Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Tradition Of Wells (part 8)

Continuing to lay the conceptual foundation for the collective consciousness concerning wells, it is worthwhile to quickly trace all remaining mentions of wells within what are considered to be the historical books of Israel.  In the second book of Samuel, there is a mention that is probably not a helpful or useful mention of a well, at least on the surface.  Nevertheless, it occurs during the time period following the death of King Saul, as David is solidifying his royal position, so perhaps others can find related value in its mention. 

Engaging the text: “Then Joab left David and sent messengers after Abner” (3:26a).  Joab is the commander of David’s forces, and Abner is the commander of the forces of Saul, and temporarily Ishbosheth, the son of Saul.  “They brought him back from the well of Sirah.  (But David was not aware of it.)  When Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside at the gate as if to speak privately with him.  Joab then stabbed him in the abdomen and killed him” (3:26b-27a).  Later in the same book, during the time of Absalom’s temporarily successful (and seemingly temporarily divinely sanctioned) taking of the throne of Israel, there is a story concerning two spies that David had in his employ. 

This seems to be as useful as the event just presented, but in dutifully presenting the record it is found that “Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying in En Rogel.  A female servant would go and inform them, and they would then go and inform King David.  It was not advisable for them to be seen going into the city.  But a young man saw them on one occasion and informed Absalom.  So the two of them quickly departed and went to the house of a man in Bahurim.  There was a well in his courtyard, and they got down in it” (17:17-18). 

Finally, in the book of Nehemiah, in a section that mentions wells as part of a prayerful praise that recounted Israel’s history, beginning with the Genesis account of creation, in a manner which undergirds the purpose of this study by demonstrating a mention of wells in a general recapitulation of the exodus narrative, Nehemiah can be heard to say “They captured fortified cities and fertile land.  They took possession of houses full of all sorts of good things---wells previously dug, vineyards, olive trees, and fruit trees in abundance.  They enjoyed to the full your great goodness” (9:25). 

Having reviewed the location of wells within the historical narrative (though it is possible to find some historical narrative overlap when turning to the prophets, specifically Isaiah), this study now turns its attention to the mention of wells within the wisdom/poetic and prophetic literature of the Hebrew Scriptures.  With these, it will be possible to see how the larger part of the historical narrative that is associated with wells serves to shape ideas about references to wells in this body of work, while also continuing to form the historical imagination along the lines of that of the Johannine author, that one might more correctly approach the story of Jesus and the woman at the well.

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