Jacob’s well is located in the east of Nablus center about 10 minutes by taxi. It is in the crypt of the Church of St. Photini.
In Nablus, the place was called “Jacob’s well” including the whole site.
Jacob is regarded as a Patriarch of the Israelites according to the Hebrew Bible.
According to the Book of Genesis, Jacob bought the land on the way back from Paddan Aram.
After Jacob came from Paddan Aram, he arrived safely at the city of Shechem in Canaan and camped within sight of the city. 19 For a hundred pieces of silver, he bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, the plot of ground where he pitched his tent.Genesis 33:18-19 Biblica.com
And as stated in a Samaritan* tradition, the well is the one Jacob dug at that time.
*The Samaritans are the people racially Jewish-Assyrian mix. They were originating from the Israelites, but because the Jews kept pure-blood, the Samaritans were despised by ordinary Jews.
Legend of Jacob’s well
Jacob’s well is mentioned in the Gospel of John.
That was when Jesus was on the ways to Galilee. He stopped at a Samaritan town called Sychar (Schekem, present-day Nablus).
So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.John 4:5-6 Biblica.com
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”John 4:7-14 Biblica.com
The woman realized He was a prophet and ask a question.
“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”John 4:19-20 Biblica.com
At that period, the Jews and the Samaritans didn’t like each other, which caused a problem.
The Samaritans who were kicked out from Jerusalem considered Mount Gerizim as the Temple. But the woman might have had a doubt about it.
“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”John 4:21-24 Biblica.com
He answered to her what is important for worship is the spirit.
History of Jacob’s well
In the 4th century
The well was identified and a church was built by a generous protection from the Roman emperor.
The church was destroyed by Saladin, the first sultan of Egypt and Syria, but the well was survived.
the 19th century
No church had been built for centuries, but Christians kept venerating the place.
In 1860, Greek Orthodox Church got the site. Then a new church named after the Samaritan woman was built in 1893.
Palestine was occupied by Israel.
In the beginning of 1980s, Jewish settlers started to claim biblical ownership of the well. They tried to occupy it and a monk was killed, but it resulted in a failure.
Inside the church
The inside is decorated with marble, which makes the church so sublime.
You can reach to Jacob’s well from the stairs in front of the altar.
The well still works; the water is drinkable, however, the well can dry in summer recent days.
The depth recorded in 1935 was 41 meters (135 ft), but it seems now more shallow now.
Jacob’s well / the Church of St. Photini
- Faisal St.
- 8:00-12:00, 14:00-16:00
- Admission Free, but a donation or buying a postcard would be appreciated.
- 10 minutes from the city center by taxi, about 15 NIS