Journey to the Well
In a familiar New Testament story, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman by a well, speaks to her in spite of custom, and then proceeds to tell that woman her own history: That she has had five husbands, and that the man that she was with now was not her husband. In Journey to the Well, Diana Wallis Taylor pens an imaginative scenario for this woman’s life.
Marah’s story is a tale of woe. Orphaned young, she is forced to marry a brute instead of the young shepherd she loves. She is widowed by the age of fourteen. Following the Law, she is betrothed to her husband’s brother, but for his own reasons, he divorces her. Some joy enters her life when she encounters her shepherd again, and they are happily married. When he dies unexpectedly, she is once again forced to marry a relative—a deceitful man soon executed for murder. With a son and an elderly in-law to care for, she decides to marry a gentle merchant who offers her financial stability. He promptly goes missing, for three long years. When her husband’s half-brother arrives, he takes terrible advantage of her vulnerability. It is then, at her most sorrowful, that she encounters Jesus at the well.
In an unexpected twist on the usual depiction of the Samaritan woman as a creature of loose morals, Ms. Taylor portrays Marah as a God-fearing girl who through obedience to the Law and her elders—and a terrible stretch of bad luck—finds herself married five times and then raped. Written with passion and honesty, Journey to the Well is a heartfelt story about the difficulties of being a woman in Biblical times.