13For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
This has became one of my favorite verses. This verse shows the great difference between Godís way and manís way. The spring of living water is to make us think of a artisan well. The water that comes from this is cold, clean, and clear. The water from an artisan well never stops flowing, it can always be counted on. Everybody has access to this water because nobody owns it.
In Jeremiahís day the wells were called cisterns. These cisterns had to be dug out of the hard rocky ground of Israel. They were dug with a very small hole at the top just large enough for a man to get in, but they were bowled out at the bottom. The cistern would look like a upside down turnip. They had to be built this way to prevent loss of water due to evaporation. They would role a lager stone on top also to help prevent evaporation. You see this several times in the Bible Moses as he waters the flocks also the Joseph when he waters the flocks.
Israel has lots of rain during the fall, winter and spring months but during the summer it does not rain, therefore it gets very dry and becomes very important for life. After the cistern is dug, it is plastered to prevent the dry ground sucking up all the water. This is what is ment by broken cisterns in the verse the plaster would break and allow dirt in water and the water to leach out. Because a man did so much work to build a cistern, it was considered his property, and he could name it and restrict access to it. A cistern would be filled with rain from the rainy season therefore they were built so that rain water would drain into the cistern. Because the cisterns were filled with surface water that drained into them the water was muddy and would have worms in it and be stagnant.
We can now see the sharp contrast that God wanted to get across to his people. God, the living water was easy to get, but water from a cistern required a great amount of hard labor just as when man follows his own will.