23rd March 2014 Year A
The encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman is perhaps one of the best known of our biblical stories. When those from Galilee travelled to the great festivals in Jerusalem they usually went by the more circuitous route of travelling east of the Jordan so to avoid passing through Samaritan territory such was the mutual distain between Jew and Samaritan. Jesus and his disciples however have chosen to pass through Samaritan territory perhaps on returning from one of these festivals. Because the hatred was so deep our reading tells us that Jews and Samaritans had no dealings, though this is an exaggeration for we read here that the disciples had gone into town in order to procure food, That hatred’s genesis lay first in the division of the kingdom into the ten northern tribes properly called Israel, and the two southern tribes of Judah after the death of Solomon. During the 8th century Assyrian invasion when the northern tribes were carried off and foreigners in turn brought into the land to replace them. From that point on those of the north were regarded as religiously and ritually impure.