Workers repairing a sewage pipe in the old city of Jerusalem have discovered the biblical Pool of Siloam, a freshwater reservoir that was a major gathering place for ancient Jews making religious pilgrimages to the city and the reputed site where Jesus cured a man blind from birth, according to the Gospel of John.
The pool was fed by the now famous Hezekiah’s Tunnel and is “a much grander affair” than archaeologists previously believed, with three tiers of stone stairs allowing easy access to the water, according to Hershel Shanks, editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, which reported the find Monday.
"Scholars have said that there wasn’t a Pool of Siloam and that John was using a religious conceit” to illustrate a point, said New Testament scholar James H. 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.
The discovery puts a new spotlight on what is called the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, a trip that religious law required ancient Jews to make at least once a year, said archaeologist Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa, who excavated the pool.
"Jesus was just another pilgrim coming to Jerusalem,” he said. "It would be natural to find him there.”
The newly discovered pool is less than 200 yards from another Pool of Siloam, this one a reconstruction built between AD 400 and 460 by the empress Eudocia of Byzantium, who oversaw the rebuilding of several biblical sites.