Pool



POOL (בְּרֵכָה, H1391, a pond of water).

Pool.


The conservation of water was crucial to the people of Pal. Rainfall in Jerusalem averages about twenty-five inches, and it falls between fifty and sixty days per year. Natural terrain was utilized to store water where possible, and where nature was not so obliging, toiling hands carved out a substitute. If the sources of water happened to be outside the walls of the city, the people often would construct tunnels to bring in the precious commodity so that it would be available in time of siege. Hezekiah’s tunnel is an instance of this (2 Kings 20:20), and similar arrangements have been uncovered at Gezer and Megiddo. Because of the cruciality of water, disputes often broke out in the vicinity of its sources (Gen 26:15-22). Moses, it will be remembered, assisted the oppressed daughters of the priest of Midian to secure water for their animals (Exod 2:16ff.). It is quite possible that of the various pools mentioned in the Bible some can be identified.

Pools of Solomon.

There are three pools located in the valley of Etham, just S of Bethlehem and ten m. from Jerusalem, that are designated in this manner. Even today they are an important part of the water supply for Jerusalem. The pools are fed by springs and surface water and a twisting aqueduct, at least as early as Rom. times, conveyed the water ultimately to Jerusalem and to Bethlehem en route. Lacking pumping facilities, the ancients had to plan and engineer with skill to take full advantage of the gravity. The pools were hewn out of rock and in part artificially constructed with masonry. They have been repaired many times through the years. The pools are arranged at successive levels with conduit connections between them. The E wall of the lowest pool forms a dam across the valley. The pools were roughly rectangular in shape and varied in depth from about twenty-five ft. in the upper pool to fifty ft. in the lower pool. The lower pool is the largest, being about 582 ft. long with a width varying from 148 ft. to 207 ft. The water arriving in Jerusalem was run into a huge cistern under the Temple area called the “Great Sea.”

Bibliography

W. Smith, A Dictionary of the Bible, II, 904; J. Orr (ed.) ISBE, IV (1939), 657-660.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

sis’-tern:

Use of Terms

1. General

2. Wells or Cylindrical Cisterns

3. Private Cisterns

4. Public Cisterns

5. Pools and Aqueducts

6. Figurative Uses

LITERATURE

Several words are rendered by "cistern," "well," "pool," the relations of which in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) are as follows:

Use of Terms:

"Cistern," bo’r (Jer 2:13, etc.), or bor (2Ki 18:31). The latter word is frequently in the King James Version translated "well." the Revised Version (British and American) in these cases changes to "cistern" in text (De 6:11; 2Ch 26:10; Ne 9:25) margin (Jer 14:3), rendered "pit" in the King James Version are changed to "cistern" the Revised Version (British and American) (the latter in the American Standard Revised Version only).



1. General:

The efforts made to supplement the natural water supply, both in agricultural and in populated areas, before as well as after the Conquest, are clearly seen in the innumerable cisterns, wells and pools which abound throughout Palestine The rainy season, upon which the various storage systems depend, commences at the end of October and ends in the beginning of May. In Jerusalem, the mean rainfall in 41 years up to 1901 was 25,81 inches, falling in a mean number of 56 days (see Glaisher, Meteorological Observations, 24). Toward the end of summer, springs and wells, where they have not actually dried up, diminish very considerably, and cisterns and open reservoirs become at times the only sources of supply. Cisterns are fed from surface and roof drainage. Except in the rare instances where springs occur, wells depend upon percolation. The’ great open reservoirs or pools are fed from surface drainage and, in some cases, by aqueducts from springs or from more distant collecting pools. In the case of private cisterns, it is the custom of the country today to close up the inlets during the early days of the rain, so as to permit of a general wash down of gathering surfaces, before admitting the water. Cisterns, belonging to the common natives, are rarely cleansed, and the inevitable scum which collects is dispersed by plunging the pitcher several times before drawing water. When the water is considered to be bad, a somewhat primitive cure is applied by dropping earth into the cistern, so as to sink all impurities with it, to the bottom. The accumulation often found in ancient cisterns probably owes some of its presence to this same habit.

2. Wells or Cylindrical Cisterns:

It is necessary to include wells under the head of cisterns, as there appears to be some confusion in the use of the two terms. Wells, so called, were more often deep cylindrical reservoirs, the lower part of which was sunk in the rock and cemented, the upper part being built with open joints, to receive the surface percolation. They were often of great depth. Job’s well at Jerusalem, which is certainly of great antiquity, is 125 ft. deep (see Palestine Exploration Fund, "Jerus," 371).


3. Private Cisterns:

Private cisterns must be distinguished from public cisterns or wells. They were smaller and were sunk in the rocks within private boundaries, each owner having his own cistern (2Ki 18:31; Pr 5:15). Ancient sites are honeycombed with these cisterns. A common type in Jerusalem seems to have been bottle-shaped in section, the extended bottom part being in the softer rock, and the narrow neck in the hard upper stratum. Many irregularly shaped cisterns occur with rock vaults supported by rock or masonry piers. Macalister tells of the discovery at Gezer of a small silt catchpit attached to a private cistern, and provided with an overflow channel leading to the cistern. It is an early instance of a now well-known method of purification. The universal use of cement rendering to the walls of the cisterns was most necessary to seal up the fissures of the rock. The "broken cisterns" (Jer 2:13) probably refer to insufficiently sealed cisterns.

4. Public Cisterns:

Besides private cisterns there were huge public rock-cut cisterns within the city walls. The great water caverns under the Temple area at Jerusalem show a most extensive system of water storage (see Recovery of Jerusalem, chapter vii). There are 37 of these described in Palestine Exploration Fund, "Jerus," 217 ff, and the greatest is an immense rock-cut cavern the roof of which is partly rock and partly stone, supported by rock piers (see Fig. 1, Palestine Exploration Fund). It is 43 ft. deep with a storage capacity of over two million gallons and there are numerous access manholes. This cistern is fed by an aqueduct from Solomon’s Pools about 10 miles distant by road, and is locally known as Bahar el Kebir, the "Great Sea." One of the most recent and one of the most interesting rock-cut reservoirs yet discovered is that at Gezer. (See Palestine Exploration Fund Statement, 1908, 96 ff.) In this example, the pool of spring water is reached by a great rock-tunnel staircase which descends 94 ft. 6 inches from the surface. The staircase diminishes in size as it descends, and at its greatest, it is 23 ft. high and 12 ft. 10 inches wide. These proportions may seem unnecessarily large, but may be accounted for by the necessity for providing light at the water level. As a matter of fact, the brink of the pool receives the light from above. The work dates back to pre-Israelite times.

5. Pools and Aqueducts:

Open pools were common in every city. They were cut out of the rock and were built and cemented at points where occasion demanded. They were often of great size. The pool outside Jerusalem known as Birket es Sultan measures 555 ft. x 220 ft. x 36 ft. deep, and the so-called Hezekiah’s Pool within the walls, is 240 ft. x 144 ft. x about 20 ft. deep. The latter probably owes its origin to the rock-cut fosse of early Jewish date. The Birket es Sultan, on the other hand, probably dates from the time of the Turkish occupation. They may, however, be taken as examples, which, if somewhat larger, are still in accord with the pool system of earlier history. Pools were usually fed by surface drainage, and in some cases by aqueducts from springs at some distance away. They seem to have been at the public service, freely accessible to both man and beast. Pools situated outside the city walls were sometimes connected by aqueducts with pools within the city, so that the water could be drawn within the walls in time of siege. The so-called nodetitle, three in number (see Fig. 3), situated about 10 miles by road from Jerusalem, are of large proportions and are fed by surface water and by aqueducts from springs. The water from these pools is conveyed in a wonderfully engineered course, known as the lower-level aqueduct, which searches the winding contours of the Judean hills for a distance of about 15 miles, before reaching its destination in "the great sea" under the Temple area. This aqueduct is still in use, but its date is uncertain (see G. A. Smith, Jerusalem, 131, where the author finds reason for ascribing it to the period of Herod). The course and destination of another aqueduct known as the high-level aqueduct is less definite. These aqueducts are of varying dimensions. The low-level aqueduct at a point just before it enters the Temple area was found to measure 3 ft. high x 2 ft. 3 inches wide, partly rock-cut and partly built, and rendered in smooth-troweled cement, with well-squared stone covers (see Palestine Exploration Fund, Excavations at Jerusalem, 53 ff). There are many remains of rock-cut aqueducts throughout Palestine (see Fig. 4) which seem to indicate their use in early Hebrew times, but the lack of Old Testament references to these works is difficult to account for, unless it is argued that in some cases they date back to pre-Israelite times. The great tunnel and pool at Gezer lends a measure of support to this hypothesis. On the other hand, a plea for a Hebrew origin is also in a measure strengthened by the very slight reference in the Old Testament to such a great engineering feat as the cutting of the Siloam tunnel, which is doubtless the work of Hezekiah. The pool of Siloam was originally a simple rock-cut reservoir within the walls, and was constructed by Hezekiah (2Ch 32:30). It measures 75 ft. x 71 ft. It is the upper pool of Isa 7:3. A lower overflow pool existed immediately beyond, contained by the city wall across the Tyropoeon valley. The aqueduct which supplies the upper pool takes a tortuous course of about 1,700 ft. through the solid rock from the Virgin’s fountain, an intermittent spring on the East slope of the hill. The water reaches the pool on the Southwest of the spur of Ophel, and it was in the rock walls of this aqueduct that the famous Siloam inscription recording the completion of the work was discovered.

Herod embellished the upper pool, lining it with stone and building arches around its four sides (see Palestine Exploration Fund, Excavations at Jerusalem, 154 ff), and the pool was most likely in this condition in the time of Christ (Joh 9:6,7). There are numerous other pools, cisterns and aqueducts in and around Jerusalem, which provide abundant evidence of the continual struggle after water, made by its occupants of all times (see G. A. Smith, Jerusalem, chapter v, volume I).

See also PIT; WELL, etc.

6. Figurative Uses:

Good wives are described as cisterns (Pr 5:15 ff). "The left ventricle of the heart, which retains the blood till it be redispersed through the body, is called a cistern" (Ec 12:6). Idols, armies and material objects in which Israel trusted were "broken cisterns" (Jer 2:13, see above) "soon emptied of all the aid and comfort which they possess, and cannot fill themselves again."

LITERATURE.

G. A. Smith, Jerusalem; Palestine Exploration Fund Memoirs, Jerusalem vol; Wilson, The Recovery of Jerusalem; Macalister, Bible Sidelights; Palestine Exploration Fund Statement; Bliss and Dickie, Excavations at Jerusalem; Josephus.

Arch. C. Dickie


pool, pond, rez’-er-vwar, rez’-er-vwar ((1) berekhah, "pool"; compare Arabic birkat, "pool"; compare berakhah, "blessing," and Arabic barakat, "blessing"; (2) agham, "pool," "marsh," "reeds"; compare Arabic ’ajam, "thicket," "jungle"; (3) miqwah, "reservoir," the nodetitle "ditch" (Isa 22:11); (4) miqweh, "pond," the King James Version "pool" (Ex 7:19); miqweh ha-mayim, English Versions of the Bible "gathering together of the waters" (Ge 1:10); miqweh-mayim, "a gathering of water," the King James Version "plenty of water" (Le 11:36); (5) kolumbethra, "pool," literally, "a place of diving," from kolumbao, "to dive"): Lakes (see Lake) are very rare in Syria and Palestine, but the dry climate, which is one reason for the fewness of lakes, impels the inhabitants to make artificial pools or reservoirs to collect the water of the rain or of springs for irrigation and also for drinking. The largest of these are made by damming water courses, in which water flows during the winter or at least after showers of rain. These may be enlarged or deepened by excavation. Good examples of this are found at Diban and Madeba in Moab. Smaller pools of rectangular shape and usually much wider than deep, having no connection with water courses, are built in towns to receive rain from the roofs or from the surface of the ground. These may be for common use like several large ones in Jerusalem, or may belong to particular houses. These are commonly excavated to some depth in the soil or rock, though the walls are likely to rise above the surface. Between these and cylindrical pits or cisterns no sharp line can be drawn.

The water of springs may be collected in large or small pools of masonry, as the pool of Siloam (Joh 9:7). This is commonly done for irrigation when the spring is so small that the water would be lost by absorption or evaporation if it were attempted to convey it continuously to the fields. The pool (Arabic, birkat) receives the trickle of water until it is full. The water is then let out in a large stream and conducted where it is needed. (In this way by patient labor a small trickling spring may support much vegetation.)


See also CISTERN; NATURAL FEATURES; BJ, V, iv, 2.