The Wells of Abraham

I saw a documentary on Middle Eastern wells. A well is a big deal there. Everything happens because of water.

Some of them are quite old, even supposedly dating back to the days of Abraham. A well is so important that there are men who dive down into these narrow tunnels and remove debris when they’re plugged. It’s the ultimate claustrophobic experience.

Abraham named his children and he named his wells. Political deals were associated with wells. From the well flowed water, and from the water grew a city. Beersheba flowed out of a well.

In the desert, life is a plug and the well is the socket. Sheep, goats, men; they all orbit the well. Our eyes see the stars, and by them you can navigate the sea, but your feet travel from well to well, in the desert.

There were many tribes and clans, but they all drank water. If a well can be dug, and water can be found, then a well can be plugged, and the strangers move on.

In the Australian movie, Mad Max, they coveted the stockpiles of gasoline that ran their cars. In Abraham’s day they coveted the wells that watered their camels and livestock.

Inkblot Kaos parameter files

To find water, to dig a well that has water, is to re-write the land, to redraw the map. Water runs like a cable, deep below the ground. Every well is a node, a network in a world that ebbs and flows according to the water protocol.

You dial-up, there’s a handshake. When they connected, they washed their guests feet. No ID? Wrong password? Your sheep will not drink at this well.

Tim Hodkinson

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2 thoughts on “The Wells of Abraham

  1. It must be very difficult to live in a society where something as critical to life as water is so scarce. You would either have to hide it or guard it at all times. Thanks for the thought-provoking post!


  2. Thanks for that post – it’s reminded me that it’s probably about time I re-read “Dune” :-)

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