water

water

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

* Invalid citation format *

Jer 15:18

* Invalid citation format *

Deut 2:28

* Invalid citation format *

Job 22:7

* Invalid citation format *

Matt 10:42

* Invalid citation format *

Mark 7:3

* Invalid citation format *

Luke 7:44

* Invalid citation format *

Gen 49:4

* Invalid citation format *

Job 3:24

* Invalid citation format *

Ps 22:14

* Invalid citation format *

Josh 7:5

* Invalid citation format *

Ps 58:7

* Invalid citation format *

2Sam 14:14

* Invalid citation format *

Prov 25:25

* Invalid citation format *

Jer 2:13

* Invalid citation format *

John 4:10-15

* Invalid citation format *

Ezek 47:1-2

* Invalid citation format *

Ezek 22:1-2

* Invalid citation format *

Amos 5:24

* Invalid citation format *

Ps 69:1-2

* Invalid citation format *

Lam 3:54

* Invalid citation format *

Ps 18:16

* Invalid citation format *

 NEH Logo
Bible Odyssey has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.