Tag Archives: water

The Fountain of Peirene at Corinth

Food, Water, and the ability to defend, were the most important features in ancient cities. Corinth’s most important reservoir, the Fountain of Peirene, was fed from subterranean springs. It had a capacity of over 81,000 gallons.

Take a look at the horizon in the photo below. That was the level of the earth more than a century ago before archaeological excavations began at Ancient Corinth. The entire structure that we know as the Fountain of Peirene was covered with debris. This structure was built along the Lechaion Road which led from the Agora (Marketplace) to the Gulf of Corinth on the west side of the city.

The fountain is no longer in use, but if you walk close to the arches you can hear water flowing underneath the city.

Fountain of Peirene at Ancient Corinth. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Fountain of Peirene at Ancient Corinth. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Paul visited Corinth on his second journey (A.D. 50-53). In spite of obstacles that brought fear to the heart of Paul, the Lord assured him that He had many people in the city (Acts 18:10).

And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. (Act 18:11 ESV)

Dead Sea rises 8 centimeters

Haaretz reports that the water level of the Dead Sea rose 8 centimeters (3.15 inches) last year. This brings to mind the saying, “Every little bit helps.” Especially after the sea plummeted by more than 45 feet in the past 13 years. Read the report here.

The Salt Sea of the Bible (Genesis 14:3). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

HT: Bible Places Blog.

The Dead Sea: A History of Change

The Dead Sea may be the most fascinating body of water on earth. It lies along the Great Rift (Afro-Arabian Rift), and is the lowest body of water on earth. A.D. Riddle and David Parker have created a relief map showing the level of the Dead Sea from 3500 B.C. to the present. The authors explain how they made the map at the site.

Visit the The Dead Sea - a History of Change.

Visit the The Dead Sea - a History of Change.

Click here to see the map. It takes a little while to get acquainted with all the information available on the page. Click the buttons on the right middle of the map page to run the animation. The extent of the water in the Dead Sea changes as the program runs through the centuries. Scroll over one of the names on the map and information appears in the blue box. This is a fascinating program.

Sinkholes on the western shore of the Dead Sea

Several news outlets, include our local Fox News station, ran reports on sinkholes that are developing along the western edge of the Dead Sea. Less water is flowing into the Dead Sea than in previous years. The Fox News report says,

As the Dead Sea recedes, fresh water comes to the dried-up areas in the form of rain, runoff and underground streams. The fresh water soaks into the ground, dissolving the salts that had been deposited there since long before there was a Sodom or a Gomorrah.

Once the salt dissolves, that opens up great underground caves — and the earth comes a-tumblin’ down.

Here is a photo showing one of the sinkholes filled with fresh water. The Dead Sea and the distant mountains of Moab are hidden in the summer haze.

Sinkhole along the western shore of Dead Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sinkhole along the western shore of Dead Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

HT on the map: Biblical Studies and Technological Tools.

Jacob’s Well — from Jacob to Jesus

Jesus came to Sychar, a city of Samaria, near the piece of land Jacob had owned (John 4:5; Genesis 33:19). The territory was apportioned to the descendants of Joseph, and Joseph was buried there at Shechem (Joshua 24:32). It was a place of great historic importance.

We are not able to speak with certainty regarding the location of Sychar. Some scholars associate the site with Shechem; others think it should be identified with the village of Askar which is located a short distance north. The traditional Jacob’s Well is located at Shechem in the valley between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal. The modern town of Nablus now fills this valley.

André Parrot says,

“Of all the ‘holy places’ of Palestine, none has more reason to be considered authentic than Jacob’s well. Indeed, there is no reason why its authenticity should be questioned” (Land of Christ 65).

Parrot describes the water as “cool and pleasant-tasting…drawn from a depth of 128 feet.” I have drunk the water several times, but in the past couple of decades my guides have advised against it due to pollution in the area.

The Samaritan woman said, “the well is deep” (John 4:11). Parrot reports the well is 128 feet deep. Murphy-O’Connor says it is 22.5 meters deep (about 74 feet). McGarvey cites several measurements mentioned in 19th century writers and reminds us that the well became filled with stones cast in by travelers trying to hear how long it would take a stone to hit the bottom (Lands of the Bible 283). He reports that the well was often dry.

There are numerous springs in the area of Shechem. Jacob, as a late-comer to the region, might have found it necessary to dig a well to assure water for his family and cattle.

A church was erected over the well about A.D. 380. The Crusaders built another church on the site in the 12th century. The property came under the control of the Greek Orthodox church in 1860. By the end of the 19th century the Greeks began a new church, but construction was halted during World War I. The last time I was at Jacob’s well (2000) construction had resumed and Murphy-O’Connor reports completion in 2007.

It has been difficult for groups to visit Jacob’s Well in recent years due to the situation in Nablus.

Jacob's Well. Most likely the well where Jesus met the woman of Samaria (John 4). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jacob's Well. Most likely the well where Jesus met the woman of Samaria (John 4). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

With this information, I leave it to you to study the great lessons of John 4. They are deep, too.

The Importance of Water in the Bible World

Dr. Claude Mariottini, Professor of Old Testament at Northern Baptist Seminary, has shared two good articles on the importance of water in the development of civilization. These are worthwhile post, and I urge you to take time to read both of them.

The first article is here.

The second article is here.

The photo below was made a Beit Guvrin (near Old Testament Mareshah). It shows a well for water, a tree for shade, and a milestone (which has been moved from the general area to this place.

A well, shade, and milstone at Beit Guvrin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A well, shade, and milstone at Beit Guvrin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The next photo shows how ropes pulling water from the well cut grooves in the soft stone from which the curb was made.

Grooves cut in the well curb. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Grooves cut in the well curb. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

There are many accounts in the Bible showing the importance of such a place as this. Note a few.

  • Hagar and Ishmael (Genesis 21:19).
  • David craved the water from the well at Bethlehem (2 Sam. 23:15-17).
  • The figurative use in Proverbs 5:15 and Song 4:15.
  • The Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (John 4).

Wells of water

Without water it is impossible for men to survive. Many disputes throughout history have been about water and water rights. The importance of water during the time of the the biblical patriarchs is prominent in several Bible accounts.

  • Abraham made a covenant with Abimelech. He said, “I dug this well” (Genesis 21:30). This covenant was made at Beersheba (well of seven).
  • Isaac had to dig again the wells of water dug by Abraham because the Philistines had filled them with debris (Genesis 26:15-18).
  • The scene around the well where the servant of Abraham selected the bride for Isaac is especially impressive (Genesis 24).
  • The meeting of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (John 4).

The well was so important that the wise man used it as a euphemism to teach sexual purity.

Drink water from your own cistern And fresh water from your own well. (Proverbs 5:15)

At Petra in Jordan, men dressed in antique costumes demonstrate life among the Bedouin. Here we have a man at the well. This may seem ancient to younger people, but I drew water from a well when I was a youngster (and it was not in the patriarchal period!).

A Bedouin at Petra, Jordan, illustrates the importance of the well. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.