When therefore the LORD knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,…
As the well is near magnificent springs gushing from the roots of Gerizim, and flowing to the East, the Patriarch's task in sinking so deep a well and building a wall round it, can only be explained by the jealousy which the Canaanites, like all Eastern peoples, regarded their own springs. To have trusted to these would have been to invite trouble. It was, therefore, much better for Jacob to have a well of his own, so as to be independent. This well lies a little off the road, on the right hand. There is nothing visible now above ground. A little chapel, about twenty feet long, once built over the well, has long ago fallen; its stones lying about in heaps. The ground slopes up to the fragments of the broken-down wall. The church dates from the fifth century, but, except these stones, the only traces of it are some remains of tessellated pavements and carvings, which are hidden beneath the rubbish. Over the well is a large stone, with a round hole in the middle, large enough for the skin buckets of the peasantry to pass down. This stone is probably as old as the twelfth century. The mouth is 7.5 feet across, and its depth, which some centuries ago was 105 feet, is still about 75 feet, though for ages every visitor has thrown down stones to hear the echo when they strike the bottom. It is cut through a thick bed of soil, and then through soft rock; the water filtering through the sides to the depth occasionally of 12 feet, though it is dry sometimes for years together. It is thus rather a "beer" or rain pit than a spring well; hence, the contrast between "this water" and "living water." Our Lord must have sat with His face towards the S.W., since He speaks of Gerizim as "this mountain." Around Him were the same sights as are before the visitor of to-day — the rich valley running up westward towards Shechem, with a rippling streamlet in its centre; the groves that border the town hiding the houses from view; the heights of Gerizim, towering in rounded masses one over another to a great height, close before Him on the south. Mount Ebal, steep but terraced almost to the top into gardens of prickly pear, lay behind them; the little hamlet of Balata, where Abraham's altar once stood under the sacred tree; the mud huts of Sychar; a little village now called Askar, not half as far off as Shechem, and the dome of Joseph's tomb being at its foot. To the east, beyond the great plain, was Salim, near to AEnon, where the Baptism preached, and the wooded Hill of Phinehas, with the tomb of the once fiery high priest.
(C. Geikie, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,