A Well Or A Monument…Which Are You Leaving?

A Judean Desert Well

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A well or a monument…which is the better legacy? The Holy Land is filled with both and the Bible is replete with passages about digging wells and erecting monuments that were suppose to jog memories and keep the past alive.

Kilroy Was Here

There is something about walking through this life and knowing we have only one shot that makes us lament anonymity and strive to leave something for posterity that says we were here….remember the “Kilroy Was Here” inscriptions found all over Europe during and after WWII?  This isn’t a new thought, the people building the Tower of Babel had the same longing to be remembered, their whole reason for erecting that tower was a prideful “let us make a name for ourselves.” [Genesis 11: 4]

Pillar of Absalom in the Kidron Valley (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)
Absalom Was Here

Absalom, King David’s son, bemoaned the fact that he had no son, although the Bible specifically states he had THREE sons, so he ….”reared up for himself a pillar.” [2 Samuel 18:18] The account of Absalom’s life is a post unto itself…more like a Hollywood movie or soap opera…full of intrigue, lust, murder, revenge, rebellion and betrayal. However, suffice it to say, Absalom was obsessed with making a name for himself and being remembered.

There is a monument or tomb standing in the Kidron Valley, also known as the Kings Dale or Valley in Old Testament times, that is called Absalom’s Pillar or Absalom’s Tomb. While popular Jewish tradition claims this is the same pillar of Samuel 18, it is in fact the tomb of a wealthy 1st Century Jerusalemite. However, through the centuries Jewish families have brought their unruly children to stand there and throw stones at the pillar while instructing the ne’er-do-well kids in the account of Absalom rebelling against his father….the revered King David…and that this pillar is all he has to show for his life!

Elusa Well in the Negev (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)
A Well For Everything

So a well or a monument…that is the question. Throughout the Bible, love stories began at wells, fights and wars were fought over wells, Angels comforted people at wells and Jesus met the needs of many at wells. From the most ancient of times, people have relied on wells and they played a crucial role in Biblical history.

Tel Arad Well Near the Dead Sea (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)
Water, Water Everywhere – NOT!

Obviously water is an important commodity in the Holy Land, a land which does not have an abundance of rivers or lakes and where rainfall is seasonal and subject to wide variations during the year. In every Holy Land Tel, the one constant that archaeologists find is evidence of a well. A water source is one of the critical requirements for a community and even if a natural spring is close by…for safety reasons, a well was dug to bring the spring water inside the city walls.

Abraham’s Well in Beersheba (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)
Abraham Was Here

When God called Abraham to move from Ur to the Promised Land, the first thing Abraham did was to dig a well. Digging a well is no small task, it was necessary to dig through limestone to a depth that ensured a reliable water supply, too shallow and the well would be subject to the seasonal variances.

By making the investment of digging a well, Abraham announced that he was here to stay, he was not just passing through the land or this life. A well to be remembered by…a well that would provide for his family and the nation that God had promised he would father.

Well of Mary in Ein Karem, Home of John the Baptist’s Mother, Elizabeth (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)
A Well How-To

Biblical wells were hand-dug…and most exceeded 100+ feet. You wouldn’t just dig a well to provide for the short term…a well was for posterity. Jacob’s Well, near Shechem in the West Bank, is estimated to have been as deep as 150+ feet and most wells typically narrowed at the opening in order to keep sand and debris from filling it up, or people from falling in!

Mary’s Well Inside the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation
Who’s Who At The Well

Wells were gathering places for the community, Abraham’s servant, Eliezer found Isaac’s wife Rebekah at the city’s well. [Genesis 24: 11 – 20] Jacob met the love of his life, Rachel, at the local well [Genesis 29: 7 – 10], Moses met his wife, Zipporah, at a well in Midian [Exodus 2: 15 – 17] and of course, the Gospel of John recounts the meeting that Jesus had with the Samaritan Women at Jacob’s Well. [John 4]

Wells are places of comfort, faith-building and change. Mary’s Well in Nazareth, which tradition holds to be the site where the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced that she would bear a Son, [Luke 1] is the same well that is found just below the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth today. Another Angel comforted Hagar, Sarah’s handmaiden who bore Abraham’s son Ishmael, at a well on the way to Shur as she fled from Abraham’s tents. [Genesis 16: 7]

Mary’s Well in Nazareth (Courtesy of Bible Lands Pictorial Library)
Your Well

Any visit to the Holy Land brings you into close contact with wells and monuments. As you stand beside a well, or even the ruins of a well, the depths of someone’s legacy is revealed. A well that has stood for centuries, providing water, ensuring life, is like a man or woman that models, for future generations, a life lived for God. To stand before a monument, a pillar or a tomb may bring remembrances of the person, but a well continues to provide resources for life. A Well-Lived life, living for Jesus, working for Jesus, and trusting Jesus leaves a supply of faith for a family to build on.

Are you leaving wells or monuments? There’s nothing like a faith based tour to the Holy Land to build your walk with Jesus into a well of faith for your family! Join us on our next tour to Israel, there’s still room for you!

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