The Locations of the Pools of Siloam

This post relies upon Nov 2007 Digital Globe imagery.

There were several pools in the Siloam area:

1. The Old Pool-This pool was the pool surrounding the Gihon (identified since the late 19th century with the spring called the Virgin’s Fountain, 31°46’23.60″N, 35°14’12.50″E; before, it was identified as being a cistern to the west of the Old City [the Gihon was, like the Jordan, never given an explicit identifier in the Bible]).

2. The Pool of Shiloakh-This is the present Birket el-Hamra, 31°46’14.75″N, 35°14’5.35″E. It was fed by the Middle Bronze Channel, discovered in 1889. It was also the “lower pool” mentioned in Isaiah 22:9, as there was an “Upper Pool” existing at the time of Ahaz and the lower pool is mentioned two verses before the Pool of Hezekiah in Isaiah 22. Its name is interpreted as “sent“, since it was was the outlet of the Gihon, interpreted as “rushing forth“. It is not known whether this pool is the King’s or the Shelah pool of Nehemiah (a Hasmonean work), but, in any case, it was called “Solomon’s Pool” by Josephus. A Hasmonean plaster surface with coins of Alexander Jannaeus embedded in the plaster was found below the Herodian steps. A dam below this pool existed over the course of the modern road. Herod rebuilt this pool, which was used to hold fishes. Also, a Herodian plaza was built between this pool and Hezekiah’s. The pool still existed during the early Byzantine period. The pool was uncovered in its northeastern side (31°46’13.30″N,  35°14’7.20″E) in spring 2004 during construction work on a pipe and continued to be excavated toward the southeast into 2006.

3. The Upper Pool-This pool had a canal leading to it from the Gihon, which was to the north. It was apparently in the Kidron, above the Lower Pool. It may have been the same as the Old Pool.

4. The Pool of Hezekiah or Siloam-This is the present ‘Ain Silwan. It was originally dug by Hezekiah in the years 703-701 BC. A tunnel was built by Hezekiah to connect this pool with the Gihon, which was discovered by Quaresmius, but was forgotten again until Robinson’s visit to it in 1838. Before that, the pool was thought to be a spring, as reflected in its Arab name, even En Rogel, and was even called “the Fountain of Siloam” by Josephus, though it was called “the Pool of Siloam” by the author of the Gospel of John (although the author of the “Lives of the Prophets” still knew of Hezekiah’s Tunnel). A record of the making of the tunnel was inscribed in the tunnel, c.19-20 ft. from the pool, which, while giving the length of the tunnel in cubits, did not state which king was responsible for its building. According to Josephus, the First Wall passed near this pool, indeed, it passed so near that there was even a “Tower of Siloam” in this wall mentioned by Luke. The pool had a street pass by it during the Herodian period. The pool was rebuilt by Hadrian, as attested by the Pilgrim of Bordeaux. The present cylindrical stones are remains of columns from the time of Aelia Eudocia, who built a church above the site. The Persians destroyed the church in 614, but the pool survived. Bliss and Dickie excavated the church between 1894 and 1897, but the Arabs built a mosque on top of the site after they left in order to hide the remains. This mosque exists even to this day.

Pictures of this pool:
1610, west end.

19th century, north end.

late 19th century, north end.

By 1894, the pool was 53 feet N. to S., 18 ft. E. to W., and 19 ft. deep.

1898-1914, north end.

early 1900s, north end.

early 1900s, south end.

1937, south end.

The Pool Today, north end.

The Pool Today, north end.

Author: pithom

An atheist with an interest in the history of the ancient Near East. Author of the Against Jebel al-Lawz Wordpress blog.

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