Strangers in the night

Psalm 95
Exodus 17:1-7
Romans 5:1-11
John 4:5–42

A stranger approaches Jacob's Well at high noon. He is tired and thirsty. There he meets a woman who has come to draw water. Something happens between them. . . . The original readers of the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman must have felt themselves on familiar ground. The scene and characters would have awakened resonances to another wellside story, a romance, lodged deep in the community's memory: In Genesis 29 the sojourner Jacob comes to a well at "high day" where he beholds his kinswoman Rachel and, Genesis adds dryly, her father's sheep. He waters the sheep. "Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and wept aloud." Boy meets girl; boy kisses girl; boy and girl eventually (with a huge assist from Leah) create a family of tribes, the children of Israel. That's the way a love story is supposed to turn out.


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