John 4:12 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 4:12, NIV: "Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?'"

John 4:12, ESV: "Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”"

John 4:12, KJV: "Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?"

John 4:12, NASB: "You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well and drank of it himself, and his sons and his cattle?'"

John 4:12, NLT: "And besides, do you think you're greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?'"

John 4:12, CSB: "You aren't greater than our father Jacob, are you? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and livestock.""

What does John 4:12 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The back-and-forth conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman shows her to be an interesting character. Her responses show more than a little courage and wittiness. Just as Nicodemus realized that Jesus wasn't speaking literally in John 3:3–4, the Samaritan woman seems to recognize Jesus' comment from verse 10 has a double meaning. At the same time, she seems to be focused on the physical interpretation (John 4:15). And her continued answer in this verse shows she's more focused on dismissing Jesus than really hearing Him out at this point.

The question here is almost certainly sarcastic. Not only is Jacob a revered figure, but just creating a well was a difficult task. In that region, wells had to be dug quite deeply in order to find water. This particular location, as described in Genesis 33:18–20 and Genesis 48:21–22, is one of the deepest wells in the entire region. Rather than simply asking Jesus, "what does that mean," she responds to his odd remark with some banter of her own, including sarcastic dismissal.