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TITTMANN ON JOHN 4: 1–42.
Exposition of John 4: 1–42: translated from the Latin
of C. C. TITTMANN's Sacred MEDITATIONS, or Exegetical, Critical, and Doctrinal Commentary on the Gospel of John. By H. J. RIPLEY, Professor of Biblical Literature and Interpretation, in the Newton Theological Institution.*
It was the special design of the evangelist John, in preparing his Gospel, to preserve some of the more remarkable discourses of our adorable Lord, both public and private. He wished that all men, in all coming time, might thus have it in their power to form a just opinion of our Lord, by hearing, as it were, from his own lips, in what light he viewed himself, and how he sought to be regarded by others. Thus, too, the evangelist would contribute to render faith in him more easy and more firm. It was in pursuance of this design, that he recorded the conversation held with the Samaritan woman. In a few introductory remarks, he mentions the occasion of this conversation.
The account commences in the following manner. Vs. 1-3. When, therefore, the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples), he left Judea, and departed again into Galilee.
A report of the teaching and acts of Jesus had now reached the chief men of the Jews. They became indignant, that, not only he himself was collecting a large number of followers, but that even his disciples in administering the rite of baptism, were performing what could scarcely be borne even in John the Baptist, to whom, though unwillingly, they yet conceded very much.
This article is properly an abridged translation of the original. I have omitted the author's statements of the views of other writers, and his references to various authorities. It has been my aim to exhibit the thoughts of the original, rather than its forms of expression. Our common English version of the chapter is also Tetained, instead of the version which Tittmann presents in the course of his commentary.-H. J. R.
Our Lord, then, from whom nothing was concealed, as soon as he perceived that what usually happens among men was becoming true in regard to himself, namely, that ill-will accompanies distinction, left Judea. His retiring from Judea did not result from timidity, but from a desire to cut off occasion of ill-will.
Vs. 4–6. And he must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus, therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well : and it was about the sixth hour. The word, Samaria, is not here the name of a city, but of a region, as also in the seventh verse. Jesus passed through Samaria, because the most direct and usual road from Judea, and particularly from Jerusalem to Galilee, lay in that direction. The city here called Sychar was originally, and properly, named Shechem, and derived its name from Shechem, of whose grandsons Jacob purchased the land. See Gen. 33: 18—20. It was subsequently called Sychar, by way of reproach, from a Hebrew word, which sometimes signifies an idol, as though the city was a worshipper of idols. This reproachful epithet was occasioned by the vicinity of the city to mount Gerizim, where the Samaritans performed their worship. As the name had come to be commonly used, John employed it here.
The place here mentioned, is, on many accounts, a distinguished one. It was particularly sacred in the view of the Samaritans, for two reasons. Here Jacob had possessed a parcel of ground; a possession to which he had a double claim, both as having bought it from the sons of Hamor (Gen. 33: 18, 19), and, as having subsequently rescued it by force of arms from the Amorites (Gen. 48: 22). There was, also, at that place “Jacob's well ; " that is, a well which Jacob had dug, or was believed to have dug, and which he and his family had used. At this well Jesus took a seat, such as the place afforded. The word, thus, is here equivalent to the phrase, just as circumstances were. Chrysostom explains it in the following manner. “What is the meaning of the word, thus ? Not, says John, on a throne, nor on a cushion, but, just as circumstances happened to be, on the ground.”
Vs. 7–9. When our Lord had seated himself, and his
disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat [food), there cometh a woman of Samaria, to draw water ; Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. He made this request, either because he wished to quench his thirst, or, for the sake of drawing her into conversation, for he knew what would result from this interview. She replied, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? Either from his dress, or, as is more probable, from his manner of speaking, she perceived that Jesus was a Jew. Though she was by no means ignorant how strictly the Jews avoided intercourse with the Samaritans, she yet did not decline his request for water, on the ground of her regarding him as unfriendly to her nation, and as being a foreigner, but modestly, and with wonder, inquired why he should voluntarily commence conversation with her, and request drink from her. In explanation of her inquiry, it is added—For the Jews have no dealings [friendly intercourse) with the Samaritans.
From this clause, as also from other sources, it is manifest that the Jews cherished a strong national hatred against the Samaritans, so that they cultivated no familiarity with them, and would not even pass an ordinary salutation. They forbade the reception of any thing from the Samaritans as a gift; and used the name, Samaritan, as a term of reproach. Of this antipathy, there were many causes. The principal one was found in the religious worship which the Samaritans had established on mount Gerizim, respecting which, a conversation is recorded in the following verses. This ill-will, however, did not extend beyond familiar intercourse ; for, in such matters, as buying and selling, intercourse was allowed. This is manifest, both from Jewish writers, and from the conduct of our Lord's disciples on the present occasion. The clause is rightly expressed by Grotius, thus—The Jews have no friendly communication with the Samaritans.
V. 10. But, as our Lord elsewhere, in inculcating the principles of his religion, passed from natural objects to spiritual, and, with great wisdom and kindness, employed a figurative manner of speaking, either to excite the mental faculties of his hearers and gradually to prepare them for receiving the truth, or, to accommodate himself to the weakness of their minds; so, on the present occasion, in order to sharpen this woman's desire for knowledge, he replied in an enigmatical manner-If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water:
The words, gift of God, refer here to the divine favor, which was then bestowed on the woman, and subsequently on the other Samaritans, of becoming acquainted with Jesus, as the much desired Saviour of the human race; a favor great indeed, and one that would in reality transcend all their hopes and their thoughts. “Didst thou know," says he, “what a favor is extended to thee by the benevolence of God, and hadst thou discovered who I am that have been asking drink of thee, thou wouldst not only have abstained from reminding me of the ill-will of the Jews against the Samaritans, and not have hesitated to give me a draught of water; but thou wouldst also have requested of me living water.” The expression, living water, sometimes means water that is alive, or fresh, water bubbling up from a fountain and flowing; in contrast with water which stands collected in cisterns. The corresponding Hebrew words are rendered by the Greek translators of the Old Testament, sometimes living water, and sometimes springing water. In this sense the woman understood the term. But our Lord employed it differently, as meaning life-giving water, that which can impart life; and he meant to convey a hint of something that could invigorate the soul, and make it truly happy; as if he had said, “Thou wouldst have asked of me that which would refresh and bless thy
Living water here signifies the whole sum of blessings which Christ furnishes for renewing the souls of men, and making them tranquil and happy. It also signifies the happiness itself which is bestowed.
This explanation accords with the universal usage of the sacred writers, and particularly of our Lord himself, who frequently expressed, in this, or a similar manner, the whole sum of man's happiness. For, in another conversation, recorded also by John (7:38), he says, that whosoever believeth in him, shall be like a fountain, springing up most copiously, and without intermission. This figure obviously expresses both the abundance and the perpetuity of the happiness which a believer enjoys;
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very nearly as in the fourteenth verse of the present chapter, he says, the believer's happiness is like water springing up to everlasting life. In Rev. 7: 17, he is said to feed the blessed in the future life, and to lead them to living fountains of waters; that is, to furnish means of happiness,-happiness most abundant and ever-enduring. In Rev. 21: 6, and 22: 17, he promises that he will give of the fountain of the water of life, and that the pious shall receive the water of life; that is, happiness, and whatever can make them, day by day, more and more happy. Besides, what our Lord in this chapter terms water of life, he calls, in another passage (John 6:35), by a different similitude, bread of life; for to each the same qualities are ascribed, namely, he that receives it shall never hunger, shall never thirst. And, universally, water, living water, is a symbol of happiness, and of blessings which produce happiness. Thus, God is called the fountain of living waters, in contrast with idols; inasmuch as he is the author and giver of all bliss. See Jer. 2: 13. 17: 13. In the thirty-sixth Psalm, David is admiring the immensity of God's kindness: “They shall be abundantly satisfied,” he says, “with the fatness (the rich bounties of thy house; thou wilt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures." He then adds—“For with thee is the fountain of life, and in thy light shall we see light;" that is, Thou art the author and giver of all happiness; from thee, most blessed One, there flows to us every kind of bliss. Hence, men are said to “draw water out of the wells (fountains of salvation” (Is. 12: 3); that is, to seek and to receive from God happiness of all kinds. In Zechariah 14:8, also, is this promise—“In that day living waters shall go out from Jerusalem;" that is, From Jerusalem there shall go forth, over the whole earth, every variety of blessings. Such being the usage, in regard to this term, we think that by living water, in the passage under consideration, are meant all the advantages furnished by our Lord for attaining true happiness, and even that happiness itself. The following, then, is the sense of our Lord's words: Thou wouldst have asked of me, that I would show thee the manner of attaining true happiness, and that I would lead thee to that happiness.
Vs. 11, 12. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep : from whence VOL. IV.—NO. XIV.