The Gospel of John informs us that Jesus had to pass through Samaria (4:4). The most direct travel route between Judea and Galilee was through Samaria. Josephus says, “it was the custom of the Galileans, when they came to the holy city at the festivals, to take their journeys through the country of the Samaritans….” (Ant. XX.118). He also informs us that the trip took three days (Life of Flavius Josephus 1.269). This route ran along the central mountain range, sometimes called the water-parting route.
Carson says geography determined that Jesus had to go through Samaria, but some scholars believe the term had indicates necessity. The following conversation with the woman of Samaria and the visit with the people of Sychar may explain why He had to go through Samaria.
We know that Jesus and His disciples encountered problems when traveling through Samaria (Luke 9:51-56). When Jesus sent out the twelve He told them not to enter any city of the Samaritans (Matthew 10:5).
The Jews, on their way from Galilee to Judea, could travel through Transjordan (Perea). It seems that Jesus took this route when He traveled through Jericho up to Jerusalem (Luke 19).
This photo was made in 1981 from the hill of Samaria with a view of the surrounding “mountains of Samaria” (Amos 3:9). One can easily imagine Jesus and His disciples traveling paths such as this.