Ye worship ye know not what
However, as to her question, he more directly replies by condemning the Samaritans, and their ignorance in worship, and by approving the Jews; and so manifestly gives the preference to the Jews, not only with respect to the place, and object of worship, but with respect to knowledge and salvation. As for the Samaritans, he suggests, that they were ignorant, not only of the true object of worship, but knew not what they themselves worshipped; or, at least, were not agreed in it. The original inhabitants of those parts, from whence these Samaritans sprung, were idolatrous Heathens, placed by the king of Assyria in the room of the ten tribes he carried away captive; and these feared not the Lord, for they "knew not the manner of the God of the land": wherefore lions were sent among them which slew many of them; upon which the king of Assyria ordered a priest to be sent to instruct them: but notwithstanding this, they had everyone gods of their own, some one, and some another; and so served divers graven images, they and their children, and their children's children, to the time of the writer of the Book of Kings; see ( 2 Kings 17:24-41 ) . And though after Manasseh, and other Jews were come among them, and they had received the law of Moses, they might have some knowledge of the true God, yet they glorified him not as God; and though they might in words profess him, yet in works they denied him; and even after this they are very highly charged by the Jews with idolatrous practices on this mount. Sometimes they say F7 the Cuthites, or Samaritans, worshipped fire; and at other times, and which chiefly prevails with them, they assert F8, that their wise men, upon searching, found that they worshipped the image of a dove on Mount Gerizim; and sometimes they say F9, they worshipped the idols, the strange gods, or Teraphim, which Jacob hid under the oak in Sichem; which last, if true, may serve to illustrate these words of Christ, that they worshipped they knew not what, since they worshipped idols hid in the mount.
``R. Ishmael bar Jose, they say F11 went to Neapolis, (Sichem, called Naplous,) the Cuthites, or Samaritans came to him (to persuade him to worship with them in their mountain); he said unto them, I will show you that ye do not "worship at this mountain", but "the images which are hid under it"; for it is written, ( Genesis 35:4 ) ; "and Jacob hid them" under the oak which was by Shechem.''And elsewhere F12 it is reported of the same Rabbi, that he went to Jerusalem to pray, as before related on ( John 4:20 ) , and after what passed between him, and the Samaritan he met with at Mount Gerizim, before mentioned, he added;
``and said to him, I will tell you what ye are like, (ye are like) to a dog that lusts after carrion; so because ye know the idols are hid under it, (the mountain,) as it is written, ( Genesis 35:4 ) and Jacob hid them, therefore ye lust after it: they said--this man knows that idols are hid here, and perhaps he will take them away; and they consulted together to kill him: he arose, and made his escape in the night.''But this was not the case of the Jews:
we know what we worship;
Christ puts himself among them, for he was a Jew, as the woman took him to be; and, as man, was a worshipper of God; he feared, loved, and obeyed God; he trusted in him, and prayed unto him; though, as God, he was the object of worship himself: and the true worshippers among the Jews, of which sort Christ was, knew God, whom they worshipped, spiritually and savingly; and the generality of that people had right notions of the God of Israel, having the oracles, and service of God, and being instructed out of Moses, and the prophets:
for salvation is of the Jews;
the promises of salvation, and of a Saviour, were made to them, when the Gentiles were strangers to them; the means of salvation, and of the knowledge of it, as the word, statutes, and ordinances, were enjoyed by them, when others were ignorant of them; and the Messiah, who is sometimes styled "Salvation", see ( Genesis 49:18 ) ( Psalms 14:7 ) ( Luke 2:30 ) , was not only prophesied of in their books, and promised unto them, but came of them, as well as to them; and the number of the saved ones had been for many hundreds of years, and still was among them; the line of election ran among them, and few among the Gentiles were called and saved, as yet.
F7 T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 5. 2.
F8 Maimon. in Misn. Beracot, c. 8. sect. 8. & Bartenora in ib. c. 7. sect. 1. & in Nidda, c. 4. sect. 1.
F9 Shalshelet Hakkabala, fol. 15. 2.
F11 T. Hieros. Avoda Zara, fol. 44. 4.
F12 Bereshit Rabba, sect. 81. fol. 71. 1.