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33. Pool of Siloam

The “Pool of Siloam” is a rock-cut pool located at the southern end of the City of David (Biblical Jerusalem). The water in the pool comes from the Gihon Spring via a 533 meter-long tunnel, known also at “Hezekiah’s Tunnel”.

Not much is known about the pool from the Old Testament, but it was one of the reasons Jerusalem survived an Assyrian attack against the city in 701 BCE. (2 Kings 18).

The site traditionally identified as the POOL OF SILOAM. Pillar parts in the water of the pool once decorated a Byzantine period church which stood at this site. (C) Michael Browning

The New Testament provides more information about the pool. According to the Gospel of John, it was beside the Pool of Siloam that Jesus restored the eyesight of a blind man by making clay with his spittle and spreading it on the man’s eyes. The man was then ordered, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam”… So he went and washed, and came back seeing (John 9:7).

In the fifth century CE a Byzantine church commemorating this miracle was built over what was then believed to be the Pool of Siloam. It was named ‘Our Saviour, the Illuminator’, and the sick would come to bathe in the water in the hope that they would be cured.

This church was destroyed in the Persian invasion of 614 CE, and the Muslims later erected a mosque over the remains. In the 19th century an Arab village developed over what remained of Biblical Jerusalem. It was named Silwan, after the Pool of Siloam.

For many years the Pool of Siloam was believed to be located at the end of Hezekiah’s Tunnel, and the remains of pillars from the Byzantine church can be seen today in this pool. In 2004 however archaeologists Ronny Reich and Eli Shukrun discovered another pool some 65 meters from the supposed Pool of Siloam. It was 70 meters long, with a wide flight of steps leading down into it. The small finds from the site dated this pool to the first century, so it seems that this was the real Pool of Siloam in the time of Jesus.

Discovered in 2004, this wide flight of steps is part of the real POOL OF SILOAM from the time of Jesus. It is now beleived that the pool of Siloam was used by large crowds of Jewish pilgrims to purify before ascending up towars the Temple Mount in order to enter the templ. (C) Michael Browning.

The wide steps were probably designed to enable Jewish pilgrims to purify themselves in the pool before entering the holy presence of the Temple Mount. Indeed, next to the pool a wide stepped street was also recovered, leading towards the Temple Mount.

Today both pools are popular tourist and pilgrimage destinations. One can also walk on parts of the stepped street connecting the first century Pool of Siloam with the Temple Mount.