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John 4:5

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

A city - called Sychar - This city was anciently called Shechem. It seems to have been situated at the foot of Mount Gerizim, in the province of Samaria, on which the temple of the Samaritans was built. After the ruin of Samaria by Salmanezer, Sychar, or Shechem, became the capital of the Samaritans; and it continued so, according to Josephus, Ant. l. xi. c. 8, in the time of Alexander the Great. It was about ten miles from Shiloh, forty from Jerusalem, and fifty-two from Jericho. It probably got the name of Sychar, which signifies drunken, from the drunkenness of its inhabitants. With this crime the Prophet Isaiah ( Isaiah 28:1, Isaiah 28:3, Isaiah 28:7, Isaiah 28:8;) solemnly charges the Ephraimites, within whose limits the city stood. This place is remarkable in the Scriptures:

  1. As being that where Abram first stopped on his coming from Haran to Canaan.
  • Where God first appeared to that patriarch, and promised to give the land to his seed.
  • The place where Abram first built an altar to the Lord, and called upon his name, Genesis 12:7.
  • The present name of this city is Neapolis, or Naplouse. See Calmet.

    That Jacob gave to his son Joseph - Jacob had bought this field from the children of Hamor, the father of Shechem, for a hundred pieces of silver, or lambs, Genesis 33:19; and in it he built an altar, which he dedicated to El Elohey Yishrael, the strong God, the covenant God of Israel, Genesis 33:20. This, Jacob left as a private or overplus inheritance to Joseph and his children. See Genesis 48:21, Genesis 48:22, and Joshua 24:32.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    Sychar - This city stood about eight miles southeast of the city called Samaria, between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. It was one of the oldest cities of Palestine, and was formerly known by the name of “Shechem,” or Sichem, Genesis 33:18; Genesis 12:6. The city was in the tribe of Ephraim, Joshua 21:21. It was at this place that Joshua assembled the people before his death, and here they renewed their covenant with the Lord, Judges 9:46. It was destroyed by Abimelech, who beat down the city and sowed it with salt, Judges 9:45. It was afterward rebuilt, and became the residence of Jeroboam, the King of Israel, 1 Kings 12:25. It was called by the Romans “Flavia Neapolis,” and this has been corrupted by the Arabs into “Nablus,” its present name. It is still a considerable place, and its site is remarkably pleasant and productive.

    The parcel of ground - The piece of ground; or the land, etc.

    That Jacob gave … - Jacob bought one piece of ground near to Shalem, a city of Shechem, of the children of Hamor, the father of Shechem, for an hundred pieces of silver, Genesis 33:19. In this place the bones of Joseph were buried when they were brought up from Egypt, Joshua 24:32. He also gave to Joseph an additional piece of ground which he took from the hand of the Amorite by his own valor, “with his sword and his bow,” as a portion above that which was given to his brethren, Genesis 48:22. Possibly these pieces of ground lay near together, and were a part of the homestead of Jacob. The well was near to this. There is now, E. Smith mentioned to me in conversation, a place near this well called Shalem.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    There was great hatred between the Samaritans and the Jews. Christ's road from Judea to Galilee lay through Samaria. We should not go into places of temptation but when we needs must; and then must not dwell in them, but hasten through them. We have here our Lord Jesus under the common fatigue of travellers. Thus we see that he was truly a man. Toil came in with sin; therefore Christ, having made himself a curse for us, submitted to it. Also, he was a poor man, and went all his journeys on foot. Being wearied, he sat thus on the well; he had no couch to rest upon. He sat thus, as people wearied with travelling sit. Surely, we ought readily to submit to be like the Son of God in such things as these. Christ asked a woman for water. She was surprised because he did not show the anger of his own nation against the Samaritans. Moderate men of all sides are men wondered at. Christ took the occasion to teach her Divine things: he converted this woman, by showing her ignorance and sinfulness, and her need of a Saviour. By this living water is meant the Spirit. Under this comparison the blessing of the Messiah had been promised in the Old Testament. The graces of the Spirit, and his comforts, satisfy the thirsting soul, that knows its own nature and necessity. What Jesus spake figuratively, she took literally. Christ shows that the water of Jacob's well yielded a very short satisfaction. Of whatever waters of comfort we drink, we shall thirst again. But whoever partakes of the Spirit of grace, and the comforts of the gospel, shall never want that which will abundantly satisfy his soul. Carnal hearts look no higher than carnal ends. Give it me, saith she, not that I may have everlasting life, which Christ proposed, but that I come not hither to draw. The carnal mind is very ingenious in shifting off convictions, and keeping them from fastening. But how closely our Lord Jesus brings home the conviction to her conscience! He severely reproved her present state of life. The woman acknowledged Christ to be a prophet. The power of his word in searching the heart, and convincing the conscience of secret things, is a proof of Divine authority. It should cool our contests, to think that the things we are striving about are passing away. The object of worship will continue still the same, God, as a Father; but an end shall be put to all differences about the place of worship. Reason teaches us to consult decency and convenience in the places of our worship; but religion gives no preference to one place above another, in respect of holiness and approval with God. The Jews were certainly in the right. Those who by the Scriptures have obtained some knowledge of God, know whom they worship. The word of salvation was of the Jews. It came to other nations through them. Christ justly preferred the Jewish worship before the Samaritan, yet here he speaks of the former as soon to be done away. God was about to be revealed as the Father of all believers in every nation. The spirit or the soul of man, as influenced by the Holy Spirit, must worship God, and have communion with him. Spiritual affections, as shown in fervent prayers, supplications, and thanksgivings, form the worship of an upright heart, in which God delights and is glorified. The woman was disposed to leave the matter undecided, till the coming of the Messiah. But Christ told her, I that speak to thee, am He. She was an alien and a hostile Samaritan, merely speaking to her was thought to disgrace our Lord Jesus. Yet to this woman did our Lord reveal himself more fully than as yet he had done to any of his disciples. No past sins can bar our acceptance with him, if we humble ourselves before him, believing in him as the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
    Ellen G. White
    The Desire of Ages, 183-95

    This chapter is based on John 4:1-42.

    On the way to Galilee Jesus passed through Samaria. It was noon when He reached the beautiful Vale of Shechem. At the opening of this valley was Jacob's well. Wearied with His journey, He sat down here to rest while His disciples went to buy food. DA 183.1

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    Ellen G. White
    Gospel Workers 1915, 194-5

    Those who have been most successful in soul-winning were men and women who did not pride themselves on their ability, but who in humility and faith sought to help those about them. Jesus did this very work. He came close to those whom He desired to reach. How often, with a few gathered about Him, He gave His lessons, and one by one the passers-by paused to listen, until a great multitude heard with wonder and awe the words of the heaven-sent Teacher. GW 194.1

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    Ellen G. White
    Education, 231

    The power to discriminate between right and wrong we can possess only through individual dependence upon God. Each for himself is to learn from Him through His word. Our reasoning powers were given us for use, and God desires them to be exercised. “Come now, and let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18), He invites us. In reliance upon Him we may have wisdom to “refuse the evil, and choose the good.” Isaiah 7:15; James 1:5. Ed 231.1

    In all true teaching the personal element is essential. Christ in His teaching dealt with men individually. It was by personal contact and association that He trained the Twelve. It was in private, often to but one listener, that He gave His most precious instruction. To the honored rabbi at the night conference on the Mount of Olives, to the despised woman at the well of Sychar, He opened His richest treasures; for in these hearers He discerned the impressible heart, the open mind, the receptive spirit. Even the crowd that so often thronged His steps was not to Christ an indiscriminate mass of human beings. He spoke directly to every mind and appealed to every heart. He watched the faces of His hearers, marked the lighting up of the countenance, the quick, responsive glance, which told that truth had reached the soul; and there vibrated in His heart the answering chord of sympathetic joy. Ed 231.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Evangelism, 266-8

    The Quest for Pleasure—Multitudes are vainly seeking happiness in worldly amusements. They crave something which they do not have. They are spending their money for that which is not bread, and their labor for that which satisfieth not. The hungering, thirsting soul will continue to hunger and thirst as long as it partakes of these unsatisfying pleasures. O that every such one would listen to the voice of Jesus, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.” Those who drink of the living water will thirst no more for frivolous, exciting amusements. Christ, the wellspring of life, is the fountain of peace and happiness. Ev 266.1

    God bestows various talents and gifts upon men, not that they may lie useless, nor that they may be employed in amusements or selfish gratification, but that they may be a blessing to others by enabling men to do earnest, self-sacrificing missionary work.—The Youth's Instructor, November 6, 1902. Ev 266.2

    Shows and Theaters—Satan's ruling passion is to pervert the intellect and cause men to long for shows and theatrical performances. The experience and character of all who engage in this work will be in accordance with the food given to the mind. Ev 266.3

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    Cross References
    Jesus' Ministry according to John
    Jesus' Journeys from Galilee to Judea