Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Tradition Of Wells (part 10)

This study now advances to the works of the prophets.  A look at wells through the prophets will conclude the exploration and recognition of that which has provided useful background information and contextualization for the portrayal of Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.  As this is done, one should continue to reflect on the fact that the shared historical narrative of the nation will shape the prophets’ conception of wells, providing foundation material for their own thought, while maintaining the awareness that prophetical treatment of wells will also serve to inform the significance of wells as they appear in the messianic presentations of John’s Gospel. 

Looking first to the thirty-seventh chapter of Isaiah.  As the prophecy shares material that is common to the second book of the Kings, Isaiah recounts the invasion of Judah by the Assyrian king Sennacherib, along with the response of the king, that being Hezekiah.  Hezekiah has laid Judah’s case before Israel’s God, asking for His intervention against what appears to be the seemingly unavoidable calamity that is coming upon His people.  In response, Isaiah sends a message to Hezekiah (37:21), sharing the response of the “Lord God of Israel” (37:21b). 

In the course of what is to shared with Hezekiah, Isaiah makes mention of a well, placing its mention on the lips of the arrogant king of Assyria, as the reader gets to hear what Israel’s God has effectively heard him say: “With my many chariots I climbed up the high mountains, the slopes of Lebanon.  I cut down its tall cedars and its best evergreens.  I invaded its remote regions, its thickest woods.  I dug wells and drank water.  With the soles of my feet I drip up all the rivers of Egypt” (37:24b-25). 

Naturally, any mention of Egypt by a foreign king that stands against the people of Israel, is bound to invoke memories of Israel’s Egyptian experience.  Regardless of what any king could claim to have performed against Egypt, the God of Israel could lay claim to far more astounding feats.  With talk of Egypt triggering such thoughts, one could easily retrace and rethink talk of chariots (the Egyptian army overcome by the water of the sea), the digging of wells (Abraham and Isaac), and the drinking of water (the continuous provision of water in the wilderness), and be reminded that the covenant and Creator God of Israel had more than sufficient power with which to repel the relatively impotent king of Assyria.  How this might play into the thoughts of John and Jesus, if at all, while considering the importance of Isaiah to thoughts of the messiah and to the New Testament in general, is not entirely clear, though the underlying themes of covenant faithfulness do provide a means of application.

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