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12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”


12 Are You [emphatic] greater than our father Jacob,

With the emphasis on the word “You,” the woman became incredulous toward Jesus. In her view, Jesus was not greater than her forefather Jacob. Jacob and his well was a matter of pride to her. Jesus violated her heritage. She attempted to address the Jews’ low perception of the Samaritans by defending her tradition.

The woman also raised the question of Jesus’ identity. The Samaritans identified with Jacob and his well, a place distinguished in their history. She could not imagine anyone greater than Jacob. Later the Jews themselves asked whether Jesus was greater than Abraham (Jn 8:53). The following arguments in John will show that Jesus was greater than both.

Jesus and the woman were at Jacob’s Well. Her reference to Jacob had to do with the setting at that well. She already understood Jesus as a great individual but did not know how great. Her statement claimed Jacob as “our father.” Jews also considered Jacob as the founder of their nation.

The woman accused Jesus of arrogance because He implied somehow that He was greater than Jacob. She did not know that she made a comparison between a dead patriarch and the living God.

who gave us the well,

The Samaritans held Jacob’s Well and his heritage in common in the sense that the Samaritans were half Jewish.

and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”

The woman’s question expected a negative answer in the Greek. She could not conceive of Jesus as greater than Jacob. This well was a matter of pride because of its abundant water and history with Jacob.

Although she suspected that Jesus was not greater than Jacob, she was still open to what Jesus had to say. She thought that Jesus had too high of an opinion of Himself and was incredulous over Jesus’ statements, asking herself, “How can this tired, weary traveler be greater than Jacob?”


Material assumptions about life are not adequate.


Worldviews today are highly materialistic; they are confined to the physical dimension. This is much like the woman at the well. All she could see was some physical comfort for herself. That was all she wanted in life.

The woman’s conclusions were false. They were false because she sought satisfaction in something other than what God had to offer her. Human nature at heart stands in opposition to God and His Word. Unless there is some form of rebuff, people will remain in their lost state. God never allows doubt as a cloak for unbelief. Where there is honest doubt, God will meet it with the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Skepticism can lead to solutions if a person is open to truth.

The woman’s statement was in the form of a question. Her mind was still open. Although her conclusions at this point were still false, she knew too little. She needed to deal with her spiritual darkness.

God offers a gift while we offer human effort. We measure God by our assumptions rather than His.