Summary: The woman at the well tells her story
What a day it was! I’ve certainly seen all aspects of life in my time, but I had never experienced anything like this!
It all started out as just an ordinary day. It was as hot as ever. I was thirsty all morning. I was longing to go out to the well to get some water to quench my thirst, but I knew that I could not face the other women blanking me, looking the other way when I came near. They would all be there, chatting away, discussing the comings and goings of the village, whose son was marrying whose daughter, who was ill, who was pregnant. They spend hours at the well every morning, enjoying each other’s company, laughing and giggling. Then I would arrive and the merry laughter would be replaced by whispering and finger pointing and the occasional snide remark. I would hear comments like “I don’t know how she has the temerity to show her face round here!”
I might even have met Simeon’s ex. She hates me. I don’t really blame her, I took her husband off her. She wanted me stoned to death, it was only Roman law that stopped her doing it.
I know that they warn their daughters that they could end up like me if they do not behave. They also tell their sons and their husbands to keep well away from me. Any man seen talking to me is likely to get a good earful when he gets home.
So I was thirsty all morning long, but just couldn’t go to the well. But eventually it reached the hottest part of the day, the sixth hour. I knew that they would all have gone home, to the shade and cool of their houses. Perhaps to gossip a bit more about me and Simeon. But at least I wouldn’t hear them, and have to put up with the whispering and avoidance.
So I picked up my pot and set out towards the well. As I got near I looked ahead to make sure that they were not still there. It was all clear, they had gone. But there was one person there, and it surprised me. It was the last thing that I expected, a Jewish man sitting by the well. I thought about turning back, but I was so thirsty. He would probably just completely ignore me anyway, after all, he was a Jewish man and I a Samaritan woman, it was hardly likely that he would know anything about me, besides those Jews think that we are little better than cattle, and to be quite honest, we think the same about them. So my thirst drove me on.
I got up close to the well, expecting him to either beat a hasty retreat, for fear of being contaminated by me, or, at the very least, to just pretend I wasn’t there. But he spoke! He asked me to give him a drink! I couldn’t believe my ears! They normally walk around Samaria, so they would not run into us. Perhaps he had forgotten that he was in Samaria, and that I would be a Samaritan. So I gently pointed it out to him.
“How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest a drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?”
I thought that that would shut him up. But it didn’t. Instead he started talking about God, and living water. I thought that he was trying to make a clever remark about Jewish water being better than Samaritan water. So I asked him how on earth he was able to draw water, given the fact that he had no bucket. I also asked him if he thought he was greater than Jacob, who had given us the well.
He reminded me that after drinking from the well I would be soon be thirsty again, but he said that he had could give me water that would stop me ever being thirsty again. I guessed he was probably not talking about ordinary water after all, but about something else.
I checked him out by asking if he could give me this mysterious living water.
Despite myself, I was interested. I suppose I have always been thirsty. Ever since I was a girl. I have always been looking for something in life that would satisfy me. I have gone from relationship to relationship, hoping that I would find it, but instead each marriage, while initially satisfying, soon proved to have something lacking in it. Each man seemed wonderful at first, but then I either he would leave me, or I would start looking elsewhere. That’s why I hadn’t bothered marrying Simeon, I had never raised the issue with him, and he seemed quite happy to carry on as we were, even though the whole village disapproved. I didn’t want another divorce.