The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” [For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans]. John 4:9
We don’t know the tone with which these words of the Bible were originally spoken, but her first words to Jesus appear to be words of utter contempt.
The history of tension and, at times, hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans was well known in the ancient world. Seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, the Assyrians had taken into exile conquered Samaria, the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
Most of the people were taken into exile, and only a few were left in this deserted land. The Assyrians then brought people from other countries to settle in Samaria and repopulate the region. This was often done in ancient times as a way to maintain control.
So the people of this area were of a mixed racial background and of a mixed religious background. In 2 Kings 17:33 we are told: “They [the people of Samaria] feared the Lord but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away.” In other words, Samaria was a religious melting pot.
Perhaps you did not grow up in a Christian home. You may have grown up in a family that was Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist. The Bible was not your book. It belonged to others, and growing up you may have felt that “Bible people” were not very likely to be your friends. If you grew up with other gods, you may feel that it’s not in your background, and that you are a long way from Christian faith. This was precisely the situation of this woman.
Does your racial background seem foreign to Christianity? Why?