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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

(See Fountain .) As ''Αyin , "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 Palestine 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). Οboth ( 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.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [2]

1: Καλῶς (Strong'S #2573 — Adverb — kalos — kal-oce' )

"finely" (akin to kalos, "good, fair"), is usually translated "well," indicating what is done rightly; in the Epistles it is most frequent in 1Tim. ( 1—Timothy 3:4,12,13;  5:17 ); twice it is used as an exclamation of approval,  Mark 12:32;  Romans 11:20; the comparative degree kallion, "very well," occurs in  Acts 25:10 . See Good , C, No. 1.

 Galatians 6:9

2: Εὖ (Strong'S #2095 — Adverb — eu — yoo )

primarily the neuter of an old word, eus, "noble, good," is used (a) with verbs, e.g.,  Mark 14:7 , "do (poieo) ... good;"  Acts 15:29 (prasso);   Ephesians 6:3 (ginomai, "to be"); (b) in replies, "good," "well done,"   Matthew 25:21,23; in  Luke 19:17 , eu ge (in the best texts). The word is the opposite of kakos, "evilly." See Good , C, No. 2.

 2—Timothy 1:18 John 2:10Drink Acts 10:47  1—Corinthians 9:5 Hebrews 4:2Even

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [3]

 Genesis 21:19 (c) We may use this as a type of that sweet experience of the soul wherein the desolate and distracted Christian finds precious truths in the Word of GOD. Water may represent blessed promises, in which relief and refreshment are found.

 Genesis 24:11 (c) We may consider this as a type of the Word of GOD and the Spirit of GOD. The believer, living in the blessings of both of these, may expect to be led into paths of profit and usefulness in his journey. (See also  Genesis 49:22).

 Psalm 84:6 (a) It is the privilege of the child of GOD, to turn deserts into gardens. Many times in our lives dry, deserted valleys are changed into sweet, rich mountain tops of joy and peace, as the grace of GOD is seen and experienced.

 Proverbs 5:15 (a) This well refers to the privileges and blessings of one's own home. There, with the wife of his youth, he may enjoy all that his heart desires, instead of seeking for satisfaction elsewhere.

 Proverbs 10:11 (a) The Lord expects that the man of GOD will be a source of rich blessing for his neighbors, and those who observe him, or have contact with him. Out of the life of the godly man there should emanate the blessings of helpfulness, sympathy and kindness which enrich the lives of others.

 Isaiah 12:3 (a) There are unlimited treasures found in the Christian life. They are called "wells" in this passage, because they bring untold blessings to the hearts of the people of GOD who come into GOD's family. These may consist of love, joy, peace, rest, comfort, happiness, gladness, zeal, vision, confidence and trust. Faith is prominent and greatly enriches the life. Fruitfulness also is present and the life becomes radiant with usefulness. These are the wells of salvation. Let us drink deeply from them.

 John 4:14 (a) This is plainly a type of the Holy Spirit abounding abundantly in the soul of the Christian. When He is acknowledged and given the place of Lordship in the heart and life, He will make His presence felt. He fills the heart with the joy of the Lord, and sweet hopefulness in service.

 2 Peter 2:17 (b) This type beautifully represents the ungodly leader or teacher who has a religious message, but with no power from Heaven, and no life for those who listen. He may have a muscular Christianity, with lots of noise, illustrations and activities, but he gives no living water to those who listen. He disappoints his hearers.

Holman Bible Dictionary [4]


The Hebrew word most commonly translated “well” is beer Genesis 21:30-31;  Numbers 21:16-18 ). Beer also occurs in several place names indicating the location of important wells: Beer (  Numbers 21:16 ); Beer-elim ( Isaiah 15:8 ); Beeroth ( Deuteronomy 10:6 ); Beer-lahai-roi ( Genesis 16:14 ); Beer-sheba ( Genesis 21:31 ).

The digging of a well could be a time for celebration ( Numbers 21:17-18 ), but wells were also fought over as different people tried to control the precious resource ( Genesis 21:25-26;  Genesis 26:15-22;  Exodus 2:16-17 ). Wells were located wherever a water source could be found. This included fields ( Genesis 29:2 ), towns ( 2 Samuel 23:15 ), and the wilderness ( Genesis 16:7 ,Genesis 16:7, 16:14 ).

“Well” is also used figuratively of a harlot ( Proverbs 23:27 NRSV) and of a wicked city (  Jeremiah 6:7 ). Elsewhere it is used as a metaphor for sexual pleasure ( Proverbs 5:15; see Song of  Song of Solomon 4:15 ).

John C. H. Laughlin

Smith's Bible Dictionary [5]

Well. Wells in Palestine are usually excavated from the solid limestone rock, sometimes with steps to descend into them.  Genesis 24:16. The brims are furnished with a curb or low wall of stone, bearing marks of high antiquity in the furrows worn by the ropes used in drawing water. It was on a curb of this sort that our Lord sat when he conversed with the woman of Samaria,  John 4:6, and it was this, the usual stone cover, which the woman placed on the mouth of the well at Bahurim,  2 Samuel 17:19, where the Authorized Version weakens the sense by omitting the article. The usual methods for raising water are the following:

1. The Rope And Bucket , or Waterskin .  Genesis 24:14-20;  John 4:11.

2. The sakiyeh , or Persian Wheel . This consists of a vertical wheel furnished with a set of buckets or earthen jars attached to a cord passing over the wheel. Which descend empty and return full as the wheel revolves.

3. A modification of the last method, the Persian Wheel , by which a man, sitting opposite to a wheel furnished with buckets, turns it by drawing with his hands one set of spokes prolonged beyond its circumference, and pushing another set from him with his feet.

4. A method very common in both ancient and modern Egypt is the shadoof , a simple contrivance consisting of a lever moving on a pivot, which is loaded at one end with a lump of clay or some other weight, and has at the other a bowl or bucket. Wells are usually furnished with troughs of wood or stone into which the water is emptied for the use of persons or animals coming to the wells. Unless machinery is used, which is commonly worked by men, women are usually the water-carriers.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [6]

WELL ( πηγή, φρέαρ,  John 4:6;  John 4:11).—The one well mentioned in the Gospels is that of Jacob, near ancient Shechem, under the northern cliffs of Gerizim. There is no reasonable doubt that this is the well pointed out to this day as Bîr Ya’kûb in the eastern opening of the pass of Nâblus. Samaritan, Jewish, Christian, and Moslem traditions support this identification with absolute unanimity. See Jacob’s Well.

There is a law of the well in the East, which, although unwritten, ‘receives well-nigh universal homage. Drawing water from the cisterns or wells that abound in Palestine occupies much of the women’s time. The stones round the mouth of many a well are scored deeply by friction of the ropes to which the bucket or leather daluw is attached. Few experiences are more trying than to pass one of these ‘wells’ in the heat, seeing the water in the cool depths but having ‘nothing to draw with.’ The appeal of the thirsty to one drawing, ‘Give me to drink,’ is never refused. While surprised that a Jew, even when urged by thirst, should thus accost a Samaritan, the woman did not deny the Saviour’s request. Even a Metâwileh , one of the most fanatical of all Oriental sects, will give water to the thirsty, if appealed to, although to avoid the possibility of pollution he must destroy the vessel from which the infidel has drunk.

W. Ewing.

King James Dictionary [7]

WELL, n. G., a spring to spring, to issue forth, to gush, to well, to swell. G., a wave. On this word I suppose swell to be formed.

1. A spring a fountain the issuing of water from the earth.

Begin then, sisters of the sacred well. In this sense obsolete.

2. A pit or cylindrical hole, sunk perpendicularly into the earth to such a depth as to reach a supply of water, and walled with stone to prevent the earth from caving in. 3. In ships, an apartment in the middle of a ships hold, to inclose the pumps, from the bottom to the lower deck. 4. In a fishing vessel, an apartment in the middle of the hold, made tight at the sides, but having holes perforated int he bottom to let in fresh water for the preservation of fish, while they are transported to market. 5. In the military art, a hole or excavation in the earth, in mining, from which run branches or galleries.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [8]

 Genesis 21:19,25,30,31 24:11 26:15,18-25,32

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [9]

WELL . See Cistern, Fountain, Water.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [10]

(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 .

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [11]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Well'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/w/well.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [12]