John 4:4
And he must needs go through Samaria.
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(4) He must needs go through Samaria—i.e., following the shortest and most usual road, and the one we find Him taking from Galilee to Jerusalem (Luke 9:52; see Note there). Josephus spoke of this as the customary way of the Galileans going up during the feasts at Jerusalem (Ant. xx. 6, § 1). The Pharisees, indeed, took the longer road through Peræa, to avoid contact with the country and people of Samaria, but it is within the purpose of His life and work (“needs go,” i.e., was necessary that He should go) to teach in Samaria, as in Judæa, the principles of true religion and worship, which would cut away the foundations of all local jealousies and feuds, and establish for all nations the spiritual service of the universal Father (John 4:21-24).

John 4:4-6. And he must needs go through Samaria — The road from Judea to Galilee lying directly through it. Then cometh he — In the progress of his journey; to a city of Samaria, called Sychar — The original name of the place was Sichem, or Shechem, but now the Jews called it Sychar, which name they used as a term of reproach, intimating thereby that it was the seat of drunkards, see Isaiah 28:1; near to the parcel of ground that Jacob — Having purchased it of the children of Hamor, Genesis 33:19; gave to his son Joseph — By a particular grant. See Genesis 48:22; Joshua 24:32. The word χωριον, here rendered parcel, is translated by Dr. Campbell, heritage, as meaning, he observes, an estate in land; and that, since the estate here spoken of was given by the patriarch to his son Joseph, to be possessed by him and his posterity, it may be properly denominated heritage. Now Jacob’s well was there — A well so called, as having been used by Jacob and his family, while he dwelt in those parts. See Genesis 33:18; Genesis 35:4. Jesus, being wearied with his journey — For he was subject to all the innocent infirmities of human nature; sat thus — Weary as he was, on the side of the well; and it was about the sixth hour — Or just high noon: so that the heat co-operated with the fatigue of the journey to increase both his thirst and faintness. It must be observed, that in the latitude in which Judea lies, the weather is sometimes exceeding hot at noon, even in December, and on days when the cold has been very severe in the morning.

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.And he must needs go through Samaria - Samaria was between Judea and Galilee. The direct and usual way was to pass through Samaria. Sometimes, however, the Jews took a circuitous route on the east side of the Jordan. See the notes at Matthew 2:22. 4. must needs go through Samaria—for a geographical reason, no doubt, as it lay straight in his way, but certainly not without a higher design. Josephus tells us that Samaria is seated between Judea and Galilee, and begins at a town called Ginea: see Luke 9:51,52 17:11. There were two passages from Judea into Galilee; the one was through the midst of Samaria, Luke 9:51; the other through the eastern parts, by the royal valley, by Jordan, in which it is said that Sichem was. By

Samaria must not be understood the city of Samaria, built by Omri, but the whole country so called, and possessed by the Assyrians, with a mixture of Jews amongst them. Some think that the evangelist addeth this, to excuse our Saviour for going amongst the Gentiles.

And he must needs go through Samaria. Not the city, but the country of Samaria; for the way to Galilee from Judea, lay through the midst of Samaria; nor was there any other way, without going a great way about; see Luke 9:51; and which is also confirmed by Josephus (c): and this accounts for his going through Samaria, consistently with his forbidding his apostles going in the way of the Gentiles, or into any of the cities of the Samaritans; since here was a necessity for it, or otherwise he himself would not have gone, where he forbid his disciples; though the prohibition may be understood, not of barely going into a Samaritan city; for it was lawful for them, notwithstanding that, to go into one of them, as appears from John 4:8; but of going to preach there, Matthew 10:5. And besides this necessity, there was another thing that lay upon him, and obliged him to take this tour, and that is, the calling and conversion of a certain woman, and other Samaritans, whom the Father had given to him, and he was to redeem by his blood; and the time of whose effectual calling was now come; and therefore he must needs go this way, and at this particular time. The Arabic and Persic versions represent it, as a purpose and determination in his mind to go this way.

(c) Antiqu. Jude 50:20. c 5. & in vita sua, p. 1019.

And he must needs go through Samaria.
John 4:4-5. Ἔδει] from the geographical position; and hence the usual way for Galilaean travellers lay through Samaria (Josephus, Antt. xx. 6. 1), unless one chose to pass through Perea to avoid the hated land, which Jesus has at present no occasion to do. Comp. Luke 9:52.

εἰς πόλιν] towards a city (not into, John 4:28 ff.). Comp. Matthew 21:1; see Fritzsche, ad Marc. p. 81.

Συχάρ] (not Σιχάρ, as Elz. has, against the best witnesses) is, according to the usual opinion,—though, indeed, the λεγομένην, comp. John 11:54, pointing to an unknown place, does not tally with it,—the same town as that called שְׁכֶם (LXX. Συχέμ, comp. Acts 7:16; also Σίκιμα, comp. Josephus) in Genesis 33:18, Joshua 20:7, Jdg 9:7, et al.; after the time of Christ, however, called Neapolis (Joseph. Bell. iv. 8. 1), and now Nablus. See Crome, Beschreib. von Pal. I. p. 102 ff.; Robinson, III. 336; Rosen, in the Zeitschr. d. morgenl. Gesellsch. 1860, p. 634 ff. Upon the remnant of the Samaritans still in this town, see Rogers on the Modern Samaritans, London 1855; Barges, les Samaritains de Naplouse, Paris 1855. The name Συχάρ,[182] which Credner quite arbitrarily tries to refer to a mere error in transcription, was accordingly a corruption of the old name, perhaps intentional, though it had come into ordinary use, and signifying drunken town (according to Isaiah 28:1), or town of lies, or heathen town, after Habakkuk 3:18 (שֶׁקֶר). Reland takes the former view, Lightfoot and Hengstenberg the latter, Hengstenberg supposing that John himself made the alteration in order to describe the lying character of the Samaritans—quite against the simplicity of the narrative in general, and the express ΛΕΓΟΜΈΝΗΝ in particular. This ΛΕΓΟΜ., and the difference in the name, as well as the following ΠΛΗΣΊΟΝ, etc., and John 4:7, suggest the opinion that Sychar was a distinct town in the neighbourhood of Sychem (Hug, Luthardt, Lichtenstein, Ewald, Brückner, Baeumlein). See especially Delitzsch, in Guericke’s Luth. Zeitschr. 1856, p. 244 ff.; Ewald, Jahrb. VIII. 255 ff., and in his Johann. Schr. I. 181. The name may still be discovered in the modern al Askar, east of Nablus. Schenkel still sees here an error of a Gentile-Christian author.

The ΧΩΡΊΟΝ belonged to Sychem (Genesis 33:19; Genesis 48:22, LXX. Joshua 24:32),[183] but must have lain in the direction of Sychar.

ΠΛΗΣΊΟΝ] the town lay in the neighbourhood of the field, etc. Here only in the N. T., very often in the classics, as a simple adverb.

[182] Concerning the Talmudic name סוכר, see Wieseler, Synopse, p. 256 ff.

[183] The LXX. in Genesis 48:22 render שְׁבֶם by Σίκιμα, the error being that they took the Hebrew word directly as a name, whereas it is only an allusion to the town Sichem.

John 4:4. ἔδειΣαμαρείας. The ἔδει is explained by the position of Samaria interposed between Judaea and Galilee. Only the very sensitive Jews went round by Peraea. The Galileans were accustomed to go through Samaria on their way to the feasts at Jerusalem (Josephus, Antiq., xx. 6, 1). Samaria took its name from the city Samaria or Shomron, built by Omri as the capital of the kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 16:24). After being destroyed by Hyrcanus, the city was rebuilt by Herod and called Sebaste in honour of Augustus. The territory of Samaria in the time of Christ was included in the tetrarchy of Archelaus and was under the procurator Pontius Pilate. Herod Antipas’ domain marched with it north and east.

4. he must needs go through Samaria] There was no other way, unless he crossed the Jordan and went round by Perea, as Jews sometimes did to avoid annoyance from the Samaritans (on the Samaritans, see note on Matthew 10:5). As Christ was on his way from Jerusalem, and escaping from the ruling party there, He had less reason to fear molestation. Comp. Luke 9:53.

John 4:4. Διέρχεσθαι) In the very passing through He did great things.—διὰ τῆς Σαμαρείας, through Samaria) An admirable arrangement [economy], especially at that early period. What Jesus afterwards forbade the disciples, Matthew 10:5, “Into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not,” He Himself avoided in this place. The Samaritans went out to Him, John 4:30; nor, except when besought, did He give them two days, John 4:40. Nay, even He so guided His conference with the Samaritan woman, that it was only at her earnest request He imparted His grace to her; John 4:15, “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not.” [He adopted a similar method towards the Gentiles: Matthew 15:21, etc. (The woman of Canaan); Mark 7:24, etc. [The same woman, termed a Greek (or marg., a Gentile), a Syro-Phenician].—Harm., p. 171.]

Verse 4. - And he must needs go through Samaria. There was no physical necessity about it. He might, as bigoted Jews were accustomed to do, have crossed the Jordan and passed through Peraea instead. There was no such animus in the heart of Jesus, and a Divine and providential monition was the occasion of his taking the direct road. Geikie has drawn a vivid picture of the difficulties to which Jewish travellers on the borders of Samaria were exposed (see Hosea 6:9; Josephus, 'Ant.,' 20:06. 1; 'Bell. Jud.,' 2:12. 4; 'Vit.,' 52), and also of the physical features of the land. Samaria, as a name of the small district of central Palestine, arose from the name of the city "Samaria," built by Omri, and made the site of the kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 16:24), and that of the Baal- and of the calf-worship. Samaria suffered from the siege, and the city was depopulated by Shalmanezer (Sargon), and colonized with Assyrians under Esarhaddon. It was destroyed by Hyrcanus, and rebuilt in splendour by Herod the Great, and by him dedicated to Augustus, and called Sebaste after him. Though Shechem (equivalent to Sichem) was the more famous site, and overshadowed Herod's city by its historical interest, yet "Samaria" was the name which has survived all others, and covered a larger space. Jesus was probably on the borders of Samaria, in the Judaean country, before he commenced his journey. Samaria was included in the tetrarchy of Archelaus, and formed part of the province under the pro-curatorship of Pontius Pilate; while Herod Antipas reigned over Galilee and Persia. The Lord was fulfilling the Divine will, in commencing his Galilaean ministry, in leaving Judaea proper for the present, and passing through Samaria. It is worthy of notice that John here attributes to "the Pharisees," rather than "the Jews," the opposition which indicated the wisdom or necessity of this course. John 4:4Must needs

Because this was the natural route from Jerusalem to Galilee. Possibly with a suggestion of the necessity arising from the Father's will. John does not put this as a mission undertaken to the Samaritans. Jesus observed the law which He imposed on His disciples (Matthew 10:5).

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