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29.12.04

Pool of Siloe Discovered

This story was carried by Reuters (Matthew Tostevin, New Finds Unearthed at Reputed Jesus Miracle Site, December 23). As a result, you may already have seen it. (Of course, Jim Davila at PaleoJudaica had it covered back in June.) I learned about this archeological discovery in an article (Evangiles: un site mis à jour ?, December 26) from France 2:

Israeli archeologists in Jerusalem claim to have discovered the original site of the pool of Siloe (Siloam). According to the Gospels, Christ miraculously restored the sight of a blind man in this place. "We have discovered and unearthed the original site of the pool, which is located a few dozen meters from another pool, dating from the Byzantine period, until now wrongly thought to be the pool of Siloe," declared the excavation's director. The new site was discovered by chance in August while workers who were installing a sewer pipe came upon Roman-era flagstones.

"It's a basin about 50 meters [165 feet] long and more than 50 meters wide, fed by a water source from the tunnel said to be of Ezechias, at the foot of second Temple" of the Biblical period, specified the excavation director, Roni Reich, of the University of Haifa. "First we unearthed the steps that led to the completely tiled pool. We have been able to date it with extreme precision thanks to some coins found in the mortar used to construct the pool," he added. Researchers have also found pottery fragments dating from 50 BC to 70 AD, the date of the destruction of the Temple by the Romans.
Specifically, the pool is mentioned in the ninth chapter of the Gospel of John, where Jesus heals a blind man by putting mud on his eyes. He tells him to wash the mud from his eyes in the pool of Siloe. As another article (Site of Temple Water Libation Festivities Uncovered, December 23) from Arutz Sheva makes clear, the pool is important not only because of the Gospels:
A large paved assembly area and water channel, used for the festive Simhat Beit HaShoeva in the times of the Holy Temple, has been uncovered in recent days at an excavation in the City of David, next to Jerusalem's Old City. The water channel and assembly area were integral parts of what Jewish tradition calls "the most joyous celebrations of the year." Water accumulated by the newly discovered channel was conducted to the Shiloah Pool, from which water libations brought to the Holy Temple's altar in the Holy Temple on the final day of the Sukkot Festival. The waters of the Shiloach Spring, where the High Priest would immerse himself in Temple times, were collected in the Shiloach Pool and used in purification ceremonies.
This article (Canal where 'Jesus gave sight' found, December 23) by Etgar Lefkovits for the Jerusalem Post has a great picture of the dig.

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