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Jacob's well

In the Tanakh, Jacob bought the plot of land near Shechem (it is now called Nablus), a city in Samaria (Gen 33:16-20).  Shechem lies a mile and a half west of Jacob’s well, which is situated at a small town called Sychar (nowadays is called Askar).  Askar currently is an Arab village in the West Bank area. The walk from Askar to Jacob’s Well takes only about 10 minutes.

Although the Tanakh did not mention why and when Jacob dug a well on his own land at Sychar, it was very common in ancient times to dig a well for water supply for the family and the possessions (which were their cattle, sheep, donkeys etc.).

In Jesus’ time, people in Israel, especially Samaritans, knew about their ancestor‘s well very well (John 4:1-14).  This is one of a few archeological sites in Israel which has NO dispute about its authenticity.  It is because a well could not be moved to somewhere else.

Jesus met the Samaritan Woman at the well

John 4:1-14 1 So then, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that He was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing; rather, His disciples were), 3 He left Judea and went away again to Galilee. 4 And He had to pass through Samaria. 5 So He *came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; 6 and Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, tired from His journey, was just sitting by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away to the city to buy food. 9 So the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, though You are a Jew, are asking me for a drink, though I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus replied to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” 11 She said to Him, “[c]Sir, You have no bucket and the well is deep; where then do You get this living water? 12 You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well and drank of it himself, and his sons and his cattle?” 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again; 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never be thirsty; but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.””

sychar orthodox church

Currently, Jacob’s Well belongs to the Eastern Orthodox Church which was bought in 1860.  This church was built and rebuilt after earthquakes and wars, and subsequent renovations were made until 2007.

main sanctuary

Stairs shown in the picture are going down and up to Jacob’s Well.

Archimandrite Ioustinos, the guardian of Jacob’s Well in the West Bank, has vowed to devote his life to guarding this holy well.  He wrote his testimony about how he became a life-time guardian of Jacob’s Well.  For more information, please click here.


Photo was contributed by Dr. Rasmussen

roof painting

This is the upper apse of the painting of Jesus.


 Mosaics outside of the church

stairs to the well

From the main sanctuary going down on these stairs, we will see Jacob’s Well.

jacob's well

A divine appointment happened here between a Samaritan woman and Jesus.

The divine appointment at jacob's well

Meeting this Samaritan woman is necessary because in John 4:4 it says “And He had to pass through Samaria.” Jesus waited beside Jacob’s well and conversed with this Samaritan woman who came to draw water.  Jesus startled this woman in several ways in John 4:1-42:

  • A Jew, especially a respected rabbi, would never speak with an unknown, especially a Samaritan woman (John 4:9).
  • Jesus enlightened this Samaritan woman about the spiritual analogy – living water (John 4:10-15).
  • Jesus had a divine power to know this woman’s marriage background (John 4:16-19).
  • Jesus explained that God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:20-24).
  • Jesus eventually revealed his identity as the promised Messiah (John 4:25-26).

This Samaritan woman whose original name is not known, was named by the Orthodox “Photini” – it means “the enlightened one.”  After her encounter with Jesus and leading her town people to believe in Jesus (John 4:28-30, 39-42), the traditional saying is that Photini travelled extensively and shared the gospel of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, and led more to believe in Him.

Photini, who refused to denounce her beliefs, was persecuted, tortured and killed by Roman Emperor Nero.  She died as a martyr for Jesus our Lord.  For more information about her, please click this information : https://orthochristian.com/79178.html

grotto and well

So, how far is the depth of this well?

When I did the research, I did not expect to find different numbers. The possible reason for the different depth of waters could depend on the underground spring that flows, especially if this is in the rainy season like winter time.  Here are some examples:

  • Henry Maundrell, who visited it in 1697 and wrote a book called “His Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem,” said that it was 105 feet deep, and had in it fifteen feet of water.
  • On the internet you may find, “Based on a measurement made in 1935, the total depth of the well is 41 meters (135 ft).” Bromiley, 1982, p. 955.
  • According to Dr. Carl, it is around 72 feet deep nowadays.
Photo was contributed by Dr. Rasmussen.

west bank area

Since Jacob’s Well is in the West Bank territory which is under the control of the Palestinian Authority, you have to bring your passport.  When you rent a car, the insurance may not cover the West Bank territory.  Please check the news and do not go if there are any conflicts that have arisen.

residential area

Arabs are very friendly.  I have several Arabs friends who love to greet me with a lot of yummy food when I visited them.

Local culture

When our bus passed by, I saw local culture!

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