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Pool of Siloam

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Lower Siloam pool

Pool of Siloam (Hebrew: Birkhat Hashiloah‎)[1] is a rock-cut pool on the southern slope of the City of David (believed to be the original site of Jerusalem) now outside the walls of the Old City to the southeast. The pool was fed by the waters of the Gihon Spring, which were carried there by two aqueducts - the Middle Bronze Age Channel (a 20ft deep direct cutting that was covered with rock slabs, and dates from the Middle Bronze Age ~1800BC), and Hezekiah's Tunnel (a curving tunnel within the bedrock, dating from the reign of King Hezekiah ~700BC)


The pool is mentioned or alluded to several times in the Bible. Isaiah 8:6 mentions the pool's waters, while Isaiah 22:9 ff. references the construction of Hezekiah's tunnel. For Christians, the pool has additional significance as it is mentioned in the Gospel of John, as the location to which Jesus sent a man who had been blind from birth, as part of the act of healing him[2].

A substantial remodeling of the pool was constructed in the 5th century, under Byzantine direction, and is said to have been built at the behest of the Empress Aelia Eudocia. 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 tunnel - which was only rediscovered in the 19th century), the pool is quite small, and has a modestly sized mosque next to (and partly over) it.

The lower pool

Ancient records report that during the Second Temple period, there was also a lower pool further down the hill than the original one. In the Autumn of 2004, workers making excavations for the Ir David Foundation, for a sewer near the present-day pool uncovered stone steps, and almost immediately Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron (prominent archaeologists) were on the scene; it very quickly became obvious to them that these steps were likely to have been part of the Second Temple period pool. Excavation swiftly 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 the upper pool. [3][4]

This lower pool is not perfectly rectangular, but a soft trapezoid. 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 (104—76 BC), while a separate collection of coins, dating from the time of the Great Revolt (AD 66—70), were also found.

A channel leads from the earlier pool (the upper pool) to feed this later pool. How much of the pool and its surrounding structures were a result of monumental construction by Herod the Great 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 Nehemiah 3:15).

As a freshwater 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 (ritual bath)[5], although mikvah are usually much smaller in size; if the pool were a mikvah, it would be the largest ever found, by a substantial margin[6]. It is thought that the current structure was originally the Shrine of the Four Nymphs (Tetranymphon), a nymphaeum built by Hadrian during the construction of Aelia Capitolina in 135[7][8][9], and mentioned in Byzantine works such as the 7th century Chronicon Paschale; other nymphaeum built by Hadrian, such as that at Sagalassos, have a very similar appearance[10].

See also


Some or all of this article is forked from Wikipedia. The original article was at Pool of Siloam. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. This entry incorporates text from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in 1897.

  1. One alternative English name for the pool is "pool of Shelah" according to
  2. John 9
  3. Archaeologists identify traces of 'miracle' pool. Siloam Pool was where Jesus was said to cure blind, AP, Dec. 23, 2004 [1]
  4. Rossner, Rena (January 26, 2006). "The once and future city" (in English quote=They have also discovered thousands of fish bones that, together with the bullae were found in an area that Reich and Shukran believe to be the Shiloah Pool, used as a ritual bath for the Temple Mount, and a tiled road which ends at the pool and has its origins near the Temple Mount. Ostensibly, this is the road that worshipers used to go back and forth between the Shiloah Pool and the Temple Mount.). The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved November 15, 2009. 
  5. John 9:6-11
  6. James H. Charlesworth, quoted in Los Angeles Times, article: Biblical Pool Uncovered in Jerusalem, 9th August 2005
  7. Dave Winter, Israel handbook, (1999) p 180
  8. André Grabar, Martyrium, (1946), volume 1, page 193
  9. E. Wiegand, The Theodosian Monastery, (1929), volume 11, page 50-72
  10. for example, see this view

External links

Coordinates: 31°46′14″N 35°14′06″E / 31.77056°N 35.235°E / 31.77056; 35.235

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