The Pool of Siloam is a pool mentioned in John 9, when Jesus cured a blind man with a mud mixture and told him to go wash it from his eyes.
Recent excavations in the City of David area of Jerusalem have uncovered what may be the very pool where Jesus performed the miracle, just 50 meters from the traditional site.
History of Pool of Siloam
The Pool of Siloam has been regarded as sacred by a variety of faiths since ancient times. Jews used water from the pool for purification rituals in the Temple during the Feast of Tabernacles, and it was probably the site of the pagan Shrine of the Four Nymphs built by Hadrian in 135 AD.
Christians were naturally attracted to the pool because of Jesus' miraculous cure, and its healing properties are mentioned in the journals of the earliest pilgrims. The Bordeaux pilgrim (333 AD) described the pool as having four porches. The Piacenza pilgrim (6th century AD) wrote:
The Pool of Siloam visited by these Byzantine pilgrims was probably the one next to Hezekiah's tunnel with that name (pictured at right), and may not have been the one visited by the blind man. A church was built next to this "Byzantine pool" by the empress Eudokia around 450 AD, which was destroyed by the Persians in 614 AD. The tradition of the pool's healing powers continued among the Arabs but its subsequent history is not entirely known. Perhaps debris from higher up washed into the pool and villagers cleared it away periodically as they needed water. A mosque was built next to the pool in the 1890s, which still stands today.
In the summer of 2004, archaeologists were checking the area southeast of the traditional Pool of Siloam for a public works project when they discovered some large stone steps. Further excavations, which continued to summer 2005, uncovered several flights of steps and a pool that was in use during the 1st century AD. Scholars believe that this pool — and not the one nearby traditional identified as such — is the actual Pool of Siloam.
Dating of this newly discovered pool is based on: pottery pieces dated to the 1st century; four coins of Alexander Jannaeus (ruled 103 to 76 BC), which are known to have been used well into the time of Jesus; and the likelihood that the pool was not built before Herod the Great (37-4 BC), when economic and political conditions were stable enough to do so.
The newly discovered pool suffered a much quicker demise than the other one — it probably began to fill with soil during the widespread destruction that followed the First Jewish Revolt (70 AD). Soil found in one corner of the pool contained coins dating from this period.
In addition, the pool is located at one of the lowest spots in Jerusalem and would have been filled with more mud and debris every winter until it disappeared from sight. This early destruction could explain why the nearby (higher) pool was venerated as the Pool of Siloam instead of this one by Byzantine pilgrims — it was the only one visible in the area.
Much more of the pool remains to be excavated, and currently lies under a beautiful garden owned by the Greek Orthodox Church. Archaeologists hope to secure an agreement soon allowing them to proceed with the explorations of the Pool of Siloam.
What to See at Pool of Siloam
The two pools identified as the Pool of Siloam are only about 50 meters apart. The traditional Pool of Siloam, sometimes referred to as the "Byzantine pool" to distinguish it from the new one, is a narrow rectangular channel fed by water from Hezekiah's tunnel. Ruins of the church built by Eudokia can be seen next to it. This is where early pilgrims came to celebrate Jesus' miracle and receive cures, and which has long been identified as the Pool of Siloam.
The "new pool" or "Second Temple pool" is much larger and monumental, and consists of three flights of five steps leading down into it. Probably constructed in the early 1st century AD, it had disappeared under soil and debris by the end of the century. Half of it remains buried under the Greek Orthodox church's garden, which is a beautiful and fertile orchard due to the runoff that collects in the underlying pool.
Quick Facts on Pool of Siloam
|Names:||Pool of Siloam|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||31.770354° N, 35.234903° E|
|Lodging:||View hotels near Pool of Siloam|
- Pool of Siloam - Holy Land Photos
- The Pool of Siloam Revealed - Bible Places
- Pool of Siloam: New Information - Bible Places' analysis of news reports, August 2005
- Follow-up on the Pool of Siloam - Blog of Todd Bolen (of Bible Places), August 12, 2005
- Archaeologists identify traces of ‘miracle’ pool - MSNBC News, December 2004
- Hershel Shanks, “The Siloam Pool Where Jesus Cured the Blind Man.” Biblical Archaeology Review 31, no. 5 (September/October 2005): 16–23. (online PDF version)
- Excavators Uncover Plaza and Street near Siloam Pool - Biblical Archaeology Review
- Jerome Murphy-O'Connor, Oxford Archaeological Guides: The Holy Land (Oxford, 1998), 114-15.
- Kay Prag, Blue Guide to Israel and the Palestinian Territories (Black and Norton, 2002), 226-27.
- Photos of Pool of Siloam - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Pool of Siloam, Jerusalem
Below is a location map and aerial view of Pool of Siloam. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.