The battle was on! The Assyrian army was marching toward Jerusalem. Hezekiah King of Judah must prepare for the Assyrian siege. A dependable water source was need so he ordered two groups of engineers to start digging, one at one end and one at the other end. They dug a 1700 foot tunnel through solid rock, hoping to meet in the middle. Certainly a seemingly impossible task.
Is there is another spot on this earth where you can walk through a 2,700 year old piece of Biblical history that comes to life before your eyes? You can still see the chisel marks from Hezekiah’s engineers. You can feel the chill of the water as it flows freely through the tunnel. Walk with us as we take a trip through Hezekiah's Tunnel, then exit out and visit the Pool of Siloam where Jesus healed the blind man.
This picture shows Sennacharib’s Prism. Sennacharib was a wicked Assyrian king that reigned some 700 years before Christ. This prism describes the Assyrian conquests of many of the cities that Hezekiah king of Judah ruled at that time. What follows is a dramatization of what is written on this prism.
You cannot defy me, King Hezekiah. I Sennacharib the king of the four corners of the Earth have confined you like a bird in a cage. I have conquered and destroyed all 46 of your cities. Egypt has fled from your side and you are left alone. You will soon feel the terror of my wrath as Jerusalem is crushed beneath my feet.
The city of Lachish was situated on a high mount and held as a strategic position as a protective city on the route to Jerusalem. In 701 B.C. the fortified city of Lachish pictured here was utterly destroyed by Sennacharib King of Assyria. After King Sennacharib had destroyed and plundered Lachish. Hezekiah, the king of Judah, knew that only twenty four miles stood between Jerusalem and the Assyrian army. King Hezekiah trusted in God, he prayed, and God answered, he knew what he must do. He had to protect and secure Jerusalem’s water sources.
II Chronicles 32:2-4 says. And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacharib 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 King of Assyria come and find much water. II Chronicles. Chapter 32 and verse 30.
This same Hezekiah also stop the upper watercourse of Gihon and brought it straight down to the west side of the City of David and Hezekiah prospered in all his works.
The Gihon spring fed the Siloam channel which was located outside the walls of the city to cut the construction time and half. Hezekiah ordered two teams to do the work. One team began at the Gihon springs, and the other started that the tunnel destination inside the city walls. The pool of Siloam if his plan succeeded the two teams would complete the tunnel when they met in the middle.
As we walked through the tunnel. You can see how the ceiling height wasn’t as important as the slope, in some places you must stoop low to pass through. Miraculously while cutting the floor of the tunnel, the two teams managed to maintain a gentle slope of only 11 inches from beginning to end. This accomplishment is an engineering feat that isn’t even understood today. As we walked through the tunnel, we depend on a flashlight to show the way and some places the water reaches as high as mid-thigh and in others, it was as low as four to six inches. Here you can see a false start or cuttings in the rock where they started to go off in a different direction. If you were to measure the most direct path above ground the length of the tunnel is about a thousand feet. However, because the tunnel winds back and forth many times underground the total length is actually 1,748 feet. It took us about 30 minutes to walk through.
In 1880 the Ottoman Empire ruled Jerusalem. One day a little Arab boy was playing in the outlet area. He looked up and saw an inscription. Recognizing its significance, the Ottomans removed the inscription and placed it in a museum in Istanbul where it remains today. The inscription was written in Biblical Hebrew and describes the completion of Hezekiah tunnel.
And this is the story of the tunnel. While the axes were against each other and while three cubits were left to cut the voice of a man called to his counterpart. This describes the moment when the two teams hear the voices of the other team, but they have not reached each other yet. For there was a crack in the rock on the right and on the day of the tunnel being finished the stonecutters struck each man towards his counterpart ax against ax and flowed water from the source to the pool for twelve hundred cubits and 100 cubits with the height over the head of the stonecutters.
This describes the moment that the stone cutter struck each others pick against pick and then the water flowed through the source. The Gihon springs to the pool. This inscription expresses the excitement and feeling of victory they must have felt. We’re sure that the completion of the tunnel was but one of the miracles performed by God to deliver his people from the Assyrians.
After we exit the tunnel, we first passed by a small Byzantine pool that was constructed in 500 A.D. Many believed that this was the pool of Siloam until archaeologists discovered the true second temple pool which we will see after we climb these steps. It’s only been partially uncovered, but we can see that it had steps on all four sides.
Imagine standing at the same Siloam pool about 700 years later when Jesus healed the blind man. In John chapter 9 verse one we read and as Jesus passed by He saw a man which was blind from his birth. Then in John chapter 9 verse 6 and 7 when he had thus spoken he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay and said to him. Go, wash in the pool of Siloam which is by interpretation sent he went his way therefore unwashed and came seeing.
We were privileged to be able to walk through Hezekiah’s tunnel and see the pool of Siloam. The miracle of the tunnel proved to me that there isn’t a battle I can’t overcome with God on my side. When I look at the pool Siloam I remember a time when I was blind and could not see myself.
I thank God that I was determined to get down into that water and by God’s wonderful grace and healing power gained my sight. I was blind, and now I see. And now I have a vision of his marvelous church which salvation has made me a part.