Ark of the Covenant - Bible History Online

Bible History Online

Sub Categories

Back to Categories

November 17    Scripture



Manners & Customs: Water Supply
Water Supply in Biblical History History

Cisterns CISTERNS The word "well" to the average native of Israel has meant "spring" or "fountain," but in the Bible account it often means "cistern." Actually the cistern has been a more common source of Israel's water supply than has the well. To drink water out of the family cistern was the proverbial wish of every Jew, and such was the promise that King Sennacherib of Assyria used to try and tempt the Jews into making peace with him. He said to them: "Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me, and then eat ye every man of his own vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his cistern" (II Kings 18:31; cf. Isaiah 36:16). These family cisterns were often dug in the open courtyard of houses as was the case of "the man which had a well [cistern] in his court." At the time of year referred to this cistern was dry and so two men could easily be hidden therein (II Samuel 17:18-19). During the rainy season the rain water is conducted from the houseroofs to these cisterns by means of troughs. Usually the water is drawn up by means of a rope that runs over a wheel, and a bucket made of animal skins is fastened to the rope. Jeremiah used the picture of a cistern that leaked water, to illustrate one of his sermons: "For my people have committed two evils"; the prophet said of the LORD, "They have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jeremiah 2:13). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Elisha's Fountain One of the most important springs in Israel is the one at Jericho. Its water comes from the Judean wilderness mountains located behind the town. This spring contributes to a pool of water adjoining the excavated mound of old Jericho, and this is now called "Elisha's Fountain." It is believed to be the waters healed by the prophet long ago (II Kings 2:21). Although the level of this water gets quite low in the hot weather, it seldom dries up entirely, and is a source of water for men, animals, and the oasis of banana, fig, and date palms of the vicinity. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Jacob's Well Jacob's well at Sychar was made famous by the incident of JESUS talking with the woman of Samaria there. There is nothing left at these wells that may be used for drawing water from a depth. Each woman who comes for water brings with her, in addition to the pitcher in which to carry the water, a hard leather portable bucket with a rope, in order to let it down to the level of the water. The Samaritan woman had brought all this with her, but JESUS had no such equipment with him. Hence she said to him, after he had asked her for a drink: "Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep" (John 4:11). In response to his request she drew from the well and gave him a drink. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Jerusalem's Water Supply THE SOURCE OF JERUSALEM'S WATER Pools of water in and around the city. Throughout most of its history, the Holy City has depended largely upon private cisterns which its inhabitants have maintained to catch rain water. The city itself has had through the years no living fountain or spring within its walls. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Locations of Wells, Springs and Fountains Israel Water Supply WELLS, SPRINGS, OR FOUNTAINS WELLS AND THEIR LOCATION. In many cases wells have been depended upon for water in Palestinian towns through the years. Often the well is located outside the city walls, but sometimes the people are fortunate to have the well inside their town. Archaeologists have discovered at least two ancient cities in addition to Jerusalem, that brought water inside their city through a tunnel The city of Gezer had such a tunnel that lead from within the city to a water supply beneath. And the Canaanites at Megiddo, rather than go outside their city for water, sunk a shaft straight down to the level of the spring, and then dug a tunnel horizontally until they reached it. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Modern Jerusalem Water Supply Water for modern Jerusalem. The portion of Israel now included in the new nation of Israel has undergone a marvelous transformation in regard to the supply of water for irrigation purposes as well as for household use. Primitive customs are fast disappearing and modern customs are taking their place in the Jewish sections of the land. The Jewish part of Jerusalem has had a new supply of water coming thirty miles from ancient Antipatris or Bas el Ein) located in the Plain of Sharon. Water coming from copious springs located there is pumped by relay pumping stations through a large pipeline up to the crest of the hills where the Holy City stands. The Jerusalem under the control of Israel has become very much westernized, with water piped to the houses. But in much of the ancient or Arab portion of Jerusalem, (1953) one still sees women carrying water pitchers on their head or shoulder) and men carrying goatskin "bottles" of water very much like it was done by the ancient Hebrews. And numerous cisterns still conserve rain water. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Pool of Bethesda The Pool of Bethesda is to be found just inside the Eastern wall, between St. Stephen's Gate and the Northern wall of the temple enclosure. It was here that many sick ones bathed in CHRIST's time, believing its waters had healing properties. It was here CHRIST healed the impotent man (John 5). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Pool of Hezekiah Other pools located in and around the city that have supplied water include the Pool of Hezekiah, located inside the walls and fed with water through an underground conduit from the Pool of Mamilla. This latter pool lies 2000 feet to the west of Jaffa Gate outside the walls, and is in the Valley of Hinnom and receives drainage water coming down that valley. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Pool of Siloam King Hezekiah constructed a conduit or tunnel from this spring through the rock underneath the city to a place in the Tyropean Valley, where a reservoir was constructed to receive the water (II Kings 20:20). This reservoir has gone by the name of The Pool of Siloam. This water project was undertaken mainly to give the city a water supply in time of siege. The pool has been an important source of water for Jerusalem through the centuries. Here the Arab women of the old city often come to wash their clothes, or their vegetables, or their children. And farther in the pool or mouth of the tunnel, they get their pitchers filled with the family supply of water. And at this pool also an occasional shepherd will come to wash his sheep" [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Pool of the Sultan The Pool of the Sultan lies just outside the Southwestern comer of the wall in this same valley. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Solomon's Pools Solomon's Pools and the Temple Area Reservoir. Two miles south of Bethlehem there are three reservoirs of water that have for centuries been called Solomon's Pools, because it is generally believed that he originally constructed them. Josephus indicated that it was probably Pontius Pilate who rebuilt and enlarged them. Water from these pools was brought to Jerusalem by means of a rock aqueduct and emptied into a great reservoir located under the temple area. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Spring of Gihon The city itself has had through the years no living fountain or spring within its walls. The spring of Gihon now called "The Virgin's Fountain," is located in the Valley of Kidron just outside the old city of the Jebusites or the City of David. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Storing Water for the Home Securing water for home use. We have already seen (Chapter 8) that it is the duty of the women to go to the well to get the family supply of water. This is carried by them in pitchers of earthenware either upon their shoulder or head. If larger supplies of water are needed, then the men carry such in sheepskin or goatskin "bottles." [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Temple Area Water Even today water from this source is brought up to the surface at a point between the Dome of the Rock and the Mosque el-Aksa, by an animal skin bucket attached to a rope and running over a wheel. Water carriers using goatskin "bottles" come here to get their water and carry it to many parts of the old city of Jerusalem. During six months of the year, when there is no rain, water becomes scarce in many parts of Israel, especially during the latter part of that season when one after another cistern has dried up, and permanent wells and ever-flowing sources must be depended upon for water. In such times the water carrier will go to a well, or reservoir, and then peddle his supply of water to those who need it. He may go down the streets of the city, or he may go into the marketplace. He will call out: "Ho, ye thirsty ones, come ye and drink." There have been times when a philanthropic person has paid the water carrier for all his supply of water and thus let him offer if free of charge to those who need it. Then he will call forth: "Ho, ye thirsty ones, come and drink today for nothing, for nothing!" Such words remind us of the prophetic invitation of Isaiah: "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy. . . without money and without price" (Isaiah 55:1). Water for modern Jerusalem. The portion of Israel now included in the new nation of Israel has undergone a marvelous transformation in regard to the supply of water for irrigation purposes as well as for household use. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

The Well of the Oath Famous wells and fountains of Scripture. Wells were dug by the early patriarchs in various places in the land of Canaan. The town of Beersheba was named after an event that happened at the time Isaac's servants dug a well there. The name means "The Well of the Oath," commemorating the covenant made between Isaac and Abimelech, which followed soon after the trouble over possession of wells at Gerar (Genesis 26). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Water in Fausset's Bible Dictionary The heat of summer and many mouths of drought necessitated also appliances for storing and conveying water; and remains still exist of the frontPOOLS of Solomon situated near Bethlehem, and of the aqueduct near Jericho which was constructed by the Romans.

Water in Naves Topical Bible Creation of Ps 148:4,5 -Covered the whole earth Ge 1:9 -Daily allowance of Eze 4:11 -City waterworks 2Ki 20:20 -Vision of, by Ezekiel Eze 47:1-5 -Of separation Nu 19:2-22 -Libation of 1Sa 7:6 -Irrigation with See IRRIGATION -Miraculously supplied To the Israelites Ex 17:1,6; Nu 20:11 To Samson Jud 15:19 To Jehoshaphat's army 2Ki 3:16-20 -Purified by Elisha 2Ki 2:19-22 -Red Sea divided Ex 14:21,22 -The Jordan River Jos 3:14-17; 2Ki 2:6-8,14 -Jesus walks upon Mt 14:25 -Changed to wine Joh 2:1-11 -Turned into blood Re 16:3-5 -FIGURATIVE Water of life Joh 4:14; 7:37-39; Re 21:6; 22:17 Water of affliction 2Sa 22:17; Ps 69:1; Isa 30:20; 43:2 Water of salvation Isa 12:3; 49:10; 55:1; Eze 36:25; Joh 4:10; 7:38 Domestic love Pr 5:15 -SYMBOLICAL Isa 8:7; Re 8:11; 12:15; 16:4; 17:1,15

Water in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE wo'-ter (mayim; hudor): (1) The Greek philosophers believed water to be the original substance and that all things were made from it. The Koran states, "From water we have made all things." In the story of the creation (Gen 1:2) water plays an elemental part. (2) Because of the scarcity of water in Israel it is especially appreciated by the people there. They love to go and sit by a stream of running water. Men long for a taste of the water of their native village (1 Ch 11:17). A town or village is known throughout the country for the quality of its water, which is described by many adjectives, such as "light," "heavy," etc. (3) The rainfall is the only source of supply of water for Israel. The moisture is carried up from the sea in clouds and falls on the hills as rain or snow. This supplies the springs and fountains. The rivers are mostly small and have little or no water in summer. For the most part springs supply the villages, but in case this is not sufficient, cisterns are used. Most of the rain falls on the western slopes of the mountains, and most of the springs are found there. The limestone in many places does not hold the water, so wells are not very common, though there are many references to them in the Bible. (4) Cisterns are usually on the surface of the ground and vary greatly in size. Jerusalem has always had to depend for the most part on water stored in this way, and carried to the city in aqueducts. A large number of cisterns have been found and partially explored under the temple-area itself. The water stored in the cisterns is surface water, and is a great menace to the health of the people. During the long, dry summer the water gets less and less, and becomes so stagnant and filthy that it is not fit to drink. In a few instances the cisterns or pools are sufficiently large to supply water for limited irrigation. See CISTERN. (5) During the summer when there is no rain, vegetation is greatly helped by the heavy dews. A considerable amount of irrigation is carried on in the country where there is sufficient water in the fountains and springs for the purpose. There was doubtless much more of it in the Roman period. Most of the fruit trees require water during the summer. (6) Many particular wells or pools are mentioned in the Bible, as: Beersheba (Gen 21:19), Isaac's well (Gen 24:11), Jacob's well (Jn 4:6), Pool of Siloam (Jn 9:7), "waters of Nephtoah" (Josh 15:9). (7) Washing with water held a considerable place in the Jewish temple-ceremony (Lev 11:32; 16:4; 17:15; 22:6; Nu 19:7; Ex 30:18; 40:7). Sacrifices were washed (Ex 29:4; Lev 1:9; 6:28; 14:5). (8) The lack of water caused great suffering (Ex 15:22; Dt 8:15; 2 Ki 3:9; Ps 63:1; Prov 9:17; Ezek 4:11; Lam 5:4).

Well of Bethlehem It was water from a Bethlehem well for which David in the wilderness longed. To appreciate his desire, one needs to know what thirst in the wilderness means, and also be acquainted with the cool water of the Bethlehem wells and cisterns. In the hillsides around Bethlehem are terraced vineyards, and most of these have a rock-hewn cistern located in them, which collects rain water in the winter months and preserves this water in a delightfully cool condition in the hot summer months. The men of Bethlehem boast of their cool water. One man was given a drink, but expressed a longing for water out of his father's vineyard, saying that it was so cold that he couldn't drink an entire glassful without taking it away from his lips at least three times. Thus David, stationed at the cave of Adullam, and living in the parched wilderness, and weary from fighting, said: "Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem. which is by the gate" (II Samuel 23:15). When three of his men risked their lives in fighting Philistines in order to secure for him some of this cool Bethlehem water, David "poured it out unto the Lord" (II Samuel 23:16). This was according to the ancient custom of a libation offering, or the pouring on the ground as an act of worship, wine, or oil, or milk, or honey, or water. Sometimes these drink offerings were poured by the Hebrews on the animal sacrificed to the LORD. In doing what he did, David was giving to the LORD the drink of water that had cost so much for the men to secure for him. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Well of Nazareth Throughout the centuries the town of Nazareth has had put one main source for its water supply, a well or fountain that is located at the northwest extremity of the town. We may be fairly certain that Mary came here with her pitcher to draw water for her household use, and that here the boy JESUS often quenched his thirst. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

If you notice a broken link or any error PLEASE report it by clicking HERE
© 1995-2018 Bible History Online





More Bible History