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:
The rope and bucket, or waterskin. (Genesis 24:14-20; John 4:11)
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.
A modification of the last method, 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.
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.
Main reference: Smith's Bible Dictionary (1860s)
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