|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
(John 4:5, 6). This is one of the few sites in Palestine about which there is no dispute. It was dug by Jacob, and hence its name, in the "parcel of ground" which he purchased from the sons of Hamor (Genesis 33:19). It still exists, but although after copious rains it contains a little water, it is now usually quite dry. It is at the entrance to the valley between Ebal and Gerizim, about 2 miles south-east of Shechem. It is about 9 feet in diameter and about 75 feet in depth, though in ancient times it was no doubt much deeper, probably twice as deep. The digging of such a well must have been a very laborious and costly undertaking.
"Unfortunately, the well of Jacob has not escaped that misplaced religious veneration which cannot be satisfied with leaving the object of it as it is, but must build over it a shrine to protect and make it sacred. A series of buildings of various styles, and of different ages, have cumbered the ground, choked up the well, and disfigured the natural beauty and simplicity of the spot. At present the rubbish in the well has been cleared out; but there is still a domed structure over it, and you gaze down the shaft cut in the living rock and see at a depth of 70 feet the surface of the water glimmering with a pale blue light in the darkness, while you notice how the limestone blocks that form its curb have been worn smooth, or else furrowed by the ropes of centuries" (Hugh Macmillan).
At the entrance of the enclosure round the well is planted in the ground one of the wooden poles that hold the telegraph wires between Jerusalem and Haifa.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
(pege tou Iakob):
1. Position of Well:
In John 4:3 we read that our Lord "left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs pass through Samaria. So he cometh to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph: and Jacob's well was there." When Jacob came to Shechem on his return from Paddanaram he encamped "before," i.e. East of the city, and bought the land on which he had spread his tent (Genesis 33:18 f). This is doubtless the "portion" (Hebrew shekhem) spoken of in Genesis 48:22; although there it is said to have been taken with sword and bow from the Amorites. Where the pass of Shechem opens to the East, near the northern edge of the valley, lies the traditional tomb of Joseph. On the other side of the vale, close to the base of Gerizim, is the well universally known as Bir Ya`qub, "the well of Jacob." The position meets perfectly the requirements of the narrative. The main road from the South splits a little to the East, one arm leading westward through the pass, the other going more directly to the North. It is probable that these paths follow pretty closely the ancient tracks; and both would be frequented in Jesus' day. Which of them He took we cannot tell; but, in any case, this well lay in the fork between them, and could be approached with equal ease from either.
2. Why Dug:
In the chapter quoted, it is said that Jacob dug the well (Genesis 48:12). The Old Testament says nothing of this. With the copious springs at `Ain `Askar and BalaTa, one might ask why a well should have been dug here at all. We must remember that in the East, very strict laws have always governed the use of water, especially when there were large herds to be considered. The purchase of land here may not have secured for Jacob such supplies as he required. There was danger of strife between rival herdsmen. The patriarch, therefore, may have dug the well in the interests of peace, and also to preserve his own independence.
3. Consensus of Tradition:
Jew, Samaritan, Moslem and Christian agree in associating this well with the patriarch Jacob. This creates a strong presumption in favor of the tradition: and there is no good reason to doubt its truth. Standing at the brink of the well, over-shadowed by the giant bulk of Gerizim, one feels how naturally it would be spoken of as "this mountain."
For long the well was unprotected, opening among the ruins of a vaulted chamber some feet below the surface of the ground. Major Anderson describes it (Recovery of Jerusalem, 465) as having "a narrow opening, just wide enough to allow the body of a man to pass through with arms uplifted, and this narrow neck, which is about 4 ft. long, opens into the well itself, which is cylindrically shaped, and about 7 ft. 6 inches in diameter. The mouth and upper part of the well are built of masonry, and the well appears to have been sunk through a mixture of alluvial soil and limestone fragments, till a compact bed of mountain limestone was reached, having horizontal strata which could be easily worked; and the interior of the well presents the appearance of having been lined throughout with rough masonry." The depth was doubtless much greater in ancient times; but much rubbish has fallen into it, and now it is not more than 75 ft. deep. It is fed by no spring, nor is the water conducted to it along the surface, as to a cistern. Its supplies depend entirely upon rainfall and percolation. Possibly, therefore, the water may never have approached the brim. The woman says "the well is deep." Pege, "spring," does not, therefore, strictly apply to it, but rather "tank" or "reservoir," phrear, the word actually used in verses 11. The modern inhabitants of Nablus highly esteem the "light" water of the well as compared with the "heavy" or "hard" water of the neighboring springs. It usually lasts till about the end of May; then the well is dry till the return of the rain. Its contents, therefore, differ from the "living" water of the perennial spring.
From the narratives of the pilgrims we learn that at different times churches have been built over the well. The Moslems probably demolished the last of them after the overthrow of the Crusaders in 1187. A description of the ruins with drawings, as they were 30 years ago, is given in PEF, II, 174, etc. A stone found in 1881 may have been the original cover of the well. It measures 3 ft. 9 inches X 2 ft. 7 inches X 1 ft. 6 in. The aperture in the center is 13 in. in diameter; and in its sides are grooves worn by the ropes used in drawing up the water (PEFS, 1881, 212).
5. Present Condition:
Some years ago the plot of ground containing the well was purchased by the authorities of the Greek church, and it has been surrounded by a wall. A chapel has been built over the well, and a large church building has also been erected beside it.
See JACOB'S WELL.
Jacob's (34 Occurrences)
John 4:6 Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being tired from his journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 27:22 Jacob went near to Isaac his father. He felt him, and said, "The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau." (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS RSV)
Genesis 28:5 Isaac sent Jacob away. He went to Paddan Aram to Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, Rebekah's brother, Jacob's and Esau's mother. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS RSV)
Genesis 30:2 Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, "Am I in God's place, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?" (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
Genesis 30:42 but when the flock were feeble, he didn't put them in. So the feebler were Laban's, and the stronger Jacob's. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
Genesis 30:43 So Jacob's wealth was greatly increased; he had great flocks and women-servants and men-servants and camels and asses. (BBE)
Genesis 31:22 And on the third day Laban had news of Jacob's flight. (BBE)
Genesis 31:33 Laban went into Jacob's tent, into Leah's tent, and into the tent of the two female servants; but he didn't find them. He went out of Leah's tent, and entered into Rachel's tent. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 32:18 Then you shall say,'They are your servant, Jacob's. It is a present sent to my lord, Esau. Behold, he also is behind us.'" (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT)
Genesis 32:25 When he saw that he didn't prevail against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh, and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was strained, as he wrestled. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 32:32 Therefore the children of Israel don't eat the sinew of the hip, which is on the hollow of the thigh, to this day, because he touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh in the sinew of the hip. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 34:7 The sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it. The men were grieved, and they were very angry, because he had done folly in Israel in lying with Jacob's daughter; a which thing ought not to be done. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 34:13 And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father with guile, and spoke, because he had defiled Dinah their sister, (See NAS NIV)
Genesis 34:19 The young man didn't wait to do this thing, because he had delight in Jacob's daughter, and he was honored above all the house of his father. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 34:25 It happened on the third day, when they were sore, that two of Jacob's sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brothers, each took his sword, came upon the unsuspecting city, and killed all the males. (WEB NAS NIV)
Genesis 34:27 Jacob's sons came on the dead, and plundered the city, because they had defiled their sister. (WEB YLT NAS)
Genesis 35:23 The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob's firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
Genesis 45:26 And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed them not. (KJV WBS)
Genesis 46:8 These are the names of the children of Israel, who came into Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Reuben, Jacob's firstborn. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
Genesis 46:19 The sons of Rachel, Jacob's wife: Joseph and Benjamin. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 46:26 All the souls who came with Jacob into Egypt, who were his direct descendants, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were sixty-six. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
Genesis 46:27 And the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt, were two souls; all the souls of the house of Jacob, that came into Egypt, were threescore and ten. (See NIV)
Genesis 47:28 And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; so the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were a hundred forty and seven years. (See NAS)
Exodus 1:5 All the souls who came out of Jacob's body were seventy souls, and Joseph was in Egypt already. (WEB)
Deuteronomy 33:28 And Israel dwelleth in safety, the fountain of Jacob alone, in a land of corn and wine; yea, his heavens drop down dew. (See NIV)
Psalms 94:7 They say, "Yah will not see, neither will Jacob's God consider." (WEB)
Isaiah 27:9 Therefore by this shall the iniquity of Jacob be expiated, and this is all the fruit of taking away his sin: when he maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in pieces, so that the Asherim and the sun-images shall rise no more. (See NAS NIV)
Isaiah 41:21 Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your reasons, saith the King of Jacob. (See NIV)
Isaiah 45:19 I have not spoken in secret, in a place of the land of darkness; I said not unto the seed of Jacob: 'Seek ye Me in vain'; I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. (See NIV)
Jeremiah 30:7 Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS)
Jeremiah 30:18 Thus says Yahweh: Behold, I will turn again the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have compassion on his dwelling places; and the city shall be built on its own hill, and the palace shall be inhabited after its own manner. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS NIV)
Micah 1:5 For the transgression of Jacob 'is' all this, And for the sins of the house of Israel. What 'is' the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what the high places of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? (See NIV)
Malachi 1:2 "I have loved you," says Yahweh. Yet you say, "How have you loved us?" "Wasn't Esau Jacob's brother?" says Yahweh, "Yet I loved Jacob; (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Malachi 1:3 Is not Esau Jacob's brother? -- an affirmation of Jehovah, And I love Jacob, and Esau I have hated, And I make his mountains a desolation, And his inheritance for dragons of a wilderness. (YLT)