And upon this came his disciples
Just as he was saying the above words, and making himself known in this full manner, his disciples, who had been into the city to buy food, came up to them:
and marvelled that he talked with the woman;
or with a woman; for, according to the Jewish canons, it was not judged decent, right, and proper, nor indeed lawful, to enter into a conversation, or hold any long discourse with a woman. Their rule is this,
``do not multiply discourse with a woman, with his wife they say, much less with his neighbour's wife: hence the wise men say, at whatsoever time a man multiplies discourse with a woman, he is the cause of evil to himself, and ceases from the words of the law, and at last shall go down into hell F17.''And especially this was thought to be very unseemly in any public place, as in an inn, or in the street: hence that direction F18,
``let not a man talk with a woman in the streets, even with his wife; and there is no need to say with another man's wife.''And particularly it was thought very unbecoming a religious man, a doctor, or scholar, or a disciple of a wise man so to do. This is one of the six things which are a reproach to a scholar, "to talk with a woman in the street" F19. And it is even said F20,
``let him not talk with a woman in the street, though she is his wife, or his sister, or his daughter.''And besides, the disciples might marvel, not only that he talked with a woman, but that he should talk with that woman, who was a Samaritan; since the Jews had no familiar conversation with Samaritans, men or women: and the woman was as much astonished that Christ should have anything to say to her, and especially to ask a favour of her; for though they might, and did converse in a way of trade and business, yet did they not multiply discourse, or enter into a free conversation with one another: and it may be, that the disciples might overhear what he said to the woman, just as they came up; so that their astonishment was not merely at his talking with a woman, and with a Samaritan woman, but at what he said unto her, that he should so plainly tell her that he was the Messiah, when he so strictly charged them to tell no man.
Yet no man said;
no, not Peter, as Nonnus observes, who was bold and forward to put and ask questions: "what seekest thou?" or inquirest of her about? is it food, or drink, or what? "or why talkest thou with her?" when it is not customary, seemly, and lawful. It may be considered, whether or no these two questions may not relate separately, the one to the woman, the other to Christ; as, the first,
what seekest thou?
to the woman; and the sense be, that no man said to her, what do you want with our master? what are you inquiring about of him? what would you have of him? or what do you seek for from him? and the latter,
why talkest thou with her?
peculiarly to Christ. The Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic versions, and Beza's ancient copy indeed read, "no man said to him"; which confines both the questions to Christ. Now this shows the reverence the disciples had for Christ, and the great opinion they entertained of him, that whatever he did was well, and wisely done, though it might seem strange to them, and they could not account for it: however, they did not think that he, who was their Lord and master, was accountable to them for what he did; and they doubted not but he had good reasons for his conduct.
F17 Pirke Abot, c. 1. sect. 5. Abot R, Nathan, c. 7. fol. 3. 3. & Derech Eretz, fol. 17. 3.
F18 Bemidbar Rabba, sect 10. fol. 200. 2.
F19 T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 43. 2.
F20 Maimon. Hilch. Dayot, c. 5. sect. 7.