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Rebekah was approached at the well to marry Isaac. Jacob met Rachel at the well and Moses also had his first encounter with Ziphora at the well.

Below are the references to the three cases I cited above.

Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. (Genesis 24:13)

While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep, for she was a shepherdess. (Genesis 29:9)

Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came and drew water and filled the troughs to water their father's flock. 17 The shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and saved them, and watered their flock. (Exodus 2:16)

According to Alice C. Linsley,

There is a consistent symbolism surrounding women at wells in the Bible. This is the image of a bride-to-be and can therefore represent the Church awaiting the day of Christ's return. Many of the great men of the Bible met their future wives at wells. Abraham met Keturah, his second wife, at the Well of Sheba, where she resided. Moses met his cousin wife Zipporah (probably his second wife) at a well in Midian . . . The list of ruler-priests daughters who were first approached at wells includes: Keturah, Rebekah, Rachel and Zipporah, Asenath, and Tamar. All these women grew up around shrines where their fathers served as priests.

Source: http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2010/03/women-at-well.html

So, why were they all meeting their future wives at the well?

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  • 1
    Christ's meeting the Samaritan woman at the well may be a possible hint at the Samaritans and all the Gentiles becoming the Bride of Christ, i.e. incorporated into the Church. Sep 29 '18 at 12:27
  • Does that not sound like all the accounts in the Bible are a collection of myths associated with Christianity? Sep 29 '18 at 13:31
  • 1
    No, but that God is sovereign in history. That recapitulations and themes are only manifestations of God's will. Also, the Bible isn't just 'associated with Christianity.' It is very much contemporaneous and intrinsic to its founding. Sep 29 '18 at 13:41
  • In a desert-like, or arid, or warm climate, a water-well serves as a major drawing point for many people, for reasons which are rather obvious.
    – Lucian
    Oct 1 '18 at 14:15
  • I think that the simple explanation is that wells, more or less, were communal property. They may have belonged to long gone ancestors, whose hundreds, if not thousands, of descendants, together with occasionally outsiders, now use it. The females went there to draw water for their households, and the men went there from their daily shores for a drink for themselves, and for their animals. Wells were main meeting places of that time. Anybody could bump into anybody at wells. Nov 4 '18 at 13:23
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There is both a practical reason, and a spiritual comparison.

Practically speaking, it was most often the women who went to the wells of the area to draw water for household use, and sometimes to water the animals. So, if you hung around the wells you were likely to see most if not all of the women in that community.

God draws the comparison between water necessary for bodily and physical life to that necessary for spiritual life.

"My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:" (Deu 32:2, KJV)

God's truth and doctrine was as the rain, and the Hebrews associated rain with His prophetic judgments. This surely is drawn for the most obvious association with the judgment that came upon all the earth / lands during Noah's flood, but is demonstrated in Micah 2:6 which reads in the English translation as:

"Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame." (KJV)

but, according to Clarke's Commentary is literally:

"Do not cause it to rain; they will cause it to rain; they cannot make it rain sooner than this; confusion shall not depart from us." To rain, often means to preach, to prephesy; Ezekiel 20:46, Ezekiel 21:2; Amos 7:16; Deuteronomy 32:2; Job 29:22; Proverbs 5:3, etc." Source: here

Wells were sources of living water to sustain physical life. God's word is living water to the soul.

"For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water." (Jer. 2:13, KJV)

"17 When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

18 I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water." (Isa. 41, KJV)

The wife / lover in chap. 4 of Song of Solomon is compared to a fountain and a well of waters.

"12 A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

13 Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard,

14 Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:

15 A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon." (KJV)

And, in meeting the Samaritan woman at the well where she came to draw water, she met the Messiah, Yeshua through whom we have the spiritual life of the true living waters.

"10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? ...

14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." (KJV)

(Bold emphasis is mine.)

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    +1 See also: Proverbs 5:15Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. 16Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? 17Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. 18Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
    – Ruminator
    Sep 29 '18 at 13:23
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Betrothal at a well is a Biblical "type scene" according to Professor Robert Alter. Here is a good article to read that interacts with and quotes from Dr. Alter:

https://etzion.org.il/en/well-scene-betrothal

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