Photography by the Author
On Monday, June
26, 1995, the sixth day of a seven day visit to Jerusalem, my wife
Sharon and I
started the morning with a walking tour through the Armenian Quarter
Zion Gate to Mt. Zion where we visited the Dormition Abbey, the Last
Supper Room and David's Tomb. Then we walked along the outside of the
wall of the Old City, eventually arriving at the City of David. (The
City of David is a fascinating archaeological site and it was our
second visit since arriving in Jerusalem the previous week.
We first visited
the stepped-stone structure and the house of Ahiel, then we went into
Warren's Shaft, and finally down to the Gihon Spring at the bottom of
the Kidron Valley for a walk through Hezekiah's Tunnel. The walk was an
authentic time tunnel experience.
The account of the construction of Hezekiah's water tunnel under Jerusalem by King
Hezekiah shortly before the city was besieged by Sennacherib in about 701 BC is
described in 2 Kings 20:20 and 2 Chronicles 32:2-4, 30. Archaeologists
discovered the tunnel in the 19th century. It is a third of a mile long,
mostly less than three feet wide, and, in a few places, less than five feet
in height. It winds under the City of David
from the Gihon Spring, an important site in Old Testament Jerusalem, to
the Pool of Siloam, an important New Testament period site.
My wife and I, along with five other people, went through
the entire tunnel, lit only by our flashlights, wading through chest-high
water (the water level in the tunnel was at an extremely high level for
several months during 1995). It was one of the highlights of our trip!
Here are the Biblical accounts describing the construction of the tunnel:
As for the other events of Hezekiah's reign, all his achievements and how he
made the pool and the tunnel by which he brought water into the city, are
they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 2 Kings
When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and that he intended to make war
on Jerusalem, he consulted with his officials and military staff about
blocking off the water from the springs outside the city, and they helped
him. A large force of men assembled, and they blocked all the springs and
the stream that flowed through the land. "Why should the kings of Assyria
come and find plenty of water?" they said.2 Chronicles 32:2-4
It was Hezekiah who blocked
the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and channeled the water down to the
west side of the City of David. He succeeded in everything he undertook. 2 Chronicles 32:30
The builders of the tunnel left their own account of the work carved into
the rock wall near the tunnel outlet into the Pool of Siloam. The
inscription (called the Siloam Inscription) was found in 1880 and is now in
the Istanbul Museum. It reads:
"... the tunneling through. And this is the account of the tunneling
through. While [the workmen raised] the pick each toward his fellow and
while there [remained] to be tunneled [through, there was heard] the voice
of a man calling to his fellow, for there was a split in the rock on the
right hand and on [the left hand]. And on the day of the tunneling through
the workmen stuck, each in the direction of his fellow, pick against pick.
And the water started flowing from the source to the pool, twelve hundred
cubits. And the height of the rock above the head of the workmen was a
Sennacherib wrote his own account of his siege of Jerusalem:
"As to Hezekiah, the Jew, he did not submit to my yoke, I laid siege to 46
of his strong cities, walled forts and to the countless small villages in
their vicinity, and conquered [them] by means of well stamped [earth-]ramps
and battering-rams brought [thus] near [to the walls] [combined with] the
attack by foot soldiers, [using] mines, breeches as well as sapper work. I
drove out [of them] 200,150 people, young and old, male and female, horses,
mules, donkeys, camels, big and small cattle beyond counting, and considered
[them] booty. Himself I made a prisoner in Jerusalem, his royal residence,
like a bird in a cage."The siege of Jerusalem and the campaign of
Sennarcherib are recorded on the University of Chicago Oriental Institute's
Prism of Sennacherib.
Join us for a virtual walk through Hezekiah's Tunnel. We hope you enjoy it....
view, from near the bottom of the V-shaped Kidron Valley, looks
southeast across the valley toward the Palestinian village of Silwan.
The entrance to the Gihon Spring and Hezekiah's Tunnel are to the right
of the building in the lower right corner of the photo.
up the west side of the Kidron Valley at the City of David excavations
you can see remnants of walls dating back to the Jebusite period -
before David captured Jerusalem.
guide Michael is explaining to our group that (a) there is water in the
tunnel, and (b) he's not going into the tunnel with us. He says he will
meet us at the other end. Four people in the group decided not to
venture into the tunnel.
My wife, Sharon, and writer Bill
Jamison from Maine go down the
steps to the Gihon Spring. It was
Bill's second time in the tunnel so
he took the lead.
Continues on Page 2
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