Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bridegrooms and wells

In the Bible, whenever an Israelite goes to a foreign country and meets a woman at a well, the woman usually ends up marrying the man or his master. That’s what happens with Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel, Moses and Zipporah: meet, draw water, run and tell, eat, become engaged.

So what’s going on in John 4 when Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at a well? The encounter has all the elements of a good betrothal scene—except, of course, the engagement.

Or does it? Maybe there is a betrothal happening here. John the Baptist has just called Jesus the Bridegroom (John 3:29), and the woman may be a stand-in not only for Samaritans, but all Gentile believers. Jesus’ kinfolk certainly wouldn’t approve of his engagement to a foreigner. But praise God he’s not as interested in pleasing his brothers and sisters as in pleasing his Father.

(c) Copyright 2007, A. Milton Stanley

6 comments:

Gord said...

Insightful post, Milton. I have truly learned something new today. This is certainly food for thought. Blessings to you.

Milton Stanley said...

Thanks for saying so, Gord. All the best to you, too.

Milton Stanley said...

I ought to add that I read about the well-betrothal motif in Robert Alter's book, The Art of Biblical Narrative. Alter's book is full of insights on these kinds of motifs in the OT.

Milton said...

Reading that last line, I immediately thought of Matthew 12 - "Stretching out his hand towards his disciples, he said 'Here are my mother and my brothers.'"

Milton Stanley Jr. said...

I guess posting under my gmail account is confusing.

Milton Stanley said...

Well, son, it was confusing for about three seconds as I wondered if I had written it. But I'm glad you've left a comment. I'm still cogitating on the implications of John 4; thanks for providing another clue. Peace.