Generally, a natural source of water (Ex 15:27), in contrast to wells and cisterns that were usually dug (Ge 26:15); also used with reference to a source of something other than water. Two Hebrew terms for “fountain; spring” are ʽaʹyin (literally, eye) and the related maʽ·yanʹ. The corresponding Greek term is pe·geʹ. Since springs were cleared and deepened at times, this may explain why “fountain” and “well” are sometimes used interchangeably for the same water source.—Ge 16:7, 14; 24:11, 13; Joh 4:6, 12; see CISTERN; WELL.
Moses described the Promised Land to the Israelites as a land of “springs and watery deeps issuing forth in the valley plain and in the mountainous region.” (De 8:7) Springs are plentiful in Palestine, with an average of six or seven for approximately every 100 sq km (40 sq mi). Because the mountains of Judah and Ephraim are mainly composed of porous rock, the winter rains readily filter down to a great depth. The waters finally reach a waterproof layer, run along it, and then reappear as springs on the western side of the Jordan Valley and the western bank of the Dead Sea, some even flowing into the Dead Sea underground. Many of the springs that empty directly into the Dead Sea and the lower waters of the Jordan have a high temperature. West of the mountain range the waters emerge as springs along the eastern part of the long seacoast lowlands, though some of the water finds its way underground to the Mediterranean. Some springs, such as those surrounding Jerusalem and Hebron, gush up at or near the very crest of the highlands of Palestine. The numerous springs resulting from the melting snows on the Lebanon Range and Mount Hermon provide the headwaters of the Litani, the Jordan, and the rivers of Damascus.
The importance of springs, or fountains, becomes apparent from the frequence of town names beginning with “En,” meaning “spring,” “fountain.” (Jos 15:62; 17:11; 1Ki 1:9; see AIN.) Towns and villages were often built near springs, as most of Palestine’s “rivers” are actually torrent valleys that dry up in the summer months. For defensive purposes cities were generally built on elevated sites, and therefore, the springs were often outside the city walls in the valley below. This made the protection of the water supply vitally important. Conduits were constructed to convey the water from its source right into the city. King Hezekiah built such a conduit to bring the waters of Gihon to the City of David. (2Ki 20:20; 2Ch 32:30) At other times concealed passages or tunnels led to the source of water, ensuring an ample supply of water for the inhabitants of the city even when faced with siege. On the occasion of the Assyrian invasion of Judah, Hezekiah stopped up the fountains outside Jerusalem in order to leave the invaders without a water supply.—2Ch 32:2-4; see FORTIFICATIONS; HEZEKIAH No. 1 (Building and Engineering Works).
Figurative Use. Jehovah established “the fountains of the watery deep.” (Pr 8:28; Ge 7:11) He is also identified as the Fountain or Source of life, the Source of living water, and the Source of Israel. (Ps 36:9; Jer 2:13; Ps 68:26) His Son Jesus Christ gives water that becomes in the receiver “a fountain of water bubbling up to impart everlasting life.” (Joh 4:14) Joel prophetically foretold that after the nations receive a winepress treatment in the Low Plain of Jehoshaphat, a refreshing spring will go forth from Jehovah’s house.—Joe 3:12, 13, 18.
In emphasizing the importance of using the tongue aright, James asks Christians, who should offer the water of life: “A fountain does not cause the sweet and the bitter to bubble out of the same opening, does it?”—Jas 3:11.
Jesus dried up the “fountain of blood” of a woman who had suffered a flow of blood for 12 years, healing her. (Mr 5:25-29) “Water source,” or “fountain,” is an expression also used with reference to a source of sexual satisfaction.—Pr 5:18.