FOUNTAIN: m’qohr. Noun masculine. (Strong’s 4726).
Original Word: מָקוֹר
Sounds like: m’kohr
I grew up in Tiverton, Ontario, Canada, along the shores of Lake Huron. I was a beach bum from the earliest days of my existence. We lived about 4 kms from the Lake but as much as I tried, I couldn’t convince my Mom to drive me and the neighbourhood kids to Inverhuron Park EVERY day (although I have to say, she got us there a lot!). When she couldn’t take us, as a consolation, we spent many hot days running through the cold sprinkler, followed by freezies (aptly named for freezing your fingers while holding them). The sprinkler was a joyful expression of nourishment… it fed our little souls with joy and remains, in my brain, a source of happy, giggly, memories.
Fountains symbolize nourishment, refreshment, abundance and life, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the Bible was filled with fountain imagery.
[David:] They have seen Your procession, O God, the procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary. The singers went on, the musicians after them, in the midst of the maidens beating tambourines: “Bless God in the great congregation, YHWH, O you who are of Israel’s fountain [mim-m’qohr Israel]!”
The Polluted Fountain and the Dry Fountain
YHWH was a Fountain of Life to Israel and the whole world. But the whole world was not so accepting of God as a generous and nourishing fountain:
Like cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a distant land. Like a trampled spring and a polluted well [fountain: u-maqohr] is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.
YHWH is a God of Life and the Adversary (ha-satan) is a god of Death. YHWH valued life and order; the Adversary valued death and chaos. So when a human gave way to wickedness, their fountain of life became corrupt and polluted.
In some cases, the fountain was so polluted that it took on the opposite of its symbol (life)… it was a fountain of death and it dried up… nothing could be nourished from it and no life could be upheld by it:
[YHWH:] “Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight.”
Though he flourishes among the reeds, an east wind will come, the wind of YHWH coming up from the wilderness; and his fountain [m’qohroh] will become dry and his spring will be dried up; it will plunder his treasury of every precious article.
A few centuries after Hosea, Jeremiah lived under the threat of the Babylonians. When they finally sacked Jerusalem and the Temple fell, Jeremiah was devastated. In mourning, he wished he was a fountain of tears so that he could weep continually:
Oh that my head were waters and my eyes a fountain of tears [m’qohr dimah], that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!
The Babylonians marched the Hebrew people out of Israel and into Babylon, but God would not let His people live in exile forever. Babylon would, some day, fall… and as a symbolic fountain, it would dry up:
Therefore thus says YHWH, “Behold, I am going to plead your case and exact full vengeance for you; and I will dry up her sea and make her fountain [et m’qohrah] dry. Babylon will become a heap of ruins, a haunt of jackals, an object of horror and hissing, without inhabitants. They will roar together like young lions, they will growl like lions’ cubs.”
A fountain without water was nothing, and so the prosperity of Babylon disappeared. They sunk, by their own doing, into death and nothingness.
With you is the Fountain of Life
With YHWH as the God of Life, the Bible highlighted many fountains as sources of life. Proverbs listed four things that were considered fountains of life:
- The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life [m’qohr khayim] (Proverbs 10:11)
- The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life [m’qohr khayim] (Proverbs 13:14)
- Understanding is a fountain of life [m’qohr khayim] (Proverbs 16:22)
- The fear of YHWH is a fountain of life [m’qohr khayim] (Proverbs 14:27)
These were all things that enriched life: righteousness, wisdom, understanding, and the deepest respect for YHWH. But it was YHWH, Himself, who was the primary source of Life:
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; and You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.
For with You is the fountain of life [m’qohr khayim]; in Your light we see light. O continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You, and Your righteousness to the upright in heart.
YHWH has always been an upholder of life, and righteousness, wisdom, and understanding are essential elements of good living. When we drink from the fountain of life (partake in these things) we experience the Light of God.
The Gospel writer John put significant emphasis on the connection between life and light:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
It’s like the benefits of drinking a refreshing beverage… it fills us up with God’s goodness. His light shines through us as we partake in the Fountain of Life.
This is the beauty of creation… life is abundantly fed by the generosity of YHWH.
The Fountain of her Blood
The connection between fountain and life was also associated with the female reproductive cycle in the Bible. The purity laws, found in Leviticus, gave instructs on how a woman was to purify and reset herself after her pregnancy:
Leviticus 12:6-8 (see also Leviticus 5:7)
“When the days of her purification are completed, for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the doorway of the tent of meeting a one year old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. Then he shall offer it before YHWH and make atonement for her, and she shall be cleansed from the flow [fountain: mi-m’qohr] of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, whether a male or a female. But if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.”
There’s a reason that YHWH chose to bring the Messiah into the world by way of human birth. From the fountain of the human reproductive cycle, came the true fountain of life. Mary went through this purification cycle after Yeshua (Jesus) was born. It is interesting that a lamb was not offered for Mary’s purification:
And when eight days had passed, before His [Jesus’] circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male that opens the womb shall be called Holy to the LORD”), and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
Mary, clearly, was not wealthy and the Leviticus passage indicated that if one could not afford a lamb, either turtledoves or young pigeons would suffice. And so Yeshua was born into a poor family, but He was born poor for more reasons than humility.
Yeshua was symbolically the last Sacrificial Lamb. Yeshua did not have a lamb sacrificed as a result of His birth, because He was the Lamb that would be slain at His own death. His sacrifice would conquer death and life would win. As His name Yeshua (Salvation) suggested, He would be the Salvation of the world.
The “righteous and devout” Simeon expressed his joy at seeing the Messiah, God’s face of Salvation:
And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,
“Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a Light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed— and a sword will pierce even your own soul—to the end that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”
The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would not see death until he had seen the Messiah. Before he would succumb to the grave, he would see the One who would conquer it. It’s a beautiful moment of YHWH’s promises coming to fruition: through the blood fountain of a human would come the fountain of life and the healer of humanity.
The symbolic feminine fountain played a part in the narrative of Yeshua’s ministry. In a crowd, Yeshua was touched by a woman who suffered greatly with a gynaecological ailment:
A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse— after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’”
And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth.
And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”
The fountain of this woman’s blood had been hemorrhaging for twelve hears, but with one touch of faith this woman was healed by Yeshua, the Fountain of Life.
The Fountain of Living Water
Fun fact: in Hebrew the words for living and water rhyme, and so the phrase Fountain of Living Waters (M’qohr mayim khayim) had a poetic impact in the Hebrew text. In the Book of Jeremiah, YHWH called Himself the Fountain of Living Waters:
“Be appalled, O heavens, at this, and shudder, be very desolate,” declares YHWH. “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters [m’qohr mayim khayim], to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
The people had turned their back on God. He was the Living water that could not be contained. Instead the people looked to themselves for nourishment. They built broken cisterns that held no water and gave them no life.
But although the people had forsaken their God, Jeremiah called on YHWH for healing and salvation:
A glorious throne on high from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary. O YHWH, the hope of Israel, all who forsake You will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, YHWH [m’qohr mayim khayim et YHWH].
Heal me, O YHWH, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for You are my praise.
Jeremiah held onto the hope that YHWH was the fountain of living water and through the water of life he would be healed and saved.
YHWH, the fountain of Living Water, would heal the planet by sending His Son, His Messiah, to nourish the world as a Saviour and a Healer. Yeshua’s conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well was a watershed moment (pardon the pun), which announced Yeshua as a gift of God and the living water who nourished the soul:
And He [Jesus] had to pass through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; and Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?”
Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.”
He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.”
The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”
Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.”
The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.”
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.”
Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
The woman at the well went there day after day to pull water for physical nourishment, but Yeshua offered her Living Water… water that fulfilled every desire for spiritual nourishment. At first she did not fully understand what He was saying: “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.”
The woman would happily take this water which would eternally satisfy, so that she wouldn’t have to daily come to the well. She thought He was speaking only of physical nourishment. But when Yeshua boldly claimed that He was the Messiah, she pieced it all together. Just as she was having her revelation, the disciples returned:
At this point His disciples came, and they were amazed that He had been speaking with a woman, yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why do You speak with her?”
Many have proudly emphasized Yeshua’s radical stance in this story. He was speaking with a woman, and not just any woman but a Samaritan woman. He was conversing with the enemy and in the minds of the disciples, she was someone hardly worth discussing theology with. Yeshua’s conversation with this person seemed inappropriate on both counts. She was from the wrong nation and the wrong sex, but Yeshua wasn’t living by their rules and antiquated customs. He announced His divinity first to a woman from a different religion, a different culture, a different nation, and as a result she ran back home and preached to her people that she had found the Messiah. She was the first Messianic missionary to Samaria, preaching Good News. She was a fountain of life to her community.
So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Messiah, is it?” They went out of the city, and were coming to Him.
Yeshua chose a woman purposely to announce His divinity… it was a practical decision (how better to preach to a foreign nation than through one of their own people), but it was also profoundly poetic. Women carried the fountain of blood through which YHWH brought life. She met Yeshua at Jacob’s well (an historically important fountain) to draw water which sustained life, but He offered Living Water that would satisfy eternally.
Yeshua was the fountain of life; He was the bringer of eternal nourishment and eternal life which would flow, like a river, through anyone who drank from the well. When Yeshua visited Jerusalem in the Fall to celebrate the Feast of Booths, He called out an open invitation to the massive crowds who had gathered for the feast:
…Now on the last day, the great day of the feast [Feast of Booths], Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”
Of all the Biblical metaphors the fountain is, perhaps, the most satisfying. Be nourished and refreshed from the fountain of YHWH. Do not let your waters become polluted; do not let your waters dry up. Drink deep from the Fountain of Life that YHWH has provided, and you will live abundantly in the Presence of God.
Next week: offering
5 thoughts on “M’qohr: The FOUNTAIN of Life”
I love the story of the woman at the well that you finish with Sarah. Not only did she leave her water pot, the whole point of her being there in the first place, but she left Jesus there too! You wonder if she said to him: “Don’t move! I’ll be back.” And, if Sychar was on the direct route between Jerusalem and Galilee, then how often did he drop by afterwards – and we just don’t read about it?
You’re so right, Ian! There’s so many delicious layers to this story!
It is a beautiful word and a beautiful message! Thanks Stephanie!