Why Are Wells Involved in So Many Old Testament Marriages?

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

The astute Bible reader will notice that Moses is the fourth important character in the Pentateuch to find his wife through an incident at a well. The other three are Isaac, Jacob, and Judah. Does this repetition indicate that these stories are being fabricated? Is it possible that wells were involved in all of these marriages?

Hebrew biblical writers were not just writing history in a dry and disinterested way. They commonly highlighted repeating patterns to emphasize theological points. It is entirely likely that these well stories did actually occur, and that the writer of the Pentateuch wanted to emphasize them.

Theologian John Sailhamer notes that these four men, who are in the central line of God’s promised blessing, “take wives from outside the land and the chosen people. In each case the wife is introduced by means of the scene at the well. ”

Sailhamer continues, “It is possible, then, that the pattern established by means of these well narratives is intended to show that behind the apparent anomaly of an important and prominent patriarch taking a wife from another people there lies the ever-present will of God.” (emphasis added)

In other words, the people chosen by God are birthed through God-ordained marriages. Once again, we see that he is in control, not the human patriarchs.

  • James

    I find it difficult not to see in this pattern, a clear line pointing to Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well and the water being offered is living water and the reaction from the woman is to go and tell everyone she knows about all that Jesus has to say. The church is this bride at the wedding feast to come. And we are members of that church, just as the Samaritan woman, if we remain in Christ, persevering until His return.

  • Excellent insight, James. I had never thought of that before!