The Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem has not been accessible to the public for almost 2,000 years, but that is about to change, according to an announcement from the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Israel National Parks Authority, and the City of David Foundation just before the new year.
“One of most significant sites affirming Jerusalem’s Biblical heritage — not simply as a matter of faith, but as a matter of fact — with significance to billions around the world, will be made fully accessible for the first time in 2,000 years,” said Ze’ev Orenstein, International Affairs Director for the City of David Foundation in Jerusalem.
“Despite ongoing efforts at the United Nations and Palestinian leadership to erase Jerusalem’s heritage, in a few years’ time, the millions of people visiting the City of David annually will literally be able to walk in the footsteps of the Bible, connecting with the roots of their heritage and identity,” Orenstein said.
The Pool of Siloam is perhaps best known in the Bible as the place where Jesus took some dirt and made mud with his spit and then used the plaster to heal a man blind from birth (John 9). After Jesus had applied the mud, he instructed the man to go wash in the Pool of Siloam.
The pool also has a rich history in Jewish tradition as part of the Pilgrimage Road. Worshippers would wash ceremonially in the pool before going up to the Temple. The freshwater pool actually dates back 2,700 years, to the 8th century BC, during the time of King Hezekiah. It is part of the extraordinary water system that Hezekiah built to supply Jerusalem with fresh water in case the city was ever besieged by foreign invaders (2 Kings 20:20).
The Pool of Siloam is located in the southern part of the City of David (just outside the Old City of Jerusalem), close to where you exit Hezekiah’s Tunnel (a cool underground trek we take on our tours). At one point, the pool was believed to have covered 1.25 acres.
Moshe Lion, the mayor of Jerusalem, said, “The Pool of Siloam in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem is a site of historic, national and international significance.
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.”
A small portion of the pool—the northern perimeter and a part of the eastern section—were discovered and excavated after a nearby sewer pipe burst in 2004.
“The perimeter of the pool was built as a series of steps, allowing the bathers to sit and immerse themselves in the waters of the pool,” according to the IAA.
The excavation of the full site is expected to take a few years, and it is still to be decided whether the pool will be opened one section at a time to visitors or whether everyone will have to wait for the project to be completed. Either way, there are plans for the public to view the excavation’s progress as the site is unearthed.
This is one of the most significant archaeological finds in modern history and strengthens the veracity of biblical narratives.