Wells

Boyd’s Bible Dictionary:

(boil). Wells were of great importance in Palestine (Gen. 24:1111And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water. (Genesis 24:11); Num. 20:17-1917Let 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. 18And Edom said unto him, Thou shalt not pass by me, lest I come out against thee with the sword. 19And the children of Israel said unto him, We will go by the high way: and if I and my cattle drink of thy water, then I will pay for it: I will only, without doing any thing else, go through on my feet. (Numbers 20:17‑19); Judg. 7:11Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. (Judges 7:1)). They were sometimes deep (John 4:1111The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? (John 4:11)); frequently owned in common (Gen. 29:2-32And he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stone was upon the well's mouth. 3And thither were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well's mouth in his place. (Genesis 29:2‑3)); covered at times with a stone and surrounded by a low wall to protect them from drifting sand (Gen. 29:2-82And he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stone was upon the well's mouth. 3And thither were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well's mouth in his place. 4And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, whence be ye? And they said, Of Haran are we. 5And he said unto them, Know ye Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, We know him. 6And he said unto them, Is he well? And they said, He is well: and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep. 7And he said, Lo, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together: water ye the sheep, and go and feed them. 8And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till they roll the stone from the well's mouth; then we water the sheep. (Genesis 29:2‑8)); to stop them up an act of hostility (Gen. 26:15-1615For 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. 16And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we. (Genesis 26:15‑16)); to invade them a cause for contention (Gen. 21:2525And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away. (Genesis 21:25)); water sometimes drawn by sweeps or windlasses, but generally by a bucket attached to a rope, and in some cases steps led down to them (Gen. 21:25-3125And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away. 26And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day. 27And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant. 28And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. 29And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves? 30And he said, For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well. 31Wherefore he called that place Beer-sheba; because there they sware both of them. (Genesis 21:25‑31); Judg. 1:13-1513And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife. 14And it came to pass, when she came to him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted from off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wilt thou? 15And she said unto him, Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the nether springs. (Judges 1:13‑15); 1 Sam. 29:11Now the Philistines gathered together all their armies to Aphek: and the Israelites pitched by a fountain which is in Jezreel. (1 Samuel 29:1)); emblem of blessings (Jer. 2:13; 17:1313For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13)
13O Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters. (Jeremiah 17:13)
).

Concise Bible Dictionary:

There are several Hebrew words for the wells that were in Palestine. Some may have been dug in connection with springs of water and others have been principally supplied by water from the surrounding land. The word ayin differs from either of the above: it signifies literally “an eye,” and was like an eye in the ground from which the waters sprang up, and is not said to be dug, and yet is called “a well” in the AV. It occurs in Genesis 24:13-4513Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: 14And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast showed kindness unto my master. 15And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder. 16And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up. 17And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher. 18And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. 19And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking. 20And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels. 21And the man wondering at her held his peace, to wit whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not. 22And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold; 23And said, Whose daughter art thou? tell me, I pray thee: is there room in thy father's house for us to lodge in? 24And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor. 25She said moreover unto him, We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in. 26And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the Lord. 27And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master's brethren. 28And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother's house these things. 29And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well. 30And it came to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister's hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man; and, behold, he stood by the camels at the well. 31And he said, Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels. 32And the man came into the house: and he ungirded his camels, and gave straw and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet, and the men's feet that were with him. 33And there was set meat before him to eat: but he said, I will not eat, until I have told mine errand. And he said, Speak on. 34And he said, I am Abraham's servant. 35And the Lord hath blessed my master greatly; and he is become great: and he hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses. 36And Sarah my master's wife bare a son to my master when she was old: and unto him hath he given all that he hath. 37And my master made me swear, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife to my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell: 38But thou shalt go unto my father's house, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son. 39And I said unto my master, Peradventure the woman will not follow me. 40And he said unto me, The Lord, before whom I walk, will send his angel with thee, and prosper thy way; and thou shalt take a wife for my son of my kindred, and of my father's house: 41Then shalt thou be clear from this my oath, when thou comest to my kindred; and if they give not thee one, thou shalt be clear from my oath. 42And I came this day unto the well, and said, O Lord God of my master Abraham, if now thou do prosper my way which I go: 43Behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass, that when the virgin cometh forth to draw water, and I say to her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher to drink; 44And she say to me, Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy camels: let the same be the woman whom the Lord hath appointed out for my master's son. 45And before I had done speaking in mine heart, behold, Rebekah came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder; and she went down unto the well, and drew water: and I said unto her, Let me drink, I pray thee. (Genesis 24:13‑45); Genesis 49:2222Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: (Genesis 49:22); Exodus 15:2727And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters. (Exodus 15:27) and Nehemiah 2:1313And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire. (Nehemiah 2:13); and the same word is often translated “fountain.” From the same is mayan (Psa. 84:66Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. (Psalm 84:6); Isa. 12:33Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3); &c). The words beer, bor refer to any well, cistern, or pit (Gen. 16:1414Wherefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered. (Genesis 16:14); Gen. 24:11,2011And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water. (Genesis 24:11)
20And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels. (Genesis 24:20)
; Deut. 6:1111And 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; (Deuteronomy 6:11); etc.).
In John 4:1414But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:14) (πηγή) is used symbolically: it is “a fountain” which Christ gives that springs up into eternal life. It is the Holy Spirit, the power of life that springs up in the soul towards its heavenly source.

From Anstey’s Doctrinal Definitions:

Genesis 29:33And thither were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well's mouth in his place. (Genesis 29:3). Thither were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well’s mouth in his place.
This is not a part of the history, since all the flocks were not actually gathered and the stone removed until Rachel came (vs.10). The verse is meant to describe the general custom of the country. It was usual to wait until all the flocks were gathered, and then the stone was taken off and the work of watering began (vs. 8). Harmer refers to the statement of Sir John Chardin, that he had known wells or cisterns locked up in the East, and accepts Chardin’s explanation that this may have been the case in this instance, and that Rachel probably had the key, and that for that reason they were all obliged to wait until she came. But we see no reason for supposing any lock and key in the case; no mention is made of them in the narrative. The reason assigned in verse 8 for waiting for Rachel is, not that she had any special means for opening the well, but that it was customary for all the flocks to be gathered before the stone was rolled away.

“31. Wells” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

Genesis 24:1111And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water. (Genesis 24:11) He made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water.
“A modern guide-book could hardly furnish a truer picture of what occurs at the close of every day in the vicinity of Eastern villages than this description, written so many thousand years ago.”—Hackett, Illustrations of Scripture, p. 89.
1. The position of a camel when at rest is kneeling. These animals are taught it when young.
2. Villages are built near wells or springs for convenience, but not near enough to be discommoded by the noise and dust and crowds which are sure to be drawn to such places.
4. Evening and early morning are the usual times for visiting the well for a supply of water.

“43. Customs Concerning Wells” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

In the East, digging wells gives title to unoccupied lands. Isaac therefore owned by inheritance the land in the vicinity of which these wells had been dug by his father’s direction. In a pastoral country it is a serious matter to choke up the wells which have been dug for the convenience of flocks and herds. It is, in fact, a declaration of war, and has always been considered a hostile act. Thus the Israelites did according to Divine command when they invaded Moab (2 Kings 3:19,2519And 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 3:19)
25And 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 Kir-haraseth left they the stones thereof; howbeit the slingers went about it, and smote it. (2 Kings 3:25)
). In some parts of Persia the people have a way of concealing their wells with boards covered with sand, so as to conceal them from the eye of an enemy.

“44. Strife at Wells” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

These contests between rival herdmen for the possession of wells are still common in the land. Water is so necessary, and yet sometimes so hard to get, that it is no wonder there are battles waged for it. Some travelers state that the Bedouin would give a stranger milk to drink rather than water, the latter being more valuable. A contest similar to the one noticed in the text took place between the servants of Abraham and those of Abimelech (Gen. 21:2525And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away. (Genesis 21:25)).

“50. Well Stones” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

This was to protect the water from impurity, and from shifting sands, which without such protection would soon choke it. Modern travelers make frequent mention of the stone covers to wells and cisterns. Some of these stones are so large and heavy as to require the united strength of several men to remove them. May there not be reference to this custom in Job 38:3030The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen. (Job 38:30): “The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.”

“51. Wells Opened” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

Genesis 29:33And thither were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well's mouth in his place. (Genesis 29:3). Thither were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well’s mouth in his place.
This is not a part of the history, since all the flocks were not actually gathered and the stone removed until Rachel came (vs.10). The verse is meant to describe the general custom of the country. It was usual to wait until all the flocks were gathered, and then the stone was taken off and the work of watering began (vs. 8). Harmer refers to the statement of Sir John Chardin, that he had known wells or cisterns locked up in the East, and accepts Chardin’s explanation that this may have been the case in this instance, and that Rachel probably had the key, and that for that reason they were all obliged to wait until she came. But we see no reason for supposing any lock and key in the case; no mention is made of them in the narrative. The reason assigned in verse 8 for waiting for Rachel is, not that she had any special means for opening the well, but that it was customary for all the flocks to be gathered before the stone was rolled away.

“33. How Wells Are Used” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

The wells are usually approached by flights of steps, so that the women may dip their pitchers directly into the water. In some cases the wells are dug deep, and require a rope, or some simple machinery, for raising the water. See note on John 4:1111The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? (John 4:11) (#491).