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Jacob’s Well

Jacob’s Well — (John 4:5, 6). This is one of the few sites in Palestine about which there is no dispute. It was dug by Jacob, and hence its name, in the “parcel of ground” which he purchased from the sons of Hamor (Gen. 33:19). It still exists, but although after copious rains it contains a little water, it is now usually quite dry. It is at the entrance to the valley between Ebal and Gerizim, about 2 miles south-east of Shechem. It is about 9 feet in diameter and about 75 feet in depth, though in ancient times it was no doubt much deeper, probably twice as deep. The digging of such a well must have been a very laborious and costly undertaking.

“Unfortunately, the well of Jacob has not escaped that misplaced religious veneration which cannot be satisfied with leaving the object of it as it is, but must build over it a shrine to protect and make it sacred. A series of buildings of various styles, and of different ages, have cumbered the ground, choked up the well, and disfigured the natural beauty and simplicity of the spot. At present the rubbish in the well has been cleared out; but there is still a domed structure over it, and you gaze down the shaft cut in the living rock and see at a depth of 70 feet the surface of the water glimmering with a pale blue light in the darkness, while you notice how the limestone blocks that form its curb have been worn smooth, or else furrowed by the ropes of centuries” (Hugh Macmillan).

At the entrance of the enclosure round the well is planted in the ground one of the wooden poles that hold the telegraph wires between Jerusalem and Haifa.