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Jacob's Well

Jacob's Well

Jacob's Well, in the basement of the Bir Ya'qub monastery in Nablus.

Jacob's Well, in the basement of the Bir Ya'qub monastery in Nablus.

Earlier this week, I received an email from the Israel Bible Center. On it, there was a drawing depicting Jesus sitting by Jacob's Well in Sychar speaking with the Samaritan woman. I enjoy looking at drawings like this. Because cameras were not invented until only recently, any ideas that we may have about what the site looked like is based on historical records and our own imagination. How one person may read the record and depict it in the own mind may be different than the way that someone else depicts it. Knowing that, I have little confidence in any single drawing. But in each one, there is probably an element of reality. 

Visiting the site today takes even more of an imagination. The well currently sits in the basement of a Eastern Orthodox Monestary in the modern city of Nablus. Entering the church building and going downstairs almost forces one to completely forget that for thousands of years, this well was outside and accessible to anyone walking by. Of course, that also included Jesus. 


Drawing from the Israel Bible Center depicting Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman at Jacob's Well.

Drawing from the Israel Bible Center depicting Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman at Jacob's Well.

Walking Like Jesus (Hills of Samaria)

samaria John tells us...

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” he woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 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.” - John 4:1-15

The picture at the top of this post is of the hills in the region of Samaria.

Jesus walked here.

What lesson can we learn from Jesus as He walked through Samaria? We can learn that we should spend time with people who are different than we are.

Walking through Samaria is not easy. The seemingly unending hills and valleys would have been very tiring. If I were to walk through this region, I know how I would react. I would get thirsty. And, I would be looking for someone to give me some water.

As Jesus nears Sychar, He is thirsty and approaches a Samaritan woman and asks her for some water. She even questions Jesus' actions as she knows that Jesus (being a Jew) normally would not associate with her (being a Samaritan). But, Jesus was willing to overlook those cultural differences because He had more in mind than water. He wanted to talk with her about God.

Do you want to walk like Jesus? Then walk through the hills of Samaria and find someone who is different than you. Once you have found them, talk to them about Jesus.

One Year Ago - Up To Jerusalem

bethshan NOTE: I am continuing my series of retrospective posts on the our tour one year ago. I invite you to start at the beginning and read through all of them.

A year ago today, we went "up to Jerusalem". I have read that phrase a hundred times in the Scriptures. But until you actually go up those mountains and find Jerusalem on the ridge, you don't quite understand it.

We left our hotel in Tiberias and traveled south, stopping on Beit-shan. The excavations at this city are amazing and from the top of the tel, you can see the strategic importance of this city. Any traffic traveling east-to-west through the Harod Valley or north-to-south through the Jordan Rift Valley could be closely monitored by this city.

We followed this stop with visits to the Spring of Harod (where Gideon gathered his army of 300 men), Jezreel (where Ahab and Jezebel had a palace) and Samaria (which was one of the capitals of the Northern Kingdom of Israel).

Traveling through this area allows you to see multiple examples of terraced farming, which demonstrates how the early inhabitants of the land adopted this hilly countryside into useable farmland.

Our journey for today ended at one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Jerusalem.

Tomorrow: From the heights of Jerusalem, to the lowest place on earth.

2015 Israel Poster B

Have you been enjoying these posts on last year's tour? Are you interested in traveling with me this year? Then, I would love to have you join me. Our 12-day tour is scheduled for October 12-23. We will stay one night on the Mediterranean Sea, three nights on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and five nights in beautiful Jerusalem. During the day, we will visit dozens of sites that will enhance your understanding of the land and of the Biblical stories that take place in them. Reservations are coming in, but we still have some availability! This is a first-class tour with many extras thrown in that many Israel tours overlook. If you are interested, I encourage you to read the itinerary and contact me personally for more details.

Man with Donkey at Samaria

05_Man_w_Donkey_Samaria In lands with such ancient roots like Israel, one can see ancient traditions maintained even today, including the use of donkeys as pack animals.  Just as in the days of the patriarchs, donkeys are still loaded with goods and household necessities, such as groceries and wood.  The only difference is that the drivers seldom wear the heat-repelling robes of antiquity in favor of soccer jerseys and skinny jeans.

Samaria Sunset

2_Samaria_Sunset_1 From the tel of ancient Samaria, one can see the long stretch of mountains and mountain passes that make up the road from the Shechem Valley to the famous trading routes along the coast.  Looking west, generations of its inhabitants have marveled at nature’s beauty as they watched the sun set over the Mediterranean beyond the hills.

Up To Jerusalem

Up To Jerusalem


Today’s goal was to travel from the Sea of Galilee to the city of Jerusalem. As in Biblical times, there are a variety of paths you can take to accomplish this. From the Sea of Galilee, we travelled south to the city of Beit-shan. This site is a beautiful place to visit. You could easily spend a full day here and only then get started good. Our group split into two parts with some of the tour members climbing to the top of the tel and the remaining members touring the Roman site on the floor. Overall, it was a great stop.

Our next stop was the Spring of Harod. This site is very simple, but provides gives the visitors a wonderful visual of the battle between the army of Gideon and the Midianites.

Our last stop before heading into Samaria was the site of Jezreel. This was such an important city in the history of the northern kingdom of Israel. The view was a little hazy, but it was still breathtaking. We were able to see the workers down at the Jezreel Expedition archaeological dig as they were breaking for lunch.

samariaTraveling through the West Bank took us to the city of Samaria. Kings Omri and Ahab purchased this hill and built their palace here to rule the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The views from this site allows you to see the mountains all around and helps you appreciate how difficult it was to travel through this region.

Our final stop for the day was at Jacob's Well in the modern city of Nablus (ancient Sychar). This well, which now sits in the basement of a Greek Orthodox church building, is the same well that Jacob dug so many years ago. Jesus later had a discussion with a Samaritan woman while she was drawing water at this well.

Late this afternoon, we arrived in the beautiful city of Jerusalem. We’ve checked into the hotel and had a good dinner. After a good night’s sleep, we’ll be ready to tackle everything this city has to offer.

Until tomorrow...

Satellite Bible Atlas Video of Samaria

Satellite Bible Atlas Video of Samaria


In the past, I have written about the Satellite Bible Atlas by Bill Schlegel.  This is an excellent resource and I encourage everyone to purchase it.  I have also written about the videos that are being produced to accompany the atlas.  These are also very informative. Yesterday, Bill Schlegel released another video covering the hill country of Samaria.  Once again, it is well done and very informative.  I encourage you to watch it (multiple times).  I know that I will.

Note:  The picture at the top of this post is of the mountains in central Samaria. If you are reading this post from an email, you might have to click on the title to see the image. 

Being Thankful

Being Thankful


Now it happened as Jesus went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” - Luke 17:11-19

Leprosy was a terrible disease. Outside of the disfiguring physical effects, the social effects were even more disheartening. Lepers were completely ostracized from society. No one cared for them and they were forced to stay away from everyone else. You can even see that in the passage above in the fact when Jesus first saw the lepers, they "stood afar off". So, when this man realizes that he has been given a great gift, he immediately stops what he is doing to turn around and say "thanks". What a wonderful and appropriate thing to do.

I'm thankful that I live in a country that pauses for a day to say "thanks". And, we have so much to be thankful for. Sometime today, in between the parades and the football games and the turkey and the naps take a few minutes to list the things that you are thankful for. It will be a humbling and satisfying experience.

Happy Thanksgiving.

(The picture at the top of this page is of the Jezreel Valley and the Hill of Moreh from the tel at Jezreel. In the passage, it is mentioned that Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem in the midst of, or on the border of, Galilee and Samaria. While we do not know for sure exactly where Jesus was, it was probably in the general area of this picture. Just beyond the Hill of Moreh is the hills of Galilee and the mountains of Samaria rise behind the picture in the opposite direction. NOTE: If you are reading this post from an email, just click on the title and view this post from a webpage to see the picture.)

Walking through Samaria

The mountains of central Samaria.Last September, I had the privilege of traveling through the area of the West Bank that we commonly refer to as Samaria. During my time in that region, I was amazed at the size of the hills and mountains in the region. The picture at right was taken from the ancient city of Samaria looking toward the north. As I stood there looking at those hills, I considered what it would be like to walk through this area from Jerusalem to Galilee. It would probably be a tiring trip. And, I'd probably get hungry. And thirsty. Then I remembered the story in John 4.

Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria. 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. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 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?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” - John 4:1-14

2012 Israel Trip - Day Six

2012 Israel Trip - Day Six


Today is Sunday, which is always a special day. However, when you wake up on a Sunday morning by the Sea of Galilee and end it in Jerusalem, it makes is an extra special day. After spending a period of time in worship, we loaded the bus and headed south and away from the Sea of Galilee. The Galilee area is a very special place and I hated to leave it. (I guess I'll just have to come back.) Our first stop was at Bet-She'an, an ancient city that guarded the southeastern end of the Jezreel Valley. The ruins at Bet-She'an are extremely impressive. It reminded me of the ruins at Jerash, Jordan, which I visited two years ago. There are ruins from several different periods including Roman and Canaanite. The view from the top of the ancient tel looking over the Roman ruins is not one that I'll ever forget. (I also won't forget how hot it was and the taste of the Magnum bar I had at the end of the tour.)

From there we traveled to the Spring of Harod. This is the location where Gideon narrowed down his army to 300 men to fight the Midianites who were camped across the valley at the base of the Hill of Moreh. This is one of my favorite places because it puts on display how accurate the Bible is with regards to geographical descriptions and locations. You can see the entire story laid out in front of you. It is incredible.

At Jezreel, we were able to see the excavations taking place and the wonderful view of the Jezreel Valley below. We were also reminded that Phil Roberts, a man who many of us admired so greatly, spent many hours at Jezreel.

From there we turned south and were able to travel across the mountains of Samaria. Since most of Samaria is in the West Bank, travel through that area is not always possible. However, at this time, the situation is peaceful which provided us a rare opportunity. I was amazed. I never realized hour mountainous Samaria was. We were able to visit the city of Samaria as well as spend time at Jacob's Well in Nabulus.

Soon thereafter, we arrived safely in Jerusalem where we checked into a wonderful hotel. Our day tomorrow starts off on top of the Mount of Olives. I can't wait.