John 4:6
Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.
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(6) Jacob’s well is one of the few spots about the position of which all travellers are agreed. Jesus, passing from south to west would pass up the valley of Mochna until the road turns sharp to the west, to enter the valley of Sichem between Ebal and Gerizim. Here is Jacob’s field, and in the field is Jacob’s well. It is dug in the rock, and is about 9 feet in diameter. The older travellers described it as more than 100 feet deep, and with several feet of water. Modern travellers have generally found it dry. Wilson describes it, in 1843, as only 75 feet deep.

Sat thus on the well.—Better, was sitting thus at the well. The words are one of the instances of exact knowledge which meet us in this Gospel. The tense is the descriptive imperfect. He was thus sitting when the woman came. He thus recalls the picture as it was impressed and remained fixed in the writer’s mind. He saw Him, wearied by the noontide journey, sitting thus by the well, while they went on to the city to procure food. The reality of this fatigue, as one of the instances witnessing to the reality of His human nature, is important.

About the sixth houri.e., as elsewhere in St. John, following the ordinary mode of counting, about 12 o’clock. (Comp. Note on John 1:39.) It is contended, on the other hand, that this was not the usual time for women to resort to the wells to draw water, but the narrative perhaps implies an unusual hour, as it speaks of only one woman there.



John 4:6
, John 4:32.

Two pictures result from these two verses, each striking in itself, and gaining additional emphasis by the contrast. It was during a long hot day’s march that the tired band of pedestrians turned into the fertile valley. There, whilst the disciples went into the little hill-village to purchase, if they could, some food from the despised inhabitants, Jesus, apparently too exhausted to accompany them, ‘sat thus on the well.’ That little word thus seems to have a force difficult to reproduce in English. It is apparently intended to enhance the idea of utter weariness, either because the word ‘wearied’ is in thought to be supplied, ‘sat, being thus wearied, on the well’; or because it conveys the notion which might be expressed by our ‘just as He was’; as a tired man flings Himself down anywhere and anyhow, without any kind of preparation beforehand, and not much caring where it is that he rests.

Thus, utterly worn out, Jesus Christ sits on the well, whilst the western sun lengthens out the shadows on the plain. The disciples come back, and what a change they find. Hunger gone, exhaustion ended, fresh vigour in their wearied Master. What had made the difference? The woman’s repentance and joy. And He unveils the secret of His reinvigoration when He says, ‘I have meat to eat that ye know not of’-the hidden manna. ‘My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.’

Now, I think if we take just three points of view, we shall gain the lessons of this remarkable contrast. Note, then, the wearied Christ; the devoted Christ; the reinvigorated Christ.

I. The wearied Christ.

How precious it is to us that this Gospel, which has the loftiest things to say about the manifest divinity of our Lord, and the glory that dwelt in Him, is always careful to emphasise also the manifest limitations and weaknesses of the Manhood. John never forgets either term of his great sentence in which all the gospel is condensed, ‘the Word became flesh.’ Ever he shows us ‘the Word’; ever ‘the flesh.’ Thus it is he only who records the saying on the Cross, ‘I thirst.’ It is he who tells us how Jesus Christ, not merely for the sake of getting a convenient opening of a conversation, or to conciliate prejudices, but because He needed what He asked, said to the woman of Samaria, ‘Give Me to drink.’ So the weariness of the Master stands forth for us as pathetic proof that it was no shadowy investiture with an apparent Manhood to which He stooped, but a real participation in our limitations and weaknesses, so that work to Him was fatigue, even though in Him dwelt the manifest glory of that divine nature which ‘fainteth not, neither is weary.’

Not only does this pathetic incident teach us for our firmer faith, and more sympathetic and closer apprehension, the reality of the Manhood of Jesus Christ, but it supplies likewise some imperfect measure of His love, and reveals to us one condition of His power. Ah! if He had not Himself known weariness He never could have said, ‘Come unto Me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ It was because Himself ‘took our infirmities,’ and amongst these the weakness of tired muscles and exhausted frame, that ‘He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might He increaseth strength.’ The Creator must have no share in the infirmities of the creature. It must be His unwearied power that calls them all by their names; and because He is great in might ‘not one’ of the creatures of His hand can ‘fail.’ But the Redeemer must participate in that from which He redeems; and the condition of His strength being ‘made perfect in our weakness’ is that our weakness shall have cast a shadow upon the glory of His strength. The measure of His love is seen in that, long before Calvary, He entered into the humiliation and sufferings and sorrows of humanity; a condition of His power is seen in that, forasmuch as the ‘children were partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same,’ not only that ‘through death He might deliver’ from death, but that in life He might redeem from the ills and sorrows of life.

Nor does that exhausted Figure, reclining on Jacob’s Well, preach to us only what He was. It proclaims to us likewise what we should be. For if His work was carried on to the edge of His capacity, and if He shrank not from service because it involved toil, what about the professing followers of Jesus Christ, who think that they are exempted from any form of service because they can plead that it will weary them? What about those who say that they tread in His footsteps, and have never known what it was to yield up one comfort, one moment of leisure, one thrill of enjoyment, or to encounter one sacrifice, one act of self-denial, one aching of weariness for the sake of the Lord who bore all for them? The wearied Christ proclaims His manhood, proclaims His divinity and His love, and rebukes us who consent to ‘walk in the way of His commandments’ only on condition that it can be done without dust or heat; and who are ready to run the race that is set before us, only if we can come to the goal without perspiration or turning a hair. ‘Jesus, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well.’

II. Still further, notice here the devoted Christ.

It is not often that He lets us have a glimpse into the innermost chambers of His heart, in so far as the impelling motives of His course are concerned. But here He lays them bare. ‘My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.’

Now, it is no mere piece of grammatical pedantry when I ask you to notice that the language of the original is so constructed as to give prominence to the idea that the aim of Christ’s life was the doing of the Father’s will; and that it is the aim rather than the actual performance and realisation of the aim which is pointed at by our Lord. The words would be literally rendered ‘My meat is that I may do the will of Him that sent Me and finish His work’-that is to say, the very nourishment and refreshment of Christ was found in making the accomplishment of the Father’s commandment His ever-impelling motive, His ever-pursued goal. The expression carries us into the inmost heart of Jesus, dealing, as it does, with the one all-pervading motive rather than with the resulting actions, fair and holy as these were.

Brethren, the secret of our lives, if they are at all to be worthy and noble, must be the same-the recognition, not only as they say now, that we have a mission, but that there is a Sender; which is a wholly different view of our position, and that He who sends is the loving Father, who has spoken to us in that dear Son, who Himself made it His aim thus to obey, in order that it might be possible for us to re-echo His voice, and to repeat His aim. The recognition of the Sender, the absolute submission of our wills to His, must run through all the life. You may do your daily work, whatever it be, with this for its motto, ‘the will of the Lord be done’; and they who thus can look at their trade, or profession, and see the trivialities and monotonies of their daily occupations, in the transfiguring light of that great thought, will never need to complain that life is small, ignoble, wearisome, insignificant. As with pebbles in some clear brook with the sunshine on it, the water in which they are sunk glorifies and magnifies them. If you lift them out, they are but bits of dull stone; lying beneath the sunlit ripples they are jewels. Plunge the prose of your life, and all its trivialities, into that great stream, and it will magnify and glorify the smallest and the homeliest. Absolute submission to the divine will, and the ever-present thrilling consciousness of doing it, were the secret of Christ’s life, and ought to be the secret of ours.

Note the distinction between doing the will and perfecting the work. That implies that Jesus Christ, like us, reached forward, in each successive act of obedience to the successive manifestations of the Father’s will, to something still undone. The work will never be perfected or finished except on condition of continual fulfilment, moment by moment, of the separate behests of that divine will. For the Lord, as for His servants, this was the manner of obedience, that He ‘pressed towards the mark,’ and by individual acts of conformity secured that at last the whole ‘work’ should have been so completely accomplished that He might be able to say upon the Cross, ‘It is finished.’ If we have any right to call ourselves His, we too have thus to live.

III. Lastly, notice the reinvigorated Christ.

I have already pointed out the lovely contrast between the two pictures, the beginning and the end of this incident; so I need not dwell upon that. The disciples wondered when they found that Christ desired and needed none of the homely sustenance that they had brought to Him. And when He answered their sympathy rather than their curiosity-for they did not ask Him any questions, but they said to Him, ‘Master, eat’-with ‘I have meat to eat that ye know not of,’ they, in their blind, blundering fashion, could only imagine that some one had brought Him something. So they gave occasion for the great words upon which we have been touching.

Notice, however, that Christ here sets forth the lofty aim at conformity to the divine will and fulfilment of the divine Work as being the meat of the soul. It is the true food for us all. The spirit which feeds upon such food will grow and be nourished. And the soul which feeds upon its own will and fancies, and not upon the plain brown bread of obedience, which is wholesome, though it be often bitter, will feed upon ashes, which will grate upon the teeth and hurt the palate. Such a soul will be like those wretched infants that are discovered sometimes at ‘baby-farms,’ starved and stunted, and not grown to half their right size. If you would have your spirits strong, robust, well nourished, live by obedience, and let the will of God be the food of your souls, and all will be well.

Souls thus fed can do without a good deal that others need. Why, enthusiasm for anything lifts a man above physical necessities and lower desires, even in its poorest forms. A regiment of soldiers making a forced march, or an athlete trying to break the record, will tramp, tramp on, not needing food, or rest, or sleep, until they have achieved their purpose, poor and ignoble though it may be. In all regions of life, enthusiasm and lofty aims make the soul lord of the body and of the world.

And in the Christian life we shall be thus lords, exactly in proportion to the depth and earnestness of our desires to do the will of God. They who thus are fed can afford ‘to scorn delights and live laborious days.’ They who thus are fed can afford to do with plain living, if there be high impulses as well as high thinking. And sure I am that nothing is more certain to stamp out the enthusiasm of obedience which ought to mark the Christian life than the luxurious fashion of living which is getting so common to-day amongst professing Christians.

It is not in vain that we read the old story about the Jewish boys whose faces were radiant and whose flesh was firmer when they were fed on pulse and water than on all the wine and dainties of the Babylonish court. ‘Set a knife to thy throat if thou be a man given to appetite,’ and let us remember that the less we use, and the less we feel that we need, of outward goods, the nearer do we approach to the condition in which holy desires and lofty aims will visit our spirits.

I commend to you, brethren, the story of our text, in its most literal application, as well as in the loftier spiritual lessons that may be drawn from it. To be near Christ, and to desire to live for Him, delivers us from dependence upon earthly things; and in those who thus do live the old word shall be fulfilled, ‘Better is a little that a righteous man hath, than the abundance of many wicked.’

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.Jacob's well - This is not mentioned in the Old Testament. It was called "Jacob's well," probably, either because it was handed down by tradition that he dug it, or because it was near to the land which he gave to Joseph. There is still a well a few miles to the east of Nablus, which is said by the people there to be the same. Eli Smith, missionary to Syria, stated to me that he had visited this well. It is about 100 feet deep. It is cut through solid rock of limestone. It is now dry, probably from having been partly filled with rubbish, or perhaps because the water has been diverted by earthquakes. The well is covered with a large stone, which has a hole in the center large enough to admit a man. It is at the foot of Mount Gerizim, and has a plain on the east.

Sat thus - Jesus was weary, and, being thus weary, sat down on the well. The word translated "on" here may denote also by - he sat down "by" the well, or near it.

The sixth hour - About twelve o'clock noon. This was the common time of the Jewish meal, and this was the reason why his disciples were gone away to buy food.

6-8. wearied … sat thus—that is, "as you might fancy a weary man would"; an instance of the graphic style of St. John [Webster and Wilkinson]. In fact, this is perhaps the most human of all the scenes of our Lord's earthly history. We seem to be beside Him, overhearing all that is here recorded, nor could any painting of the scene on canvas, however perfect, do other than lower the conception which this exquisite narrative conveys to the devout and intelligent reader. But with all that is human, how much also of the divine have we here, both blended in one glorious manifestation of the majesty, grace, pity, patience with which "the Lord" imparts light and life to this unlikeliest of strangers, standing midway between Jews and heathens.

the sixth hour—noonday, reckoning from six A.M. From So 1:7 we know, as from other sources, that the very flocks "rested at noon." But Jesus, whose maxim was, "I must work the works of Him that sent Me while it is day" (Joh 9:4), seems to have denied Himself that repose, at least on this occasion, probably that He might reach this well when He knew the woman would be there. Once there, however, He accepts … the grateful ease of a seat on the patriarchal stone. But what music is that which I hear from His lips, "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Mt 11:28).

It was called Jacob’s, either because he digged it, (as we read of Abraham’s digging a well), Genesis 21:30, and Isaac, {Genesis 26:18} or because he and his family used it, as John 4:12. Our Lord used no horse or chariot ordinarily in his travels, but went on foot; we never read of him in a coach or chariot, but once upon the back of a beast (that was when he rode into Jerusalem upon an ass); he ordinarily travelled on foot; and the evangelist taketh notice of his weariness, to let us know that he was truly man, and subjected to weariness, and other human infirmities. And he rested himself upon the sides of the well, and it was about now time; for that was, according to their computation,

the sixth hour. John 4:8 tells us his disciples were gone to the city to buy meat, so as he was alone.

Now Jacob's well was there,.... So called, either because it was dug by him; or because he and his family made use of it, when in those parts, as in John 4:12, though no mention is made of it elsewhere, unless any reference is had to it in the blessing of Joseph, to whom this place belonged, Genesis 49:22, as Dr. Lightfoot thinks, or in Deuteronomy 33:28, as Grotius suggests: in the Talmud (f) there is mention made, of , "the fountain of Sochar"; and may not improperly be rendered, "the well of Sychar": but whether the same with this, is not certain; that appears to be a great way from Jerusalem, as this also was, even forty miles:

Jesus therefore being wearied with his journey; having travelled on foot, from Judea thither; and he having a body like to ours, subject to weariness, and which proves the truth and reality of it, was greatly fatigued; having very probably travelled all that morning, if not a day, or days before:

sat thus on the well; or by it; by the side of it, upon the brink of it, as Nonnus paraphrases it, upon the bare ground. The Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions, leave out "thus"; and the Ethiopic version reads it, "there"; but it is rightly retained, and is emphatical; and signifies, that he sat like a weary person, glad to set himself down any where; and not caring how, or where, he sat to rest his weary limbs:

and it was about the sixth hour; about twelve o'clock at noon. The Ethiopic version adds by way of explanation, and "it was then noon"; and all the Oriental versions omit "about"; rendering it, "it was the sixth hour": and now Christ had been travelling all the morning, and it was a time of day to take some refreshment, which as yet he had not, the disciples being gone to buy food; and a time of day also, when the sun if out, and has any strength, beats with its greatest vehemence; and all which considered, it is no wonder that he should be weary, faint, and thirsty.

(f) T. Hieron. Shekalim, fol. 48. 4. T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 82. 2. & Menachot, fol. 64. 2. & Gloss. in Sanhedrin, fol. 11. 2.

Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat {a} thus on the well: and it was about the {b} sixth hour.

(a) Even as he was weary, or because he was weary.

(b) It was almost noon.

John 4:6. Πηγὴ τοῦ Ἰακώβ] a spring-well (John 4:11), the making of which tradition ascribed to Jacob. It is still in existence, and regarded with reverence, though there is no spring-water in it. See Robinson, III. p. 330; Ritter, XVI. 634. The ancient sacredness of the spot made it all the more worthy of being specially noted by John.

οὕτως] thus, without further ado, just as He was, without any ceremony or preparation, “ut locus se obtulerat,” Grotius; ἁπλῶς ὡς ἔτυχε, Chrysostom. See Ast, Lex. Plat. II. p. 495; Nägelsbach, z. Ilias, p. 63, ed. 3. The rendering “tired as He was” (Erasmus, Beza, Winer, Hengstenberg), so that the preceding participle is repeated in meaning (see Bornemann in Rosenmüller’s Rep. II. p. 246 ff., Ast, l.c.; Stallbaum, ad Plat. Protag. p. 314 C), would require the οὕτως to be placed before, as in Acts 27:17; Acts 20:11.

ἐπὶ τῇ πηγῇ] at the well, denoting immediate proximity to it, John 4:2; Mark 13:29; Exodus 2:15. See Bernhardy, p. 249; Reisig, ad Oed. Col. 281; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. 541.

ὥραἕκτη] noon, mid-day; δίχιος ὥρη, Nonnus. Here again we have not the Roman reckoning (see on John 1:40), though the evening[184] was the more usual time for drawing water. Still we must not suppose that, because the time was unusual, it was intended thereby that Jesus might know, in connection therewith, “that the woman was given Him of the Father” (Luthardt, p. 80). Jesus knew that, independently of the hour. But John could never forget the hour, so important in its issues, of this first preaching to the Samaritan woman, and therefore he names it. Comp. John 1:40.

[184] If it had been six o’clock in the evening (as even Isenberg in the Luther. Zeitschr. 1868, p. 454 ff., maintains, for the sake of John 19:14), how much too short would the remainder of the day he for all that follows down to ver. 40! We must allow a much longer time, in particular, for vv. 28–30, and yet ver. 35 still presupposes bright daylight.

John 4:6. ἦν δὲ ἐκεῖ πηγὴ τοῦ Ἰακώβ. Both πηγή and φρέαρ are used in this context; the former meaning the spring or well of water, the latter the dug and built pit or well. In John 4:11 φρέαρ is necessarily used. Whether in this John 4:6 ἐπὶ τῇ πηγῇ is to be rendered “at,” keeping πηγῇ in its strict sense, or “on” as if for φρέατι is doubted; but the former is certainly the more natural rendering; cf. Aristoph., Frogs, 191, where ἐπί with accus. gives rise to misunderstanding of sitting “on” an oar instead of “at” it. Jacob’s well lies ten minutes south of the present village ‘Askar, and a good spring exists in ‘Askar. This has given rise to the difficulty: Why should a woman have come so far, passing good sources of water supply? Most probably the reason is that this well was Jacob’s, and special virtue was supposed to attach to it; or because in the heat of summer other wells and streams were dry. The real difficulty is: Why was there a well there at all, in the neighbourhood of streams? Possibly Jacob may have dug it that he might have no quarrelling with his neighbours about water-rights. As a stranger with a precarious tenure he might find this necessary. Travellers agree in accepting as Jacob’s well here mentioned the Ain-Jakub, or Bir-et-Jakub, some twenty minutes east of Nablûs.—ὁ οὖν Ἰησοῦςἔκτη. It was “about,” ὡς (Theophylact calls attention to this as a mark of accuracy), the sixth hour, that is, midday (the Jews dined on Sabbath at the sixth hour, see Josephus, Vita) (see on c. i. 40); and they had probably been walking for several hours, and accordingly Jesus was tired, κεκοπιακὼς (κόπος, excessive toil), fatigued (Wetstein quotes οὐ γὰρ ἐξ ὁδοιπορίας τὰς φλέβας κοπιᾷ ἀλλὰ τὰ νεῦρα), and was sitting thus, tired as He was (οὕτως, in the condition in which He was, that is, tired as He was. Elsner thinks it only indicates consequence [nihil aliud quam consequentiam significat] and should be omitted in translating. So Kypke, who cites instructive instances, concludes: “solemne est Graecis, praecedente participio, voculam οὕτως pleonastice ponere”. But in all his instances οὕτως precedes the verb), at the well (cf. Josephus, Ant., John 4:1 : στρατοπεδευσαμένους ἐπὶ τινι πηγῇ). As to the hour, two circumstances con firm the opinion that it was midday First, that apparently there was no intention of halting here for the night, as there would have been had it been evening. And, second, while it is truly urged that evening is the common time for drawing water, it is obvious that only one woman had come at this time, and accordingly the probability is it was not evening. See also Josephus, Ant., ii. 11, 1, where he describes Moses sitting at the well at midday wearied with his journey, and the women coming to water their flocks.

6. Jacob’s well] Or, spring (John 4:11). It still exists, but without spring-water; one of the few sites about which there is no dispute, in the entrance to the valley between Ebal and Gerizim.

sat thus on the well] Or, was sitting thus (just as He was) by the spring. All these details mark the report as of one who had full information.

about the sixth hour] See on John 1:39. This case again is not decisive as to S. John’s mode of reckoning the hours. On the one hand, noon was an unusual hour for drawing water. On the other, a woman whose life was under a cloud (John 4:18) might select an unusual hour; and at 6 p.m. numbers would probably have been coming to draw, and the conversation would have been disturbed. Again, after 6 p.m. there would be rather short time for all that follows. These two instances (John 1:39 and this) lend no strong support to the antecedently improbable theory that S. John’s method of counting the hours is different from the Synoptists.

John 4:6. Ἐκ τῆς ὁδοιπορίας, owing to the journey) He had made a long journey on foot.—οὕτως) So, as the convenience of the place, such as it was, admitted of, without pomp, alone, as one who was not ostensibly showing an expectation of the Samaritan woman, but was wishing, on account of mere weariness, to take rest. The popular character of Jesus’ life is worthy of all admiration, as also His fellowship [with humanity in all points]: the very feature in Him which the early Christians imitated. See Macar. Apophth., pp. 247, 248, concerning the simplicity [openness] of Macarius in his daily intercourse with others. It was also fitting that at that time, not more openly, but as it were by chance, Christ should present Himself to foreigners [i.e. those not Jews]; Matthew 10:5, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not;” John 15:23, etc. [the woman of Canaan]. Οὕτως, so, to be explained by the word to which it is attached, as ch. John 8:59, “Going through the midst of them, and so passed by” [in the Rec. Text. But Vulg. [72][73][74][75][76] Orig. omit all these words. [77][78][79][80] have them]; Acts 27:17, “They strake sail, and so were driven;” ΟὛΩΤς ἘΦΈΡΟΝΤΟ: 2 Peter 3:4, “All things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation;” ΟὛΤΩς ΔΙΑΜΈΝΕΙ: Sir 32:1, ΚΑῚ ΟὛΤΩ ΚΆΘΙΣΟΝ· sit so at the banquet, as to be engaged about nothing else. So in this passage, He sat so, as He sat. Chrysostom explains it, ἁ̔πλῶς καὶ ὡς ἔτυχε, simply as it comes to pass.—ἐπί) upon (the well was enclosed with a wall or bank); or at least, near: as Mark 13:29, ἐπί θύραις, [nigh, even] at the doors.—ὡσεὶ ἓκτη, about the sixth) Mid-day [This was] the cause why Jesus was wearied; and why the woman was seeking water, the disciples bread.

[72] Cod. Basilianus (not the B. Vaticanus): Revelation: in the Vatican: edited by Tisch., who assigns it to the beginning of the eighth century.

[73] Bezæ, or Cantabrig.: Univ. libr., Cambridge: fifth cent.: publ. by Kipling, 1793: Gospels, Acts, and some Epp. def.

[74] Vercellensis of the old ‘Itala,’ or Latin Version before Jerome’s, probably made in Africa, in the second century: the Gospels.

[75] Veronensis, do.

[76] Colbertinus, do.

[77] the Alexandrine MS.: in Brit. Museum: fifth century: publ. by Woide, 1786–1819: O. and N. Test. defective.

[78] Ephræmi Rescriptus: Royal libr., Paris: fifth or sixth cent.: publ. by Tisch. 1843: O. and N. T. def.

[79] Cod. Reg., Paris, of the Gospels: the text akin to that of B: edited by Tisch.

[80] Cod. Monacensis, fragments of the Gospels.

Verse 6. - Now Jacob's well was there; more literally, now there was a spring there, Jacob's. The word generally translated "well" is φρέαρ, the representative of בְּאֵר, puteus; but πηγή, the word here used, corresponds with עַיִן, fons. In vers. 11, 12 the word φρέαρ is used of the same place. To the present day this indubitable site goes by both names. This district abounds in springs (Deuteronomy 8:7), and the digging of this deep well was a work of supererogation, such as might be performed by a stranger in the land. The well is indeed fed by fountains of water in the neighbourhood. It has been known as Jacob's well by a continuous tradition, and is situated in the plain of Mukhhan, under the rough sides of Gerizim, just beyond the spot where the plain is entered almost at right angles by the eastern end of the vale of Shechem. The latter vale is constituted by the two mountain ridges of Gerizim on the south and Ebal on the north. Nablous, or Shechem, is not visible from the well of Sychar, being hidden by the spur of Gerizim from view, and higher up the valley of Shechem are the present ruins of Sebastich or Samaria proper. Dean Stanley said it was one of the most beautiful spots in Palestine. Sychar lies half a mile to the north of the traditional well. The well, two hundred years ago, was declared by Maundrell to be a hundred and five feet deep, and built of solid masonry. In 1866 Lieutenant Anderson found it seventy-five feet deep, and quite dry. It is nine or ten feet in diameter; and it is one of the most indubitable spots where we may feel certain that the feet of the blessed Lord have trod. Efforts are now being made by the Palestine Exploration Society to protect and restore the well. Jesus therefore, being wearied (κοπιάω is "to labour unto weariness," from κόπος, exhausting toil) with his journey. A long, exhausting march told upon him, and he felt the weakness of our humanity. Thoma suggests that, because the woman that Jacob found at the well was Rachel, the mother of Joseph, the Samaritans' special patriarch, and because Leah was the mother of Levi and Judah, and her name means "wearied," so Jesus is represented as weary with his journey unto the home of Rachel! It is far more important to notice that the author of this Gospel, whose main idea was that Jesus is "the only begotten Son of the Father," "the Word made flesh," yet impresses upon us continually his realization of the full humanity, the definite, concrete human existence of Jesus. His life was no phantasm of the imagination, no mere docetic manifestation, as the Tubingen school attribute to the Johannine Christ, but veritable man. This Gospel alone records his presence and miracle at Cana, his travel-worn sympathy with our weakness, his making clay with spittle, his weeping over the grave of a friend, his thirst upon the cross, the blood that issued from his wounded side, and the obvious physical reality of his risen body, and thus furnishes the Church with the grounds on which the apostle maintained his Divine humanity. Jesus was seated thus - or, sat thus; i.e. wearied, exhausted - on the well; or on the low parapet of the well, which protected its mouth, he sat there comparatively, if not quite, alone. The position of the word "thus" after "sat" would, in classic Greek, make the οὕτως mean "simply, without other preoccupation;" but there is no logical reason to deprive the οὕτως of its full meaning (Hengstenberg). The Lord, taking his seat by this memorable spot, rich in varied associations, becomes at once a type of the richer and diviner supply of life which he is able and ready to dispense to mankind. The weariness and waiting of the Lord at the well was a sublime hint of the exhaustless supply of grace which was ever flowing from the broken heart of the Son of God. It was about the sixth hour. The author is remarkable for his repeated mention of the hours at which some of the most memorable crises of his life took place, and thus gives a vivid impression of reality and of the presence of the eyewitness. He must himself have waited by the side of the Lord, and overheard the conversation which followed, just as he did the conversation with Nicodemus. Great difference of opinion prevails as to his method of computing time; i.e. whether he adopted the Jewish computation, from sunrise to sunset into twelve variable hours, or the Roman method of computation, from midnight to midday, from noon to midnight, into twelve hours of equal length. Some difficulties are reduced by the latter hypothesis (see M'Clellan and Westcott, 'Additional Notes to John 19;' Edersheim, l.c., 1:405; Moulton, in loco; Townson, 'Discourses of the Four Gospels,' p. 215). The hour referred to would then be about six o'clock in the evening, the very time when purchases would be made, and when women are in the habit of drawing water. The difficulty that presents itself is the brevity of the time remaining for all that happens as described in vers. 27-38, broad daylight being almost presupposed in ver. 35. Still, if "about the sixth hour" was five o'clock, even in January there would be possible time for the conversation, for the return of the disciples, and also for the approach of the Samaritans; though it must be remembered that twilight in Palestine is very brief, and that the whole narrative suggests the idea of leisure rather than hurried converse. If the Roman method of interpretation were adopted, the sixth hour might mean six o'clock in the morning, which was the hour intended, if the Roman computation must be supposed in John 19:14. This suggestion has further difficulties. The weariness of the Lord at that early hour would imply a long journey before daybreak, which is extremely improbable (see John 11:9). Besides, though Townson and M'Clellan lay emphasis on this Roman computation of time in Asia Minor, and advance some proof of it, yet some of their authorities are far from proving it. Luthardt says we have no right to suppose that John would deviate from the current Jewish computation. "About the sixth hour" would therefore mean "about noon," the very time when it is so common to rest after a morning journey. Lucke, Meyer, Hengstenberg, Godet, Lange, Schaff, Geikie, Watkins, all press the same interpretation of the words. Lucke justly says that there is no hint of the Lord and his disciples intending to remain by the well, but to pursue their journey after rest and food. This is inconsistent with the idea of an evening halt. John 4:6Well (πηγὴ)

Strictly, spring. The word for cistern or well is φρέαρ, which John uses at John 4:11, John 4:12. Elsewhere in the New Testament always of a pit. See Luke 14:5; Revelation 9:1, Revelation 9:2. There is no mention of Jacob's Well in the Old Testament. The traditional well still remains. "At the mouth of the valley of Schechem two slight breaks are visible in the midst of the vast plain of corn - one a white Mussulman chapel; the other a few fragments of stone. The first of these covers the alleged tomb of Joseph,... the second marks the undisputed site of the well, now neglected and choked up by the ruins which have fallen into it; but still with every claim to be considered the original well" (Stanley, "Sinai and Palestine"). Dr. Thomson says: "I could see nothing like a well - nothing but a low, modern wall, much broken down, and never, apparently, more than ten feet high. The area enclosed by it is fifty-six paces from east to west, and sixty-five from north to south. The surface is covered by a confused mass of shapeless rubbish, overgrown with weeds and nettles.... The well is near the southeastern corner of the area, and, to reach the mouth of it, one must let himself down, with some risk, about ten feet into a low vault" ("Land and Book"). Dr. Thomson also remarks upon the great discrepancy in the measurements of the well by different tourists, owing to the accumulations of stones and debris from the ruins of the buildings which formerly covered it. "All confirm the saying of the Samaritan woman that 'the well is deep.'" Maundrell, in 1697, makes the depth one hundred and five feet, with fifteen feet of water. Mr. Calhoun, in 1838, found nearly the same depth of water. Dr. Wilson, in 1841, found the depth only seventy-five feet, which is confirmed by the later measurements of Captain Anderson in 1866, and of Lieutenant Conder in 1875.

Wearied (κεκοπιακὼς)

See on Luke 5:5.


Just as He was; or, as some explain, being thus wearied.


The imperfect tense; was sitting, when the woman came.

Sixth Hour

According to the Jewish reckoning, mid-day. According to the Roman mode, between 5 and 6 p.m. See on John 1:39. Evening was the usual time for drawing water.

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