Workers repairing a sewage pipe in the old city of Jerusalem have discovered the biblical Pool of Siloam, a freshwater reservoir that was a major gathering place for ancient Jews making religious pilgrimages to the city and the reputed site where Jesus cured a man blind from birth, the LOS ANGELES TIMES reports.
The pool was fed by the now famous Hezekiah’s Tunnel and is “a much grander affair” than archeologists previously believed, with three tiers of stone stairs allowing easy access to the water, according to Hershel Shanks, editor of Biblical Archeology Review, which reported the find Monday.
“Scholars have said that there wasn’t a Pool of Siloam and that John was using a religious conceit” to illustrate a point, said New Testament scholar James H. Charlesworth of the Princeton Theological Seminary. “Now we have found the Pool of Siloam … exactly where John said it was.”
A gospel that was thought to be “pure theology is now shown to be grounded in history,” he said.
The discovery puts a new spotlight on what is called the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, a trip that religious law required ancient Jews to make at least once a year, said archeologist Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa, who excavated the pool.
“Jesus was just another pilgrim coming to Jerusalem,” he said. “It would be natural to find him there.”
The newly discovered pool is less than 200 yards from another Pool of Siloam, this one a reconstruction built between A.D. 400 and 460 by the empress Eudocia of Byzantium, who oversaw the rebuilding of several Biblical sites.
Read more on Jerusalem – Water Systems of Biblical Times, an excerpt here:
The Siloam Channel, cut at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE, emerges from the Gihon Spring and extends approximately 400 m. southward along the low, eastern slope of the City of David, around the city’s southern end and empties into a reservoir in the Tyropoeon Valley. The channel’s northern part is 2.75 m. deep and is covered by large stones; the southern part is open, but becomes a rock-cut tunnel towards the end. Openings along the channel allowed water to flow out and irrigate the terraces on the eastern slope of the City of David.
Some identify the Siloam Channel with the waters of Shiloah that go softly (Isaiah 8:5). It was blocked after the cutting of Hezekiah’s Tunnel. The biblical passage referring to this is probably II Chronicles 32:4: So a great many people were gathered together, who stopped up all the springs, and also the wadi that ran through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Ashur (Assyria) come and find much water?