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Monthly Bible Question | August

Which mountain was the Samaritan woman referring to when speaking to Jesus at the well?

Mount Gerizim - Amos Meron, Wikimedia Commons
Mount Gerizim - Amos Meron, Wikimedia Commons

“Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

- John 4:20

From the geographical references in John 4, the mountain referred to by the Samaritan woman was Mount Gerizim, the holy mountain of the Samaritans, which overlooked Shechem.

The geographical clues in verses 4-6:

  • Jesus was at Sychar (Shechem), on his way from Judea to Galilee;

  • Jacob had purchased land near Shechem (Gen 33: 18-19), and his well would have been dug there.

Samaria was the area between Judea in the south and Galilee in the north. This was part of what had been the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The Samaritans were a mixed people with both Jewish and pagan ancestry, and were looked down on by the Jews. They accepted the Pentateuch and the book of Joshua (with many differences from the Jewish versions) as holy, but not the rest of the Jewish scriptures. Samaritans claimed Mount Gerizim as the holiest site on earth (believing it to be the site of Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac), and rejected rival claims by the Jews that Mount Zion in Jerusalem was the holiest site.

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