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Pool of Siloam: The Ancient Site Where Jesus Was Said To Perform Miracles

Disclaimer: there's no medical evidence its water can cure blindness.

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Tom Hale

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Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

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Historic Siloam Pool in Jerusalem, Israel

The Byzantine Pool, a pool found along Hezekiah’s Tunnel that dates to the Byzantine era, roughly 300 years after the time of Christ. Image credit: Sopotnicki/Shutterstock.com

There’s an ancient rock pool mentioned in the Bible that’s said to have been where Jesus performed one of his most famous miracles. Remarkably, 2,000 years later, parts of these pools can still be seen today in Jerusalem.

The historical site of the Pool of Siloam is found in Wadi Hilweh, a neighborhood just south of the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, that’s been home to Palestinian Arabs in recent history. 

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The long history of the pool is murky, partially shrouded in unverifiable tales and mythology. That said, we know that the pool did exist in a variety of forms over the centuries thanks to written sources backed up by archaeological evidence.

A pool was initially built here by King Hezekiah in the 8th century BCE in order to provide water to Jerusalem. The construction of this pool is even mentioned in the Old Testament. Kings II, 20: 20 reads: “As for the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, along with all his might and how he constructed the pool and the tunnel to bring water into the city, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?”

It is unclear what happened to this original structure, but it’s said the pool was later reconstructed around the reign of Alexander Jannaeus (103–76 BCE) during the Second Temple period. It is unclear whether or not the pool was in the same location as the earlier pool built by Hezekiah.

Regardless, the Second Temple period pool would have been the one that was supposedly visited by Jesus. Most scholars agree he was a real historical person, although it is hard to separate fact from fiction in his life story (the turning water into wine thing seems fairly unlikely).

An artist's impression of the Pool of Siloam, Second Temple Period
An artist's impression of the Pool of Siloam, Second Temple period. Image credit: Shalom Kveller/City of David Archives


In the New Testament’s John 9, there is a story about Jesus at the Pool of Siloam where he performs the miracle of giving sight to a blind man. It reads: “He told him, ‘Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam’. So the man went and washed, and came back seeing.” 

Of course, we wouldn’t count on the supposed healing properties of the Pool of Siloam, but it is known the pool was used during this time as a ritual bath, known as “mikveh”, by pilgrims who submerged themselves in the water before heading through the City of David to the Temple

Considering the rock pool may have been over 0.4 hectares (1 acre) in size at its peak, hundreds of people could have potentially congregated here. Others have suggested that it likely served as a kind of swimming pool too. 

The pool fell into disrepair when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 CE. However, people continued to frequent the Byzantine Pool, a pool found along Hezekiah’s Tunnel that dates to the Byzantine era, roughly 300 years after the time of Christ, which was credited as having links to the original Pool of Siloam. 

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Further traces of the Pool of Siloam were first unearthed in 2004 during construction work. Over the following few months, further archaeological excavations revealed a 50-meter (164-foot) long pool, a channel that brought in water from the Silwan spring, and a number of ancient stone steps.

More recently, there have been renewed efforts by the Israeli state to underscore the Pool of Siloam as a site of huge cultural and historical value to Judaism. Towards the end of 2022, the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Israel National Parks Authority, and the City of David Foundation said they’re now looking to fully excavate the site, with the idea of opening it up to tourists by 2023. 

Archaeology has the potential to dig up old grievances, however. Critics have suggested that many of the archaeological projects around the City of David are used a political tool to legitimize Jewish presence in the city while downplaying the history of Palestinians who live here. 

The latest restoration project of the Pool of Siloam is no different – when you can control the past, you also control the present and future.


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