The City of David, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, The Pools of Siloam

Ariel view of the City of David today:

What it looked like then:

Making plans for what to see here:

Here’s a view to the east from the City of David.  The City of David is south of the Old City on a hill that extends like a finger between two valleys.   This place dates back 3,800 years to the days of Abraham, when the first Jerusalem were laid.

There were excavations going on all over this hillside. They are digging though one time period after another, so it’s hard when you remove one to get to the next. Lots of documentation and slices taken.

We saw Warren’s Shaft, then we took our shoes and socks off and put on shoes we brought for the water and we hiked through Hezekiah’s Tunnel,dug more than 2700 years ago . It was my 3rd time here. Not for the faint of heart. The water was cold but refreshing on our tired feet. We used our phone flashlights and went single file through the pitch black tunnel. In most places both elbows touched the walls on either side. The tunnel is not straight–more like an S. In many places we had to duck down for distances. It was damp and slimy on the walls and the water flowed at our feet. I think the kids loved it. High adventure. Absolute history. We were there.

As the Bible tells us, the 533-meter-long tunnel was dug by King Hezekiah so that he could fortify the city against the invading Assyrian armies without compromising its main water source, the Gihon Spring, which lay outside the walls: “And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem, He took counsel with his princes and his mighty men to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city: and they did help him.

So there was gathered much people together, who stopped all the fountains, and the brook that ran through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water?” (2 Chronicles 32:2-4). According to an inscription in the tunnel, it took two years to dig, with two teams starting at each end and meeting in the middle. The tunnel was discovered in 1838 by US Bible scholar Edward Robinson.

We came out the lower end of Hezekiah’s Tunnel at the Pool of Siloam.  Here are some artist’s renditions of what it may have looked like then:

Today was especially exciting here because of a Huge announcement made YESTERDAY:

Jerusalem Post Archaeology
Israel to excavate City of David’s historical Pool of Siloam
The Pool of Siloam was part of Jerusalem’s water system during the time of the Temple and the reign of King Hezekiah.
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF Published: DECEMBER 27, 2022 09:28
The City of David Foundation will begin excavating the Pool of Siloam and open it to the public, the Antiquities Authority announced on Tuesday.
The Pool of Siloam is an archaeological and historical site within the City of David which was part of the Jerusalem water system during the reign of King Hezekiah and was constructed some 2,700 years ago.
The pool served as a reservoir for the Gihon Spring from which water was diverted and stored in underground tunnels. Some archaeologists believe that it was used as a ritual bath (mikveh) for pilgrims to purify themselves before continuing to visit the Temple.
In 1880, an inscription written in ancient Hebrew recording how the water was diverted to the pool from the Gihon Spring was discovered at the site and is currently located at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. The inscription dated back to the times of Hezekiah.

The IAA’s plans for the excavations
Over time, the Pool of Siloam became a target for research and excavations by archaeologists around the world, but the IAA’s excavation aims to fully expose the pool for the first time since it was built.
Throughout the excavations, visitors will be able to see the site and the progress being made in exposing it. The Pool of Siloam will be added to a route that begins in the City of David and ends at the footsteps of the Western Wall.
“The Pool of Siloam in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem is a site of historic, national and international significance,” said Jerusalem’s Mayor Moshe Lion. “After many years of anticipation, we will soon merit being able to uncover this important site and make it accessible to the millions of visitors visiting Jerusalem each year.”

This is all you can see of the pool today.

Back in the day, this was a center of commerce.  They recreated a few vendor’s stalls to give us a feel for what it may have been like.

Coins found here during the excavations:

Instead of hiking back up the hill above ground, we went through another ancient tunnel that was used for water run off or sewage.  This one was much narrower and harder to get through than Hezekiah’s Tunnel.  We had to duck much of the way.

Back at the visitor’s center and gift shop:

And a few quilt block patterns found in ancient floor tiles:

There is always more to excavate!

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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