Bible Affirming Truth

The Pool of Siloam

The site of the Pool of Siloam, south of the Old City

The story of Jesus healing a blind man from birth is in John 9:1-41

9 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

8 His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”

10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked. 11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”

For many years the Pool of Siloam was thought to be the upper pool at the exit of Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Nevertheless, discovered near the turn of the 20th century, this pool dates only to the fifth century AD. Traditionally, the Christian site of the Siloam Pool was the pool and church that were built by the Byzantine empress Eudocia (c. 400–460 A.D.) in order to commemorate the miracle recounted in the New Testament (John 9).

This is not the “real” Pool of Siloam that one talks about at the time of Jesus.

The photograph below was taken in the early 1900s and shows this Pool of Siloam before later Muslim construction above it. Partly exposed, it is a small parallelogram about 53 feet (16 m) long and 18 feet (5 m) wide. If not for the Muslim architecture above it, it could have been discovered at an earlier date.


In 1911, during some renovations, the exit of the Hezekiah Tunnel was uncovered and there was a round arch through which visitors can still walk today. The water flowed into a pool about 15 meters long and more than five meters wide, to which you descend via a staircase. This was publicized as the Pool of Siloam, it is also called Ain Silwan.

It was only in 2004 that workers repairing a sewage pipe in the Old City of Jerusalem that a series of steps leading down into the adjacent garden was uncovered. Archaeologists Eli Shukron and Ronny Reich knew they have found the biblical Pool of Siloam, the freshwater reservoir that was a major gathering place for ancient Jews making religious pilgrimages to the city and the site where Jesus cured a man blind from birth (John 9).

“Scholars have once said that there wasn’t a Pool of Siloam and that John was using a religious tale to make a point, said New Testament scholar James Charlesworth of the Princeton Theological Seminary. “Now we have found the Pool of Siloam ... exactly where John said it was!” A gospel that was thought to be “pure theology is now shown to be grounded in history,” he said.

Religious law at the time required ancient Jews to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem at least once a year, and Jesus was just another pilgrim coming to Jerusalem,” said the team who excavated the pool. “It would be natural to find him there.”

Excavations on 2004 The pool rediscovered in 2004 which had probably been destroyed by the Roman conquerors around AD 70 and gradually covered with heavy debris.

Coins and pottery finds also managed to indicate that this pool was in use in the first century.

The Pool of Siloam drains from the water of the Gihon spring located at the eastern foot of Mount Zion. Today, the ancient tunnel system and the pond belong to an archaeological park. Its discovery represents a watershed moment in the field of Biblical archaeology.

The discovery of the northeastern and southeastern corners of the structures indicates not only the length of the pool on one side but reveals the presence of steps on the pool’s northern and southern sides. The angles of the corners are slightly larger than 90 degrees, suggesting that the pool was trapezoid in shape. Each set of steps was separated by a landing which may have served people entering the pool. The length of the pool is estimated to be as much as 225 by 150 feet (70 m by 50 m).

The rediscovered pool, which archaeologists began to excavate in 2004, was also fed by water from Hezekiah’s Tunnel, and through a channel leading from the smaller pool. It is unclear whether the Pool originated as an open pond or an underground cistern where the ceiling later collapsed before the birth of Christ. Therefore, it is unknown what was the appearance of the pond at the time of Jesus.

In late eight Century B.C, Judah’s King Hezekiah correctly anticipated a siege against Jerusalem by the Assyrian monarch Sennacherib. In times of war and siege, the City of David was vulnerable, since it depended on water from the Spring of Gihon. This spring, which gushes forth intermittently from a natural cave in the Kidron Valley, was outside the city walls.

King Hezekiah decided to bring water from the spring into the city. Following part of a natural fissure, two sets of teams began at opposite ends to cut a winding 533-metre tunnel on a double-S course — and they met in the middle!

The Byzantine Pool which is only about 1500 years old. This is not the original Pool of Siloam and is also the place where walkers through Hezekiah’s Tunnel emerge.

In the Old Testament we note that King Solomon was also anointed at Gihon.

"32 King David said, “Call in Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.” When they came before the king, 33 he said to them: “Take your lord’s servants with you and have Solomon my son mount my own mule and take him down to Gihon. 34 There have Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel. Blow the trumpet and shout, ‘Long live King Solomon!’" 1Kings 1:32-34

Building the Pool of Siloam was also in Nehemiah 3:15
15 The Fountain Gate was repaired by Shallun son of Kol-Hozeh, ruler of the district of Mizpah. He rebuilt it, roofing it over and putting its doors and bolts and bars in place. He also repaired the wall of the Pool of Siloam,[a] by the King’s Garden, as far as the steps going down from the City of David.

For the Jews, the water of the Gihon spring has a special meaning as it was recorded:

"32 King David said, “Call in Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.” When they came before the king, 33 he said to them: “Take your lord’s servants with you and have Solomon my son mount my own mule and take him down to Gihon. 34 There have Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel. Blow the trumpet and shout, ‘Long live King Solomon!’" In 1Kings 1:32-34

The Gihon spring is also called "Marian spring" by the Christians and "the source of the mother of the steps" by the Muslims. In all three religions, the water of the spring is considered healing.

The Bethesda Pool

Nearby there is another very large pool with water. The Bethesda Pool looks grander and even amongst the ruins today it is looking spectacular. But it is used for washing sacrifices and so the water is not clean. Jesus picks the right pool with moving fresh water although it is the much smaller one.

If the story is a myth to glorify Jesus, surely it will be grander to pick the big pool.

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.” (John 7:37)