Apologetics, Archaeology, Main, z17
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Pool of Siloam discovered

Photo of Pool of Siloam current site and artists rendering of what it looked like initially. Images: photo of pool in 2007/Wikipedia/Daniel Ventura -- Artist rendering Wikipedia/Yoav Dothan

Current view of Pool of Siloam and artists rendering of what it probably looked like initially. Images: photo of pool in 2007/Wikipedia/Daniel Ventura — Artist rendering Wikipedia/Yoav Dothan

An article in the Los Angeles Times reported on the discovery of the pool of Siloam in Jerusalem in 2004.

It was the place of one of Jesus’ more unusual healings (John 9:1-33). In the account recorded in the Book of John, Jesus and the disciples came across a man blind from birth. The disciples asked Jesus if this man was being punished for his parents’ sin or his own sin.

Jesus answered neither, then spitting on the ground He created paste from the mud and applied it to the man’s eyes. Jesus then told the man to go to the Pool of Siloam and clean off his eyes.

After doing that, the man could immediately see. The healing proved controversial as the pharisees challenged the healing because it took place on the Sabbath and was considered work.

Over the years those of a Liberal persuasion have argued that the Pool of Siloam never existed. They believed John made up the pool and by implication the story involving Jesus that came with it.

But that was all tossed out the window when 12 years ago workers repairing a sewer line accidentally discovered the pool.

In an interview with the LA Times, New Testament scholar James Charlesworth of Princeton Theological Seminary said, “Scholars have said that there wasn’t a pool of Siloam and that John was using a religious conceit.”

The remarkable discovery revealed that the fresh water pool used by visitors to Jerusalem for ritual cleansing before entering the temple was bigger than initially believed. It was 225 feet long and came with three tiers of stairs on three sides of the pool allowing easy access.

They have not discovered the full width of the pool because of other ancient construction over the site.

Because it was used for ceremonial cleansing, this may have been why Jesus healed the man in the way he did. Because of his blindness or defect the man was not allowed into the temple. With his healing combined with a ceremonial cleansing, the man could now freely enter the temple.

Over the centuries, there had been three different versions of the pool fed by water from the Gihon spring via Hezekiah’s tunnel.

King Hezekiah built the first pool while constructing the water tunnel. Fearing an Assyrian attack, he wanted a water supply inside Jerusalem to wait out any siege. The pool is actually mentioned in Isaiah 22:9. and Isaiah 8:6. Most believe King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the pool when he ransacked Jerusalem in 586 BC.

The pool was eventually rebuilt and this was the one that John mentions. The Romans destroyed the second version in 70 AD when they attacked Jerusalem and leveled the Temple.

Archaeologists working at the site discovered four coins buried in the plaster that was set on the steps before rock was added on top. Some suspect workers left the coins purposefully.  The coins featured the image of the Jewish King Alexander Jannaeus (103 BC to 76 BC) implying the pool was rebuilt during his reign.

They also found a small pile of coins in one corner of the pool dated between 66 Ad to 70 AD, just before the Romans destroyed it.

After the second pool was destroyed, a third pool was built between between 400AD and 460AD. It was located just 200 yards away from the pool during Jesus’ day.

Charlesworth noted that the account once considered “pure theology is now shown to be grounded in history.”

But ironically and perhaps just as annoying for the Liberals, this is not the only pool mentioned by John in his Gospel.

In John 5:1-9, the apostle mentions Bethesda pool In this instance, John provides some very specific data on the second pool First he says it was located near the Sheep gate and adds that it had five porticoes or porch like coverings.

Like Siloam, the Bethesda pool was also the site of another controversial healing by Jesus that also took place on the Sabbath.

The pool was first discovered in the 19th century but not fully excavated until 2005. It was found exactly where John said it was — near a gate.  Not only was the pool five sided, but it had five porticoes just as John described.

These discoveries show that John’s accounts of Jesus are based on historical fact, something Liberals do not want to hear.


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