Jesus in Bethoron. The Hardships and Privations of the Disciples
It was toward eight o’clock in the morning when Jesus arrived in Bethoron. A couple of the disciples went to the dwelling of the Elders and demanded the keys of the synagogue, as their Master wanted to deliver an instruction; others scattered through the streets and summoned the people to the school, while Jesus went with the rest to the synagogue, which was soon filled with auditors. He taught again in severe terms on the parable of the lord of the vineyard whose servants were murdered by the unfaithful vinedressers, whose son whom he had sent to them shared the same fate, and who at last gave the vineyard into the hands of others. He spoke like-wise of the persecution of the Prophets and the imprisonment of John, saying that they would persecute Him also and lay hands upon Him, and
He ended by predicting the judgment and woe that were to come upon Jerusalem. This discourse occasioned great excitement among the Jews. Some rejoiced, while others muttered angrily to one another: “Whence came this Man so unexpectedly here? No one knew of His arrival!” And some who had heard that there were women, followers of Jesus, at the inn in the valley, went out to question them on the designs of their Master.
Jesus cured several that were sick of a fever, and after some hours left the city.
Veronica, Johanna Chusa, and Obed’s widow had arrived at the inn, and prepared a luncheon. Jesus and the disciples partook of it standing, after which they girded themselves and recommenced their journey. Jesus taught on this same day in Kibzaim on similar subjects as at Bethoron, also in some small shepherd settlements. All the disciples were not present in Kibzaim, but they met again at a large house belonging to a shepherd. It was surrounded by outbuildings and stood on the confines of Samaria. Mary and Joseph had been hospitably received there on their journey to Bethlehem, after having vainly sought admittance elsewhere. Here Jesus and the disciples, about fifteen in all, ate and slept. Lazarus and the women had returned to Bethania.
On the next day Jesus and the disciples sometimes together, sometimes in separate groups, passed rapidly through several large cities and small towns that lay in a district of some hours in extent. Gabaa and Najoth, about four hours from Kibzaim, were among them. In none of these places did Jesus take time to go to the synagogues to teach, but instructed the crowds that gathered to hear Him on hills in the open air, on the public places, and in the streets. Several of the disciples remained with Jesus, while the others scattered through the valleys and shepherd villages to call the dwellers to the places which Jesus was to pass. The whole day’s work was performed with incredible hardship and fatigue, with constant going from place to place. Jesus cured many sick, some of whom were carried to Him, but others cried out themselves for His aid. There were some lunatics among them. Many possessed ran clamoring after Him, but He commanded them to be silent and to retire.
What made that day’s work still more wearisome, was the bad dispositions of the people and the insults of the Pharisees. These places, being near Jerusalem, were full of people who had taken part against Jesus. It was then as it is now in little places, they talk of everything without understanding anything. It was to such people that Jesus suddenly appeared with His band of disciples and His grave and denunciatory preaching. He repeated the instructions delivered at Bethoron, spoke of the graces now offered for the last time, after which would come the day of Justice, and again alluded to the ill-usage of the Prophets, the imprisonment of John, and the persecution directed against Himself. He brought forward above all the parable of the Lord of the vineyard, who had now sent His Son. He said that the Kingdom would soon come and the King’s Son would enter into possession of it. He often cried, “Woe!” to Jerusalem and to them that would not receive His Kingdom, would not do penance. These severe and menacing discourses were interrupted by many acts of charity and by the cure of the sick. In this way, Jesus journeyed from place to place.
The disciples had much to endure, and it was often very hard for them. On reaching a town or village and announcing the coming of Jesus, they often heard the scornful words: “What! Is He coming again! What does He want? Whence comes He? Has He not been forbidden to preach?” And they laughed at them, derided and insulted them. There were, indeed, a few that rejoiced to hear of Jesus’ coming, but they were very few. No one ventured to attack Jesus Himself, but wherever He taught, surrounded by His disciples, or proceeded along the street followed by them, the crowd shouted after them. They stopped the disciples and plied them with impertinent questions, pretending that they had misunderstood or only half comprehended His severe words, and demanding an explanation. Meanwhile other cries resounded, cries of joy at some cure just wrought by Jesus. This scandalized the crowd and they fell back and left Him. And so He continued till evening these rapid and fatiguing marches without rest or refreshment.
I noticed how weak and human the disciples still were in the beginning. If during Jesus’ instructions, they were questioned as to His meaning, they shook their head as if they had not understood what He really meant. Nor were they satisfied with their condition. They thought to themselves: “Now we have left all things, and what have we for it but all this tumult and embarrassment? Of what kind of a kingdom is He always speaking? Will He really gain it?” These were their thoughts. They kept them concealed in their own breast, though often manifesting discouragement in their countenance. John alone acted with the simplicity of a child. He was perfectly obedient and free from constraint. And yet the disciples had seen and were still witnessing so many miracles!
It was indeed touching to think that Jesus knew all their thoughts, and yet acted as if wholly ignorant of them. He changed nothing in His manner, but calmly, sweetly, and earnestly went on with His work.
Jesus journeyed far into the night of that day. When on this side of a little river that forms the boundary of Samaria, He and His disciples stopped for the night among some shepherds from whom they received little or nothing. The river water was not fit for drinking. It was a narrow stream and here, not far from its source at the foot of Garizim, made a rapid turn toward the west.
Jesus at Jacob’s Well Near Sichar. Dina, The Samaritan
On the following day Jesus crossed the little river and, leaving Mount Garizim to the right, approached Sichar. Andrew, James the Greater, and Saturnin accompanied Him, the others having scattered in different directions. Jesus went to the Well of Jacob, on a little hill in the inheritance of Joseph to the north of Mount Garizim and south of Mount Ebal. Sichar lay about a quarter of an hour to the west in a valley which ran along the west side of the city for about an hour. About two good hours northward from Sichar stood the city of Samaria upon a mountain.
Several deeply rutted roads ran from different points around the little hill and up to the octangular buildings that enclosed Jacob’s Well, which was surrounded by trees and grassy seats. The springhouse was encircled by an open arched gallery under which about twenty people could find standing room. Directly opposite the road that led from Sichar and under the arched roof was the door, usually kept shut, that opened into the springhouse proper. There was an aperture in the cover of the latter, which could be closed at pleasure. The interior of the little springhouse was quite roomy. The well was deep and surrounded by a stone rim high enough to afford a seat. Between it and the walls, one could walk around freely. The well had a wooden cover, which when opened disclosed a large cylinder just opposite the entrance and lying across the well. On it hung the bucket which was unwound by means of a winch.
Opposite the door was a pump for raising the water to the top of the wall of the springhouse, whence it flowed out to the east, south, and west under the surrounding arches into three little basins dug in the earth. They were intended for travelers to perform their ablutions and wash their feet, also for watering beasts of burden.
It was toward midday when Jesus and the three disciples reached the hill. Jesus sent them on to Sichar to procure food, for He was hungry, while He Himself ascended the hill alone to await them. The day was hot, and Jesus was very tired and thirsty. He sat down a short distance from the well on the side of the path that led up from Sichar. Resting His head upon His hand, He seemed to be patiently waiting for someone to open the well and give Him to drink. And now I saw a Samaritan woman of about thirty years, a leathern bottle hanging on her arm, coming up the hill from Sichar to draw water. She was beautiful, and I remarked how briskly and vigorously, and with what long strides she mounted the hill. Her costume appeared somewhat studied, and there was an air of distinction about it. Her dress was striped blue and red embroidered with large yellow flowers; the sleeves above and below the elbow were fastened by yellow bracelets, and were ruffled at the wrist. She wore a white stomacher ornamented with yellow cords. Her neck was entirely concealed by a yellow woolen collar thickly covered with strings of pearl and coral. Her veil, very fine and long, was woven of some rich, woolen material. It hung down her back, but by means of a string could be drawn together and fastened around her waist. When thus worn, it formed a point behind and on either side folds in which the elbows could comfortably rest. When both sides of the veil were fastened on the breast, the whole of the upper part of her person was enveloped as if in a mantle. Her head was bound with fillets that entirely concealed the hair. From her headdress there arose above the forehead something like a little tower or a crown. Tucked up behind it lay the forepart of the veil which, when let down over her face, reached to the breast.
She had her large, brownish goat or camel-hair apron with its open pockets, thrown up over her right arm, so that the leather bottle hanging on that arm was partly concealed. This apron was similar to those usually worn at such work as drawing water. It protected the dress from the bucket and water bottle.
The bottle was of leather, and like a seamless sack. It was convex on two sides, as if lined with a firm, arched, wooden surface; but the two others, when the bottle was empty, lay together in folds like those of a pocketbook. On the two firm sides were leather covered handles through which ran a leather strap used for carrying it on the arm. The mouth of the bottle was narrow. It could be opened like a funnel for receiving the contents, and closed again like a work pouch. When empty, the bottle hung flat on the side, but when filled it bulged out, holding as much as an ordinary water bucket.
It was under this guise that I saw the woman briskly ascending the hill, to get water from Jacob’s Well for herself and others. I took a fancy to her right away. She was so kind, so frank, so openhearted. She was called Dina,1 was the child of a mixed marriage, and belonged to the sect of Samaritans. She lived in Sichar, but it was not her birthplace. Her peculiar circumstances were unknown to the inhabitants, among whom she went by the name of Salome. Both she and her husband were very much liked on account of their open, friendly, and obliging manners.
The windings of the path by which she mounted the hill prevented Dina’s seeing the Lord until she actually stood before Him. There was something startling in the sight as He sat there exhausted and all alone on the path leading to Jacob’s Well. He wore a long, white robe of fine wool like an alb, bound with a broad girdle. It was a garment such as the Prophets wore, and which the disciples usually carried for Him. He made use of it only on solemn occasions when He preached, or fulfilled some Prophecy.
Dina coming thus suddenly upon Jesus was startled. She lowered her veil and hesitated to advance, for the Lord was sitting full in her path. I saw passing through her mind the characteristic thoughts: “A man! What is he doing here? Is it a temptation?” She saw that Jesus was a Jew as, beaming with benevolence, He graciously drew His feet back, for the path was narrow, with the words: “Pass on, and give Me to drink!”
These words touched the woman, since the Jews and the Samaritans were accustomed to exchange only glances of mutual aversion, and so she still lingered, saying: “Why art Thou here all alone at this hour? If anyone should happen to see me here with Thee, he would be scandalized.” To which Jesus answered that His companions had gone on to the city to purchase food. Dina said: “Indeed! The three men whom I met? But they will find little at this hour. What the Sichemites have prepared for today, they need for themselves.” She spoke as if it were either a feast or a fast that day in Sichar, and named another place to which they should have gone for food.
But Jesus again said: “Pass on, and give Me to drink!” Then Dina passed by Him. Jesus arose and followed her to the well, which she unlocked. While going thither, she said: “How canst Thou, being a Jew, ask a drink from a Samaritan?” And Jesus answered her: “If thou didst know the gift of God and who He is that sayeth to thee: ‘Give Me to drink,’ thou wouldst perhaps have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.”
Then Dina loosened the cover and the bucket, meanwhile saying to Jesus, who had seated Himself on the rim of the well: “Sir, thou hast nothing wherein to draw, and the well is deep. Whence then hast Thou living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob who gave us this well, and drank thereof himself and his children and his cattle?” As she uttered these words, I had a vision of Jacob’s digging the well and the water’s springing up. The woman understood Jesus’ words to refer to the water of this well and so, as she was speaking, she put the bucket on the cylinder, which turned heavily, lowered it and drew it up again. She pushed up her sleeves with the bracelets until they puffed out high above the elbow, and in this way with bare arms she filled her leather bottle out of the bucket. Then, taking a little vessel made of bark and shaped like a horn, she filled it with water and handed it to Jesus, who sitting on the rim of the well drank it and said to her: “Whosoever drinketh of this water, shall thirst again, but he that shall drink of the water that I shall give him, shall not thirst forever. Yes, the water that I will give him, shall become in him a fountain of water springing into life everlasting.”
Dina replied eagerly: “Sir, give me that living water, that I may no more thirst nor have to come with so much fatigue to draw.” She was struck by His words “living water” and had a presentiment, though without being fully conscious of it, that Jesus meant by the “living water” the fulfillment of the Promise. And so it was under prophetic inspiration that she uttered her heartfelt prayer for that living water. I have always felt and understood that those persons with whom the Redeemer treated are not to be considered as mere individuals. They perfectly represented a whole race of people, and they did so, because they belonged to the plenitude of time. And so in Dina the Samaritan, there stood before the Redeemer the whole Samaritan sect, so long separated from the true faith of Israel, from the fountain of living water.
Jesus at the Well of Jacob thirsted after the chosen souls of Samaria, in order to refresh them with the living waters from which they had cut themselves off. It was that portion of the rebellious sect still open to salvation that here thirsted after this living water and, in a certain way, reached out an open hand to receive it. Samaria spoke through Dina: “Give me, O Lord, the Blessing of the Promise! Help me to obtain the living water from which I may receive more consolation than from this temporal Well of Jacob, through which alone we still have communication with the Jews.”
When Dina had thus spoken, Jesus said to her: “Go home, call thy husband, and come back hither!” and I heard Him give the command twice, because it was not to instruct her alone that He had come. In this command the Redeemer addressed the whole sect: “Samaria, call hither him to whom thou belongest, him who by a holy contract is lawfully bound to thee.” Dina replied to the Lord: “I have no husband!”
Samaria confessed to the Bridegroom of souls that she had no contract, that she belonged to no one. Jesus replied: “Thou hast said well, for thou hast had five husbands, and he with whom thou now livest is not thy husband. Thou hast spoken truly.” In these words the Messiah said to the sect: “Samaria, thou speakest the truth. Thou hast been espoused to the idols of five different nations, and thy present alliance with God is no marriage contract.”2 Here Dina, lowering her eyes and hanging her head, answered: “Sir, I see that Thou art a Prophet,” and she drew down her veil. The Samaritan sect recognized the divine mission of the Lord, and confessed its own guilt.
As if Dina understood the prophetic meaning of Jesus’ words: “and he with whom thou livest is not thy husband,” that is, thy actual connection with the true God is imperfect and illegal, the religion of the Samaritans has by sin and self-will been separated from God’s covenant with Jacob; as if she felt the deep significance of these words, she pointed toward the south, to the temple not far off on Mount Garizim, and said questioningly: “Our Fathers adored on that mountain, and you say that Jerusalem is the place where men must adore?” Jesus replied with the words: “Woman! Believe Me, the hour cometh when neither in Garizim nor in Jerusalem wilt thou adore the Father.” In this reply He meant to say: “Samaria, the hour cometh when neither here nor in the sanctuary of the Temple will God be adored, because He walks in the midst of you,” and He continued: “You adore that which you know not, but we adore that which we know, for salvation is of the Jews.” Here He related to her a similitude of the wild, unfruitful suckers of trees, which shoot forth into wood and foliage, but produce no fruit. It was as if He had said to the sect: “Samaria, thou hast not security in thy worship. Thou hast no union, no sacrament, no pledge of alliance, no Ark of the Covenant, no fruit. The Jews, from whom the Messiah will be born, have all these things, the Promise, and its fulfillment.”
And again Jesus said: “But the hour cometh and now is when the true adorers will adore the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father wills such to adore Him. God is a spirit, and they that adore Him must adore Him in spirit, and in truth.” By these words the Redeemer meant: “Samaria, the hour cometh, yea, it now is, when the Father by true adorers will be honored in the Holy Ghost and in the Son, who is the Way and the Truth.” Dina replied: “I know that the Messiah cometh. When He is come, He will tell us all things.” In these words here at the Well of Jacob, spoke that portion of the Samaritan sect, which might lay some legitimate claim to the Promise: “I hope for, I believe in the coming of the Messiah. He will help us.” Jesus responded: “I am He, I who now speak to thee!”
By this He said to all Samaria that would be converted: “Samaria! I came to Jacob’s Well athirst for thee, thou water of this well. And when thou didst give Me to drink, I promised thee living water that would never let thee thirst again. And thou didst, hoping and believing, make known to Me thy longing for this water. Behold, I reward thee, for thou hast allayed My thirst after thee by thy desire after Me! Samaria, I am the Fountain of living water. I who now speak to thee, am the Messiah.”
As Jesus pronounced the words: “I am the Messiah,” Dina, trembling with holy joy, gazed at Him in amazement. But suddenly recovering herself, she turned and, leaving her water bottle standing and the well open, she fled down the hill to Sichar, to tell her husband and all whom she met what had happened to her. It was strictly forbidden to leave the Well of Jacob open, but what cared Dina now for the Well of Jacob! What cared she for her bucket of earthly water! She had received the living water, and her loving, joyous heart was longing to pour its refreshing streams over all her neighbors. But as she was hurrying out of the springhouse, she ran past the three disciples who had come with the food and had already been standing for some time at a little distance from the door, wondering what their Master could have to say for so long with a Samaritan woman. But through reverence for Him, they fore bore to question. Dina ran down to Sichar and with great eagerness said to her husband and others whom she met on the street: “Come up to Jacob’s Well! There you will see a man that has told me all the secret actions of my life. Come, He is certainly the Christ!’
Meanwhile the three disciples approached Jesus, who was still by the well, and offered Him some rolls and honey out of their basket, saying: “Master, eat!” Jesus arose and left the well with the words: “I have meat to eat which you know not.” The disciples said to one another: “Hath any man brought Him to eat?” and they thought to themselves: “Did that Samaritan woman give Him to eat?” Jesus would not stop to eat, but began descending the hill to Sichar. The disciples followed, eating. Jesus said to them as He went on before: “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, that I may perfect His work.” By that He meant, to convert the people of Sichar, after whose salvation His soul hungered. He spoke much more to the same purport.
When near the city, Dina the Samaritan again appeared hurrying back to meet Jesus. She joined Him respectfully, but full of joy and frankness, and Jesus addressed many words to her, sometimes standing still and sometimes moving slowly forward. He unfolded to her all her past life with all the dispositions of her soul. She was deeply moved and promised that both she and her husband would abandon all and follow Him. He pointed out to her many ways by which she could do penance for her sins and repair her scandals.
Dina was an intelligent woman of some standing in the world, the offspring of a mixed marriage, a Jewish mother and a pagan father, born upon a country seat near Damascus. She had lost her parents at an early age, and had been cared for by a dissolute nurse by whom her evil passions had been fostered. She had had five husbands one after another. Some had died of grief, others had been put out of the way by her new lovers. She had three daughters and two half-grown sons, all of whom had remained with the relatives of their respective fathers when their mother was obliged to leave Damascus.
Dina’s sons at a later period joined the seventy-two disciples. The man with whom she was now living was a relative of one of her former husbands. He was a rich merchant. As Dina followed the Samaritan religion, she had induced the man to remove to Sichar, where she superintended his household and lived with him, though without being espoused to him. They were looked upon in Sichar as a married couple. The husband was a vigorous man of about thirty-six years with a ruddy face and a reddish beard. There we’re many things in Dina’s life similar to those of Magdalen’s, but she had fallen more deeply than the latter. Still I once saw that in the beginning of Magdalen’s evil career at Magdalum, one of her lovers lost his life at the hand of a rival. Dina was an uncommonly gifted, open-hearted, easily influenced, pleasing woman of great vivacity and impetuosity, but she was always disturbed in conscience. She was living now more respectably, that is with this her reputed husband, in a house that stood alone and surrounded by a moat, near the gate leading from Sichar to the spring house. Though not held in contempt by the inhabitants, still they did not have much communication with her. Her manners were different from theirs, her costume elaborate and studied, all which, however, they pardoned in her as she was a stranger.
While Jesus was speaking with Dina, the disciples followed at some distance, wondering what He could have to say to the woman. “We have brought Him food, and that with a good deal of difficulty. Why, now, does He not eat?”
When near Sichar, Dina left the Lord and hurried forward to meet her husband and many of the citizens, who came pouring out of their houses, all curiosity to see Jesus. Full of joy, they exulted and shouted salutations of welcome to Him. Jesus, standing still, motioned with His hand for silence, and addressed them kindly for some moments, telling them among other things to believe all that the woman had told them. Jesus was so remarkably gracious in His words, His glance was so bright and penetrating that all hearts beat more quickly, all were borne toward Him, and they were instant in their solicitations for Him to enter and teach in their city. He promised that He would do so, but for the present passed on. This scene took place somewhere between three and four o’clock in the afternoon.
While Jesus was thus addressing the Samaritans outside the gate, all the other disciples, among them Peter, who in the morning had gone on commissions in a different direction, returned to their Master. They were surprised and not any too well pleased to see Him talking so long with the Samaritans. They felt somewhat embarrassed at it, for they had been reared in the preconceived idea that they were to have no communication with these people, consequently they had never before seen anything like this. They felt tempted to take scandal at it. They reflected upon the hardships of yesterday and the day before, on all the scorn and insult, on the cruel treatment that they had endured. They had expected an easier time, since the women of Bethania had advanced so much money for that end. Seeing now this intercourse with the Samaritans, they thought to themselves it was certainly no wonder when things went on in this way that they were not better received. Their heads were always full of extravagant, worldly fancies of the Kingdom that Jesus was to establish, and they thought if all this should become known in Galilee, they would indeed be derided.
Peter had in Samaria a long conversation with that young man who wanted to join the disciples, but who was still wavering. He afterward spoke with Jesus on the subject.
Jesus went with them all about a half-hour around the city to the north, and there rested under some trees. On the way thither the Lord had been conversing with them about the harvest, a subject which He now continued. He said, “There is a proverb often on the lips, ‘yet four months, and the harvest cometh.’ Sluggards are ever desirous of putting off their work, but they should look around and see all the fields standing white for the harvest.” Jesus meant the Samaritans and others who were ripe for conversion. “Ye, disciples, are called to the harvest, though ye have not sown. Others have sown, namely, the Prophets and John and I Myself. He that reapeth, receiveth wages and gathereth fruit for eternal life, that both He that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. For in this is the saying true, that it is one man that soweth and it is another that reapeth. I have sent you to reap that in which you did not labor. Others have labored and you have entered into their labors.” In this way Jesus spoke to the disciples in order to encourage them to the work. They rested only a short time and then separated, Andrew, Philip, Saturnin, and John remaining with Jesus, while the others went on to Galilee passing between Thebez and Samaria.
Jesus, leaving Sichar to the right, journeyed about an hour southward to a field around which were scattered twenty shepherd huts and tents. In one of the larger huts, the Blessed Virgin and Mary Cleophas, the wife of James the Greater, and two of the widows were awaiting Him. They had been there the whole day, having brought with them food and little flasks of balsam. They now prepared a meal. On meeting His Mother, Jesus extended both hands to her, while she inclined her head to Him. The women saluted Him by bowing their head and crossing their hands on their breast. There was a tree in front of the house, and under it they took the meal.
Among the shepherds dwelling around these parts were the parents of the youths whom Jesus, after the raising of Lazarus, took with Him on His journey to Arabia and Egypt. These people had come to Bethlehem in the suite of the three Holy Kings, had on account of the hasty departure of the latter remained behind in this country, and had married some of the shepherds’ daughters in the valley near Bethlehem. Shepherd settlements like that just mentioned were frequent in the winding valleys between this place and Bethlehem. The people dwelling here cultivated also the field of Joseph’s inheritance which they had rented from the Sichemites. There were many of them gathered here, but no Samaritans.
The first noteworthy incident that took place here was the Blessed Virgin’s begging Jesus to cure a lame boy whom some of the neighboring shepherds had brought thither. They had before doing so implored Mary’s intercession. Such things happened very often, and it was quite affecting to see her asking Jesus for these favors. Jesus commanded that the boy should be brought, and the parents bore him on a little litter to the door of the house in which Jesus was. The child was about nine years old. Jesus addressed some words of exhortation to the parents and, as they fell back, somewhat timidly awaiting the result, the disciples gathered around Jesus. He spoke to the boy, leaned a little over him, then took him by the hand and raised him up. The boy jumped out of the litter, took a few steps, and then ran into the arms of his parents, who cast themselves with him at Jesus’ feet. The crowd uttered cries of joy, but Jesus reminded them to thank the Heavenly Father. He then addressed a short instruction to the assembled shepherds and took with the disciples a light repast, which the women had prepared in an arbor under the great tree in front of the house. Mary and the women sat apart at the end of the table. I am under the impression that this house was taken for one of the private inns, and was prepared and served by the holy women of Capharnaum.
There approached now, and that rather timidly, several persons from Sichar, among them Dina, the woman of the well. They did not venture to draw near, because they were not accustomed to have intercourse with the Jewish shepherds. Dina, however, made bold to advance first, and I saw her
talking with the women and the Blessed Virgin. After the repast, Jesus and the disciples took leave of the holy women, who immediately set about preparing for their return journey to Galilee whither Jesus Himself was to go the next day but one.
Jesus now returned with Dina and the other Samaritans to Sichar, a city not very large, but with broad streets and open squares. The Samaritan house of prayer was a finer looking building, more ornamented than the synagogues of small Jewish places. The women of Sichar were not so reserved as the Jewish women; they communicated more freely with the men. As soon as Jesus entered Sichar, He was surrounded by a crowd. He did not go into their synagogue, but taught walking around here and there on the streets, and in one of the squares where there was an orator’s chair. Everywhere was the concourse of people very great, and they were full of joy at the Messiah’s having come to them.
Dina, though very much moved and very recollected, was of all the women the one that approached nearest to Jesus. Her neighbors now looked upon her with special regard, as she had been the first to find Jesus. She sent the man with whom she was living to Jesus, who spoke to him a few words of exhortation. He stood before Jesus quite embarrassed, and ashamed of his sins. Jesus did not tarry long in Sichar, but went out by the opposite gate and taught here and there among the houses and gardens that extended for some distance along the valley. He put up at an inn distant from Sichar a good half-hour, promising, however, to return to the city on the following day and give them an instruction.
When Jesus went again to Sichar, He taught the whole day, dividing the time between the orator’s chair in the city and the hills outside, and in the evening He taught again in the inn. From the whole country around came crowds to hear Him, and they followed Him from place to place. The cry was: “Now He is teaching here! Now He is teaching there!” The young man of Samaria also listened to the instructions, but he did not speak with Jesus.
Dina was everywhere foremost, everywhere made her way through the crowd to Jesus. She was very attentive, very earnest, and deeply impressed. She had had another interview with Jesus and was now about to separate from her reputed husband. They had resolved for Jesus’ sake to consecrate all their riches to the poor and the good of the future Church, Jesus told them how to proceed in the affair. Many of the Samaritans were profoundly touched by what they had seen and heard, and they said to Dina: “Thou hast spoken truly. We have now heard Him ourselves. He is the Messiah!” The good woman was quite out of herself, and so in earnest, so joyous! I have always loved her dearly.
Here as in former places, Jesus took for the subjects of His discourse: the imprisonment of John, the persecution of the Prophets, the Precursor charged to prepare the ways, and the son sent to the vineyard, but who was murdered by the wicked servants. He declared plainly that the Father had sent Him. He taught also upon all that He had said to the woman at the well, namely, the living water, Mount Garizim, salvation from the Jews, the nearness of the Kingdom and the Judgment, and the punishment inflicted upon the wicked servants who had put to death the son of the lord of the vineyard. Many of His hearers questioned Him as to where now they should be baptized and cleansed, since John was imprisoned. Jesus answered that John’s disciples were again baptizing near Ennon across the Jordan, and that, until He Himself should appear there with His disciples to give Baptism, they should go thither. On the following day, accordingly, crowds flocked to Ennon.
Next day Jesus taught at the inn and on the surrounding hills. His audience consisted of laborers, of all kinds of people, and those slaves whom, after His baptism, He had once consoled in the field of the shepherds near Bethabara. There were present also many spies sent by the Pharisees from the environs around. They listened to Him with anger in their hearts, stuck their heads together, and muttered jeeringly. But they did not attempt to accost Him, and He took no notice of them. Several Samaritan Doctors and others remained unmoved by His words, receiving them into a disaffected heart.
Jesus in Ginnaea and Ataroth. He Confounds the Wickedness of the Pharisees
When Jesus with His five disciples left the inn near Sichar, He journeyed leaving Thebez to the right and Samaria to the left, six hours further on to the city of Ginnaea, or Ginnim, situated in a valley on the boundary of Samaria and Galilee. Late in the evening they entered Ginnaea, their garments still tucked up and, as the Sabbath had begun, they went straight to the synagogue. The disciples who had journeyed on before them were likewise present. On leaving the synagogue, they went all together to a country seat belonging to Lazarus and which lay up among the mountains. Nearby was Little Thirza, where Jesus had already put up, and where also Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem had received lodgings. The steward, a man whose manners breathed the simplicity of ancient times, had many children. Jesus and His disciples spent the night there. The country seat may have been about three-quarters of an hour distant from Ginnaea. The holy women, on their return journey from Sichar, had spent the night in Thebez. The day of Jesus’ arrival here, the day before the Sabbath, was a fast in expiation of the murmuring of the Children of Israel. On the Sabbath Jesus taught in the synagogue. The passages read from Holy Scripture referred to the journey through the Wilderness, the parceling out of the Land of Canaan, and to something in Jeremias. Jesus interpreted all as bearing reference to the nearness of the Kingdom of God. He spoke of the murmuring of the Children of Israel in the desert, saying that they would have taken a much shorter way to the Promised Land, had they kept the Commandments that God gave them on Sinai, but on account of their sins they were obliged to wander, and they that murmured died in the desert. And so, too, would they among His present hearers wander in the desert and die therein, if they murmured against the Kingdom that was now at hand and with it the final mercy of God. Their life had been an image of that wandering in the desert, but they should now go by the shortest way to the promised Kingdom of God, which would be pointed out to them. He referred also to the dissatisfaction of the Children of Israel with the judgeship of Samuel, their clamoring after a king, and their receiving one in Saul. Now, when the Prophecy was fulfilled, when on account of their impiety the scepter had passed from Juda, they were again sighing for a king and for the reestablishment of the kingdom. God would send them a King, their true King, just as the lord of the vineyard had sent his own son after his servants had been murdered by the unfaithful vinedressers. But in the same way would they, too, expel their King and put Him to death. He also explained those verses of the Psalms that speak of the cornerstone rejected by the builders, applying them to the son of the lord of the vineyard, and spoke of the punishment that would fall upon Jerusalem. The Temple, He said, would not exist much longer, and Jerusalem itself would soon be unrecognizable. He referred likewise to Elias and Eliseus.
There were twelve obstinate Pharisees at this instruction, and when it was over they disputed with Jesus. They pointed to a roll of parchment, and asked what was meant by Jonas’ lying three days in the whale’s belly. Jesus answered: “In like manner will your King, the Messiah, lie three days in the grave, descend into Abraham’s bosom, and then rise again.” They laughed at that. Then three of the Pharisees came forward and, full of hypocrisy, said: “Venerable Rabbi, you speak always of the . Tell us, which is that shortest way?” Jesus answered: “Know ye the Ten Commandments given on Sinai?” They answered: “Yes.” He went on: “Observe the first of them, and love your neighbor as yourself. Lay not upon those under you heavy burdens that you do not impose upon yourselves. That is the way!” They replied: “We know all that!” Jesus rejoined: “That ye know all this and yet do nothing of it, constitutes your guilt, therefore will ye be chastised.” And He reproached them for burdening the people with unnecessary prescriptions while they themselves did not observe the Law itself, for that was especially the case in this city. He alluded also to the priestly robes prescribed by God to Moses, and of their mysterious signification. He convicted them of their nonfulfillment of these matters, for which they substituted many perversions and external forms. The Pharisees were highly exasperated, but they could not get the better of Jesus. They repeated to one another: “He is the Prophet from Nazareth! The carpenter’s Son, forsooth!” Most of them left the synagogue before Jesus had concluded His discourse. One only remained till the end and invited Jesus and His disciples to a repast. He was better than the rest, though still a lurker.
Some sick persons had been brought and placed outside the synagogue, and the Pharisees requested Jesus to cure them, that thereby they might see a sign. But Jesus refused to perform any cure, saying that they would not believe in Him, therefore they should see no sign. Their real aim was to tempt Him to heal on the Sabbath, that they might have something for which to bring an action against Him.
When the Sabbath was over, most of the disciples from Galilee returned to their homes, but Jesus with Saturnin and two other disciples went back to Lazarus’ country seat. How touching to see Him giving instructions to the children of the steward and those of the neighbors, first to the boys and then to the girls. He spoke of obedience to parents and of reverence for old age. The Father in Heaven had appointed for them their fathers; as much as they honored them, so much also would they honor their Heavenly Father. He spoke likewise of the children of the sons of Jacob and of these of Israel, telling how they had murmured and for that reason had not been allowed to enter the Promised Land, a land that was so beautiful. Then He pointed to the fine trees and fruits in the garden, and told them of the heavenly Kingdom promised to them that keep the Commandments of God. It was far more glorious and beautiful than the lovely garden in which they were; that garden, compared with the heavenly one, was nothing more than a desert. They must then be obedient and submit thankfully to the decrees of God in their regard; they must never murmur, that thereby they might not be excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven; they must not doubt concerning the beauty of that Kingdom, as the Israelites did in the desert; they must believe it to be far above, yes, a thousand times more magnificent than what they then saw before them; and lastly, they should have it often in their thoughts, in order to merit it by their daily toil and labors. During these instructions Jesus had the smaller ones right in front of Him. He lifted some of them up to His breast, or encircled a couple of them with His arms.
From Lazarus’ country seat, Jesus went with the three disciples again southward about four hours, back toward Ataroth, one of the chief cities of the Sadducees, lying among the mountains. The Sadducees of this place, like the Pharisees of Gennabris, had in consequence of what had taken place at the Pasch persecuted the disciples, imprisoned several of them and tormented them with judicial interrogatories. Some of them also had lately been in Sichar and had listened insidiously to Jesus’ instructions in which He had censured the harshness of the Pharisees and Sadducees toward the Samaritans. They had then resolved upon a plan to ensnare Jesus, and it was in pursuance of the same that they had engaged Him to celebrate the Sabbath of Ataroth. But He knew of their doings, and so went by a different route to Ginnaea. They had, however, concerted with the Pharisees of Ginnaea and, on the morning of the Sabbath, they sent messengers to say to Jesus: “Thou hast taught beautiful things concerning the love of one’s neighbor. Thou sayest that one should love his neighbor as himself. Come, then, to Ataroth and heal one of our sick. If Thou showest us this sign, we, as well as the Pharisees of Ginnaea, will all believe in Thee and we shall spread Thy doctrines throughout the country.”
Jesus knew their wickedness and the plot they had laid to entrap Him. The man whom, as they pretended, they wanted Him to cure, had already for several days lain stiff and dead, but they declared to all the people of the city that he was only in a trance. His wife herself did not know that he was dead. Had Jesus raised him up, they would have said that he was not dead. They went to meet Jesus and conducted Him to the house of the dead man, who had been one of the leaders of the Pharisees and had been most active in annoying the disciples. They were carrying the corpse on a litter out into the street as Jesus came up. There were about fifteen Sadducees and a crowd of people standing around. The corpse presented quite a fine appearance, for they had opened and embalmed it, the better to deceive Jesus. But Jesus said: “This man is dead and dead he will remain.” They replied that he was only in a trance, and if he was indeed dead, he had only just now died. Jesus responded: “He denied the resurrection of the dead, therefore he will not now arise! Ye have filled him with spices, but behold, with what spices! Uncover his breast!” Thereupon I saw one of them raise the skin like a lid from the dead man’s breast, when there broke forth a swarm of worms, squirming and straining to get out. The Sadducees were furious, for Jesus rehearsed aloud and openly all the dead man’s sins and delinquencies, saying that these were the worms of his bad conscience, which he had in life covered up, but which were now gnawing at his heart. He reproached them with their deceit and evil design, and spoke very severely of the Sadducees and of the judgment that would fall upon Jerusalem and upon all that would not accept salvation. They hurried the corpse back again into the house. The scene was one of frightful alarm and confusion. As Jesus with the disciples was going to the gate of the city, the excited rabble cast stones after them. They were incited thereto by the Sadducees whom the discovery of the worms and their own wickedness had infuriated.
Among the wicked mob, there were, however, some well-intentioned persons who shed tears. In a bystreet lived some infirm women sick with a bloody flux. They believed in Jesus, and from a distance implored His aid, for, as unclean, they dared not approach Him. Knowing their need, He compassionately went through their street. When He had passed, they followed in His footsteps kissing them. He looked around upon them, and they were healed.
Jesus went on for almost three hours to a hill in the neighborhood of Engannim, a place lying almost in a line with Ginnaea, though in another valley some hours to the south. It was on the direct route to Nazareth through Endor and Naim, about seven hours from the latter.
Jesus spent the night on this hill, in the shed of a public inn where, too, He took some refreshment brought from Galilee by the disciples who had come thither to meet Him. They were Andrew, the bridegroom Nathanael, and two servants of the so-called centurion of Capharnaum. They urged Jesus to hurry, as the man’s son was so ill. Jesus replied that He would go at the right time.
This centurion was a retired officer who had once been Governor of a part of Galilee under Herod Antipas. He was a well-disposed man and, in the late persecution, had protected the disciples against the Pharisees; he had also provided them with money and other necessaries. As yet, however, he was not quite believing, although he put faith in the miracles. He was very desirous of one in behalf of his son, both through natural affection and also to put the Pharisees to shame. The disciples likewise were eager for it, saying with him: “Then the Pharisees will be furious! Then they will see who He is that we follow!”
It was in this spirit that Andrew and Nathanael had undertaken the commission to Jesus, who knew well the bottom of the their heart. He gave another instruction the next morning when the two servants of the centurion were converted. They were pagan slaves, and had brought food with them. They now returned with Andrew and Nathanael to Capharnaum.