A different take on the story of the Samaritan Woman.
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” – John 4:15-18, ESV.
What do you think about when you think about the Samaritan woman in this passage? Is she adulterous? Is she dirty? Is she filthy?
What if I told you that there’s a possibility that she isn’t who you think she is?
Can it be that her husband passed away and she had to marry her husband’s brother to fulfill her duty of carrying on the family lineage? Can it be that all the brothers of her husband’s family died in her lifetime? Is this a possibility?
“If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead man shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her as his wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. And the first son whom she bears shall succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel.”
— Deuteronomy 25:5-6
Israel, during Jesus’ time, still practices this particular law of Moses. This was why the Pharisees challenged Jesus with this exact scenario:
“Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife and died without children. And the second and the third took her, and likewise, all seven left no children and died. Afterward, the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.”
— Luke 20:29-33
So, do you still think that she’s adulterous? Can her “five husbands” be “five brothers” of the same family? Can her past marriages be seen as her effort to fulfill her marital duties?
Truth be told, the Bible did not tell us her actual stories. We do not know if the woman’s act of drawing water at noon was due to her guilt or her lack of self-esteem from the death of her husbands. We really do not know. Nowhere in the Bible did Jesus or anyone mention that the Samaritan woman was adulterous. Hence, it should also not be for us to judge her for her past.
We should look at things holistically, approaching things from all angles and centering our analysis of the Word of God on God alone rather than on the things that are pleasing to the eye.
Likewise, when we come into contact with others, do we see others the way God would see them? Will we listen carefully to their stories and pray for discernment rather than judging them? Or will we judge others based on certain things they say or do without taking the context into account? Will we be sensitive towards their background and their culture? Or will we impose our culture and norms on others?
Father, I’m sorry to have judged others. Whether consciously or unconsciously, I’ve looked at others from an earthly perspective. I’ve allowed stereotypes to fill my mind that I am unable to see what You have intended for me to see. Father, forgive me. Holy Spirit, open my eyes so that I may see the wondrous things around me. Speak to me so that I may discern with Your guidance, the real needs of others. Help me not to fall back on my earthly stereotypes and cause more hurt to others. Help me to see others from Your perspective that I may love them the way you would. I pray all these in Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen.