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English Bible Dictionary

Cistern

 

A receptacle for water, either conducted from an external spring or proceeding from rain-fall. The dryness of the summer months and the scarcity of springs in Judea made cisterns a necessity, and they are frequent throughout the whole of Syria and Palestine. On the long-forgotten way from Jericho to Bethel, "broken cisterns" of high antiquity are found at regular intervals. Jerusalem depends mainly for water upon its cisterns, of which almost every private house possesses one or more, excavated in the rock on which the city is built. The cisterns have usually a round opening at the top, sometimes built up with stonework above and furnished with a curb and a wheel for a bucket. (Ecclesiastes 12:6) Empty cisterns were sometimes used as prisons and places of confinement. Joseph was cast into a "pit," (Genesis 37:22) as was Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 38:6)

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