Water wells play an important role throughout the Bible, representing life, sustenance, and community. Some of the most significant wells mentioned are those dug by Abraham, the patriarch of the Jewish and Arab people. Abraham dug several wells during his lifetime, many of which served as sites of pivotal events and divine encounters.
In studying these wells, we gain insight into Abraham’s faith, God’s provision, and the spiritual significance of water. For Evangelical and Charismatic Christians seeking a deeper understanding of Abraham and wells in the Bible, examining these stories more closely is illuminating and edifying.
- Abraham relied on God to show him where to dig wells, believing God would provide water even in the desert.
- Disputes over the wells often arose, but Abraham chose peacemaking over contention.
- The wells served as gathering places for shepherds and nomadic peoples, foreshadowing the life-giving water of Christ.
- God blessed and protected the wells he provided, using them to sustain Abraham’s family and livestock.
- The names Abraham gave the wells reflected his encounters with God there.
Well of Seven (Beersheba)
The most renowned well Abraham dug was at Beersheba, recorded in Genesis 21:22-34. The name Beersheba meant “well of seven” or “well of the oath.” After living in Gerar, Abraham planted a tamarisk tree, dug a well, and called upon the name of the Lord there.
King Abimelech approached Abraham and asked him to swear an oath that he would deal kindly with Abimelech and his descendants. Abraham agreed, and this oath gave Beersheba its name.
He said, “You swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not deal falsely with my children or with my posterity. You will deal with me and with the land in which you have resided as an alien in an upright and honorable way.” (Genesis 21:23-24, NKJV)
Abraham had dug this well to provide water for his family and flocks. Yet he willingly shared it and made a covenant with Abimelech to share rights to it, choosing peace and grace over self-interest.
Beersheba would become a significant settlement and crossroads for trade routes. Abraham planted a tree there and called upon God, evidence of his putting down roots and intending to stay and cultivate the land God had promised.
Centuries later, the prophet Amos would use Beersheba as a description of the southern border of Israel, showing the lasting influence of the well Abraham dug there (Amos 5:5, 8:14). Wherever Abraham dug a well, he recognized God as sovereign and provider and gave him thanks and worship.
Well of the Oath (Beersheba)
In Genesis 26, a similar oath occurred at Beersheba between Abimelech and Isaac, Abraham’s son. Isaac’s servants dug a well there, and herdsmen fought over it, so Isaac named it Esek (contention). He moved on and his men dug another well, which also faced dispute, so Isaac called it Sitnah (hostility).
Finally, they dug a well with no contention, which Isaac named Rehoboth (open spaces), symbolic of the freedom and provision God had given them. Abimelech then approached Isaac to make a treaty as Abraham had done, swearing an oath of peace between them.
And they said, “We have certainly seen that the Lord is with you. So we said, ‘Let there now be an oath between us, between you and us; and let us make a covenant with you, that you will do us no harm, since we have not touched you, and since we have done nothing to you but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the Lord.’” (Genesis 26:28-29, NKJV)
Though Isaac faced conflict, he chose the path of peace through which God made provision and fulfillment. This account displays the sovereignty of God in granting water and protection.
The well became known as both Beer-lahai-roi (The well of the Living One who sees me) and Beersheba – the well of the oath, confirming the divine encounter there between Isaac and God’s angel protecting him.
Beer-lahai-roi – The Well of God Seeing
Prior to Isaac’s digging, this well originated with Hagar, Sarah’s maidservant who bore Abraham’s first son Ishmael. In Genesis 16, Sarah mistreated Hagar and she fled into the wilderness where the Angel of the Lord met her at a spring.
He instructed her to return to Sarah and said her descendants would be too numerous to count. Hagar responded by calling God “El-roi”, meaning the Living God who sees her.
So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-[El]-Roi; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” (Genesis 16:13, NKJV)
When Isaac later dug there, it retained the name Beer-lahai-roi, meaning “well of the Living One who sees me.” God again affirmed His watchful care by assuring Isaac protection and preventing him from leaving despite the disputes. Abraham and Isaac both experienced God’s provision and presence at this well.
Well of Bounty (Rehoboth)
As noted previously, Isaac named the third well Rehoboth saying, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land” (Genesis 26:22, NKJV). The name means open spaces and room to flourish.
Though herdsmen strove to contend for the other wells, Isaac persevered in faith until God brought him to Rehoboth. God then protected this well, allowing Isaac and his family to spread out and prosper.
This well represents God’s blessing and abundance providing a well of bounty for His people. Despite trials and testing, God ultimately leads His children to springs of living water and room to thrive in Him.
Wells of Trembling (Esek) and Hostility (Sitnah)
The first two wells Isaac dug elicited dispute which revealed the hostility and sinfulness of the land’s inhabitants.
At Esek, shepherds argued, “The water is ours” (Genesis 26:20 NKJV). Their selfish pride failed to recognize God had created and provided the water.
At Sitnah, they strove again, provoking further contention. Rather than retaliate, Isaac chose patience and moved locations until God brought him to Rehoboth.
These wells of trembling and hostility contrast with Beer-lahai-roi and Rehoboth where God intervened and blessed Isaac with fruitfulness and covenant friendship with Abimelech.
Where God provides, He also protects. But first, He may lead through testing to refine faith and prove His superior grace.
Well of Living Water (John 4)
Centuries after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob dug their wells, Jesus spoke with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well foretelling the spiritual water He offered that would bring eternal life.
Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14, NKJV)
As water was precious and life-sustaining in the Old Testament, Christ used it as an image of the salvation and new life found in Him alone.
Just as Abraham looked to God as his wellspring, we must look to Christ as the exclusive source of living water to quench our thirst forever.
Well Imagery in Bible and Culture
Scripture frequently utilizes well imagery as metaphors for blessing, nourishment, and spiritual life. The Psalms described God’s word and law as “a well of life” (Proverbs 13:14, NKJV) and God Himself as “the fountain of life” (Psalm 36:9, NKJV).
Jesus offered the Samaritan woman “living water” (John 4:10, NKJV), declaring He alone satisfies the soul’s thirst. Revelation’s river of life flowing from God’s throne signifies eternal salvation in Christ (Revelation 22:1).
Beyond Scripture, many cultures have centered community life around wells for water collection, social gathering, and religious rituals. They represented fertility, feminine divinities, and matriarchal covenants in ancient societies.
Wells signify the source of life in village societies, particularly where water scarcity makes it precious. Stories of broken pitchers at wells created betrothal imagery.
In biblical times and traditional agrarian culture, wells were essential to survival and community identity around shared water access.
Even as running tap water abounds in modern times, deep wells and fresh springs call to the human soul as symbols of the life, sustenance, and renewal God provides.
Just as the women in Jesus’ day gathered at the town well, we must gather to Jesus for the wells of salvation and learn from Him.
Lessons From Abraham’s Wells
In studying Abraham’s wells throughout Genesis, we learn valuable lessons that remain relevant today:
God is Provider – The wells arose in desert places only by God’s leading and provision. He supplied miraculously in desolate terrain. As Abraham’s descendants, we draw life-giving water from God alone.
Obedience Brings Blessing – When Abraham obeyed God’s call, He blessed him. As we walk in faith, God directs us to springs of living water.
Seek Peace – Despite conflict over wells, Abraham pursued reconciliation and agreement. We must live peaceably with all people as far as lies within us.
Recognize Christ’s Living Water – Beyond physical water, Christ alone offers eternal life and satisfies spiritual thirst. We find our life source in Him.
Trust God’s Protection and Providence – God protected Abraham’s wells and guided Isaac to new ones. As we trust Him, He faithfully provides for and champions us.
Claim God’s Promises and Blessings – Abraham claimed the land God promised through digging wells. We must claim Christ’s promises and live abundantly in Him.
Worship and Give Thanks – Abraham built altars and worshipped God at his wells. We must gather to exalt Christ as the fountain of life.
Persevere in Faith – Despite trials, Abraham and Isaac persevered in faith until God brought them to their Rehoboth. We must patiently trust God’s timing and purposes in difficulties.
Abraham’s wells illustrate timeless spiritual truths that can enrich and strengthen the faith of modern Evangelical and Charismatic Christians.
For Evangelical and Charismatic Christians seeking to grow in faith, Abraham’s wells offer encouragement and edification. In studying the significant wells he dug by God’s leading throughout Genesis, we gain vital lessons on God’s provision, the blessings of obedience, pursuing peace, recognizing Christ as the source of living water, trusting God’s protection, claiming His promises, giving worship and thanks, and persevering in faith despite trials.
Just as water and wells were essential to survival and community identity in biblical times, Abraham’s wells marked critical encounters with God and His guidance. As Abraham’s heirs according to faith, identifying with these stories helps us better understand our spiritual heritage and the Christian’s identity in Christ. He is the life-giving water who alone satisfies the soul’s thirst for meaning, purpose, and renewal.
Above all, Abraham’s wells display the faithfulness and graciousness of God in leading, protecting, and providing for His people. When we walk in faith as Abraham did, we come to experience God’s blessings and fulfillment more abundantly.