John 4:9

9 "How is it that You, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" she asked Him. For Jews do not associate with[a] Samaritans.[b]

John 4:9 Meaning and Commentary

John 4:9

Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him
In a scoffing, jeering way,

how is it, that thou being a Jew;
which she might know, by his language and his dress:

askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?
not that the waters of Samaria were unlawful for a Jew to drink of; for as

``the land of the Cuthites (or Samaritans), was pure, or clean, so, (hytwqm) , "their collections of water", and their habitations, and their ways were clean F13,''

and might be used; but because the Jews used no familiarity with the Samaritans, nor would they receive any courtesy or kindness from them, as follows:

for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans:
some take these to be the words of the evangelist, commenting upon, and explaining the words of the woman; but they seem rather to be her own words, giving a reason why she returned such an answer; and which must be understood, not in the strictest sense, as if they had no dealings at all with them: indeed in some things they had no dealings with them, and at some certain times; hence that discourse of the Samaritans with a Jewish Rabbi F14.

``The Cuthites (or Samaritans) inquired of R. Abhu, your fathers, (Nyqptom wyh) , "used to deal with us" (or minister to us, or supply us with necessaries), wherefore do not ye deal with us? (or take a supply from us;) he replied unto them, your fathers did not corrupt their works, you have corrupted your works.''

They might not use their wine and vinegar, nor admit them to their tables; they say of a man F15,

``because the Cuthites (or Samaritans) ate at his table, it was the reason why his children went into captivity--and further add, that whoever invites a Cuthite (or Samaritan) into his house, and ministers to him, is the cause of captivity to his children.''

And they forbid a man to enter into partnership with a Cuthite (or Samaritan F16): and particularly,

``three days before the feasts of idolaters (for such they reckoned the Samaritans, as well as others), it is forbidden to have any commerce with them, to borrow of them, or lend to them F17 &c.''

But then at other times, and in other respects, they had dealings with them; they might go into their cities and buy food of them, as the disciples did, ( John 4:8 ) ; they might send their wheat to a Samaritan miller, to be ground F18; and as it appears from the above citations, their houses and habitations were clean, and might be lodged in, with which compare ( Luke 9:52 ) ; the poor of the Samaritans were maintained with the poor of Israel F19; wherefore the sense is, as Dr. Lightfoot observes, that the Jews refused to receive the least favour or kindness at the hand of a Samaritan; and therefore the woman might justly wonder, that Christ should ask so small a favour of her, as a little water. The reason of this distance and aversion, was religion; and so the Ethiopic version, rather paraphrasing than translating, renders the words, "the Jews do not agree in religion, nor do they communicate with the Samaritans, nor mix together": and this was of long standing, and had been occasioned and increased by various incidents; for when the ten tribes revolted in Jeroboam's time, the calves were set up in Dan and Bethel, in order to draw off the people from worship at Jerusalem, which gave great umbrage to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin; and when the ten tribes were carried away captive by the king of Assyria, he planted the cities of Samaria with colonies in their room, consisting of Heathenish and idolatrous persons, brought from Babylon, and other places; to whom he sent a priest, to instruct them in the manner of the God of the land; but with these instructions, they still retained their idols, and their idolatrous practices; see ( 2 Kings 17:24-41 ) , which must render them odious to the Jews: and these were the principal adversaries of the Jews, after their return from captivity; and discouraged them, and weakened their hands, in the building of the second temple: but what latest, and most of all had fixed this aversion and enmity, was this; Manasseh, brother to Jaddua the high priest, having married Sanballat's daughter, governor of Samaria, was for it removed from the priesthood; who applying to his father-in-law, he proposed building for him a temple on Mount Gerizim, and making him an high priest; for which he obtained leave of Alexander the Great, and accordingly built one, and made his son-in-law high priest; which drew a great many profligate Jews over to him, who mixing with the Samaritans, set up a worship, religion, and priesthood, in distinction from the Jews; and this was ever after a matter of contention and quarrel between these people, and the reason why they would have no dealings with them.


F13 T. Hieros. Avoda Zara, fol. 44. 4.
F14 Ib.
F15 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 104. 1.
F16 T. Bab. Becorot, fol. 7. 2. Piske Toseph. ib. art. 4. & in Megilla, art 102.
F17 Misna Avoda Zara, c. 1. sect. 1.
F18 Misua Demai, c. 3. sect. 4.
F19 Piske Tosephot Yoma, art. 63.

John 4:9 In-Context

7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. "Give Me a drink," Jesus said to her,
8 for His disciples had gone into town to buy food.
9 "How is it that You, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" she asked Him. For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered, "If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would ask Him, and He would give you living water."
11 "Sir," said the woman, "You don't even have a bucket, and the well is deep. So where do you get this 'living water'?

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Or do not share vessels with
  • [b]. Other mss omit For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.
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