Smith's Bible DictionarySiloam
(sent). Shiloach, (Isaiah 8:6) Siloah, (Nehemiah 3:15) Siloam, (John 9:11) Siloam is one of the few undisputed localities in the topography of Jerusalem; still retaining its old name (with Arabic modification, Silwan), while every other pool has lost its Bible designation. This is the more remarkable as it is a mere suburban tank of no great size, and for many an age not particularly good or plentiful in its waters, though Josephus tells us that in his day they were both "sweet and abundant." A little way below the Jewish burying-ground, but on the opposite side of the valley, where the Kedron turns slightly westward and widens itself considerable, is the fountain of the Virgin, or UmedDeraj , near the beginning of that saddle-shaped projection of the temple hill supposed to be the Ophel of The Bible and the Ophlas of Josephus. At the back part of this fountain a subterraneous passage begins, through which the water flows, and through which a man may make his way, sometimes walking erect, sometimes stooping, sometimes kneeling, and sometime crawling, to Siloam. This conduit is 1708 feet long, 16 feet high at the entrance, but only 16 inches at its narrowest tributaries which sent their waters down from the city pools or temple wells to swell Siloam. It enters Siloam at the northwest angle; or rather enters a small rock-cut chamber which forms the vestibule of Siloam, about five or six feet broad. To this you descend by a few rude steps, under which the water pours itself into the main pool. This pool is oblong, about 52 feet long, 18 feet broad and 19 feet deep; but it is never filled, the water either passing directly through or being maintained at a depth of three or four feet. The present pool is a ruin, with no moss or ivy to make it romantic; its sides fallen in; its pillars broken; its stair a fragment; its walls giving way; the edge of every stone was round or sharp by time; in some parts mere debris , though around its edges wild flowers, and among other plants the caper trees, grow luxuriantly. The present pool is not the original building; it may be the work of crusaders, perhaps even improved by Saladin, whose affection for wells and pools led him to care for all these things. Yet the spot is the same. This pool, which we may call the second , seems anciently to have poured its waters into a third before it proceeded to water the royal gardens. This third is perhaps that which Josephus calls "Solomon's pool," and which nehemiah calls the "king's pool." (Nehemiah 2:14) The expression in (Isaiah 8:6) "waters of Shiloah that go softly," seems to point to the slender rivulet, flowing gently though once very profusely out of Siloam into the lower breadth of level where the king's gardens, or royal paradise, stood, and which is still the greenest spot about the holy city. Siloam is a mere spot even to the Moslem; much more to the Jew. It was to Siloam that the Levite was sent with the golden pitcher on the "last and great day of the feast" of Tabernacles; it was from Siloam that he brought the water which was then poured over the sacrifice, in memory of the water from the rock of Rephidim; and it was to this Siloam water that the Lord pointed when he stood in the temple on that day and cried, "If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink." The Lord sent the blind man to wash, not in , as our version has it, but at (eis), the pool of siloam; for it was the clay from his eyes that was to be washed off.
ATS Bible DictionarySiloam
John 9:7,11, or SHILOAH, Nehemiah 3:15 Isaiah 8:6; a fountain and pool at the vase of the hill Ophel, near the opening of the Tyropoeon into the valley of the Kidron on the south of Jerusalem;
"Siloah's brook, that flowed
Fast by the oracle of God."
The pool is now an artificial stone reservoir, fifty-three feet long, eighteen feet wide, and nineteen feet deep. Steps lead to the bottom of the pool, three or four feet above which the water flows off southeast to water the cultivated grounds in the valley below. The fountain is in an arched excavation in the foot of the cliff above the pool; and the small basin here is connected by a winding passage cut through the solid rock under the hill Ophel, with the "Fountain of the Virgin" eleven hundred feet north on the east side of Mount Moriah. See BETHESDA.
This passage was traversed throughout by Dr. Robinson. The water flowing through it is tolerably sweet and clear, but has a marked taste, and in the dry season is slightly brackish. It is thought to be driven from the reservoirs under the ancient temple area, and in part from Mount Zion. It runs "softly," Isaiah 8:6, but ebbs and flows in the "Fountain of the Virgin," and less perceptibly in that of Siloam, at irregular intervals. Thus the water rose more than a foot in the upper fountain, and fell again within ten minutes, while Dr. Robinson was on the spot. He once found a party of soldiers there washing their clothes, John 9:1-11 and it is in constant use for purposes of ablution. At Siloam also the water is used for washing animals, etc.
Nothing is known respecting the "tower" near Siloam, the fall of which killed eighteen men. The ancient city wall is believed to have enclosed this pool. Christ teaches us by the above incident that temporal calamities are not always proofs of special guilt, Luke 13:4,5, though the utmost sufferings ever endured in this world are far less than the sins of even the best of men deserve, La 3:39.
International Standard Bible EncyclopediaSILOAM, TOWERIN
See JERUSALEM; SILOAM.
SILOAM; SILOAH; SHELAH; SHILOAH
si-lo'-am, si-lo'-am, si-lo'-a, she'-la, shi-lo'-a:
(1) me ha-shiloach (shiloach or shilloach is a passive form and means "sent" or "conducted") "the waters of (the) Shiloah" (Isaiah 8:6).
(2) berekhath ha-shelach, "the pool of (the) Shelah" (the King James Version "Siloah") (Nehemiah 3:15).
(3) ten kolumbethran tou (or ton) Siloam, "the pool of Siloam" (John 9:7).
(4) ho purgos en to Siloam, "the tower in Siloam" (Luke 13:4).
1. The Modern Silwan:
Although the name is chiefly used in the Old Testament and Josephus as the name of certain "waters," the surviving name today, Silwan, is that of a fairly prosperous village which extends along the steep east side of the Kidron valley from a little North of the "Virgin's Fountain" as far as Bir Eyyub. The greater part of the village, the older and better built section, belongs to Moslem fellahin who cultivate the well-watered gardens in the valley and on the hill slopes opposite, but a southern part has recently been built in an extremely primitive manner by Yemen Jews, immigrants from South Arabia, and still farther South, in the commencement of the Wady en Nar, is the wretched settlement of the lepers. How long the site of Silwan has been occupied it is impossible to say. The village is mentioned in the 10th century by the Arab writer Muqaddasi. The numerous rock cuttings, steps, houses, caves, etc., some of which have at times served as chapels, show that the site has been much inhabited in the past, and at one period at least by hermits. The mention of "those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and killed them" (Luke 13:4) certainly suggests that there was a settlement there in New Testament times, although some writers consider that this may have reference to some tower on the city walls near the Pool of Siloam.
2. The Siloam Aqueduct:
Opposite to the main part of Silwan is the "Virgin's Fount," ancient GIHON (which see), whose waters are practically monopolized by the villagers. It is the waters of this spring which are referred to in Isaiah 8:5, 6: "Forasmuch as this people have refused the waters of Shiloah that go softly,.... now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the River."
The contrast between the little stream flowing from the Gihon and the great Euphrates is used as a figure of the vast difference between the apparent strength of the little kingdom of Judah and the House of David on the one hand, and the might of "Rezin and Remaliah's son" and "all his glory." Although it is quite probable that in those days there was an open streamlet in the valley, yet the meaning of Shiloah, "sent" or "conducted," rather implies some kind of artificial channel, and there is also archaeological evidence that some at least of the waters of Gihon were even at that time conducted by a rock-cut aqueduct along the side of the Kidron valley (see JERUSALEM, VII, 5). It was not, however, till the days of Hezekiah that the great tunnel aqueduct, Siloam's most famous work, was made (2 Kings 20:20): "Hezekiah also stopped the upper spring of the waters of Gihon, and brought them, straight down on the west side of the City of David" (2 Chronicles 32:30); "They stopped all the fountains, and the brook (nachal) that flowed through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water?" (2 Chronicles 32:4; Ecclesiasticus 48:17). Probably the exit of the water at Gihon was entirely covered up and the water flowed through the 1,700 ft. of tunnel and merged in the pool made for it (now known as the Birket Silwan) near the mouth of the Tyropceon valley. This extraordinary winding aqueduct along which the waters of the "Virgin's Fount" still flow is described in JERUSALEM, VII, 4 (which see). The lower end of this tunnel which now emerges under a modern arch has long been known as `Ain Silwan, the "Fountain of Siloam," and indeed, until the rediscovery of the tunnel connecting this with the Virgin's Fount (a fact known to some in the 13th century, but by no means generally known until the last century), it was thought this was simply a spring. So many springs all over Palestine issue from artificial tunnels-it is indeed the rule in Judea-that the mistake is natural. Josephus gives no hint that he knew of so great a work as this of Hezekiah's, and in the 5th century a church was erected, probably by the empress Eudoxia, at this spot, with the high altar over the sacred "spring." The only pilgrim who mentions this church is Antonius Martyr (circa 570), and after its destruction, probably by the Persians in 614, it was entirely lost sight of until excavated by Messrs. Bliss and Dickie. It is a church of extraordinary architectural features; the floor of the center aisle is still visible.
3. The "Pool of Siloam":
The water from the Siloam aqueduct, emerging at `Ain Silwan, flows today into a narrow shallow pool, approached by a steep flight of modern steps; from the southern extremity of this pool the water crosses under the modern road by means of an aqueduct, and after traversing a deeply cut rock channel below the scarped cliffs on the north side of el-Wad, it crosses under the main road up the Kidron and enters a number of channels of irrigation distributed among the gardens of the people of Silwan. The water here, as at its origin, is brackish and impregnated with sewage.
The modern Birket es-Silwan is but a poor survivor of the fine pool which once was here. Bliss showed by his excavations at the site that once there was a great rock-cut pool, 71 ft. North and South, by 75 ft. East and West, which may, in part at least, have been the work of Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:20), approached by a splendid flight of steps along its west side. The pool was surrounded by an arcade 12 ft. wide and 22 1/2 ft. high, and was divided by a central arcade, to make in all probability a pool for men and another for women. These buildings were probably Herodian, if not earlier, and therefore this, we may reasonably picture, was the condition of the pool at the time of the incident in John 9:7, when Jesus sent the blind man to "wash in the pool of Siloam."
This pool is also probably the Pool of Shelah described in Nehemiah 3:15 as lying between the Fountain Gate and the King's Garden. It may also be the "king's pool" of Nehemiah 2:14. If we were in any doubt regarding the position of the pool of Siloam, the explicit statement of Josephus (BJ, V, iv, 1) that the fountain of Siloam, which he says was a plentiful spring of sweet water, was at the mouth of the Tyropoeon would make us sure.
4. The Birket el Chamra:
A little below this pool, at the very mouth of el-Wad, is a dry pool, now a vegetable garden, known as Birket el Chamra ("the red pool"). For many years the sewage of Jerusalem found its way to this spot, but when in 1904 an ancient city sewer was rediscovered (see PEFS, 1904, 392-94), the sewage was diverted and the site was sold to the Greek convent which surrounded it with a wall. Although this is no longer a pool, there is no doubt but that hereabouts there existed a pool because the great and massive dam which Bliss excavated here (see JERUSALEM, VI, 5) had clearly been made originally to support a large body of water. It is commonly supposed that the original pool here was older than the Birket Silwan, having been fed by an aqueduct which was constructed from Gihon along the side of the Kidron valley before Hezekiah's great tunnel. If this is correct (and excavations are needed here to confirm this theory), then this may be the "lower pool" referred to in Isaiah 22:9, the waters of which Hezekiah "stopped," and perhaps, too, that described in the same passage as the "old pool."
5. The Siloam Aqueduct:
The earliest known Hebrew inscription of any length was accidentally discovered near the lower end of the Siloam aqueduct in 1880, and reported by Dr. Schick. It was inscribed upon a rock-smoothed surface about 27 in. square, some 15 ft. from the mouth of the aqueduct; it was about 3 ft. above the bottom of the channel on the east side. The inscription consisted of six lines in archaic Hebrew, and has been translated by Professor Sayce as follows:
(1) Behold the excavation. Now this (is) the history of the tunnel: while the excavators were still lifting up
(2) The pick toward each other, and while there were yet three cubits (to be broken through).... the voice of the one called
(3) To his neighbor, for there was an (?) excess in the rock on the right. They rose up.... they struck on the west of the
(4) Excavation; the excavators struck, each to meet the other, pick to pick. And there flowed
(5) The waters from their outlet to the pool for a thousand, two hundred cubits; and (?)
(6) Of a cubit, was the height of the rock over the head of the excavators....
It is only a roughly scratched inscription of the nature of a graffito; the flowing nature of the writing is fully explained by Dr. Reissner's recent discovery of ostraca at Samaria written with pen and ink. It is not an official inscription, and consequently there is no kingly name and no date, but the prevalent view that it was made by the work people who carried out Hezekiah's great work (2 Kings 20:20) is now further confirmed by the character of the Hebrew in the ostraca which Reissner dates as of the time of Ahab.
Unfortunately this priceless monument of antiquity was violently removed from its place by some miscreants. The fragments have been collected and are now pieced together in the Constantinople museum. Fortunately several excellent "squeezes" as well as transcriptions were made before the inscription was broken up, so that the damage done is to be regretted rather on sentimental than on literary grounds.
E. W. G. Masterman
TOWER OF SILOAM
Easton's Bible Dictionary
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).