The woman at the well. An encounter that begins many generations earlier. It is the account of a woman who had had many husbands. The one she currently was with, was not her husband. This account, no doubt, is real. And as all things scripture, it is not superficial. It is also spiritual. Spiritual truth is timeless.
Through five husbands, and a current non husband, one thing in the woman’s life was consistent. She came periodically with a vessel, to an ancient well with an history. She returned to where she dwelt, the water was spent, and the cycle continued. Five husbands had not bettered her existence, nor her current situation.
One day she went again to draw. There she met a man who promised her living waters. Waters that spring up in your inner being that are always ready to quench the thirst of the inner man. It was the expectation of the people she was from, that Messiah, when he came, would know all things. Knowing this before, Jesus told her of her personal history. Knowing that she regarded the well as an ancient gift from their father Jacob, Jesus met her at that place and spoke with her of superior water. The water that he offered was living. It was fresh and new. It was not the stagnant, non vital water of the history of one’s natural origin and tradition. It was not the laborious water of preserved religious custom.
She questioned Jesus concerning his offer of living water and the claim that she would not need to return repeatedly to draw from the old handed down well. She asked him, “are you greater that our father Jacob, who himself drank from this well, and his cattle?”. She pointed out that the well was deep, and he had nothing, no vessel with which to draw. (She did have a vessel, and hadn’t he, after all, just asked her for water?).
She further said to Jesus, “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, but “ye” say Jerusalem is the place where men aught to worship. She had already been astonished that he had spoken to her at all, because, a Jew would not ask someone of Samaria, never mind a woman, for anything, nor have any dealings with them. Jesus said to her, the hour comes and now is, when true worshipers would neither worship according to the customs of the scattered tribes, nor of Judah and the system at Jerusalem, but rather, in spirit and in truth. Because, said Christ, God is a spirit. And they that worship Him, must worship in spirit and in truth.
Reading the account, knowing the situation and the history between the scattered tribes and Judah, Jerusalem and the temple, helps you see the astonishing aspects of her experience. It was as ground breaking to her, as Nathaniel’s experience under the Fig tree had been. So great was the experience that she had asked Jesus, “give me this water so that I don’t thirst anymore, nor need to come here again and draw water”. In any event, a beautiful and telling aspect of the experience was, that she took off to tell her people about Messiah, and completely forgot about the vessel she used to draw with, leaving it at the well.
Jacob’s well. Was that hole in the ground indeed Jacob’s well?
Jacob experienced the loss of a son. He spent many years of his life convinced that his son, Joseph, had been torn to pieces by some wild animal. This lie was perpetrated by his remaining sons to cover the fact that they, short of killing Joseph themselves, had sold Joseph into slavery. The thing that had driven these sons to do this, was a failure to comprehend the dreams which Joseph had received from God, and told his household. For in his dreams, Joseph saw the 11 sheaves of his natural brothers, bow down to his sheaf, which arose and stood up. His brothers took this to mean that Joseph believed he would prevail over his brothers and rule over them. So they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him. Again Joseph told a dream, where the eleven stars, the sun and the moon bowed to him. Jacob rebuked Joseph. It wasn’t enough that he, in his dreams, prevailed over his brothers, but now over his father and mother? Preposterous. His brothers envied him all the more, but Jacob hid the things in his heart.
The meaning of Joseph’s dreams is comprehensible when you understand that when Joseph was cast into a pit to die by his jealous brothers, he was raised up out of the pit, tried and tested by his dreams, until they were naturally fulfilled in him. (see Psalm 105). This was an allegory of what would follow. One would rise from the dead and His Word would be the words of His Father. His word would be superior to the house he rose out of, eclipsed by the house he was raised into:
[Rom 1:3-4 KJV]
Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared [to be] the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead…
[Psa 2:7 KJV]
I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou [art] my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
Joseph in his dreams was not declaring his own supremacy, but that of one who would come after, whom God would raise from the dead, and promote to be Lord of all things. Not merely the natural people he sprang out of…but ALL things. Joseph declared Christ.
Jacob, having hidden these things in his heart, came to excellent understanding. In his last days a natural man, Jacob spoke prophetically concerning Joseph, and who Joseph had come to symbolize:
[Gen 49:22-26 KJV]
Joseph [is] a fruitful bough, [even] a fruitful bough by a well; [whose] branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot [at him], and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty [God] of Jacob; (from thence [is] the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) [Even] by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.
Christ is the well that Jacob speaks of here. The living well, the vine, whose branches could not be contained, no not even within his natural house. Jacob said of him, that the blessings of HIS father exceeded those of Jacob’s.
What happened generations later at that hole in the ground, was the revelation that Christ, the man who spoke with the woman, was indeed Jacob’s well. He stands ready to give to whosoever will receive it, to drink of the waters of life freely, without any regard for that individuals natural origins, all the way back to Eve.