When Jesus visited the woman at the well in Samaria, He opened a fountain of healing that still flows today.
Thousands of years ago, the beautiful daughter of a biblical patriarch wandered into Canaanite territory without any clue that she was stepping into a nightmare. The Bible says that Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, was raped that day by Shechem, a local prince (see Gen. 34:1-2).
We never hear Dinah’s screams or muffled sobs. In fact we never hear the voice of Dinah in Scripture. Shechem tried to bargain for her hand in marriage after he stole her virginity, but Jacob’s sons deceitfully plotted to kill him and his brothers for his act of defilement. One rape resulted in wholesale slaughter.
But the bloody act of revenge did not bring healing or restoration to Dinah. She was most likely shut away for the rest of her life, since women who had been raped in those days were considered unclean and unmarriageable. The rape was not her fault—but she bore the guilt.
“The world—and often the church—is not willing to visit the place of abuse. But we have a Savior who broke cultural and religious rules to bring His miraculous healing there.”
Dinah’s silence is deafening. She represents the tragic loss of innocence endured by all those who have been sexually abused. She became the prototype of all women who have been violated—and then blamed and shamed as if it were their fault.
What is most interesting about Dinah’s story is the setting—a dusty plot of ground in Israel that would later be part of Samaria. The site of Dinah’s rape was near the piece of land that Jacob had previously purchased from Shechem’s father, Hamor (see Gen. 33:18-20). We don’t read much more in the Bible about that awful place—until the Son of God arrives on the scene in the New Testament.
It is truly amazing that Jesus was willing to visit that unholy site. During His ministry, no rabbi in Israel would dare go near it. Rabbis took the long road around Samaria to avoid mixing with its people.
Yet the Bible says Jesus marched right into Samaria and sat down at a well, located on the plot of ground that Jacob had purchased centuries earlier (see John 4:4-6). There, Jesus broke every religious rule in Jewish rabbinical tradition by speaking with a divorced woman about theological issues in a public place.
We don’t know the Samaritan woman’s name, but I am sure she was familiar with what had happened so long ago in that land. All women in that region probably whispered to each other within their tents about Dinah’s tragic legacy as they shared their own stories of abandonment, abuse and mistreatment.
But something miraculous began to unfold when the Son of God set foot on that defiled ground.
After He spoke tenderly to the Samaritan woman, telling her of the water of life that comes from the true Messiah, He looked into her tormented soul and drained out the pain she had endured from men who had misused her.
“Go, call your husband and come here,” Jesus told her. She threw up her defenses and protested, saying that she did not have a husband.
Jesus lovingly replied: “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband” (John 4:16-18, NASB).
Jesus was not wagging His finger in the woman’s face or shaming her desperate behavior. He understood her anguish. Most likely she had been abused and abandoned by five men in a row, and by the time the last man threw her out of the house she had no self-esteem left. The sixth man did not even have the decency to marry her.
But on that day in Samaria, the dark clouds that had cast a heavy pall over all women in that region parted. The seventh man had arrived! Jesus was willing to go to that forsaken place, and He identified fully with the pain of abused women. He offered the Samaritan woman not only total freedom from her guilt—but also the boldness to share her story of redemption with an entire village at a time when women did not speak in public.
Do you see the amazing grace and mercy of God at work here? Jesus answered Dinah’s cry.
The world—and often the church—is not willing to visit the place of abuse. We sweep the pain under a rug and ignore the victims. But we have a Savior who broke cultural and religious rules to bring His miraculous healing there.
If you have suffered any form of abuse, or if you still struggle with its shame, then go to Jacob’s well. Jesus is waiting there to give you pure, living water that will cleanse your past, restore lost purity and satisfy your deepest thirst.
By J.Lee Grady, Wednesday, August 27, 2008.
J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. He preached this message last week in meetings in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Bogota, Colombia, where the abuse of woman is rampant.