A tunnel was constructed
from the spring at Gihon - what is now called the Virgin's Fountain - under
the city walls and through the rock to the southern end of the city of
Jerusalem, to the pool of Siloam. This would be a difficult feat in these
days of sophisticated surveying and measuring equipment. It was even more
remarkable for the times of Hezekiah, because the impending invasion meant
there was very little time and gangs of workmen had to start from either
end. When the tunnel was complete, the spring outside the city was blocked
up and the water flowed into the city.
The second book of
"And when Hezekiah
saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against
Jerusalem, he took counsel with his princes and his mighty men to stop
the waters of the fountains which were without the city: and they did
help him. So there was gathered much people together, who stopped all
the fountains and the brook that ran through the midst of the land,
saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water?"
(2 Chronicles 32:2-4)
"And the rest of the
acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool, and a
conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the
book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?"
(2 Kings 20:20)
watercourse was a tremendous feat of engineering by any standards. At one
time, critics of the Bible said openly that it was impossible, because of
the great difficulty of the project: this was another example, they said, of
the way in which Bible accounts had become exaggerated and then recorded as
historical fact. This argument cannot be used against the Bible today
because the watercourse has been discovered.
An Arab boy accidentally
fell into the Pool of Siloam and discovered the underwater opening of the
tunnel. Just as the new London Bridge has a commemorative plaque marking its
official opening, so a plaque had been placed on the wall of the tunnel.
This inscription is written in the old Hebrew script of the time of Hezekiah
and part of the tablet, which is now in the Istanbul Museum, reads as
'Now this is
the history of the excavations. While the excavators were still lifting
up the pick, each towards his neighbour, and while there were yet three
cubits to excavate, there was heard the voice of one man calling to his
neighbour: for there was an excess of rock on the right hand. And when
on the day of excavations the excavators had struck pick against pick,
one against another, the waters floweth from the spring to the Pool, a
distance of 1,200 cubits. One hundred cubits was the height of the rock
above the head of the miners'.
We cannot deny the
existence of Hezekiah's watercourse because, as Keller describes, it is
passage about two feet wide and barely 5 feet high...cut through
limestone. It can only be negotiated with rubber boots and a slight
stoop. Water knee-deep rushes to meet you. For about 500 yards the
passage winds imperceptibly uphill. It ends at the Virgin's Fountain,
Jerusalem's water supply since ancient times. In Biblical days it was
called the Fountain of Gihon.'
[The Bible as history - Keller, Hodder & Stoughton.