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pools of bethesda

The Pools of Bethesda are a significant historical and biblical landmark in the northern part of Jerusalem’s Old City. According to the New Testament those pools were the setting for a miraculous event where Jesus healed a man who had been ill for 38 years.

History of the Pools of Bethesda

References in 2 Kings 18:17 and Isaish 7:3 indicate that the city had an “Upper Pool” Jerusalem in the Iron age. Situated in the northern part of the city and its water served the needs of laundrymen. Centuries later, the Pools of Bethesda were constructed around the same site and provided water for the operation of the Temple. The New Testament links these pools to the miraculous healing performed by Jesus.

Bethesda and the New Testament

The most well-known reference to the Pools of Bethesda is in the New Testament (John chapter 5). According to this account, the pools were believed to have healing properties as an angel periodically stirred the waters, and the first person to enter the water would be miraculously healed. Jesus, in this story, healed a man who had been unable to enter the water for 38 years.

Following the advent of Christianity in the 5th century, a commemorative church was constructed over the pools, making the pools a Christian pilgrimage destination. In the 12th century, the Crusaders restored a chapel above the pools and added another church, which they dedicated to Saint Anne, the mother of Mary.

Archaeology of the Pools of Bethesda

Excavations have confirmed the location of the Pools of Bethesda north of the Temple Mount. The pools were sizeable and adorned with five porticoes, as mentioned in John 5:2. The excavations also uncovered the remains of the commemorative churches built later over the pools. The adjacent Saint Anne church is intact to this day, providing a fine example of Romanesque architecture.

Visiting the Pools of Bethesda

The site holds great religious significance for Christians and is a popular pilgrimage destination. It is open for visitors from Monday to Saturday, 8:00 to 12:00 and again from 14:00 to 17:00.

A visit to the Pool of Bethesda can be combined with a day tour of Jerusalem.

“Visiting the Pools of Bethesda is a spiritually and historically enriching experience. It brings the scriptures to life and deepens the understanding of Jerusalem in the time of Jesus” (Danny “the Digger” Herman)

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