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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Jacob's Well

On a low slope of Mount Gerizim, at the opening of the valley of Shechem, from which it is one mile and a half distant eastward, with the grainfields of the plain of El Mukna in front. Hence, appears the appropriateness of the allusions "our fathers worshipped in this mountain," namely, Gerizim, whereon the Samaritan temple stood (John 4:20); "lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest" (John 4:25). The distance from Shechem (Sychar) is no objection; for even if the Samaritan woman's coming to the well was not the result of a providential accident, the sacredness of Jacob's well and the excellence of its deep drawn water would account for her coming so far. It was not the public city well, otherwise it would have been furnished with some means of drawing the water (John 4:11). The sinking of so deep a well would only be undertaken by some one who had not access to the neighbouring streams and fountains.

The patriarchs had never want of pasture in Canaan, but often difficulties as to water (Genesis 21:25-30; Genesis 26:13-15; Genesis 26:18-22). Jacob therefore naturally provided himself with a well in his field just purchased (Genesis 33:17-19). With characteristic prudence he secured on his own property, by great labour, a perennial supply at a time when the surrounding watersprings, which abound on the surface, were in the hands of unfriendly neighbours. Formerly there was a a square hole opening into a vaulted chamber 15 feet square, in the floor of which was the well's mouth. The vault has fallen, so that stones have fallen in and much reduced its original depth, in Maundrell's time it was 105 feet deep; now it is often dry, at other times it has a few feet of water.

Caspari (Chronicles and Geog. Introd. to Life of Christ) says Sychar originally extended further to the S., and consequently a large part of it lay nearer to Jacob's well than to the fountain Ain el Askar at the N. side of the opening of the valley of Nablus toward the E. Those at the S. of Sychar would repair to Jacob's well rather than to Ain el Askar, which is ten minutes' walk from Jacob's well. The true mouth of the well is but four feet long, and opens into the well itself, which is seven and a half feet in diameter, and now owing to rubbish only 75 ft. deep. The vaulted chamber was possibly the crypt of the church built over the well in the 4th century. Dr. Rogers and Miss Peache have contributed 150 British pounds for clearing the well and protecting it with stonework (Palestine Exploration Quarterly Statement, April 1877).

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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Jacob's Well'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/fbd/j/jacobs-well.html. 1949.

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