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IBC Women’s Ministry Blog – September 28, 2023

IBC Women’s Ministry Blog – September 28, 2023

Jesus & the Samaritan Woman

By Susan Smith


In Jerusalem (a generation before Jesus), there were two main religious schools of thought. One followed Rabbi Hillel and the other followed Rabbi Shammai. Hillel held to the spirit of the law and Shammai taught the letter of the law.

“When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house,…” ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭24‬:‭1‬‬‬‬‬

Rabbi Hillel viewed indecent reasons for divorce as many different things, including burning bread. Rabbi Shammai viewed indecent reasons for divorce as adultery.

In Matthew 19:3 Jesus is asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” Jesus sided with Shammai, which protected women from being divorced for any and every reason.  Remember women need justice and righteousness. They are dependent on their family, on husbands for God’s provision. We keep the need in thought as we come to the story of the Samaritan woman.

The Samaritans were not allowed to worship at the temple in Jerusalem. So, they built a temple at Mt. Gerizim. Jacob’s well was the base of this mount, which is where Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman in John 4.

Several things about this story are unusual:
• Jesus “had” to pass through Samaria. Jews typically would travel a longer distance around this area because of the bad relationship between Jews & Samaritans.
• The Samaritan woman was alone in the middle of the day. Women would typically go to draw water together early in the day to avoid the heat. So, this Samaritan woman was an outcast in a shame culture.
• Jesus, the Jew, spoke first to the Samaritan woman.

This Samaritan woman knows the sting of being repeatedly rejected by a husband. Jesus knows her home situation. She wouldn’t have been the one to initiate a divorce so all previous marriages would have ended by the decision of her man. Jesus honors her by conversation, interest in her heart and thoughts, His presence. It is to this Samaritan woman, an outcast, that Jesus, for the very first time, states He is the Messiah. Jesus brings her righteousness and justice, a restoration of her dignity. Her response? To share the Good News of Messiah to those that may have been a part of her shame. His generosity flows to her and from her, blessing an entire city known to be “cast out” from the heart of Israel.

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