A Broken Cistern

The people of the Bible used cisterns regularly for their water supply. Rainfall was limited, coming only five months of the year from November through March. People would dig pits into the rock, sometimes entirely underground (as in the cistern at the Old Testament city of Arad) or in the ground and covered with a roof (as in the cistern at the New Testament city of Korazin).

The walls of the cistern were plastered (as seen here) to prevent the water from seeping out. An area would be prepared to collect the water (e.g., a rooftop, a courtyard, or even a street), and the water would be channeled into the cistern. It was fresh water, but not particularly clean. If a cistern decays or collapses, it no longer can hold water.