When Anita and I host tours to Israel, one of our favorite sites to take guests is the Pool of Siloam. Here is a location we can definitively say, “Jesus walked here.”
Previously, guests would sit on bleachers looking at a modest excavation site leading up to a 30-foot tall embankment. There wasn’t much to see, though, but it was still a powerful moment knowing the miracle that had occurred.
Above was church and its proporty. Last year, the church sold the land over the burried pool and the Israeli Antiquities Authority expanded excavation of one of the Bible’s most vivid stories.
Israeli archaeologists have uncovered steps leading down to the pool, where Jesus healed a blind man more than 2,000 years ago. Construction crews and archaeologists began working on an excavation project at the historic site of biblical Jerusalem in 2004 after a large water pipe south of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, at the southern end of the archaeological remains of City of David. Digging down to fix the pipe, as city workers do, they discovered the pool.
“It’s exciting to be a part of a story that’s bigger than ourselves — to be a part of bringing a story to life that has significance not for millions but for billions,” Ze’ev Orenstein, director of international affairs for the City of David Foundation, told news outlets.
In recent weeks, however, archaeologists discovered a set of eight steps at the project site, about the size of two Olympic swimming pools, dating back to the days when Jesus and millions of others used the pool as an ancient ritual bath.
Construction of the pool reportedly began more than 2,700 years ago when Judean King Hezekiah first ordered the digging of a 1,750-foot tunnel under the City of David to bring water from the Gihon Spring, which lay outside the city wall, inside the city to a pool on the opposite side of the ridge, according to the Biblical Archaeology Society. Hezekiah foresaw the likelihood of a looming attack from the Assyrians and presumed the water supply would help the Judeans survive. The tunnel continued to carry fresh water into the part of Jerusalem that would lead to the construction of several different pools, including the Second Temple pool that Jesus knew.
Christians and Jews are excited by the find and future for the site. The Israel National Parks Authority and the City of David Foundation, which works to preserve and develop the city and its environs by connecting people through different faiths and backgrounds in Jerusalem, plan to have it fully excavated in coming years.
“The ongoing excavations within the City of David, the historic site of Biblical Jerusalem, particularly of the Pool of Siloam and the Pilgrimage Road, serve as one of the greatest affirmations of that heritage and the millennia-old bond Jews and Christians have with Jerusalem,” Orenstein said.
Metro Voice will take two separate tours to Israel in 2024 and the site will again be one of our stops. This time, we’ll see the steps and the ongoing active archaeological dig.
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice