Samaritan woman at the well five husbands
Jump to navigation. We used the reading from Year A since we have six people entering the church. Other parishes may have used the Year C Gospel, Luke This reading overflows with good news that "true worship" is not found in any building or cult but in the hearts of believers who worship God "in Spirit and in Truth.
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Whosoever drinketh of this water, shall thirst again; but he that shall drink of the water that I will give him, shall not thirst for ever: But the water that I will give him, shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting. The woman saith to him: Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come hither to draw. He is not speaking about H2O. He is clearly referring to something else; something like the waters of Baptism.
Or perhaps he is referring to the gift of faith itself under the figure of water. It is through Faith that the believer springs up to life everlasting. The Samaritan woman does not necessarily understand this, but nonetheless desires this special water.
But then Our Lord makes this rather strange request:. Jesus saith to her: Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered, and said: I have no husband. Jesus said to her: Thou hast said well, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands: and he whom thou now hast, is not thy husband.
My knowledge of the customs of the Samaritans is limited. Perhaps each husband successively died? Either that or this woman was a sort of scriptural pre-cursor to Elizabeth Taylor? In addition, the shocking revelation of the number of husbands that this Samaritan woman has had sort of covers up what appears to be a strange request by Our Lord in the first place.
But the answer to this particular question is not quite as interesting to the hearer as the simple revelation that this woman has had five husbands! Now I remember that when interpreting scripture one is always supposed to start with the literal meaning. The other figurative meanings have their foundation in the literal meaning. She, on the other hand, appears to be very impressed by His knowledge of this and immediately says,. So, again, I suppose we need to simply assent to the simple fact that the Samaritan woman has had five husbands.
Five husbands are just too unusual to let it pass that easily. Samaria was once part of the northern kingdom of Israel, which had broken off from the Davidic Kingdom…The king of Assyria brought pagans into Samaria to settle there 1 Kings Interestingly enough, 1 Kings tells us there were five groups that settled there, each worshipping their own pagan gods: The Babylonians worshipped Marduk; the men of Cuth worshipped Nergal; the men of Avva worshipped Nibhaz and Tartak; the men of Sepharvaim worshipped their city gods; and King Hadad worshipped Anath.
Even though the Israelites were joined in covenant to the one true God, they intermarried with these foreigners and adopted their worship and practices. Samaria, like the woman at the well, had five husbands and was estranged from her true husband.
It makes abundant sense that Our Lord was referring to these false gods as husbands. Christ is the husband of His bride the church. For our second figurative interpretation let us turn to Saint Augustine. Or more positively, we ought to be open to reasonable interpretations of scripture as long as they do not contradict other doctrines or interpretations that have already been set forth.
Additionally, if I remember correctly, Saint Augustine seems to have a particular fondness towards making sense of numbers in scripture. So here is what Saint Augustine says about the five husbands among other things. Jesus seeing that the woman did not understand, and wishing to enlighten her, says, Call your husband; i. For when the life is well-ordered, the understanding governs the soul itself, pertaining to the soul.
For though it is indeed nothing else than the soul, it is at the same time a certain part of the soul. I am certain that Saint Augustine meant no offense with his reference to the understanding as the husband. I think he means something like what St Paul said when he says ,. But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
The head, of course, is often associated with thinking and I think it is safe to call it the seat of the understanding. Is that a safe assertion? Call that husband. But more importantly,Saint Augustine gives us an insight into the nature of the human soul. In other words, the soul might be said to have a part which governs, and this part we call the husband.
And this very part of the soul which is called the understanding and the intellect, is itself illuminated by a light superior to itself. Such a Light was talking with the woman; but in her there was not understanding to be enlightened. It seems to me that there is a sort of proportion here. As the understanding governs and instructs a person, so too should Christ Himself govern and instruct the understanding.
In other words, Christ is the bridegroom of the soul. Christ is the husband of the understanding soul. Our Lord then, as it were, says, I wish to enlighten, and there is not one to be enlightened; Call your husband, i. The five former husbands may be explained as the five senses, thus: a man before he has the use of his reason, is entirely under the government of his bodily senses.
Then reason comes into action; and from that time forward he is capable of entertaining ideas, and is either under the influence of truth or error.
We are either under the governance of our reason, or under the governance of our senses. The senses are not quite as keen as the intellect. No wonder we would marry one after another. He now refers to an even worse husband than the dull senses or passions. The woman had been under the influence of error, which error was not her lawful husband, but an adulterer.
Wherefore our Lord says, Put away that adulterer which corrupts thee, and call your husband, that you may understand Me. Jesus called them husbands because she had enjoyed conjugal union with them — something that should only occur between spouses.
One might also infer that the men were husbands to other women. Thus, she indeed had 5 husbands — 5 husbands to other women. It seems needlessly complex to assert that Our Lord was speaking euphemistically. Your blog, your rules plus you publicly acknowledge the edit. Was it not so in Jewish tradition a man could divorce his wife, but not the other way around?
I often thought this woman had qualities that each of her husbands found undesirable and therefore could have had 5 husbands. Life was not easy for woman without a man to provide for her and the family. I try to see these things in the time period they occurred. Jesus may have been telling her to clean up your act, this man is not your husband.
Turn to God and he will take care of you. Just my take on the story. You need to look at mosaic law and one of the main reasons for divorce was a woman being barren, this was very important to carry on the inheritance of the land of Israel. The law requires someone in the family, clan, or tribe to be a covering for a widowed woman, thus the one she had now may not mean a lover, but a covering to support her, this follows Hebraic teaching.
The Church looks at this as from a later cultural life style and not according to the time setting. This woman shows a knowledge of the law and other writings of the time. She worshipped God according to the commandment, and at the place set by Moses. They did have different teachings. Jesus was fulfilling Matthew 15;24 to seek out the lost sheep of the house of Israel to bring the house of Israel into the new covenant and with great success by using this woman that the people of the town would listen to, so what about that bad girl.
She had sought happiness in 5 husbands, and was living with a 6th, seeking her joy in things of the earth, as so many today, as well, and in the exact same way….. Unfortunately, too many Bible scholars and theologians put Tobit in the pure realm of fiction. Possibly she was constantly unhappy with her husbands and they divorced her of a healthy relationship. After all, this is what happens in our society in case of divorce. However Mark, your interpretation strikes a chord with me — and thanks for bringing St Augustine into the discussion.
Good prose, like good poetry, has exactly all that is needed, and nothing more. Now, go to the Crucifixion in John. There is a parallelism here when Christ asks the Samaritan woman for water, declaring, as it were, His interest in her as a woman.
All seems as if Jesus is fulfilling at a higher level that promise of God to Abraham to give him innumerable descendants through Isaac, and here Jesus opening His salvation to pagans as well, to be descendants of Abraham — the new Israel, the Catholic Church.
Interesting: Rebekah was a virgin, untouched by man, whereas the Samaritan was very much touched by man, seemingly. These could be simply five men who used the woman, or, the five false gods mentioned in your account. I had read that interpretation before, with much relish. The woman seems to understand Jesus literally, though.
Not sure this adds much, but I heard this passage explained this way this past Sunday. Thanks Mark for your good post! As was mentioned in other comments, the well is symbolic of marriage. Marriage is a covenant relationship, similar to the covenants established between God and His people. I have always seen in this woman a type of the chosen people of God; a people of 5 failed Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David covenants.
Could he be the Christ? Thus she represents the People of God, who will eventually become the Church, the bride of Christ. Christ meets his bride at the well, just as in the Old Testament. To his bride he will give living water in baptism we will no longer worship in Jerusalem but worship in spirit and in truth The Holy Eucharist.
What you said about the woman being herself an archetype of all of Samaria is pretty much straight out of the writings of Bl.
Who were the Samaritan woman’s five husbands?
It was about noon. How can you ask me for a drink? Where can you get this living water? Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
When Jesus speaks with the Samaritan woman in John , is the passage about her husbands literal, or symbolic of the five different tribes that were settled in her town? The Samaritan woman, unlike other individuals who speak with Jesus in the Gospel of John, is never named. Some interpreters have taken this anonymity as an invitation to view her as an abstraction, a symbol of Samaria itself. If she is a symbol, the thinking goes, then surely her five husbands could represent the five locations in Samaria that settlers are supposed to have been brought according to 2Kings This approach treats the Samaritan woman as a mere allegory.
Clueless preaching about the Samaritan woman misses the point
Why Did The Samaritan Woman At The Well Have So Many Marriages?
Whosoever drinketh of this water, shall thirst again; but he that shall drink of the water that I will give him, shall not thirst for ever: But the water that I will give him, shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting. The woman saith to him: Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come hither to draw. He is not speaking about H2O. He is clearly referring to something else; something like the waters of Baptism. Or perhaps he is referring to the gift of faith itself under the figure of water.
The Samaritan woman at the well is a figure from the Gospel of John , in John — The woman appears in John 4 :4—42, However below is John — But he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar , near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
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Samaritan woman at the well