Sat, Dec 25, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Remains of biblical pool found in Jerusalem

HISTORICAL LINK Archaeologists uncovered a pool in an Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem that is believed to be the spot where Jesus restored sight to a blind man


Archaeologists in Jerusalem have uncovered the stone remains of the biblical Siloam Pool, where the Bible says Jesus restored a blind man's eyesight -- underlining the link between the works of Jesus and ancient Jewish rituals.

Tucked away in what is now the Arab neighborhood of Silwan, archaeologists are slowly digging out the pool, where water still runs in the channel that brought water from a nearby spring.

The Siloam Pool was used by Jews for ritual immersions for about 120 years until the year 70AD, when the Romans destroyed the Jewish Temple.

Many of Jesus' acts are directly linked to Jewish rituals, and the miracle of the blind man is an example. Jesus put clay in the blind man's eyes and then told him to wash them out in the pure waters of the Siloam Pool, restoring his eyesight (John 9: 1-7).

In the last four months, archaeologists have revealed the pool's 50m length and a channel that brought water from the Silwan Spring to the pool. In the past week, a section of stone road that led from the pool to the Jewish Temple was uncovered.

"The moment that we revealed and discovered this four months ago, we were 100 percent sure it was the Siloam Pool," said Eli Shukron, one of the archeologists on the dig.

"We know today that the Siloam Pool is connected to the Temple Mount. There is a road that connects between the two elements. The entire system is clearer today," Shukron said.

Stephen Pfann, a Bible scholar, said that the pool's waters were considered so pure that they could purify even a healed leper.

Pfann said Jesus likely chose to cure the blind man using the purest water available, because people with any disabilities were barred from the Temple.

The stone-lined pool has steps leading into it from all sides, said Ronny Reich, a University of Haifa archaeologist. One side of the pool, two corners, a part of the esplanade around it and the water channel leading to it have been uncovered, he said.

Jews, who traditionally made three pilgrimages a year to Jerusalem, would immerse themselves in the Siloam Pool before heading down the stone pathway to the Temple. They also used the pool for drinking water and camped around it.

The Israeli Antiquities Authority is negotiating with the Greek Orthodox Church, which owns the land, to continue the dig.

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