We are looking at the story of Yeshua's conversation with the Samaritan woman at a well. Many people use this as an illustration of how to do evangelism. But this story is so much more than an example of evangelism. This is a story of fulfilled prophecy. This story takes place at a well, and in the Tanakh we see a man finding a bride at a well three times. So the imagery here is that Yeshua, the divine bridegroom, has come to court His Covenant Bride, Israel (Samaria), as symbolized by this woman, and as promised by Hosea the prophet of Yahweh.
We have seen that Yeshua is heading north. He leaves Jerusalem to go to Judea, then He leaves Judea and heads to Samaria:
And He had to pass through Samaria. John 4:4 NASB
The word "had" in this text is the Greek word dei. It is often translated "must" in the Fourth Gospel. I think the "must" is a prophetic must. By going through Samaria Yeshua is fulfilling prophecy. There was a divine intention in our Lord passing through Samaria. That's why He had to pass through Samaria. He had to meet this unnamed Samaritan woman.
Despite taboos, Yeshua opens a dialogue with a Samaritan woman at a well:
but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw." John 4:14-15 NASB
The Samaritan woman still isn't getting it. She understands verses 14 as promising a way out of much of her work. She is still thinking on a physical plane. So now Yeshua takes the conversation in a different direction, to help her realize that she had spiritual needs that only He could meet:
He said to her, "Go, call your husband and come here." John 4:16 NASB
"Go, call"—this is a present active imperative followed by an aorist active imperative. They are commands. Why does He tell her to go and get her husband? He is trying to get her attention, He knows she doesn't have a husband. He wants to show her her spiritual need, and this will do it.
He may also have told her to call her husband because it was culturally proper. If He was going to give her something valuable, her husband needed to be present. This was necessary to avoid any misunderstanding about the reason for the gift—especially in view of Samaritan/Jewish tensions.
Now let me just say here that the Greek word translated "husband(s)" in this passage is andros, which literally means: "adult male." Andros appears 215 times in the original New Testament. It is translated into English: "man" or "men" 155 of those times, and "husband(s)" only 50 of those times. Some have questioned its translation as husband here, but I think based on the context, husband is a good translation:
The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Yeshua said to her, "You have correctly said, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly." John 4:17-18 NASB
It would be more than a little unnerving to have a perfect stranger know all of your sinful past. How would you respond to this? I'm sure she is thinking," Who is this man."
How did Yeshua know all about this woman? Many say that this is Yeshua using His omniscience. They say, He is God so He knows all things. I don't think this is right. In His incarnation Yeshua functioned as a man. From His own will, He did not use His attributes to benefit Himself. They were not surrendered, but voluntarily restricted in keeping with the Father's plan. Christ gave up any independent exercise of certain divine attributes in living among men with their human limitations, that He might become truly man. Dependence is a necessary characteristic or real humanity. Christ lived in dependence upon the Holy Spirit in all that He did:
"But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Matthew 12:28 NASB
And Yeshua returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. Luke 4:14 NASB
In Matthew 4 the temptations of Christ were related to His deity and the kenosis. His humanity longed for what His deity could have provided. But He did not exercise the prerogatives of His deity, but was dependant upon the Father.
Yeshua tells her that she is (technically) correct—she does not have a husband. She has had five husbands, and the man she is now with is not her husband. At a minimum, they are not married; at the worst, she is actually sleeping with some other woman's husband. That Yeshua would know about all this woman's husbands suddenly confronted her with the question of who Yeshua was. His insight into her past and present relationships caused the woman to affirm that He must be a prophet of God.
Rabbinic opinion disapproved more than three marriages, even though they were legally permissible; no body of religious opinion approved common law marriages. We do not know enough about the practices of the 1st century Samaritans, but if they had the same rule, then the woman's life was immoral. Samaritans accepted the Pentateuch. And Exodus 20 says, "Thou shalt not commit adultery," and there's plenty in the Pentateuch about the penalty for adultery, which was death.
In those days, husbands divorced their wives, but wives did not divorce their husbands. Now of course there were ways of getting around this, you might buy your divorce by persuading your husband to divorce you for money. Or perhaps there would be some other way in which a wife might compel her husband to divorce her, but it was difficult for a woman to get a divorce. But here is a woman who has managed to get five divorces assuming that none of her husbands had died. It's highly doubtful that they all died.
But if this woman was married and divorced five times, then five men divorced her. This woman was "put away" five times. Think of how she must feel about herself. And the man she is now living with is not her husband.
It is interesting that the woman does not challenge Yeshua, she doesn't get mad and run off, she realizes that He is a man of God.
Notice what Yeshua says to her, "the one whom you now have is not your husband"—what does this tell us about marriage? It tells us that living together doesn't make a marriage. So what does make a marriage?:
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 NASB
Marriage also involves a joining to one's mate. The word for joined is dabaq; it means: "to cling to, remain close, adhere, be glued firmly." The idea is to have a bond that cannot be broken. This bond is a covenant. The thing that makes a marriage is covenant. Marriage amounts to each partner committing his/her life to the other. It is a pledge to emphasize one's mate as paramount beyond all other relations (forsaking) and to remain faithful to (cling to) him/her for life. Marriage doesn't involve the state or need the states approval. Neither does it need a ceremony. From what I see in Scripture, a biblical marriage is a covenant between a man and woman consummated by the sexual act.
I think that what we see here about this woman and her five husbands is a true story, but I also think that it goes deeper. Since earlier times, Christian scholars have found a symbolism in the reference to "husbands" in this passage. In biblical times a legal wife, in a covenantal union with a man, called her husband "Lord," which is in Hebrew the word "adon." But a concubine, who was considered to be property, called her "husband" "lord" or "master" but used the Canaanite word for "lord/master," which was the word "baal." Sarah could call Abraham "adon" but Hagar, the slave, could only call him "baal." The word baal had a dual meaning. Baal meant "lord" or "master," but "baal" also meant "god" as in the sense of pagan gods to the Hebrews. Each of the Canaanite gods were called "baal" along with the city name or place name; for example Baal of Peor in Numbers 25:1 ff was the baal of the plains of Peor in Moab. Also see Judges 6:28; 1 Kings 18:19ff, etc.
Christian scholars have seen a play on words or a dual meaning with the word "husband" in the passage referring to the woman's 5 "husbands" and the baals of the 5 pagan people, who were the ancestors of the Samaritans. Remember Yahweh and Christ both symbolically unite with the Church in the imagery of Bridegroom to the Covenant Bride!
So maybe more than just commenting on the woman's life, Yeshua could be referring to the 5 different groups of people who became the Samaritans and who brought the worship of each of their principal baals (gods) with them and then adopted the worship of Yahweh. Yeshua could be saying that Samaria has had 5 different gods, and the god they worship now is not their own. because, although they adopted the worship of Yahweh, they had reinterpreted the covenant into their own idea of worship, therefore, their covenant is not legitimate. They had even rewritten passages of the Torah to reflect these changes, for example, designating the place of worship not as Jerusalem but as Mt. Gerizim.
Yeshua could also be saying that the woman, like the people of Samaria, has had 5 different "Lords/gods/baals , and "He," meaning Himself, "who is with you now" (Yeshua is literally with her now) is not your own, He is God, but He is not their God. Considering the use of double meaning words in the Fourth Gospel, Lazarus could also be using all these symbolic meanings. Josephus, writing in the 1st Century, records the ancestors of the Samaritans brought in 5 principal baalim (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews Book 9,14.3).
This connection between Yeshua's message to the woman of Samaria, the husband-baal references, and Samaria/Israel's relationship to Yahweh is prophesied in the book of Hosea. God has given Hosea the prophecy of the day when Israel would again become the bride of Yahweh. Yahweh promising the restoration of Israel:
"And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me 'My Husband,' and no longer will you call me 'My Baal.' For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. Hosea 2:16-17 ESV
The text goes on to say:
And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD. Hosea 2:19-20 ESV
Yeshua's witness to this woman is an amazing fulfillment of this prophecy, which was written after the destruction of Israel in the 8th century B.C.. As I said earlier, this story takes place at a well, and in the Tanakh we see a man finding a bride at a well three times. So the imagery here is that Yeshua, the divine bridegroom, has come to court His Covenant Bride, Israel (Samaria).
The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. John 4:19 NASB
So her response is good, she isn't mad about her past being exposed, she realizes that He is a prophet. The word "prophet" was used to refer to a wide range of gifted people, but to a Samaritan it had a special meaning. The early Church father, Origin, writing in the 2nd century A.D., notes that the Samaritans held as canonical only the five books of Moses. They did not have the Histories or the Books of the Prophets in their Bible. Since the Samaritans only accepted the Pentateuch as their canon of inspired Scripture, Moses was their only prophet, and for them there had been no other prophet. They understood the words of Deuteronomy 34:10 to be absolute:
Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, Deuteronomy 34:10 NASB
They understood these words to be absolute and in force until the coming of the prophet like Moses spoken of in:
"The LORD said to me, 'They have spoken well. 'I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. Deuteronomy 18:17-18 NASB
They regarded this second Moses, the Taheb, as the Messiah. For her to speak of Yeshua as a Prophet was thus to move into the area of messianic speculation. If there cannot be another prophet between the first Moses and the second Moses, then to call Yeshua 'Prophet' is virtually to call Him 'the Prophet'.
"Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." John 4:20 NASB
Some see this as the woman trying to change the subject. But I think she is being awakened spiritually and perceiving that Yeshua might be the promised Prophet, she tests Him by asking Him a question about worship. To a Samaritan, no question could appear more worthy of a prophet's decision than the settlement of the religious center of the world. The Torah said:
"But you shall seek the LORD at the place which the LORD your God will choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come. Deuteronomy 12:5 NASB
This verse prompted them to look to the Pentateuch itself to discover the place. They noted that Shechem, overlooked by Mount Gerizim, was the first place Abraham built an altar once he entered the promised land (Genesis 12:6-7). It was on Mount Gerizim that the blessings were to be shouted to the covenant community, once they had entered the promised land (Deut. 11:29-30; 27:2-7, 12; cf. Jos. 8:33). In the Samaritan Bible, both in Exodus 20:17 and in Deuteronomy 5:21, the ten commandments are followed by words very similar to those found in Deuteronomy 27:2-7, thus effectively tying the decalogue itself to Mount Gerizim. They would produce a Samaritan Pentateuch in which the book of Deuteronomy would specifically ordain Mt. Gerizim as the place for true worship.
But the Jews, accepting all the Tanakh as authoritative, saw Yahweh commanded to build His Temple in Jerusalem:
Now Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD had chosen from all the tribes of Israel to put His name there. And his mother's name was Naamah the Ammonitess. 1 Kings 14:21 NASB
Yahweh established the center of worship for His people at His Temple in Jerusalem ( 1Kings 7-8). When the 10 Northern tribes of Israel broke away to form a divided kingdom they established worship in a Temple on Mt. Gerizim, forming two centers of worship of Yahweh. So this woman wants to know where do I go to worship?:
Yeshua said to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. John 4:21 NASB
The opening words, "Believe me" (pisteu plus the dative), are not an invitation to trust Yeshua with saving faith, but mean something like, "I tell you the truth."
The "hour" is from the Greek word hora, when unqualified, always points in the Fourth Gospel to the hour of Yeshua's cross, resurrection, and exaltation, or to events related to Yeshua's passion and exaltation.
The "you" here is plural, meaning: "you Samaritans will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem." That's amazing for a Jew to say. The day is coming, he says, when Jerusalem, the holy city, the city of David, the place with the Temple of God, will not be the focus of true worship. Lazarus' audience shouldn't be surprised by these words because Yeshua had already said:
Yeshua answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." John 2:19 NASB
In other words, He had already said that He Himself was the new Temple —the new meeting place with Yahweh. The Temple was about to pass away as the focal point of worship. And what would be in its place? A new mountain? A new city? A new building? No. A new Person. The Son.
Not long after this, a few decades, the Romans come at the end of the Jewish rebellion that started in A.D.66, and they destroy Jerusalem and they crush the Temple and don't leave one stone upon another, and there's no more Temple worship. And then the Roman powers go up into the area of Samaria. They arrive at Mount Gerizim and historical accounts tell us they took out their swords and they slaughtered thousands of Samaritans on Mount Gerizim and brought an end to that worship as well.
If you can remember back to one of our studies in the first chapter of this Gospel, Yeshua indicated to Nathanael that with His coming, things would change:
And He said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." John 1:51 NASB
This is a reference to Genesis 28 and Jacob's dream. Nathanael could not have missed the implications of Yeshua's statement. Just as Yahweh stood beside Jacob and made him a promise, so too does Yahweh now stand beside Nathanael. The oath Yeshua makes to Nathanael is that the Son of Man is now "the heavenly stairway" of Jacob's vision. He is the center of God's glory and the point of contact between heaven and earth. Men and God will no longer meet in a certain designated place, but in a certain designated Person—the promised Messiah. He is now the stairway to heaven, He is mediator between heaven and earth. And so it was pointless to continue the debate over which place was the place where men could worship God. He was the Person through whom men must worship God:
"You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. John 4:22 NASB
"You worship what you do not know"—the "you" here is plural, you, the Samaritans. This is Yeshua saying that Samaritan worship is ignorant. It is foolish to say that every religion is equally valid and that we should not judge other religions as false! Yeshua bluntly states that the Samaritans worshiped what they did not know. They were spiritually ignorant and they were wrong.
The Samaritans worshiped a God whom they did "not" really "know." The reason for this was their rejection of most of His revelation in the Tanakh. They sought to worship God their own way, independent of Judaism. In this, they are wrong—dead wrong.
"Salvation is from the Jews"—what does this mean? The word translated "from" could also be translated:"out of." Yeshua is telling her that the Savior will arise from the Jewish people. And Israel has been the axis of divine revelation. It is through Israel that truth has come from Yahweh. Seeking salvation apart from the Jews is wrong. Salvation is "from the Jews." If Samaritans wish to be saved, they must forsake their system of religion and turn to a salvation that is "from the Jews." Paul put it this way:
who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. Romans 9:4-5 NASB
All these privileges of Israel are things that Paul says in Romans 4-8 belong to the Messiah, and through the Messiah they belong to the Church.
"From whom is the Christ according to the flesh"—Paul says that Christ came to the Jewish people. He was their Messiah. The antecedent of "whom," is not the fathers, but the Israelites. Christ was born a Jew, and in Him all of God's promises to Israel reach their consummation. Yeshua took on flesh and entered into the Old Age in order to inaugurate the New Age.
"But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. John 4:23 NASB
The Pillar New Testament Commentary states, "There is an advance on v. 21: not only is the time coming, but it has come. This oxymoron is a powerful way of asserting not only that the period of worship 'in spirit and truth' is about to come and awaits only the dawning of the 'hour', i.e. Yeshua's death, resurrection, and exaltation, but also that this period of true worship is already proleptically present in the person and ministry of Yeshua before the cross. This worship can take place only in and through Him: He is the true Temple (2:19-22), He is the resurrection and the life (11:25). The passion and exaltation of Yeshua constitute the turning point upon which the gift of the Holy Spirit depends (7:38-39; 16:7); but that salvation-historical turning point is possible only because of who Yeshua is. Precisely for that reason, the hour is not only 'coming' but also 'has now come.'"
"But an hour is coming, and now is"—this statement reflects the tension which existed between the two comings of the Messiah. The two Jewish ages were then overlapped. The New Age of the Spirit was present, yet they were still living in the Old Age of the Law.
"Worship the Father in spirit and truth"—what does this mean? The Greek text has one preposition ("in") that governs both nouns ("spirit," "truth"), linked by the conjunction "and." This means that Yeshua was describing one characteristic with two nouns, not two separate characteristics of worship. We could translate the phrase "the Spirit of truth." Generally speaking, Judaism was a worship of the letter, not of the spirit.
The Spirit is the Holy Spirit. The contrast between worship at Jerusalem or Gerizim and worship in Spirit and truth reflects Lazarus' dualistic way of thinking. It is an example of earthly things in contrast to heavenly things (John 3:12). In the cleansing of the Temple Lazarus presented Yeshua as the true Temple (John 2:21).
Brown notes, "Here it is the Spirit that enlivens the worship that replaces worship at the Temple. Again, the contrast between Jesus and Judaism is obvious. Judaism's understanding of worship was confined to containers and so they argued about which Temple (container) was appropriate for worship. The followers of Jesus understood Jesus to be the true Temple and it is the Spirit, which Jesus offers, that makes for true worship."
Yeshua is saying, There are no more Temples, there are no more places of worship where God is to be sought and found? There's no more priesthood. There's no more altars. There's no more sacrifices. There's no more vestments. There are no more incense, candles, all that goes with it.
Much of what we see going on in church today are carried over from the Old Covenant. In the Old Covenant, there was a separate priestly class. Well today we have a man made clergy, separate from the people with certain official titles and supposedly certain official authority. In the Old Covenant, the priest wore particular garments. They wear a garment to carry out the ceremonies of the Day of Atonement and other garments on the other days. And today in our churches, in our Protestant churches, we have individuals wearing robes and collars. That's a carry over of Judaism. In the Old Covenant they had an earthly sanctuary. And what do we call our buildings? Sanctuary or Church. In the Bible a building is never called a Church?
Many people today associate worship primarily with going to a Church building, as the Jews did with going to Jerusalem. Yeshua clarified that "true" worship transcends any particular time or place. We can and should worship Yahweh 24/7 as we set aside every activity as an expression of our love and service for Him.
"True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth"—today there is NO true worship apart from faith in Yeshua the Savior, that comes from the Jews. Yeshua said:
So they were saying to Him, "Where is Your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also." John 8:19 NASB
You can't worship God apart from Yeshua. He also said to the Jews:
so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. John 5:23 NASB
You must be born of the Spirit in order to worship God, and you must come to Him through the truth, that is, through Yeshua, who said, "I am the way the truth and the life" (John 14:6). You must worship in the Spirit of truth.
"God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:24 NASB
The KJV has Yeshua saying, "God is a spirit." The NASB and NIV have, "God is spirit." The Greek text has no indefinite article "a," but it is legitimate to supply one, as is often true in similar anarthrous (without the article) constructions. However, the absence of the article often deliberately stresses the character to the noun (cf. 1 John 1:5; 4:8). That seems to have been Yeshua's intention here.
"God is Spirit"—Philo often represents God as "spirit" which for him means not only not of human form, but devoid of human passions. But Lazarus lacks Philo's Hellenistic bent and means that God's nature is spirit rather than flesh. Lazarus is probably expanding his teaching from:
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:6 NASB
God is not flesh, He is spirit. And he must be worshiped in the Spirit of truth. This is very similar to what Paul said in:
for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Yeshua and put no confidence in the flesh, Philippians 3:3 NASB
God who is spirit is not worshiped in the flesh.
One commentator writes, "He is emphasizing the kind of being God is: He is spirit. He is not material. He does not exist in a body that can be seen or touched, like our bodies. Any physical representation of God, whether by an idol or by a picture (as a white-haired old man), is a misrepresentation of God."
What do you think? Is he right? Does "God is Spirit" mean that He is a some kind of mist or a light without shape or form? This verse is often compared to:
"See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." Luke 24:39 NASB
Since it is said that a spirit does not have flesh and bones, many conclude that Yahweh does not have a body. But Lazarus has told us earlier in the story that:
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:6 NASB
That which is born of the spirit here is referring to Christians. Christians are spirit! Does that mean that we don't have a body?
The Bible says that angels are ministering "spirits," and they have bodies:
Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. Genesis 19:1 NASB
What did Lot see? He saw two angels that looked like men. Throughout the Tanakh men see Yahweh:
And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. Ezekiel 1:26 ESV
This is a throne room vision, and notice what Ezekiel saw sitting on the throne, "a likeness with a human appearance." This is an embodied deity here. Just in case you are not sure who is on the throne:
Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking. Ezekiel 1:28 ESV
Here Ezekiel calls the figure on the throne "the glory of Yahweh." This is not just some luminous array of light, or some kind of mist. This is Yahweh in human form. Yahweh is the glory, and the glory has form here. There's a body there.
I stress this because as I mentioned before my view of the afterlife has changed, and I believe that we will have a body. What we see here in Ezekiel is the "spiritual body" that Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 15. We, like Yahweh, will have a celestial body. You might ask, Doesn't the Bible say that "no one can see God"? Yes, it does. What does that mean? Calvin says, "When he says that no one has seen God, it is not to be understood of the outward seeing of the physical eye. He means that, since God dwells in inaccessible light, He cannot be known except in Christ, His living image." No man has ever seen God in His essence. That's the meaning.
"Must worship in spirit and truth"—God is spirit, and His worshiper "must," this is the Greek dei, the divine necessity, worship Him in spirit and truth. Both in v. 23 and in v. 24, the one preposition "in" governs both nouns. There are not two separable characteristics of the worship that must be offered: it must be "in spirit and truth", i.e. through Yeshua the Christ.
The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us." John 4:25 NASB
The Samaritans anticipated Messiah's arrival, as the Jews did, but they viewed Him primarily as a teacher (Deut. 18:15-19). They usually referred to Him as the Taheb (probably meaning "the Restorer" or possibly "He who returns"). Here Lazarus translated the meaning of "Messiah" ("He who is called Christ") for his Gentile readers.
Yeshua said to her, "I who speak to you am He." John 4:26 NASB
This is literally, "I who speak to you am"—there is no "he" in the text. This expression is the highest claim that Yeshua can possibly make for Himself, it is the claim that He is Yahweh Himself. When Moses was at the burning bush and was told that he would be the instrumentality whereby God would lead Israel out of the land of Egypt, Moses said, "What's your name, I need to have a name in order to answer my fellow Israelites when they say who's the God who's leading us out?" And God said to Moses:
God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" Exodus 3:14 NASB
"I AM WHO I AM" is Ehyeh; asher ehyeh, meaning: "I am that which exist."
The root of Ehyeh is hiya, which means: "to be" or "I exist." So here Elohim tells Moses His name is Ehyeh. But look at the next verse:
God, furthermore, said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.' This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations. Exodus 3:15 NASB
Elohim again gives His name to Moses, but this time it is Yahweh. The two names, Yahweh and Ehyeh, are related. Yahweh is, and Ehyeh is. Ehyeh means: "I exist, I will exist, I am." And Yahweh means: "He exists, He will exist, He is." And both of these names are related to each other. They are both conveying the idea that Yahweh is the existing One. And in our text Yeshua is saying, "I AM, I'm Yahweh!"
Yeshua identified Himself to this woman as the Messiah whom she hoped for. Which is interesting because Yeshua did not reveal Himself to the Jews as the Messiah because of their identification of Messiah, almost exclusively, as a military deliverer.
This is the only time that Yeshua clearly identified Himself as the Messiah before His trial. However, Mark 9:41 records that He used the term of Himself on another occasion indirectly. His self-identification here constituted an invitation for the woman to come to Him for salvation.