(1) (be'er; compare Arabic bi'r, "well" or "cistern"; usually artificial:

"And Isaac's servants digged (dug) in the valley, and found there a well of springing (margin "living") water" (Genesis 26:19); some times covered: "Jacob .... rolled the stone from the well's mouth" (Genesis 29:10). Be'er may also be a pit: "The vale of Siddim was full of slime pits" (Genesis 14:10); "the pit of destruction" (Psalms 55:23).

(2) (bor), usually "pit":

"Let us slay him, and cast him into one of the pits" (Genesis 37:20); may be "well": "drew water out of the well of Beth-lehem" (2 Samuel 23:16).

(3) (pege), usually "running water," "fount," or "source":

"Doth the fountain send forth from the same opening sweet water and bitter?" (James 3:11); may be "well"; compare "Jacob's well" (John 4:6).

(4) (phrear), usually "pit":

"the pit of the abyss" (Revelation 9:1); but "well"; compare "Jacob's well" (John 4:11,12): "Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a well" (the King James Version "pit") (Luke 14:5).

(5) (krene), "wells" (Sirach 48:17), Latin, fons, "spring" (2 Esdras 2:32).

(6) ayin), compare Arabic `ain "fountain," "spring":

"the fountain (English Versions of the Bible) which is in Jezreel" (1 Samuel 29:1); "In Elim were twelve springs (the King James Version "fountains"] of water" (Numbers 33:9); "She (Rebekah) went down to the fountain" (the King James Version "well") (Genesis 24:16); "the jackal's well" (the English Revised Version "the dragon's well," the King James Version "the dragon well") (Nehemiah 2:13).

(7) (ma`yan), same root as (6); "the fountain (the King James Version "well") of the waters of Nephtoah" (Joshua 18:15); "Passing through the valley of Weeping (the King James Version "Baca") they make it a place of springs" (the King James Version "well") (Psalms 84:6); "Ye shall draw water out of the wells of salvation" (Isaiah 12:3).

(8) (maqor), usually figurative:

"With thee is the fountain of life" (Psalms 36:9); "The mouth of the righteous is a fountain (the King James Version "well") of life" (Proverbs 10:11); "make her (Babylon's) fountain (the King James Version "spring") dry" (Jeremiah 51:36); "a corrupted spring" (Proverbs 25:26).

(9) (mabbu`), (nabha`, "to flow," "spring," "bubble up"; compare Arabic (nab`, manba`, yanbu`) "fountain":

"or the pitcher is broken at the fountain" (Ecclesiastes 12:6); "the thirsty ground springs of water" (Isaiah 35:7).

(10) (motsa'), "spring," (yatsa'), "to go out," "the dry land springs of water" (Isaiah 41:18); "a dry land into watersprings" (Psalms 107:35); "the upper spring of the waters of Gihon" (2 Chronicles 32:30).

(11) (nebhekh), root uncertain, reading doubtful; only in Job 38:16, "Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea?"

(12) (tehom), "deep," "abyss"; compare Genesis 1:2; translated "springs," the King James Version "depths" (Deuteronomy 8:7).

(13) (gal), (galal), "to roll"; compare Gilgal (Joshua 5:9); "a spring shut up" (Song of Solomon 4:12).

(14) (gullah), "bowl," "basin," "pool," same root:

"Give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper sprigs and the nether springs" (Joshua 15:19); compare Arabic (kullat), pronounced gullat, "a marble," "a cannon-ball."

As is clear from references cited above, wells and springs were not sharply distinguished in name, though be'er, and phrear are used mainly of wells, and `ayin, ma`yan, motsa', mabbua` and (poetically) maqor are chiefly used of fountains. The Arabic bi'r, the equivalent of the Hebrew be'er, usually denotes a cistern for rain-water, though it may be qualified as bi'r jam`, "well of gathering," i.e. for rain-water, or as bi'r nab`, "well of springing water." A spring or natural fountain is called in Arabic `ain or nab` (compare Hebrew `ayin and mabbua`). These Arabic and Hebrew words for "well" and "spring" figure largely in place-names, modern and ancient:

Beer (Numbers 21:16); Beer-elim (Isaiah 15:8), etc.; `Ain

(a) on the northeast boundary of Palestine (Numbers 34:11),

(b) in the South of Judah, perhaps = En-rimmon (Joshua 15:32); Enaim (Genesis 38:14); Enam (Joshua 15:34), etc.

Modern Arabic names with `ain are very numerous, e.g. `Ainul-fashkhah, `Ain-ul-chajleh, `Ain-karim, etc.


Alfred Ely Day

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'WELL'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.