Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Tradition Of Wells (part 6)

This study now departs from Genesis and moves on to Exodus, which is the event (so much more than just the title of the book) that gives definitive shape to Israel’s self-consciousness.  Indeed, it can even be said that the understanding of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as revealed in Genesis, is shaped by the self-revelation of that same God as the God of Israel’s exodus.  This means that the God that reveals Himself as One Who works and intervenes on behalf of His people and His creation, doing so from the beginning of the Genesis narrative, is now also to be understood through the lens of the God that liberated Israel from Egypt, provided them with a covenant charge, with guidance as to how to live up to their covenant responsibilities, and guided them to their promised land. 

This holds especially true if Moses is indeed the primary author/compiler/compose of the Torah, thus making it impossible to separate the notion of exodus (rescue, deliverance, redemption, restoration, etc…) from thoughts about the Creator God of Israel.  Indeed, thinking along such lines allows us to view Genesis one and two as a divine rescue, much like Israel was divinely rescued from their Egyptian bondage. 

With such thoughts reverberating in a reader’s mind during a conscientious approach to the broad Scriptural narrative, one should be thoroughly unsurprised to see Moses, after fleeing Egypt in the wake of his murder of an Egyptian that had been mis-treating an Israelite, settling in the land of Midian and doing so by a “certain well” (Exodus 2:15b).  That level of surprise continues in its restraint when reading that “a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and began to draw water and fill the troughs in order to water their father’s flock.  When some shepherds came and drove them away, Moses came up and defended them and then watered their flock” (Exodus 2:16-17). 

In this, Moses becomes very much like Jacob, watering the flock for one who will eventually come to be his wife.  As was seen with Rebekah and Rachel, there was a rush to return home so that these girls might share their story with their father (2:18-19).  In response, Moses is summoned to the home of the priest.  He “agreed to stay with the man, and he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage” (2:21). 

With this third patriarchal (in the broadest sense) instance of a wife being found at a well, it shall be noted with great interest that part of Jesus’ conversation at the well with the Samaritan woman---the portion that convinces her of His status as a prophet, centers upon the subject of marriage.  It is almost as if to say that the woman, who actually lacks a husband though it is said that she has had several, has come to the well, and through this encounter with the one that can truly provide water (as did Jacob and Moses), she found herself a true and lasting husband.    

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