Pool Of Siloam

Aug 6, 2019 | Bible Archeology | 0 comments

Archaeologists working in the City of David have uncovered the edge of what they believe is the Pool of Siloam from the time of Jesus (cf. The photo at left shows the city of Jerusalem with the Temple Mount and the City of David. The excavations are on the west side of the City of David. Letter “A” is located where the traditional “Pool of Siloam” is and Letter “B” shows the area of the present excavations. 1

In the time of Jesus, the Pool of Siloam was the site where Christ healed the blind man by having him cake mud and saliva in his eyes and then wash his eyes in the pool (John 9:1-7). In the 400′s AD, a church was built above a pool attached to Hezekiah’s tunnel to commemorate the miracle of Jesus and the blind man. Until recently, this was considered the traditional site for the Pool of Siloam during the time of Christ. 4

The Pool of Siloam has been regarded as sacred by a variety of faiths since ancient times. Jews used water from the pool for purification rituals in the Temple during the Feast of Tabernacles, and it was probably the site of the pagan Shrine of the Four Nymphs built by Hadrian in 135 AD. 5

The tunnel built by Hezekiah’s engineers was eventually forgotten. It was thought that the Pool of Siloam (Shiloah in Hebrew) was fed directly by an underground spring. In Jesus’ day, the Feast of Tabernacles, which was like a Judean Thanksgiving, with pilgrims bringing offerings of luscious freshly harvested dates, pomegranates, grapes, figs, and olives, began at the Pool of Siloam with a joyful musical procession called Simhat Beit HaShoevah or The Rejoicing of the Water-Drawing. 7

Archaeology here is an encounter with history and the stories of the Bible. The Pool of Siloam is mentioned several times in Scripture. This was where Jesus healed a blind man by anointing his eyes with mud and then telling him to wash it off in the pool. In those days the pool was not only a source of drinking water; it was a place for ritual cleansing and had religious significance to the people. Jews hid in the tunnel until the Romans broke through it. 10

You descend by many steps to Siloam, and above Siloam is a hanging basilica beneath which the water of Siloam rises. Siloam has two basins constructed of marble, which are separated from each other by a screen. Men was in one and women in the other to gain a blessing. In these waters miracles take place, and lepers are cleansed. In front of the court is a large man-made pool and people are continually washing there; for at regular intervals the spring sends a great deal of water into the basins, which goes on down the valley of Gethsemane (which they also call Jehosaphat) as far as the River Jordan. 5

The Pool of Siloam visited by Byzantine pilgrims was probably the one next to Hezekiah’s tunnel with that name (pictured at right), and may not have been the one visited by the blind man. A church was built next to this “Byzantine pool” by the empress Eudokia around 450 AD, which was destroyed by the Persians in 614 AD. The tradition of the pool’s healing powers continued among the Arabs but its subsequent history is not entirely known. Perhaps debris from higher up washed into the pool and villagers cleared it away periodically as they needed water. A mosque was built next to the pool in the 1890s, which still stands today. 5

The Greek word Siloam is a place name possibly derived from the Hebrew word ‘Shalom’. The word means ‘sending the Spirit’. The pool of Siloam is the place where the blind man was told to go and wash as Jesus had spat on the ground and mixed His saliva with the mud, which he put on the blind man’s eyes. It’s really a play on words to press the point that the blind man was sent to Siloam by Jesus, whom God had sent Himself. To regain his sight, the blind man went to the pool of Siloam and washed and so obeyed the words of Jesus. The whole account is recorded in John: 9, 1-11. 16

The Pool of Siloam is identified with that which is today located at the southeast part of the City of Jerusalem. The waters come from the Gihon Spring via the tunnel built by King Hezekiah (II King 20:20; Chron. It is thought that when Jesus declared Himself the living waters at the close of the Feast of Tabernacles (7:37, 38) He was using a figure from the waters of Siloam, which were used at this season to symbolise God�s blessings. 12

In the summer of 2004, archaeologists were checking the area southeast of the traditional Pool of Siloam for a public works project when they discovered some large stone steps. Further excavations, which continued to summer 2005, uncovered several flights of steps and a pool that was in use during the 1st century AD. Scholars believe that this pool — and not the one nearby traditional identified as such — is the actual Pool of Siloam. 5

Visitors to the site in the winter of 2005 were disappointed to see that the pool had been covered over. This was necessitated by the removal of the remaining street and drainage channel. In the meantime, excavations proceeded elsewhere, including in the section of the Siloam Channel visible on the right side of the photo. 1

The Pool of Siloam is the Pool, yea Fountain, of Him sent by God. Have you washed in this Pool that you may look not to the temporal things of this world, but to the eternal in the heavens? 12

But by Passover the drainage channel had been moved (now visible as the black pipe at top) and the earth re-excavated from the steps. At this point, more of the pool has been revealed than ever before, including the northern corner of the steps at the far end of the photo. Pottery indicates that this pool was in use in the 1st century. The blind man washed the mud off of his eyes in this pool and received his sight (see John 9). 1

In addition, the pool is located at one of the lowest spots in Jerusalem and would have been filled with more mud and debris every winter until it disappeared from sight. This early destruction could explain why the nearby (higher) pool was venerated as the Pool of Siloam instead of this one by Byzantine pilgrims — it was the only one visible in the area. 5

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