The Stranger At The Well Inspired By John 4:3-42 -- By: Kirsten A. Foot

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 12:2 (Spring 1998)
Article: The Stranger At The Well Inspired By John 4:3-42
Author: Kirsten A. Foot

The Stranger At The Well Inspired By John 4:3-42

Kirsten A. Foot

An active member of the Philadelphia CBE Chapter, Kirsten Foot is a Ph.D. candidate in Communications at the University of California, San Diego, and a member of the Development Team of Valley View Community Church. The material in this article was first presented in a sermon.

From Jacob’s well outside of Sychar there is a beautiful view of Mt. Gerizim—the mountain on which God proclaimed a blessing in Deuteronomy 11, and on which my people, the Samaritans, worshipped Jehovah in ages past, and long to do so again. Both Jacob and his father Isaac met their wives at wells, so I’d always known that wells could be a significant meeting place. But I never dreamed that a conversation with a stranger at the well of Jacob would change my life, and the lives of many others in my town.

The history of my people goes back many centuries. We’ve lived here, in the land Jacob gave to his son Joseph, ever since Assyria conquered the northern kingdom of Israel seven hundred years ago and deported most of the Israelite people to Assyria and Mesopotamia. At that time, the Assyrians who had escaped deportation and moved into this land to live among the Israelites wanted to know about the God of the Hebrews. An Israelite priest was returned from exile to teach the newcomers how to worship Jehovah. Over time the remaining Israelites intermarried with the Assyrians, and their descendants became known as Samaritans. Since those days we have come to view ourselves, rather than the Jews who’d remained in the southern kingdom of Judea, as the true preservers of the Torah. For us, passages from the book of Deuteronomy—like the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the promise of a Messiah who would be a prophet like Moses—are central to our faith.

Relations between us Samaritans and the Jews are rather strained, to say the least. About six hundred years ago, we offered to help the Jews rebuild their temple in Jerusalem, and to worship with them. They refused our offer, calling us “half-breeds” and saying that we were “ritually unclean from birth,” and that they would never worship with us. I’m sad to say that there has been recurrent violence and acts of vandalism between our two races ever since. About four hundred years ago we were allowed by the ruler at the time, Alexander the Great, to build our own temple on the peak of Mount Gerizim, and to rebuild the city of Shechem at its base. It was a beautiful temple, and it rivaled Jerusalem as a sanctuary for Jehovah for more than two centuries. Then, about a hundred years ago, a Jewish king who had an especially strong hatred for my people sent Jewish forces to Mount Gerizim. They destroyed both the temple and the cit...

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