John 4:9
Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
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(9) Woman of Samaria (twice).—Better, Samaritan woman. In both cases the Greek has the adjective. It is the religious and national position as a Samaritan which is prominent in this verse.

Being a Jew.—This she would know from dress and language. It has been noted that the Hebrew for “Give me to drink,” “Teni lishekoth,” contains the letter Sin, or Shin, which was one of the distinctive points in the Ephraimite pronunciation. They did not say Shibboleth, but Sibboleth (Judges 12:5-6). They would not say “Teni lishekoth,” but “Teni lisekoth.”

For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.—The original has not the articles, For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. This is a remark made by the writer to explain the point of the woman’s question. She wondered that a Jew, weary and thirsty though he might be, should speak to her. For the origin of the Samaritans, see 2Kings 17:24-41, and Note on Luke 9:52. The later Jewish authors abound in terms of reproach for them—e.g., “He who eats the bread of a Samaritan is as he who eats swine’s flesh;” “No Samaritan shall be made a proselyte;” “They have no share in the resurrection of the dead” (Pirke, Rabbi Elieser, 38; comp. Farrar, Life of Christ, i. 209, note). Jesus Himself speaks of a Samaritan as an alien (Luke 17:16; Luke 17:18; comp. Luke 10:33), and is called a Samaritan and possessed of a devil (comp. John 8:48). But the strictest Jews allowed exceptions to the forbidden intercourse. If bread was interdicted, fruit and vegetables were not; if boiled eggs were forbidden, fresh ones were not. At no time probably did the Galileans follow the practice of the Judæans in this matter, and hence they go to the city to buy food, while the woman asks this question of a Jew whom she met on the road from Jerusalem. Later, it was only “because His face was as though He would go to Jerusalem “that the Samaritan village did not receive Him; and it is the Evangelist of the Jerusalem ministry, who would have called down fire from heaven then, who adds this note of explanation for his Greek readers now (Luke 9:52-53).

John 4:9. Then saith the woman, How is it that thou, being a Jew — As it appears by thy habit and dialect thou art; askest drink of me, &c., for the Jews have no dealings — Or rather, no friendly intercourse; with the Samaritans — They would receive no kind of favour from them. That the expression, no dealings, as Dr. Campbell justly observes, “implies too much to suit the sense of this passage, is manifest from the preceding verse, where we are told, that the disciples were gone into the Samaritan city Sychar to buy food. The verb συγχραομαι, is one of those called απαξ λεγομενα, once used: it does not occur in any other place of the New Testament, or in the Septuagint. The Pharisees were in their traditions nice distinguishers. Buying and selling with the Samaritans were permitted, because that was considered as an intercourse merely of interest or convenience; borrowing and lending, much more asking or accepting any favour, was prohibited; because that was regarded as an intercourse of friendship, which they thought it impious to maintain with those whom they looked upon as the enemies of God.”

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.No dealings with the Samaritans - For an account of the Samaritans, and of the differences between them and the Jews, see the notes at Matthew 10:5. 9-12. How is it that thou—not altogether refusing, yet wondering at so unusual a request from a Jew, as His dress and dialect would at once discover Him to be, to a Samaritan.

for, &c.—It is this national antipathy that gives point to the parable of the good Samaritan (Lu 10:30-37), and the thankfulness of the Samaritan leper (Lu 17:16, 18).

There was a great estrangement of the Jews from the Samaritans, the Samaritans having a peculiar temple built upon Mount Gerizim, in opposition to that at Jerusalem. It is said that the Jews did buy of and sell to the Samaritans, but were restrained by an order of the sanhedrim from using any familiarity with them, or borrowing or receiving any thing as a gift from them; which was the cause of this reply of the woman of Samaria, knowing our Saviour, either by his habit or by his dialect, to be a Jew: this is thought to be the sense of sugcrwntai in this text, though it hath a larger significance, extending to all kinds of commerce.

Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him,.... In a scoffing, jeering way,

how is it, that thou being a Jew; which she might know, by his language and his dress:

askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? not that the waters of Samaria were unlawful for a Jew to drink of; for as

"the land of the Cuthites (or Samaritans), was pure, or clean, so, "their collections of water", and their habitations, and their ways were clean (m),''

and might be used; but because the Jews used no familiarity with the Samaritans, nor would they receive any courtesy or kindness from them, as follows:

for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans: some take these to be the words of the evangelist, commenting upon, and explaining the words of the woman; but they seem rather to be her own words, giving a reason why she returned such an answer; and which must be understood, not in the strictest sense, as if they had no dealings at all with them: indeed in some things they had no dealings with them, and at some certain times; hence that discourse of the Samaritans with a Jewish Rabbi (n).

"The Cuthites (or Samaritans) inquired of R. Abhu, your fathers, , "used to deal with us" (or minister to us, or supply us with necessaries), wherefore do not ye deal with us? (or take a supply from us;) he replied unto them, your fathers did not corrupt their works, you have corrupted your works.''

They might not use their wine and vinegar, nor admit them to their tables; they say of a man (o),

"because the Cuthites (or Samaritans) ate at his table, it was the reason why his children went into captivity--and further add, that whoever invites a Cuthite (or Samaritan) into his house, and ministers to him, is the cause of captivity to his children.''

And they forbid a man to enter into partnership with a Cuthite (or Samaritan (p)): and particularly,

"three days before the feasts of idolaters (for such they reckoned the Samaritans, as well as others), it is forbidden to have any commerce with them, to borrow of them, or lend to them (q) &c.''

But then at other times, and in other respects, they had dealings with them; they might go into their cities and buy food of them, as the disciples did, John 4:8; they might send their wheat to a Samaritan miller, to be ground (r); and as it appears from the above citations, their houses and habitations were clean, and might be lodged in, with which compare Luke 9:52; the poor of the Samaritans were maintained with the poor of Israel (s); wherefore the sense is, as Dr. Lightfoot observes, that the Jews refused to receive the least favour or kindness at the hand of a Samaritan; and therefore the woman might justly wonder, that Christ should ask so small a favour of her, as a little water. The reason of this distance and aversion, was religion; and so the Ethiopic version, rather paraphrasing than translating, renders the words, "the Jews do not agree in religion, nor do they communicate with the Samaritans, nor mix together": and this was of long standing, and had been occasioned and increased by various incidents; for when the ten tribes revolted in Jeroboam's time, the calves were set up in Dan and Bethel, in order to draw off the people from worship at Jerusalem, which gave great umbrage to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin; and when the ten tribes were carried away captive by the king of Assyria, he planted the cities of Samaria with colonies in their room, consisting of Heathenish and idolatrous persons, brought from Babylon, and other places; to whom he sent a priest, to instruct them in the manner of the God of the land; but with these instructions, they still retained their idols, and their idolatrous practices; see 2 Kings 17:24, which must render them odious to the Jews: and these were the principal adversaries of the Jews, after their return from captivity; and discouraged them, and weakened their hands, in the building of the second temple: but what latest, and most of all had fixed this aversion and enmity, was this; Manasseh, brother to Jaddua the high priest, having married Sanballat's daughter, governor of Samaria, was for it removed from the priesthood; who applying to his father-in-law, he proposed building for him a temple on Mount Gerizim, and making him an high priest; for which he obtained leave of Alexander the Great, and accordingly built one, and made his son-in-law high priest; which drew a great many profligate Jews over to him, who mixing with the Samaritans, set up a worship, religion, and priesthood, in distinction from the Jews; and this was ever after a matter of contention and quarrel between these people, and the reason why they would have no dealings with them.

(m) T. Hieros. Avoda Zara, fol. 44. 4. (n) Ib. (o) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 104. 1.((p) T. Bab. Becorot, fol. 7. 2. Piske Toseph. ib. art. 4. & in Megilla, art 102. (q) Misna Avoda Zara, c. 1. sect. 1.((r) Misua Demai, c. 3. sect. 4. (s) Piske Tosephot Yoma, art. 63.

Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews {c} have no dealings with the Samaritans.

(c) There is no familiarity nor friendship between the Jews and the Samaritans.

John 4:9. πῶς σὺ Ἰουδαῖος ὢν. How did she know He was a Jew? Probably there were slight differences in dress, feature and accent. Edersheim says “the fringes on the Tallith of the Samaritans are blue, while those worn by the Jews are white”. He also exposes the mistake of some commentators regarding the words uttered by Jesus: “Teni li lishtoth”. The reason of the woman’s surprise is given by the Evangelist in the words οὐ γὰρ συγχρῶνται Ἰουδαίοι Σαμαρείταις. “For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” Συγχρᾶσθαι literally signifies “to use together with,” so that the sense here might be that the woman was surprised that Jesus should use the same vessel she used; rather it has the secondary meaning “to have intercourse” or “dealings with”; similarly to the Latin utor, see Hor., Ep., i. xii. 22, “utere Pompeio Grospho,” and xvii. 13, “regibus uti,” to make a friend of, or “be on terms of intimacy with”. The classical phrase is οἶσιν οὐκ ἐπιστροφαί, Eurip., Helena, 440. The later tradition said: “Samaritanis panem comedere aut vinum bibere prohibitum est”. Of course the hostile feeling ran back to the days of Nehemiah. And see Sir 50:25-26. “With two nations is my soul vexed, and the third is no nation: they that sit upon Mount Seir and the Philistines, and that foolish people that dwelleth in Sichem.” For the origin of the Samaritans see 2 Kings 17, and cf. Farrar’s Life of Christ in loc. Tristram, Land of Israel, 134.

9. woman of Samaria] In both places in this verse we should rather have Samaritan woman: the Greek is not the same as in John 4:7. The adjective lays stress on the national and religious characteristics. For ‘then’ read therefore, as in John 4:5.

How is it] Feminine pertness. She is half-amused and half-triumphant.

being a Jew] She knew Him to be such by His dress and by His language.

for the Jews, &c.] Omit the articles; for Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. This is a remark, not of the woman, but of S. John, to explain the woman’s question. As He was on his way from Jerusalem she probably thought He was a Judaean. The Galileans seem to have been less strict; and hence His disciples went to buy food of Samaritans. Some important authorities omit the remark.

John 4:9. Πῶς, how is it) Her manifest simplicity shines forth from the very first words of the Samaritan woman.—Ἰουδαῖος, a Jew) From His dress or His dialect she inferred that He was a Jew.—οὐ γάρ, for not) A parenthesis of the Evangelist, expressing the cause why it seemed strange to the Samaritan woman. The Rabbinical maxim accords with this: To eat the bread of a Samaritan man, and to drink his wine, is unlawful.—συγχρῶνται, use together [have friendly dealings with]) What is denied is, not all intercourse between the Jews and Samaritans (comp. the previous verse; “His disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat”), but intimacy.

Verse 9. - The Samaritan woman therefore saith to him, How is it (compare this "how" with that of Nicodemus. Jesus had at once provoked inquiry, which he was not unwilling to gratify) - How is it that thou, being a Jew? She would have known that he was a Jew by his speech, for the Samaritans were accustomed to turn the sound of sh into that of s; and so, when Jesus said in Jewish Aramaic, Teni lishekoth, "Give me to drink," while she would herself have said, Teni lise-koth, his speech would betray him. Again, the contour of the Jewish face differs greatly from that of the Samaritan, and the customary fringes on their robes were of different national colours. Moreover, his appearance, travel stained, weary, and thirsty, on the great highway between Galilee and Judaea, would have suggested at once that he was no Samaritan. Askest drink from me, who am a Samaritan, and a woman, too? Already this was a startling puzzle, for her experience so far had only shown her that Jews have no dealings (a word only once and here used in the New Testament) with Samaritans. Most commentators suppose that this is an explanatory remark of the evangelist, pointing to the absence, in a hostile and haughty spirit, of all pleasant relations between the peoples (see note at commencement of chapter). We are not compelled to this conclusion. The words may just as likely have been the pert, half-ironical tone of the woman, who was drawing a contrast between the current profession of Israelites and the request which the need of Jesus had extorted (Moulton). The eighth verse had just said that the disciples had clearly some dealings with Samaritans, and had gone to purchase food at Sychar, taking with them the apparatus used for drawing water. This last fact is the evangelist's reason for introducing the remark of the woman. He would hardly have made it himself. John 4:9The woman of Samaria (ἡ γυνὴ ἡ Σαμαρεῖτις)

Differently expressed from the same phrase in the preceding verse. Literally, the woman the Samaritan. Here the distinctive character of the woman, as indicated by the race, is emphasized.

Askest (αἰτεῖς)

See on Matthew 15:23.

Have no dealings (οὐ συγχρῶνται)

Have no familiar or friendly intercourse with. That they had dealings of some kind is shown by the disciples going into the city to buy provisions. Some authorities omit for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. The Jews treated the Samaritans with every mark of contempt, and accused them of falsehood, folly, and irreligion. The Samaritans sold Jews into slavery when they had them in their power, lighted spurious signals for the beacon-fires kindled to announce the beginnings of months, and waylaid and killed pilgrims on their road to Jerusalem.

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