Judah depends on wells and underground reservoirs called cisterns for its water supply. The people dig cisterns out of solid rock or line clay reservoirs with cement to prevent seepage and evaporation. Women regularly gather around the cisterns to fill household water jugs and visit with each other. Irrigation trenches from the cisterns also nourish elaborate palace and city gardens.
In a land of little rainfall, cisterns provide water for the people’s survival and their social well-being. A drought impacts rich and poor, young and old, alike. The Israelites fear the droughts that have plagued their land over the centuries, realizing that God often uses such dryness as a judgment (1 Ki 8:35).
(General Editor Jean E. Syswerda, NIV Women of Faith Study Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Mischigan, 2001, pg 1252)