Where do men go to find a potential date, a woman they might like to marry? Where do women go? I’m grateful not to be in today’s dating scene. But I assume they meet over common experiences, church, work, hobbies. Maybe in coffee shops? Even online!
Ron and I did not live in the same state; had no shared experiences – except Ron’s friend was going to marry my friend. We met at their wedding. Ron was the best man, I was helping with the bride’s reception. The bride’s parents welcomed the bridal party at their home, the day before the wedding. We were relaxing, playing games, getting to know one another. Ron and I struck up a conversation, taking a walk down by a stream. We sat on the log straddling the creek, finding we had much in common. Our romance began then, and was sealed in marriage 365 days later!
Interestingly, wells (water) were often where men and women met in the Bible. Let’s take a look –
“Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink. After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have had enough to drink.” So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels.Genesis 24:18-20
In Genesis 24, we read about Abraham commissioning Eliezer to find his son, Isaac, a wife. Abraham didn’t want Isaac to take a wife from the Canaanites; he wanted him to find a wife from his own people. Eliezer promised Abraham he would do as he wished. Being a God-fearing man, Eliezer asked God to give direction to his search. Eliezer arrived in Nahor in the evening when women go to the well. Eliezer counted on finding a woman who was hard-working, willing to water his many camels, and hospitable, willing to serve him water as well. It didn’t hurt that Rebekah was also beautiful! Eliezer had found THE one … Abraham AND Isaac would be pleased! A romance (although the future husband had not seen her yet) began at the well!
When Jacob saw Rachel daughter of his uncle Laban, and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep.Genesis 29:10
In Genesis 28, we hear Isaac instructing his son Jacob not to marry a Canaanite, but to go to his mother Rebekah’s family – and Jacob followed those instructions. He arrived in the afternoon as the shepherds were gathering the flocks by the well from which they would drink. In conversation Jacob learned that his family did still live nearby and that in fact his uncle’s daughter, Rachel, was a shepherdess. Jacob rolled the stone from the well and watered the sheep for her. Jacob was so elated at meeting her, he wept for joy! And a young romance begins at the well! Within the first month, Jacob was in love with Rachel!
Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock.Exodus 2:16-17
In Exodus 2, a young Moses flees Egypt because he knows he has been found out. He struck an Egyptian and he expects reprisal from Pharaoh. Moses flees to Midian, a desert region, and he stops by a well. He hasn’t been there long when the seven daughters of Reuel, (also known as Jethro), priest of Midian, comes to water their flocks. But the local men harass these sisters. Moses steps in, protects the women, and waters their flocks for them, helping them to actually complete their chores early. When they arrive home early, their father is curious. When they explain that an Egyptian helped them, Reuel offers Moses hospitality. The story lacks detail, we don’t know how long Moses enjoys the hospitality of Reuel before he is given Zipporah as his wife – maybe a few days, maybe longer! But clearly a romance begins at the well!
And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jarsRuth 2:9b
the men have filled.
In Ruth 2, the well is implied. There are vessels of water that have been drawn. A well had to be nearby. Ruth has arrived in Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, Naomi. They are destitute, no men to support them. Ruth wants to help Naomi by gathering the leftover grain. It was common in those days for those gleaning to leave the dropped grain for the poor among them to collect. Ruth meets Boaz in this field; in fact, it is Boaz that draws attention to the water. While a romance is not yet, there is definitely one to come!
In each of these stories a pattern emerges. A man goes to a distant place, encountering a woman at a well. Water is drawn, and the young woman tells her family about the man’s arrival. The man is offered hospitality, a meal, and wedding plans follow shortly thereafter. The pattern shifts in the story of Ruth to focus on her, the roles being reversed. It’s interesting that in each of these stories the protagonist is the one through whom God’s BIG story of redemption will follow.
So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”John 4:5-7
Jesus did not take the usual route from Judea to Galilee but Jesus took this route on purpose. And His story begins like the marriage proposal stories of old! A traveler, from afar, stops at a well, meets a woman, takes a drink. BUT there is NOTHING typical about this story! We know because this is such an iconic section of scripture that Jesus offers this woman “living water!” He uncovers her sin, identifies Himself as the Messiah, offers her redemption, and she experiences freedom from the burdens she had carried. AND then she tells the whole community! And many there believe, first because of her testimony, and then because they heard Jesus for themselves. (Click here to read another post about the woman at the well!)
So where’s the marriage proposal? Well, there is no typical marriage – remember NOTHING typical about this story. But there is a new relationship, a leaving behind, and a joining together – this woman and many in her community become Christ-followers who will one day sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb of God!
There is so much in Scripture. I happen to love patterns. (An aside – that’s one of the things I love about math, and something I still try to share with kids.) I love seeing patterns in the Word! The literary genius of many multiple authors over many years and yet still ONE majestic author producing rich literature, history, poetry, stories, insights … it is amazing, awe-inspiring, and motivates me to want to know the scripture better! And MOST of all to know this God who gives HIs Word to me!
What captures your imagination,
(that “holy” God-given imagination) as you read the Word?
When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.Jeremiah 15:16
Have you read through the Old Testament lately? If not, I invite you to dig in. You can read the whole Old Testament in 3 to 6 months by reading just 20 – 30 minutes a day! Will you take the challenge?