The video is divided into two parts. The first three minutes are the reading of the Gospel according to John about Christ’s encounter with the Samaritan woman. An interview with the guardian of the well begins at the 3:30 mark.
Jacob’s Well is located in the West Bank near the city of Nabulus (Neapolis), formerly Samaria. The history of the site goes back well over 2,000 years. Although not mentioned directly in the Old Testament, scholars point to Genesis 33: 18 as a possible reference to Jacob settling there. Jacob’s Well played a prominent role in the New Testament as the place where Jesus met the Samaritan Woman in the fourth chapter of the Gospel of John.
“So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well.” – John 4: 5-6
As Jesus rested, a woman from Samaria approached to draw water from the well. St. Gregory Palamas, in his homily¹ on the Samaritan woman, describes how Jesus, through His divine perception, saw more than just a woman coming to quench her thirst.
“As man, the Lord was thirsty, and saw that someone who was naturally thirsty was coming to quench her thirst. As God, however, He also saw that her heart was athirst for the water of salvation, although she did not know Him who could give it to her. So He hastened to reveal Himself to her longing soul.”
In the conversation that followed, Jesus revealed the sinfulness of the Samaritan woman and gradually revealed Himself as the Messiah. She believed and, through repentance, went on to become Photini, one of the Church’s great martyrs and an equal to the apostles. She preached the Gospel of Christ from Samaria to Carthage and finally Rome, where she was martyred in 66 AD.
In the video, the guardian of Jacob’s Well, Father Ioustinos encourages the onlooking pilgrims to emulate the great saint. Though he speaks to those with him at Jacob’s Well, his advice is applies to all who go on pilgrimages.
“Just like the Samaritan woman left her sins by this well, and also the jar, so may you also leave behind both your sin as well as your worldly cares right here at this well and return to the country where you live and, as renewed people, proclaim (like Saint Photini) to the rest of the world what you have seen, what you’ve experienced, and what you’ve learned.”
Apolytikion in the Third Tone that is chanted on February 26, Saint Photini’s name day.
“All illumined by the Holy Spirit, you drank with great and ardent longing of the waters Christ the Saviour gave unto you; and with the streams of salvation were you refreshed, which you abundantly gave to those athirst. O Great Martyr and true peer of Apostles, Photini, entreat Christ God to grant great mercy unto us.”
We returned again to Jacob’s Well on a pilgrimage in 2014.
1. Saint Gregory Palamas: The Homilies (Mount Thabor Publishing) page 154.