For his disciples were gone away
This is related, not so much to give a reason why Christ asked the woman for water, because his disciples were not present, to minister to him; but rather to show, that Christ took the opportunity, in their absence, to converse with her; partly to avoid the scandal and offence they might take, at his conversation with her, being a Samaritan; as it appears to have been astonishing to them, when they found him talking with her, ( John 4:27 ) . And partly, that he might not put the woman to shame and blushing before them all; he chooses to tell her of the sins of her former life, in a private way. The disciples were gone
unto the city:
to the city Sychar, which was hard by; and their business there, was
to buy meat:
for though it is said, in the following verse, that the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans; yet this is not to be understood in the strictest sense; for they had dealings with them in some respects, as will be seen hereafter; particularly their food, eatables, and drinkables, were lawful to be bought of them, and used: it is said by R. Juda bar Pazi, in the name of R. Ame F7,
``a roasted egg of the Cuthites (or Samaritans), lo, this is lawful: says R. Jacob bar Acha, in the name of R. Lazar, the boiled victuals of the Cuthites (Samaritans), lo, these are free; this he says concerning boiled food, because it is not their custom to put wine and vinegar into it,''for these were forbidden: hence it is often said F8, that
``the unleavened bread of the Cuthites (or Samaritans), is lawful, and that a man is allowed the use of it at the passover.''And there was a time when their wine was lawful; for one of their canons runs thus F9;
``he that buys wine of the Cuthites (Samaritans), says, the two logs that I shall separate, lo, they are first fruits, &c.''It is indeed said in one place, R. Eliezer F11
``that, he that eats the bread of the Cuthites (or Samaritans), is as if he eat flesh; to when (who reported this) says (R. Akiba) be silent, I will not tell you what R. Eliezer thinks concerning it.''Upon which the commentators serve F12, that this is not to be understood strictly; cause he that eats bread of the Samaritans, does deserve stripes according to the law, but according to the constitutions of the wise men; but these, Christ and his disciples had no regard to.
F7 T. Hieros. Avoda Zara, fol. 44. 4.
F8 T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 10. 1. & Cholin, fol. 4. 1. & Kiddushin, fol. 76. 1.
F9 Misn. Demai, c. 7. sect. 4. Vid. Bartenora in ib.
F11 Misna Sheviith, c. 8. sect. 10. Pirke Eliezer, c. 38.
F12 Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. ib.