The Siloam Tunnel (Hebrew: נִקְבַּת השילוח, Nikbat HaShiloah), also known as Hezekiah’s Tunnel, is a water tunnel that was carved underneath the City of David in Jerusalem in ancient times. Its popular name is due to the most common hypothesis of its origin, namely that it dates from the reign of Hezekiah of Judah (late 8th and early 7th century BCE) and corresponds to the waterworks mentioned in 2 Kings 20:20 in the Bible. According to the Bible, King Hezekiah prepared Jerusalem for an impending siege by the Assyrians, by “blocking the source of the waters of the upper Gihon, and leading them straight down on the west to the City of David” (2 Chronicles 32).
Support for the dating to Hezekiah’s period is derived from the Biblical text that describes construction of a tunnel and to radiocarbon dates of organic matter contained in the original plastering. However, the dates were challenged in 2011 by new excavations that suggested an earlier origin in the late 9th or early 8th century BCE.
The tunnel leads from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam. If indeed built under Hezekiah, it dates to a time when Jerusalem was preparing for an impending siege by the Assyrians, led by Sennacherib. Since the Gihon Spring was already protected by a massive tower and was included in the city’s defensive wall system, Jerusalem seems to have been supplied with enough water in case of siege even without this tunnel. According to Ahron Horovitz, director of the Megalim Institute, the tunnel can be interpreted as an additional aqueduct designed for keeping the entire outflow of the spring inside the walled area, which included the downstream Pool of Siloam, with the specific purpose of withholding water from any besieging forces. Both the spring itself, and the pool at the end of the tunnel, would have been used by the inhabitants as water sources. Troops positioned outside the walls wouldn’t have reached any of it, because even the overflow water released from the Pool of Siloam would have fully disappeared into a karstic system located right outside the southern tip of the city walls. In contrast to that, the previous water system did release all the water not used by the city population into the Kidron Valley to the east, where besieging troops could have taken advantage of it.
To continue reading this Bible article, click here.
Keywords: Siloam tunnel, Hezekiah's tunnel, Water shaft, Water tunnel, Jerusalem tunnel, Charles Warren, Warren's tunnel, Warren's shaft
Bible reference(s): 2 Kings 20:20, 2 Chronicles 32:2-4, 2 Chronicles 32:30, Isaiah 22:11
Source: This article uses material from the Wikipedia article “Siloam tunnel,” which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.
Page indexed by: inWORD Bible Software.