John 4:8

8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)

John 4:8 Meaning and Commentary

John 4:8

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.


FOOTNOTES:

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.

John 4:8 In-Context

6 Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."
8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?" (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water."