A critical factor in the life of ancient Palestine. Perennial streams were few and located mostly in the highland east of the Jordan, while the wadis (dry streambeds) of western Palestine flowed only with the runoff of winter rains (Job 6:15; Jer 15:18). The earliest towns were established near permanent springs, and elaborate tunnels and conduits were constructed in some cities to ensure continuous and safe access to the water supply within the city walls. Migrating groups had to purchase water (Deut 2:28). A cup of water offered to a guest or stranger was a simple, and expected, sign of hospitality (Job 22:7; Matt 10:42). Water was also used for washing and bathing, serving the needs of hygiene, refreshment, and ritual purification. Jews of Jesus’s time washed their hands before meals in accordance with religious prescription (Mark 7:3), and guests were offered water for foot washing (Luke 7:44). Water is employed in numerous biblical similes and metaphors describing instability (Gen 49:4), loss of strength (being “poured out,” Job 3:24; Ps 22:14), and melting away in fear (Josh 7:5). It vanishes (Ps 58:7) and cannot be gathered again when spilled (2Sam 14:14). But water also conveys ideas of refreshment and power. Good news from afar is “like cold water to a thirsty soul” (Prov 25:25). God is the “fountain of living water” for Israel (Jer 2:13), and Jesus offers water of eternal life (John 4:10-15). Ezekiel envisions water flowing from the threshold of the restored Temple, bringing life to the whole land (Ezek 47:1-2), and the author of Revelation depicts the river of the water of life flowing from the throne of God (Ezek 22:1-2). Amos calls for justice to “roll down like waters” of a perennial stream (Amos 5:24). A person in dire distress feels engulfed by waters, submerged in the deep (Ps 69:1-2; Lam 3:54). Salvation is experienced as being drawn up from the waters of death (Ps 18:16). Baptism recalls this symbolism of salvation as well as cleansing.

Job 6:15

15My companions are treacherous like a torrent-bed,
like freshets that pass away,

Jer 15:18

18Why is my pain unceasing,
my wound incurable,
refusing to be healed?
Truly, you are to me like a deceitful brook,
like waters that fail.

Deut 2:28

28You shall sell me food for money, so that I may eat, and supply me water for money, so that I may drink. Only allow me to pass through on foot—

Job 22:7

7You have given no water to the weary to drink,
and you have withheld bread from the hungry.

Matt 10:42

42and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

Mark 7:3

3(For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders;

Luke 7:44

44Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet wi ... View more

Gen 49:4

4Unstable as water, you shall no longer excel
because you went up onto your father's bed;
then you defiled it—you went up onto my couch!

Job 3:24

24For my sighing comes like my bread,
and my groanings are poured out like water.

Ps 22:14

14I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;

Josh 7:5

5The men of Ai killed about thirty-six of them, chasing them from outside the gate as far as Shebarim and killing them on the slope. The hearts of the people me ... View more

Ps 58:7

7Let them vanish like water that runs away;
like grass let them be trodden down and wither.

2Sam 14:14

14We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up. But God will not take away a life; he will devise plans so as not to ke ... View more

Prov 25:25

25Like cold water to a thirsty soul,
so is good news from a far country.

Jer 2:13

13for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living water,
and dug out cisterns for themselves,
cracked cisterns
that can ho ... View more

John 4:10-15

10Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given yo ... View more

Ezek 47:1-2

Water Flowing from the Temple
1Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple; there, water was flowing from below the threshold of the temple toward the ... View more

Ezek 22:1-2

The Bloody City
1The word of the Lord came to me:2You, mortal, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Then declare to it all its abominable deeds.

Amos 5:24

24But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Ps 69:1-2

Prayer for Deliverance from Persecution
To the leader: according to Lilies. Of David.
1Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.2I sink in deep mi ... View more

Lam 3:54

54water closed over my head;
I said, “I am lost.”

Ps 18:16

16He reached down from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of mighty waters.

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