Monday, December 05, 2011

Sluts, Schemers, And Other Shockingly Interesting Women Of The Bible #1 - The Woman At The Well

Hey everybody!

So the blog series I did for the month of January -- “Sarcasm In The Bible” went over like gangbusters, if my counter stats are to be believed.

Since we’re approaching Christmas, which I’ve never been sentimental about, and the Christmas story, which I’ve already examined from several angles (check the archives), I’ve decided to bust out another series. I think I’m calling it…

“Sluts, Schemers, And Other Shockingly Interesting Women Of The Bible.”

Because nothing says Christmas like that! :)

Now, let’s make one thing clear. I am doing this as a way to share what I learn about these gals. I’m not saying what I discover and write about here is the absolute truth about them. I’m not thinking I’m going to discover some revolutionary truth that nobody’s heard before, nor am I looking to start legalistic fights. This is more about me being curious and wanting to learn more about these gals, and saying “Here’s what I learned in my Bible readings today!” Because I’m betting there’s a lot more to them beneath the “Slut” surface.

You know how your pastor in your church will constantly exhort you to “Spend Time In The Word Every Day! It Will Change Your Life”? (Pastor Diet Slice said it for the ten thousandth time yesterday.)

This is how I’m spending time in the Word, Pastor Diet Slice. I’m praying before diving into the research. I’m asking God to meet me in the midst of my curiosity. Let’s see if anything changes.


Sluts, Schemers, And Other Shockingly Interesting Women Of The Bible #1 – The Samaritan Woman At The Well.

Which One Is She?

Since this chickie was married and divorced five times, she’d probably fall in the Slut category. That’s probably what the town gossips called her.

Who Could Be Her Celebrity Counterpart?

Let’s say she’s the late great Elizabeth Taylor (married eight times.)

Where Is She In The Bible?

Only in one Gospel book - John 4: 1 – 42

What Did You Already Know About Her Before This?

That she was a town pariah, multiple divorcee and currently living with a guy who’s not her husband.

Everyone talked about her, nobody liked her, and she’d have to get water during the hottest part of the day because that’s the only time when nobody else was at the well. I imagine the modern day equivalent would be Elizabeth Taylor having to grocery shop at Ralph’s waaaaaaaaay in the Valley at, like 4am.

She was a Samaritan, a race that most everyone else in Biblical times looked down upon (see also The Good Samaritan, the only person who stopped to help someone in need while a priest and a Levite ignored the person in need.)

Jesus talked to her by himself. You know what that means? JESUS MET WITH A WOMAN IN PRIVATE! (the disciples don’t show up until verse 27.) Why is this important? Because even today in modern times, throw a stick and you will hit a pastor who refuses to meet with a woman for lunch, for counseling, for anything one on one. Meet with a guy one on one? Sure, no problem. Meet with a woman? Nope, it’s inappropriate. People will talk. Even though Jesus did it, and we’re called to be like Jesus. Except in this particular instance. “Because people will talk.” Whatever.

What’s up with the Samaritans? Why did everyone hate them?

Oh gosh. You guys, I just lost about 45 minutes of my life trying to understand the geographical boundaries of Manasseh and Ephraim, and Jews vs. Samaritans vs Assyrians and when did the Babylonian Exile start, and I feel my enthusiasm for learning about SSSIW (Sluts, Schemers, and Shockingly Interesting women) fading away. Blarg

In short, I THINK the tensions came primarily from Samaritans claiming they had the one authentic site of worshipping God – their temple on Mount Gerizim, as opposed to the temple in Jerusalem. There could have been things like Samaritans being a mixed race resulting from foreigners marrying Israelites, and there’s a tiny possibility (via 2 Kings Ch. 17) that some Samaritans did things like worshipping idols and child sacrifices in addition to worshipping Regular God. So yeah, lots of crap going on.

Of course, there’s zippo to indicate what the Woman At The Well practiced in terms of her Samaritan religion before she bumped into Jesus. Pretty sure she didn’t have any kids, or else they would’ve been mentioned. THAT DOESN’T MEAN SHE SACRIFICED THEM!

Oh God, we’re so off track. Ahem.

Why Wouldn’t The Guy She’s Currently Shacking Up With Marry Her?

Dunno. Maybe the guy mentality of Why Buy The Cow When You Get The Milk For Free existed back then. Unless they sacrificed the cow. Along with the kids. KIDDING! GOD, I’M SO KIDDING!

Whatchoo Thinking About?

Woman At The Well (has the face of Elizabeth Taylor) probably thought this was going to be the rest of her life – a life of shame. A life of people gossiping about her. A life of regret, of broken relationships and really bad choices that she’d never be able to shake. Maybe she thought her current guy would marry her, and thus maybe she’d gain maybe two percent more respect. Maybe she thought her current dude would take her away from this place and they’d go live somewhere else. It’s easy to forget that back in Biblical times, women, especially ones who got divorced a bunch of times, didn’t have a any freedom, which is why they needed to be married – because the man had the power, and the woman didn’t.

Anyhow, so WATW might have thought that this was going to be her life for the rest of her life – no escape, no way out, no forgiveness.

And I’m just guessing here, which is all anyone can do – that she probably condemned herself far more than anyone outside of her could do. Isn’t that how shame usually works? We beat ourselves up worse than anyone else could? Because you can eventually get away from other people. You can’t get away from yourself.

Why did Jesus ask the Woman At The Well for a drink? Why didn’t he get it himself?

What, is our Lord and Savior so exhausted from the heat that he can’t get the damn water himself? NO! (and he doesn’t have a jar, verse 11 says so.)

Jesus is supposed to be at the well (BY HIMSELF, I’m sorry, I’m not letting that go) to meet the Woman, to change her life, to knock her out of her life of self hatred and condemnation.

She’s shocked:

1 – Apparently Jews didn’t directly address women they didn’t know.

2 – Jews wouldn’t speak to Samarians, even if they happen to be traveling through Samaria.

3. If Jesus drank from the Samaritan Woman’s jar, he’d be considered ritually unclean, because she, by virtue of being a Samaritan, is unclean.

I can’t help but think somewhere in the back of her mind, there’s probably a gleeful voice jumping up and down saying, I’M NOT THE FREAKY ONE NOW! I’M NOT THE FREAKY ONE NOW! HEY, EVERYBODY! COME LOOK AT NUMERO UNO FREAK… and then realize that nobody’s there at the well to witness this except for her and Jesus. Heh.

Then we go through the standard verses that anyone who’s spent any significant time in a church has heard at some point or another “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst…” and she says, “Sir, give me this water….” And “You are right when you say you have no husband…. You have had five husbands and the man you now have is not your husband…” WATW says she knows that the Messiah is coming, Jesus says DAT’S ME!!! All the greatest hits of this story in those verses.

Then the merry band of disciples show up with lunch. I love this part, verse 27 “… But no one asked ‘What do you want’ or ‘Why are you talking with her?’” There you go, modern church. If the disciples didn’t question why Jesus was alone with a woman, then a pastor should be able to meet one on one with a woman. Let it go already.

So WATW is so spooked/stoked by what Jesus has said that she leaves the water jar behind as she “went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” You gotta love how she words it. She KNOWS Jesus is the Christ, he just told her. But she’s playing dumb so that the others will come out to see for themselves. She’s super cagey, because it could’ve gone this way –

WATW runs through the neighborhood, finding any and everybody in town that she can.

WATW – “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.”

TOWNSPEOPLE - “Um, yeah, EVERYONE knows what you did. We talk about you behind your back constantly.”

What did you learn?

If you’re doing a sermon on this, you usually focus on the “living water” stuff and “Sir, give me this water…” And how Jesus is extending his grace and love and forgiveness to this town outcast, that he doesn’t care what her backstory is, he’ll love and forgive her anyway. That’s basic Christian 101 stuff.

Most people would stop paying attention around verse 30, after the townspeople come out to see Jesus, because the disciples get all up in Jesus’ grill, saying he’s gotta eat something and Jesus throws out metaphors about harvests and sowers and reapers and la la laaaaaa.

But if you keep going to verse 39, you get this: “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’”

I think it’s more interesting that Jesus used an outcast to bring people to faith. Not just an outcast of society, but a CHICK outcast. So in Biblical Times, that’s like an outcast time two, heh.

Once again, Jesus uses the least likely of people to draw more people to him. Not the proper people, not the powerful people. Not the people that were doing everything right. But he uses a person who had done EVERYTHING wrong. Because nobody is so wrong that God couldn’t use them if He needed to. I SO dig that about God.

It doesn’t go on to say what happened to WATW after the townspeople believed her about Jesus. I’d like to think that the guy she was living with finally made an honest woman out of her, and that they followed Jesus throughout the rest of his travels in the New Testament. Because even former sluts deserve a happy ending.

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