Siloam, Pool of
Sent or sending. Here a notable miracle was wrought by our Lord in giving sight to the blind (John 9:7-11). It has been identified with the Birket Silwan in the lower Tyropoeon valley, to the south-east of the hill of Zion.
The water which flows into this pool intermittingly by a subterranean channel springs from the "Fountain of the Virgin" (q.v.). The length of this channel, which has several windings, is 1,750 feet, though the direct distance is only 1,100 feet. The pool is 53 feet in length from north to south, 18 feet wide, and 19 deep. The water passes from it by a channel cut in the rock into the gardens below. (see EN-ROGEL.)
Many years ago (1880) a youth, while wading up the conduit by which the water enters the pool, accidentally discovered an inscription cut in the rock, on the eastern side, about 19 feet from the pool. This is the oldest extant Hebrew record of the kind. It has with great care been deciphered by scholars, and has been found to be an account of the manner in which the tunnel was constructed. Its whole length is said to be "twelve hundred cubits;" and the inscription further notes that the workmen, like the excavators of the Mont Cenis Tunnel, excavated from both ends, meeting in the middle.
Some have argued that the inscription was cut in the time of Solomon; others, with more probability, refer it to the reign of Hezekiah. A more ancient tunnel was discovered in 1889 some 20 feet below the ground. It is of smaller dimensions, but more direct in its course. It is to this tunnel that Isaiah (8:6) probably refers.
The Siloam inscription above referred to was surreptitiously cut from the wall of the tunnel in 1891 and broken into fragments. These were, however, recovered by the efforts of the British Consul at Jerusalem, and have been restored to their original place.
Siloam, Tower of
Mentioned only Luke 13:4. The place here spoken of is the village now called Silwan, or Kefr Silwan, on the east of the valley of Kidron, and to the north-east of the pool. It stands on the west slope of the Mount of Olives.
As illustrative of the movement of small bands of Canaanites from place to place, and the intermingling of Canaanites and Israelites even in small towns in earlier times, M.C. Ganneau records the following curious fact: "Among the inhabitants of the village (of Siloam) there are a hundred or so domiciled for the most part in the lower quarter, and forming a group apart from the rest, called Dhiabrye, i.e., men of Dhiban. It appears that at some remote period a colony from the capital of king Mesha (Dibon-Moab) crossed the Jordan and fixed itself at the gates of Jerusalem at Silwan. The memory of this migration is still preserved; and I am assured by the people themselves that many of their number are installed in other villages round Jerusalem" (quoted by Henderson, Palestine).