In almost 27 years of ministry, I have done many weddings, which means I have heard several stories of how couples met. These are always interesting. But how many times have you heard someone meet their future spouse at a well? What about three people?
The writer of the Pentateuch records three narratives of important men who found their wives at a well – Isaac, Jacob and Moses. Some even include Judah (Gen. 38:14). While there are some differences with Isaac; the accounts of Jacob and Moses are almost identical. Here are the similarities of the three narratives:
- The men journey to a foreign land (Gen. 24:10; 29:1; Ex. 2:15)
- The father-of-the-bride is present (Gen. 24:15; 29:5; Ex. 2:16)
- The brides-to-be are introduced as daughter(s) (Gen. 24:13; 29:16; Ex. 2:16)
- There is a well (Gen. 24:11; 29:2; Ex. 2:16)
- The daughters have come to water their father’s sheep (Gen. 24:13; 29:9; Ex. 2:16)
- Shepherds have come to the well (Gen. 29:2; Ex. 2:17)
- They save the daughters (Gen. 29:10; Ex. 2:17)
- Sheep are watered (Gen. 29:11; Ex. 2:17)
- The daughters run home to tell the good deed (Gen. 24:28; 29:12; Ex. 2:18)
- The men are invited to stay (Gen. 24:31; 29:13-14; Ex. 2:21)
- The men marry a daughter (Gen. 24:67; 29:23, 28; Ex. 2:21)
- Sons are born (Gen. 24:21; 29:31-30:23; Ex. 2:22)
When we find this type of repetition we are meant to take notice; our ears should perk up a bit. But what does it mean? Mainly, God has led His servants to the proper wife. This is especially noteworthy in the story of Isaac.
Genesis 24:7, “The LORD, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from my native land, who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘I will give this land to your offspring’ – He will send His angel before you, and you can take a wife for my son from there.” (emphasis mine)
It all went down at a well. So it should not surprise us that the well became a romantic metaphor in Scripture (Song of Songs 4:14-15; Prov. 5:15).
Wells had other significance in the First Testament (Gen. 21:22-34; 26:31; Num. 21:16), but we are going to focus on men who came to a well and found a wife.
Have you ever heard of Jacob’s well? Fun fact: it is first mentioned in the New Testament (Jn. 4:5-6). Evidently, it is one of the few places in the Holy Lands everyone agrees was a well dug by Jacob after purchasing its land from the sons of Hamor (Gen. 33:19).
However, this well has deeper significance to us today. In the chapter prior, Jesus compares himself to a bridegroom (Jn. 3:28-29). While that is not the image given in John 4, we can easily envision the well as the place Isaac, Jacob and Moses found a bride. We find some similarities in John 4:
- A man journeys to a foreign (Samaritan) land (4:3, 9)
- There is a well (4:6)
- A woman has come to draw water (4:7)
- The man asks the woman to give him a drink (Gen. 24:14, 17; Jn. 4:7)
- The man provided water (to the woman’s flocks – Gen. 29:10; Ex. 2:17; to the woman – Jn. 4:14)
- The woman ran to tell the good news to others (4:39)
- The man was invited to stay (4:40)
- The man saves the woman (and many more – 4:42)
Jesus, the Bridegroom, has come to this well to find a bride, if you will. We often refer to her as “the woman at the well”. Not exactly the kind of person we would deem appropriate for the Son of God. She had been married several times, presently living with a man, a half-breed Jew (Samaritan) and worshipped God on a different mountain than the Temple in Jerusalem. Yet, the Bridegroom (Jesus) offers her living water from the well to all who ask. It satisfies the heart and gives everlasting nourishment (Jn. 4:14).
The last two chapters of Revelation returns to the Garden scene from Genesis 1-2. There is a new creation – new heaven and new earth. The sinless nature of the Garden of Eden is restored. The Holy City, the new Jerusalem, is pictured as coming down from heaven like a bride adorned for her groom (Rev. 21:1-2). The bride is none other than the community of believers and the bridegroom is Jesus Messiah!
At the 2nd coming of Jesus, there is a great wedding in the garden of restored Eden. We shouldn’t be surprised in the midst of that garden is a river of living water flowing from the thrown of God and the Lamb (Rev. 22:1). The banks are lined with the tree of life (Rev. 22:1). What a powerful metaphor! As the Holy Spirit and the Messianic community await the coming of the Bridegroom they invite others who are thirsty to “come!” to the well of grace and salvation (Rev. 22:17). This invitation goes out to all the world, even if your life resembles the woman at the well. Jesus loved us so much He died to be able to have us and rose in order give us life – living water from the well.
*All Scripture quoted from the Holman Christian Standard Bible
*Blog Resources: The Pentateuch As Narrative by John H. Sailhamer