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Bible Commentary Adam Clarke

'The Woman at the Well'
Setting the Record Straight

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(When quoting scriptures, from the Rotherham Emphasized Bible New Testament, I will substitute the Hebrew words
Yahoshua (yeh-ho-shoo’- ah) for Jesus, Yahweh and Elohim for God and the LORD and ruah for pneuma (spirit).)

Diabolos (devil) means prone to slander, slanderous, accusing falsely. This term fits those individuals who make false accusations concerning other individuals, who are in the Word of Yahweh, when the texts make no such statements. 'The Woman at the Well,' (John 4) which more accurately should be called, 'The Woman at the Fountain,' is one of those individuals who has been slandered for centuries by many famous religious leaders. This unholy behavior must stop. This beautiful record has been marred and distorted by men who disregard what is written by interjecting their own opinion or by men who are parroting what others have said, never searching the scriptures to see if this is true. Let us re-examine what is written rather that what less than pure minds have taught. Let the pastors, who fit the above description, repent of their ways by correcting their sermons or remain silent concerning this woman, who I believe was a righteous daughter of Yahweh rather than an unchaste woman.

This woman has usually been called, by many pastors and teachers, a harlot or a multiple divorcee but I have never heard any of them call her a woman who had been widowed many times. (I personally know a woman who, in our modern times of medicine, has been widowed three times and is dating, her fourth, soon to be, husband.) Why do we jump to slanderous conclusions when we hear of anyone being married multiple times, as if they have sinned? As we will observe in the scriptures, this woman never professed to be living in sin, neither did Yahoshua ever call her a sinner or tell her that her sins were forgiven or proclaimed to her that she must repent for the Kingdom of Yahweh is at hand. Sin, as we will observe, was never the topic in this record.

The Word of Yahweh does have records of women who were sinners, one of which is presented in Luke 7:36-38, 48; "And a certain one of the Pharisees was requesting him, that he would eat with him; and, entering into the house of the Pharisee, he reclined. And, lo! a woman, who indeed was in the city a sinner; and, when she found out that he was reclining in the house of the Pharisee, providing an alabaster-jar of perfume, and standing behind, near his feet, weeping, with the tears, began she to be wetting his feet, and, with the hair of her head, was wiping off the tears, and was tenderly kissing his feet, and anointing them with the perfume... And he [Yahoshua] said unto her—Thy sins have been forgiven." The man who was paralyzed is another account where sin was spoken of; In Luke 5:20 it states, "And, beholding their faith, he said—O man! thy sins are forgiven thee." Let us not forget what Simon said when he encountered Yahoshua in Luke 5:8, " And Simon, beholding, fell down at the knees of Yahoshua, saying—Depart from me! Because, a sinful man, am I, O Lord!" The above three testimonies revolve around Yahoshua and sin but they have no similarity with the woman at the fountain.

Let us now examine the response of this woman when Yahoshua spoke of her past. "He saith unto her—Go, call thy husband, and come hither! The woman answered, and said I have no husband. Yahoshua saith unto her—Well, saidst thou, A husband, I have not; for, five husbands, thou hast had,—and, now, he whom thou hast, is not thy, husband: This true thing, hast thou spoken. The woman saith unto him—Sir! I perceive that, a prophet, art, thou." She did not say, "Depart from me! Because, a sinful woman, am I." She did not bow down unto him, "weeping, with tears, wetting his feet, and, with the hair of her head, was wiping off the tears, and was tenderly kissing his feet, and anointing them with the perfume." Her response was not one of remorse, sorrow or embarrassment but rather of enlightenment, "Sir! I perceive that, a prophet, are, thou." There is no  guilt in her voice but rather she poses a question concerning the worship of Yahweh. Yahoshua does not say, 'Repent of your ways, woman!' but rather teaches her how Yahweh is to be worshiped. Her reply to him then is not one concerning her sins, asking for forgiveness but rather she responds as one who has been waiting for the coming Messiah and not one who would fear the Messiah, because of her lifestyle. She says, "...I know that, Messiah, cometh, who is called Christ,—Whensoever, he, shall come, he will tell us, everything. Yahoshua saith unto her—I, that speak unto thee, am he." At this point, if she was living a wicked lifestyle, as many pastors have said, she should have been brought to her knees in repentance but this is not what transpired but rather excitement was generated not fear or remorse. Her response is the response of a righteous individual.  

John 4:28-29 states, "The woman, therefore, left her water-vessel, and went away into the city, and saith unto the men—Come! see a man, that told me all things that ever I did: Can, this, be, the Christ?" If the woman was a harlot, why would the men of the city give her any credence but their response shows us that she probably was a devout woman who revered Yahweh. The record continues by stating, "They came forth out of the city, and were coming unto him... And, out of that city, many, believed on him—of the Samaritans,—by reason of the word of the woman in bearing witness—He told me all things that ever I did." This woman was held in high regard by the people in the city because they believed her words. This city, it appears, was composed of people who revered Yahweh. How can we say this? John 4:40-42 states, "When, therefore, the Samaritans came unto him, they went on to request him to abide with them; and he abode there two days.  And, many more, believed by reason of his discourse; and, unto the woman, began to say—No longer, by reason of thy talk, do we believe; for, we ourselves, have heard, and know that, This One, is, in truth, the Saviour of the world." This city was not a Sodom, Nineveh or Jerusalem, where people were commanded to repent or else but rather a city where the people were awaiting the coming of the righteous Messiah. This righteous city embraced their Messiah, Yahoshua while the religious Jerusalem crucified their Messiah.

The facts of our study reveal that this woman, was very likely, a righteous woman, admired by it's citizens, who was worshiping Yahweh and was awaiting the coming of the righteous Messiah. Her life could have, very likely, had events that involved being widowed or divorced or a combination of the two. Divorce was allowed by Moses, meaning Yahweh permitted it, meaning it was not necessarily sin. An unrighteous sinful man could divorce his righteous wife, as is done today, through no fault of her own. Sin is never part of this record and should not be read into it! The verse in John 4:18 could very well have meant, "for, five husbands [who have died], thou hast had,—and, now, he whom thou hast, is not thy, husband [now but possibly will be]: This true thing, hast thou spoken." If we must err in the woman's case, let us err on the side of purity, the woman being widowed multiply times or divorced wrongly, rather than on the side of dirtiness. I believe, by observing her actions, she was not an unchaste women but a righteous daughter of Yahweh, widowed and or divorced, awaiting the coming of her Messiah.   


4077 πηγή pege pay-gay’ 1) fountain, spring 2) a well fed by a spring. Fountain is more significant than well because our record speaks of 'Living Water.' Rotherham translates pege as fountain. Usages of pege are listed below:
Mr 5:29  and, straightway, the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she knew, in her body, that she was healed from the plague.
Joh 4:6  Now Jacob’s fountain was there. Yahoshua, therefore, having become toil-worn with the journey, was sitting thus, upon the fountain. It was about the sixth hour.
Joh 4:14  But, whosoever shall drink of the water which, I, will give him, in nowise shall thirst, unto times age-abiding,—but, the water which I will give him, shall become, within him, a fountain of water, springing up unto life age-abiding.
Jas 3:11  Doth, the fountain, out of the same opening, teem forth the sweet and the bitter?
2Pe 2:17  These, are fountains without water, and mists, by a tempest, driven along,—for whom, the gloom of darkness, hath been reserved;
Re 7:17  Because, the Lamb that is in the midst of the throne, shall shepherd them, and shall lead them unto life’s fountains of waters; and Yahweh shall wipe away every tear out of their

Mt 4:17  From that time, began Yahoshua to be making proclamation, and saying,—Repent ye, for the kingdom of the heavens hath drawn near.           


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