Pool of Siloam

Pool of Siloam

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Pool of Siloam (Breikhat Hashiloah) is a rock-cut pool on the southern slope of the City of David, the original site of Jerusalem, located outside the walls of the Old City to the southeast. The pool was fed by the waters of the Gihon Spring
Gihon Spring
The Gihon Spring was the main source of water for the City of David, the original site of Jerusalem. One of the world's major intermittent springs - and a reliable water source that made human settlement possible in ancient Jerusalem - the spring was not only used for drinking water, but also...

, carried there by two aqueduct
Aqueduct
An aqueduct is a water supply or navigable channel constructed to convey water. In modern engineering, the term is used for any system of pipes, ditches, canals, tunnels, and other structures used for this purpose....

s.

History


The Pool of Siloam is mentioned several times in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

. Isaiah
Book of Isaiah
The Book of Isaiah is the first of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, preceding the books of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and the Book of the Twelve...

  mentions the pool's waters, while ff. references the construction of Hezekiah's tunnel. For Christians
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, the pool has additional significance as it is mentioned in the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

, as the location to which Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 sent a man who had been blind from birth, as part of the act of healing him
Miracles of Jesus
The miracles of Jesus are the supernatural deeds of Jesus, as recorded in Gospels, in the course of his ministry. According to the Gospel of John, only some of these were recorded. states that "Jesus did many other things as well...

.

A substantial remodeling of a nearby pool, thought to be the Siloam Pool, was constructed in the 5th century, under Byzantine
Byzantium
Byzantium was an ancient Greek city, founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas . The name Byzantium is a Latinization of the original name Byzantion...

 direction, and is said to have been built at the behest of the Empress Aelia Eudocia
Aelia Eudocia
Aelia Eudocia Augusta was the wife of Theodosius II, and a prominent historical figure in understanding the rise of Christianity during the beginning of the Byzantine Empire. Eudocia lived in a world where Greek paganism and Christianity were still coming together...

. This pool, having been somewhat abandoned and left to ruin, partly survives to the present day; surrounded by a high wall of stones on all sides (except for an arched entrance to Hezekiah's
Hezekiah
Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz and the 14th king of Judah. Edwin Thiele has concluded that his reign was between c. 715 and 686 BC. He is also one of the most prominent kings of Judah mentioned in the Hebrew Bible....

 tunnel – which was only rediscovered in the 19th century).

The lower pool


Ancient records report that during the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 period, there was a lower pool. In the Autumn of 2004, Ir David Foundation
Ir David Foundation
Ir David Foundation or the Elad Association is an Jerusalem-based, Israeli association which aims to strengthen the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and renew the Jewish community in the City of David, which is part of the village of Silwan...

 workers, excavating for a sewer near the present-day pool, uncovered stone steps, and Ronny Reich
Ronny Reich
Ronny Reich is an Israeli archaeologist, excavator and scholar of the ancient remains of Jerusalem.-Education:Reich studied archaeology and geography at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His MA thesis Ronny Reich (born 1947) is an Israeli archaeologist, excavator and scholar of the ancient...

 and Eli Shukron
Eli Shukron
Eli Shukron is an Israeli archaeologist employed by the Israel Antiquities Authority. He has made several significant finds from the period of the Second Temple of Jerusalem....

 (prominent archaeologists) were called in; it became obvious to them that these steps were likely to have been part of the Second Temple period pool. Excavations commenced and confirmed the initial supposition; the find was formally announced on August 9, 2005 and received substantial international media attention. The pool is less than 70 yards from the edge of the Byzantine reconstruction of a pool previously thought to be the Siloam Pool. This small pool collected some of the water as it emptied there at the southern end of Hezekiah's tunnel. The water continued on through a channel into the recently discovered Pool of Siloam. The source of the water is from the Gihon Spring located at the northern end of Hezekiah's tunnel on the eastern side of the City of David. An ancient pool (Upper Pool) existed near the Gihon Spring but was no longer used after King Hezekiah redirected the waters to the western side of the city.

The lower pool is not perfectly rectangular, but a soft trapezoid
Trapezoid
In Euclidean geometry, a convex quadrilateral with one pair of parallel sides is referred to as a trapezoid in American English and as a trapezium in English outside North America. A trapezoid with vertices ABCD is denoted...

. There are three sets of five steps, two leading to a platform, before the bottom is reached, and it has been suggested that the steps were designed to accommodate various water levels. The pool is stone lined, but underneath there is evidence of an earlier version which was merely plastered (to help it retain water). Coins found within this plaster date from the time of Alexander Jannaeus
Alexander Jannaeus
Alexander Jannaeus was king of Judea from 103 BC to 76 BC. The son of John Hyrcanus, he inherited the throne from his brother Aristobulus I, and appears to have married his brother's widow, Shlomtzion or "Shelomit", also known as Salome Alexandra, according to the Biblical law of Yibbum...

 (104—76 BC), while a separate collection of coins, dating from the time of the Great Revolt (AD 66—70), were also found.

How much of the pool and its surrounding structures were a result of monumental construction by Herod the Great
Herod the Great
Herod , also known as Herod the Great , was a Roman client king of Judea. His epithet of "the Great" is widely disputed as he is described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis." He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and elsewhere, including his...

 is not yet understood (as of September 2006); nor is the relationship of this pool to the earlier one (i.e., why it was built when the earlier pool already existed). A portion of this pool remains unexcavated, as the land above it is owned by a nearby Greek Orthodox church and is occupied by an orchard known as the King's Garden (compare ).

As a fresh water reservoir, it would have been a major gathering place for ancient Jews making religious pilgrimages to the city. The Gospel of John suggests that it was probably used as a mikvah
Mikvah
Mikveh is a bath used for the purpose of ritual immersion in Judaism...

 (ritual bath), although mikvahs are usually much smaller in size; if the pool were a mikvah, it would be the largest ever found, by a substantial margin. Yoel Elitzur has proposed that the pool was used for swimming rather than ritual immersion. It is thought that the current structure was originally the Shrine of the Four Nymphs (Tetranymphon), a nymphaeum
Nymphaeum
A nymphaeum or nymphaion , in ancient Greece and Rome, was a monument consecrated to the nymphs, especially those of springs....

 built by Hadrian
Hadrian
Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...

 during the construction of Aelia Capitolina
Aelia Capitolina
Aelia Capitolina was a city built by the emperor Hadrian, and occupied by a Roman colony, on the site of Jerusalem, which was in ruins since 70 AD, leading in part to the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132–136.-Politics:...

 in 135, and mentioned in Byzantine works such as the 7th century Chronicon Paschale
Chronicon Paschale
Chronicon Paschale is the conventional name of a 7th-century Greek Christian chronicle of the world...

; other nymphaeum built by Hadrian, such as that at Sagalassos
Sagalassos
Sagalassos is an archaeological site in southwestern Turkey, about 100 km north of Antalya , and 30 km from Burdur and Isparta...

, are very similar.

External links

  • Image and text of the Siloam inscription
  • Hershel Shanks
    Hershel Shanks
    Hershel Shanks is the founder of the Biblical Archaeology Society and the editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review and has written and edited numerous works on Biblical archaeology including the Dead Sea Scrolls....

    , "The Siloam Pool Where Jesus Cured the Blind Man", Biblical Archaeology Review
    Biblical Archaeology Review
    Biblical Archaeology Review is a publication that seeks to connect the academic study of archaeology to a broad general audience seeking to understand the world of the Bible and the Near and Middle East . Covering both the Old and New Testaments, BAR presents the latest discoveries and...

    :31:5 (September-October 2005), pp. 16-23. Click here for an abridged article in html or the full article in pdf format
  • Pictures of the recently rediscovered Pool of Siloam from holylandphotos.org
  • The Drudge Report
    Drudge Report
    The Drudge Report is a news aggregation website. Run by Matt Drudge with the help of Joseph Curl and Charles Hurt, the site consists mainly of links to stories from the United States and international mainstream media about politics, entertainment, and current events as well as links to many...

    's article from the day the news was formally released can be found in the Drudge Report Archives here