Siloam Inscription

Dec 22, 2018 | Bible Archeology | 0 comments

The Siloam Inscription is a description in ancient Hebrew of the cutting and completion of the Siloam Tunnel built by king Hezekiah (727-698 BC). The inscription was found in the tunnel itself. The Siloam Inscription is important in the study of Biblical Archaeology. 4

While the tunnel had been well known, the Siloam inscription was discovered by accident in 1880 by a young student from the nearby mission, who happened to look up while walking through the dark tunnel and noticed the inscription. In order to build the tunnel, the workers split into two teams, digging from either end of the future tunnel while following a crack in the rock. When the two work-teams approached each other, they heard the sound of the axes of the other team and knew that the breaking through of the tunnel was almost complete. The inscription they placed at the place of the meeting of the two teams describes the day on which this meeting occurred. 6

The Siloam Inscription is a 2,700-year-old tablet found in 1880 in what is known today as Hezekiah?s Tunnel. Engraved on the stone is a description of the meeting of two groups of hewers who were digging from opposite ends as they sought to provide a reliable water source for Jerusalem residents during biblical times: ?The tunneling was completedThe hewers hacked each toward the other, ax against ax, and the water flowed from the spring to the pool, a distance of 1,200 cubits.? 1

The Siloam inscription was surreptitiously cut from the wall of the tunnel in 1891 and broken into fragments; these were, however, recovered by the efforts of the British Consul at Jerusalem, and have been placed in Istanbul Archaeology Museum. Although housed in Turkey, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski made the request on July 12th, 2007 in a meeting with Turkey’s ambassador to Israel, Namik Tan to return the tablet to Jerusalem as a “goodwill gesture” between allies. Turkey has rejected such request, stating that the Siloam inscription was Imperial Ottoman Property, and thus is the cultural property of the Turkish Republic. However, President Abdullah Gul, stated that as a good will gesture from Turkey, they will display the inscription in Jerusalem for a short period [1]. 16

As deeply as the Siloam tunnel runs beneath the limestone spur of Iron Age Jerusalem, so deeply flawed is Rogerson and Davies’ palaeographic assessment of the Siloam inscription. Anything more than a cursory analysis demonstrates that the letter forms of the inscription belong to a reliable sequence of the eighth-seventh century BCE and do not fit the palaeo-Hebrew sequence of the Hasmonean period. The epigraphic data are clear, coherent, and compelling. 3

The tunnel and spring are located in the East Jerusalem Arab neighborhood of Silwan (Siloam) in the Kidron Valley, otherwise known as the City of David. Today, tourists can walk through waist-deep water in Hezekiah?s Tunnel leading to the pool of Siloam, where Jesus healed a man who had been blind from birth (John 9). 1

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