greatness she was, entirely ignorant; and at whom she was now scoffing; for so the following words are to be understood:

thou hast nothing to draw with; no pail, or bucket, or rope, to let it down with, as Nonnus adds; for it seems, there was no bucket, or vessel, fastened at the well for the common use, but everyone brought one with them, when they came to draw: though it is strange there was not one; since, according to common usage, and even of the Jews (u),

"a public well had, "a bucket", or pitcher; but a private well had no bucket:''

and the well is deep; that which is now called Jacob's well, is by some said to be forty cubits deep, and by others thirty five yards:

from whence then hast thou that living water? this she said in a sneering, scoffing manner: she reasoned with him, either that he must have it out of this well; but that could not be, since he had no vessel to draw with, and the well was so deep, that he could not come at the water without one; or he must have it from some neighbouring spring; upon which she scoffs at him in the following manner.

(u) T. Hieros. Erubin, fol. 20. 2.

The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
John 4:11-12. “Thou canst not mean the spring-water here in this well; you could not give this to me, for thou hast no bucket,[187] which is needed on account of the depth of the well; whence hast thou, therefore, the spring-water you speak of?

κύριε] The ΤΊς ἘΣΤΙΝ Ὁ ΛΈΓΩΝ ΣΟΙ, etc., John 4:10, has given the woman a momentary feeling of respect, not unmixed with irony.

οὔτε followed by ΚΑῚ is rare, 3 John 1:10; see Winer, p. 460 [E. T. p. 619]; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 222; Klotz, ad Devar. 714.

μὴ σὺ μείζων, κ.τ.λ.] Notice the emphatic ΣΎ coming first: “thou surely art not greater,” etc.; “thou dost not look like that!” Comp. John 8:53.

μείζων] i.e. more able, in a position to give what is better. By him was the well given us, and for him it was good enough for him and his to drink from; yet thou speakest as if thou hadst another and a better spring of water! The woman dwells upon the enigmatical word of Christ at first, just as Nicodemus did, John 3:4, but with more cleverness and vivacity, at the same time more pertly, and with feminine loquacity.

τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν] for the Samaritans traced their descent back to Joseph. Josephus, Antt. vii. 7. 3, viii. 14. 3, xi. 8. 6. They certainly were not of purely heathen origin (Hengstenberg); see Keil on 2 Kings 17:24; Petermann in Herzog’s Encykl. XIII. 367.

ὃς ἔδωκεν, κ.τ.λ.] a Samaritan tradition, not derived from the O. T.

ΚΑῚ ΑὐΤῸς, Κ.Τ.Λ.] ΚΑῚ is simply and, neither for καὶ ὅς, nor and indeed. The θρέμματα are the cattle (Plato, Polit. p. 261 A; Xen. Oec. xx. 23; Ages. ix. 6; Herodian. iii. 9. 17; Josephus, Antt. vii. 7. 3), not servants (Majus, Kypke),[188] whom there was no need specially to name; the mention of the herds completes the picture of their nomadic progenitor.

τὸ ὕδωρ τὸ ζῶν] which thou hast to give; John 4:10.

[187] ἄντλημα, elsewhere the drawing of water, is used in the sense of haustrum. Nonnus explains it κάδον ἑλκυστῆρα (a bucket to draw water).—The woman had with her a ὑδρία, ver. 28 (comp. John 2:6), but she must also have had an ἄντλημα, provided with a long handle or rope to draw the water up, or at least some contrivance for letting down the ὑδρία itself.

[188] The word, the general meaning of which is quicquid enutritur, is found on inscriptions as applied to slaves; it is used of children likewise in the classics (Valck. Diatr. p. 249), as in Soph. Phil. 243; comp; Oed. Rex, 1143. It does not occur in the LXX. or Apocrypha.

11. Sir] A decided change from the pert ‘How is it?’ in John 4:9. His words and manner already begin to impress her.

the well is deep] Not the same word for ‘well’ as in John 4:6. There the spring in the well is the chief feature: here it is rather the deep hole in which the spring was. Earlier travellers have called it over a 100 feet deep: at the present time it is about 75 feet deep.

that living water] Better, the living water, of which Thou speakest. She thinks He means spring-water as distinct from cistern-water. Comp. Jeremiah 2:13, where the two are strongly contrasted. In Genesis 26:19, as the margin shews, ‘springing water’ is literally ‘living water,’ viva aqua. What did Christ mean by the ‘living water?’ Among the various answers we may at once set aside any reference to baptism. Faith, God’s grace and truth, Christ Himself, are other answers. The difference between them is at bottom not so great as appears on the surface. Christ here uses the figure of water, as elsewhere of bread (6) and light (John 8:12), the three most necessary things for life. But He does not here identify Himself with the living water, as He does with the Bread, and the Light: therefore it seems better to understand the living water as the ‘grace and truth’ of which He is full (John 1:14). Comp. Sir 15:3; Bar 3:12.

John 4:11. Κύριε, Lord) Previously she had not called Him Lord: now she so calls Him, inasmuch as speaking piously about God, though as yet unknown to her, John 4:15, “Lord, give me this water: [Engl. Ver. of Κύριε is ‘Sir’] 19 “Lord, I perceive that thou art a prophet.” So ch. John 5:7 [The impotent man], a man, who knew not Jesus, calls Him Lord. They had a feeling in some way or other of His dignity.

Verse 11. - The answer of the woman shows that, though startled as Jesus meant her to be by his self-assertion, she had not moved out of the limited region of her own thoughts - her physical thirst, her daily needs, and common appliances for meeting them. There is a touch of humour for this light-hearted creature in the contrast between the large offer and the apparent helplessness of the Offerer. God's folly is compared with man's wisdom; God's weakness is set over against man's strength. Sir (my master - a phrase here of simple courtesy, yet showing some advance on what had gone before, "Thou being a Jew"), neither hast thou the vessel to draw with, and, moreover, the well is deep (see above on ver. 6). The water of this well cannot be lifted without an ἄντλημα, and, when the water is reached, it is still open to question whether it be living, flowing water or not. Whence then hast thou the living water of which thou hast spoken? John 4:11To draw with (ἄντλημα)

The noun means what is drawn, the act of drawing, and the thing to draw with. Here the bucket, of skin, with three cross sticks at the mouth to keep it open, and let down by a goat's-hair rope. Not to be confounded with the water-pot (ὑδρία) of John 4:28. The word is found only here in the New Testament.

Well (φρέαρ)

See on John 4:6. It may have been fed by living springs (πηγαὶ).

That living water (τὸ ὕδωρ τὸ ζῶν)

Literally, the water the living.

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