Ancient Wells
Ancient Beersheba Well

In the ancient world wells were often seen, they provided water for towns and houses. Wells were also dug by the early patriarchs of the Bible; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in various places in the land of Canaan. The name of the city of Beersheba means "Well of the Oath" which was named so because Isaac's servants dug a well there. The well commemorates the covenant made between Isaac and Abimelech, which later there was trouble over possession of the wells at Gerar (Genesis 26).

Genesis 26:18 - And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them.

Deuteronomy 6:11 - And houses full of all good [things], which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full;

2 Kings 3:19 - And ye shall smite every fenced city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop all wells of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones.

2 Kings 3:25 - And they beat down the cities, and on every good piece of land cast every man his stone, and filled it; and they stopped all the wells of water, and felled all the good trees: only in Kirharaseth left they the stones thereof; howbeit the slingers went about [it], and smote it.

Numbers 20:17 - Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country: we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards, neither will we drink [of] the water of the wells: we will go by the king's [high] way, we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders.

Nehemiah 9:25 - And they took strong cities, and a fat land, and possessed houses full of all goods, wells digged, vineyards, and oliveyards, and fruit trees in abundance: so they did eat, and were filled, and became fat, and delighted themselves in thy great goodness.

2 Chronicles 26:10 - Also he built towers in the desert, and digged many wells: for he had much cattle, both in the low country, and in the plains: husbandmen [also], and vine dressers in the mountains, and in Carmel: for he loved husbandry.

Genesis 26:15 - For all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth.

Exodus 15:27 - And they came to Elim, where [were] twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.

2 Peter 2:17 - These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.

Isaiah 12:3 - Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

Also see:

Well in Easton's Bible Dictionary (Heb. beer), to be distinguished from a fountain (Heb. 'ain). A "beer" was a deep shaft, bored far under the rocky surface by the art of man, which contained water which percolated through the strata in its sides. Such wells were those of Jacob and Beersheba, etc. (see Gen. 21:19, 25, 30, 31; 24:11; 26:15, 18-25, 32, etc.). In the Pentateuch this word beer, so rendered, occurs twenty-five times.

Well in Fausset's Bible Dictionary (See FOUNTAIN.) As ''Ayin, "fount," literally, "eye", refers to the water springing up to us, so beer, "well," from a root "to bore," refers to our finding our way down to it. The Bir- and the En- are always distinct. The rarity of wells in the Sinaitic region explains the national rejoicings over Beer or the well, afterward Beer-Elim, "well of heroes" (Numbers 21:16-17-18,22). God commanded Moses to cause the well to be dug; princes, nobles, and people, all heartily, believingly, and joyfully cooperated in the work. Naming a well marked right of property in it. To destroy it denoted conquest or denial of right of property (Genesis 21:30-31; Genesis 26:15-33; 2 Kings 3:19; Deuteronomy 6:11; Numbers 20:17; Numbers 20:19; Proverbs 5:15). "Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well," i.e. enjoy the love of thine own wife alone. Wells and cisterns are the two sources of oriental supply, each house had its own cistern (2 Kings 18:31); to thirst for filthy waters is suicidal. Song of Solomon 4:12; in Israel wells are excavated in the limestone, with steps descending to them (Genesis 24:16). A low stone wall for protection (Exodus 21:33) surrounds the brim; on it sat our Lord in conversing with the Samaritan woman (John 4:6; John 4:11). A stone cover was above; this the woman placed on the well at Bahurim (2 Samuel 17:19), translated "the woman spread the covering over the well's mouth." A rope and bucket or water skin raised the water; the marks of the rope are still visible in the furrows worn in the low wall. See Numbers 24:7, "he shall stream with water out of his two buckets," namely, suspended from the two ends of a pole, the usual way of fetching water from the Euphrates in Balaam's neighbourhood. Wells are often contended for and are places of Bedouin attacks on those drawing water (Exodus 2:16-17; Judges 5:11; 2 Samuel 23:15-16). Oboth (Numbers 21:10-11) means holes dug in the ground for water. Beerlahairoi is the first well mentioned (Genesis 16:14). Beersheba, Rehoboth, and Jacob's well are leading instances of wells (Genesis 21:19; Genesis 26:22). They are sunk much deeper than ours, to prevent drying up. Jacob's well is 75 ft. deep, seven feet six inches in diameter, and lined with rough masonry; a pitcher unbroken at the bottom evidenced that there was water at some seasons, otherwise the fall would have broken the pitcher.



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