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The Abandoned Water Jar, Part 4The Abandoned Water Jar, Part 4
by Lynn Anderson

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The Woman Nobody Wanted

    Race lines in Belfast, Kosovo, and the Middle East could scarcely be more tautly drawn than those ancient lines between Jews and Samaritans.

    It all began centuries earlier, when the Assyrians carried the northern tribes of Judah into captivity. The Jews had betrayed their heritage by intermarrying with the Assyrians, thus diluting their bloodline and creating a “mongrel race” called the Samarirans. Their religion became contaminated too. By the time the Samaritans returned to their homeland, their views of God were greatly garbled.

    By contrast, when the southern Hebrew tribes were carried off into captivity, they stubbornly resisted the Babylonian culture. They returned from Babylon to Jerusalem, proud that they had compromised neither convictions nor culture. They would remind the Samaritans of the southern superiority at the drop of a skullcap. Even when the Samaritans offered to help rebuild the Jerusalem Temple, the southern Jews vehemently rejected their assistance, and more bricks were set into the wall of prejudice and resentment between Jews and Samaritans. So the Samaritans built their own temple; but in 129 B.C. a Jewish general destroyed it, a slap to Samaritan dignity that stung for centuries. Meanwhile, Jewish bigotry only deepened. So the woman who faced Jesus that day belonged to an unwanted heritage.

She was a reject, shoved to the edge of humanity...
    This woman also belonged to an unwanted gender: female. In the ancient Middle East, men did not reward femininity with special courtesies and chivalry. In fact, they systematically degraded woman. Some men wouldn’t speak to women in public, not even their own wives or daughters. A few were so fanatical that they would literally close their eyes when passing a woman in the street. These were nicknamed the “bruised and bleeding rabbis” because they often collided with walls and trees while their eyes were closed. (Men today sometimes bump into things when they sight a woman coming down the street, but not because their eyes are closed!)

    As if it wasn’t enough that our water-bucket lady was from a throw-away culture and a throw-away sex, this Samaritan woman also seemed unwanted by her own people. Having gone through five husbands, she was now shacked up with a “lover.” Her history of rootless romances draped over her like a sandwich sign, advertising to all that she was a social leper, not welcome at the morning well with proper people. She was a reject, shoved to the edge of humanity, a target of cruel jokes and lustful men. Doubtless, she could see nothing ahead but the empty drudgery of the water buckets and “wifely” bed of a man who wasn’t even her husband. Yet way down inside of her, she had not stopped wishing that somewhere, sometime, some way, God would touch his people — that he would touch her!

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      Excerpted from The Jesus Touch, ©2002, Howard Publishing Company. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

      Title: "The Abandoned Water Jar, Part 4"
      Author: Lynn Anderson
      Publication Date: August 7, 2002


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Lynn Anderson is a preacher, noted author and founder of the Hope Network Ministries, based in San Antonio.


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