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A hole or depression dug for the purpose of collecting water. A well was constructed by digging into the ground or by curbing surface springs. Wells, together with cisterns, were the major source of water in ancient Palestine. Digging a well in this semiarid land was an occasion for rejoicing (Num 21:17), but also for strife (Gen 21:25-26; Gen 26:15; Gen 26:18; Exod 2:16-17). Wells were located in the wilderness (Gen 16:7; Gen 16:14), in fields (Gen 29:2), and in towns (2Sam 23:15) and supplied both human and animal needs. The city well, which was usually located outside the gate (Neh 2:13; John 4:6-8), served as a meeting place, especially for the women, who had the daily task of drawing water for the household (Gen 24:11). The well is used figuratively to describe the beloved as a source of pleasure (Prov 5:15; Song 4:1) and to characterize a wicked city that keeps its wickedness “fresh” as a well keeps its water (Jer 6:7).

  • Powell, Mark Allan, ed. HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. Abridged Edition. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009.