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“Is this not the Messiah?”

Of all the literature produced by the early Syrian church, the most prized was composed by Ephrem the Syrian, often called “The Harp of the Holy Spirit”. One of his hymns memorialises the faith of the Samaritan woman whom Jesus met at the well and sent forth as a missionary (see John 4)

O, to you woman in whom I see
a wonder as great as in Mary!
For she from within her womb
in Bethlehem brought forth His body as a child,
but you by your mouth made him manifest
as an adult in Shechem, the town of His father’s household.
Blessed are you, woman, who brought forth by your mouth
light for those in darkness.
Mary, the thirsty land in Nazareth conceived our Lord by her ear.
You, too, O woman thirsting for water,
conceived the Son by your hearing.
Blessed are your ears that drank the source
that gave drink to the world.
Mary planted Him in a manger,
but you planted Him in the ears of His hearers.
Your word, O woman, became a mirror
in which He might see your hidden heart.
“The Messiah”, you had said, “will come,
and when He comes He will give us everything.”
Behold the Messiah for whom you waited, modest woman!
With your voice your prophecy was fulfilled.
Your voice, O woman, first brought forth fruit,
before even the apostles, with the kerygma.
The apostles were forbidden to announce Him
among pagans and Samaritans.
Blessed is your mouth that He opened and confirmed.

Ephrem the Syrian: Hymns tr. Kathleen E  McVey. The Classics of Western Spirituality. New York: 1989. Hymn #23



  1. Comment #96163 posted April 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Beautiful! how sad that her story is passed over so blindly today.

  2. Comment #96170 posted April 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    This is amazing! Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Liz Liz
    Comment #96171 posted April 17, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Maybe some of the impact of this account is that not everyone understands the significance of Jesus talking to a woman (and a Samaritan whose race was despised by the Jews) It is helpful to know some historical background when reading the New Testament.

  4. Don
    Comment #96180 posted April 18, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    I go further, I think it is CRITICAL to know as much as possible about the cultural context of the NT books. One can make large mistakes in understanding by not knowing the meaning (or possible meanings) of some terms used.

  5. Frank
    Comment #96277 posted May 4, 2012 at 7:10 am

    I agree with you Don that it is critcal to understand the historical and cultural context of the NT books. This is especially true if you are engaged in the task of distinguishing the descriptive and prescriptive elements of a NT text you may be studying. And it is the main guard against the modern Christian reader imposing his own preconceived ideas and meanings upon those of the original author.

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