Cistern in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Bor, a dug pit for receiving water conducted from a spring or the rainfall. (See CONDUIT.) The dryness between May and September in Israel makes reservoirs necessary; of which the larger are called "pools," the smaller "cisterns." The rocky soil facilitates their construction. The top, with stonework and a round opening, has often a wheel for the bucket; an image of the aorta or great artery circulating the blood from the ventricle of the heart, or the wheel expresses life in its rapid motion (James 3:6; Ecclesiastes 12:6). The rain is conducted to them from the roofs of the houses, most of which are furnished with them; from whence is derived the metaphor, Proverbs 5:15, "drink waters out of thine own cistern," i.e. draw thy enjoyments only from the sources that are legitimately thine. Hezekiah stopped the water supply outside Jerusalem at the invasion of Sennacherib, while within there was abundant water (2 Chronicles 32:3-4). So it has been in all the great sieges of Jerusalem, scarcity of water outside, abundance within. Empty cisterns were used as prisons. So Joseph was cast into a "pit" (Genesis 37:22); Jeremiah into one miry at the bottom, and so deep that he was let down by cords (Jeremiah 38:6), said to be near "Herod's gate." Cisterns yield only a limited supply of water, not an everflowing spring; representing creature comforts soon exhausted, and therefore never worth forsaking the never failing, ever fresh supplies of God. for (Jeremiah 2:13). The stonework of tanks often becomes broken, and the water leaks into the earth; and, at best, the water is not fresh long. Compare Isaiah 55:1-2; Luke 12:33.

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