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Cistern [N] [S]

the rendering of a Hebrew word bor , which means a receptacle for water conveyed to it; distinguished from beer , which denotes a place where water rises on the spot ( Jeremiah 2:13 ; Proverbs 5:15 ; Isaiah 36:16 ), a fountain. Cisterns are frequently mentioned in Scripture. The scarcity of springs in Palestine made it necessary to collect rain-water in reservoirs and cisterns ( Numbers 21:22 ). (See WELL .)

Empty cisterns were sometimes used as prisons ( Jeremiah 38:6 ; Lamentations 3:53 ; Psalms 40:2 ; 69:15 ). The "pit" into which Joseph was cast ( Genesis 37:24 ) was a beer or dry well. There are numerous remains of ancient cisterns in all parts of Palestine.

These dictionary topics are from
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Cistern". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .


A pit, or well.

Drink waters out of thine own CISTERN, and running waters out of thine own well. ( Proverbs 5:15 )

Source: A King James Dictionary. (Used with permission. Copyright © Philip P. Kapusta)

Bibliography Information

"Entry for 'Cistern'". A King James Dictionary.

Cistern, [N] [E]

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 )

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Cistern,'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.