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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Well

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(1) ( בּאר , be'ēr ; compare Arabic bi'r , "well" or "cistern"; usually artificial: "And Isaac's servants digged (dug) in the valley, and found there a well of springing (margin "living") water" ( Genesis 26:19 ); some times covered: "Jacob ... rolled the stone from the well's mouth" (Genesis 29:10 ). Be'ēr may also be a pit: "The vale of Siddim was full of slime pits" (Genesis 14:10 ); "the pit of destruction" (Psalm 55:23 ). (2) (בּור , bōr ), usually "pit": "Let us slay him, and cast him into one of the pits" (Genesis 37:20 ); may be "well": "drew water out of the well of Beth-lehem" (2 Samuel 23:16 ).

(3) ( πηγή , pēgḗ ), usually "running water," "fount," or "source": "Doth the fountain send forth from the same opening sweet water and bitter?" ( James 3:11 ); may be "well"; compare "Jacob's well" (John 4:6 ). (4) (φρέαρ , phréar ), usually "pit": "the pit of the abyss" (Revelation 9:1 ); but "well"; compare "Jacob's well" (John 4:11 , John 4:12 ): "Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a well" (the King James Version "pit") (Luke 14:5 ). (5) (κρήνη , krḗnē ), "wells" (Sirach 48:17), Latin, fons , "spring" (2 Esdras 2:32).

(6) עין , ‛ayin , compare Arabic ‛ain "fountain," "spring": "the fountain (English Versions of the Bible) which is in Jezreel" ( 1 Samuel 29:1 ); "In Elim were twelve springs (the King James Version "fountains" of water" (Numbers 33:9 ); "She (Rebekah) went down to the fountain" (the King James Version "well") (Genesis 24:16 ); "the jackal's well" (the English Revised Version "the dragon's well," the King James Version "the dragon well") (Nehemiah 2:13 ). (7) (מעין , ma‛yān ), same root as (6); "the fountain (the King James Version "well") of the waters of Nephtoah" (Joshua 18:15 ); "Passing through the valley of Weeping (the King James Version "Baca") they make it a place of springs" (the King James Version "well") (Psalm 84:6 ); "Ye shall draw water out of the wells of salvation" (Isaiah 12:3 ). (8) (מקור , māḳōr ), usually figurative : "With thee is the fountain of life" (Psalm 36:9 ); "The mouth of the righteous is a fountain (the King James Version "well") of life" (Proverbs 10:11 ); "make her (Babylon's) fountain (the King James Version "spring") dry" (Jeremiah 51:36 ); "a corrupted spring" (Proverbs 25:26 ). (9) (מבּוּע , mabbūa‛ ), root נבע , nābha‛ , "to flow," "spring," "bubble up"; compare Arabic (nab‛ , manba‛ , yanbu‛ ) "fountain": "or the pitcher is broken at the fountain" (Ecclesiastes 12:6 ); "the thirsty ground springs of water" (Isaiah 35:7 ). (10) (מוצא , mōcā' ), "spring," root יצא , yācā' , "to go out," "the dry land springs of water" (Isaiah 41:18 ); "a dry land into watersprings" (Psalm 107:35 ); "the upper spring of the waters of Gihon" (2 Chronicles 32:30 ). (11) (נבך , nēbhekh ), root uncertain, reading doubtful; only in Job 38:16 , "Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea?" (12) (תּהום , tehōm ), "deep," "abyss"; compare Genesis 1:2 ; translated "springs," the King James Version "depths" (Deuteronomy 8:7 ). (13) (גּל , gal ), (root גּלל , gālal ), "to roll"; compare Gilgal (Joshua 5:9 ); "a spring shut up" (Song of Solomon 4:12 ). (14) (גּלּה , gullāh ), "bowl," "basin," "pool," same root: "Give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper sprigs and the nether springs" (Joshua 15:19 ); compare Arabic (kullat ), pronounced gullat , "a marble," "a cannon-ball."

As is clear from references cited above, wells and springs were not sharply distinguished in name, though be'ēr , and phrear are used mainly of wells, and ‛ayin , ma‛yān , mōcā' , mabbūa‛ and (poetically) māḳōr are chiefly used of fountains. The Arabic bi'r , the equivalent of the Hebrew be'ēr , usually denotes a cistern for rain-water, though it may be qualified as bi'r jam‛ , "well of gathering," i.e. for rain-water, or as bi'r nab‛ , "well of springing water." A spring or natural fountain is called in Arabic ‛ain or nab‛ (compare Hebrew ‛ayin and mabbūa‛ ). These Arabic and Hebrew words for "well" and "spring" figure largely in place-names, modern and ancient: Beer ( Numbers 21:16 ); Beer-elim (Isaiah 15:8 ), etc.; ‛Ain (a ) on the northeast boundary of Palestine (Numbers 34:11 ), (b ) in the South of Judah, perhaps = En-rimmon (Joshua 15:32 ); Enaim (Genesis 38:14 ); Enam (Joshua 15:34 ), etc. Modern Arabic names with ‛ain are very numerous, e.g. ‛Ainul -fashkhah , ‛Ain -ul -ḥajleh , ‛Ain -kârim , etc. See CISTERN ; FOUNTAIN ; PIT ; POOL .


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Well'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/isb/w/well.html. 1915.

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