By Christine Thackeray
Our quarterly Enrichment Meeting is tomorrow. I've been preparing a program about the women in the scriptures who are unnamed and how they still had a great impact despite their anonymity. While I researching this, the woman at the well in Samaria had me shocked. She was not what I thought AT ALL.
I had judged her because I always remembered the five husband thing. When Christ said that if she had asked him, she would have gotten living water, I thought she never did. I assumed that she probably wasn't worthy of it, but I totally missed the point of the whole story.
Two little facts I wasn't aware of. The word "Samaritan" means "keeper of the truth." The Samaritans believed that the original temple site was on Mount Gerizim and that the temple mount in Jerusalem was the wrong place. They held to what they believed to be true. They were also primarily descendants of Ephriam and Mennasah. The reason the Jews hated them is that they didn't accept their authority or their temple and Judea even went so far as to destroy the Samaritan temple during the Hasmonean reign. Still, the Samaritans continued to worship there without walls.
Anyway, I wrote a little vinnette about this amazing woman:
The Woman at Jacob's Well-
We all have our secrets. No one needs to know my past, and no one in Sychar did. I recently moved there with a good man, the first good man I’ve ever been with. I would have married him, but my last husband left town without divorcing me. He may be dead, but it seemed a greater sin to be married to two men officially than to simply live with one until I found out for sure.
Still, to keep this secret has cost me dearly. From the first day here I’ve been careful not to let the women too close. When my neighbor welcomed me with a loaf of bread, I returned it, explaining that we could not accept such kindness. The scowl on her face gave me assurance that she would stay away. It wasn’t that I wouldn’t love to be her friend, but women ask too many questions. If I had let her near, one day I would slip and once she knew the terrible things I’d done and the horrible men I’ve been with, she could never look at me the same way again. No, it was better for everyone if I simply pushed the women away.
On the bright side, men don’t ask questions, especially of a married woman. So I made friends with the men that hovered around the livery where my supposed husband worked. We laughed together and often discussed politics and religion which were so interconnected that they were almost the same conversation.
Business was doing well, and I looked forward to the day when I could hire a servant to fetch water for us. Until that day, I was careful not to approach the well at the common times. During the first hours of the morning the women of the village gathered in droves as much for water as for gossip and conversation. As soon as the sun had risen, they’d hurry to socialize, some for hours. It wasn’t until mid-day that they had gone. That is when I’d leave with my vessel, before they all started to return in the evening to ask more probing questions or glare in disapproval.
As I approached Jacob’s well this one day, a Jewish man sat on its edge and asked me for water. I was shocked he would even talk to me. Jews hated the Samaritans because we claim the real priesthood and the real temple site. I asked him why he spoke to me, and he answered that if I had asked of him, he would give me living water. At that point I simply laughed at him, because he had nothing to fetch with. Then he explained about the power of the water he spoke of, and I realized it was symbolic. Perhaps this water could heal my past and wash it away. I felt something I hadn’t before and knew that this water was something I needed. I asked, “Give me of this water that I may thirst not.”
His answer made me wilt. “Call thy husband and come hither.”
I bit my lip, unsure of how to answer. “I don’t have a husband.” I finally said.
Instead of the words bringing derision, a look of joy sprang to his face and he commended me for my honesty and spoke of my past in detail, something no one else knew. But his words didn’t make me feel dirty like when others had voiced it. I knew he loved me and that he must be a prophet. Excited at this discovery, I asked him the doctrinal question that had been plaguing me about the original temple site. He asked how I hoped to receive an answer, and I told him eventually the Savior would come and tell us. As the words hit my lips, I knew. He was the Messiah. This was the one for whom we waited.
I dropped my vessel and ran to town, shouting “He is here. The Messiah has come.” Many of the women shunned my words, but the men I had spoken with at the livery and my own sweet companion believed me. We ran back to the well, where he sat waiting for us and taught us marvelous things. Then we invited him to Samaria and he stayed for two full days. Many believed and during that time he truly filled me with the living water as he had promised. I’ve never thirsted more.