Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies
Bar-Ilan University Ramat-Gan, Israel

Jerusalem: Life Throughout the Ages in a Holy City

Internet Educational Activities <>
17 Feb. 1997


It appears that proximity to a reliable water source was the main consideration in choosing the city's location. Jebusite Jerusalem was some 50 meters above the Gihon Spring, the most abundant and reliable spring in the Judean Hills, producing an average of almost 1,500 cubic meters of water per day. (It is assumed that recent measurements reflect the spring's flow in the past). In biblical days a smaller spring, Ein Rogel, flowed near by; today it is dry. Two of David's sons chose these springs as these sites from which to announce their claims to the throne (I Kings, ch. 1).

The small Beth Zetha Valley to the north was an important source of runoff water, and many reservoirs were built there during the Second Temple period. Precipitation varies greatly in the vicinity of Jerusalem. A few kilometers to the west, Abu Ghosh receives up to 680 mm. of rain a year, Jerusalem itself receives about 490 mm., while only one kilometer to the east annual precipitation drops to 380 mm. Jerusalem is far from any rivers, but it did have a steady supply of water for a small population. Its limestone was suitable for digging cisterns to retain precious rainfall.

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This page last modified Thursday, March 6,1997