Streams, lakes and springs are relatively rare in Israel. The people in Biblical times were largely dependent upon seasonal rainfall. Much of the water for daily life was rainwater that was artificially stored in large rock-hewn cisterns. The houses and streets were equipped with gutters that would channel the water in the rainy season for use during the nine months of hot cloudless skies.Cistern water was notoriously unreliable. The cisterns needed to be plastered and cleaned to prevent the stagnant water from harboring water born diseases. In addition, it was difficult for a cistern to provide enough water for the dry season.
Cistern water was also considered ritually impure and was not used in religious ceremonies. After all, God was pictured as water, living water, and not as cistern water. Ceremonial water was either fresh rain water or running clear river or spring water.
My people have committed two sins. They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.? (Jeremiah 2.13)
The children of Israel were drinking from dirty water of their own making. They had forsaken the poor, the stranger, and the alien. They had mistaken religious ceremony for religious practice (Jeremiah. 7). They had carved out of the rock a worldview that drank solely from the culture and not from the spring of revelation. Their own cisterns had left them thirsty once again. Purpose to drink from the Living Water that fully satisfies!