Hezekiah's Tunnel

The Gihon Spring

The only spring in Jerusalem, the Gihon is a siphonic, karstic spring, and its name means “gushing”; it surges and the sound can be easily heard. It is estimated that the Gihon could have supported a population of about 2,500. The cave is a natural one, but it has been widened. Solomon was anointed at the Gihon Spring while his brother, Adonijah, was attempting to take the throne through a surreptitious coronation at En Rogel (1 Kgs 1).

The Tunnel

A 1750-foot (530m) tunnel carved during the reign of Hezekiah to bring water from one side of the city to the other, Hezekiah’s Tunnel together with the 6th c. tunnel of Euphalios in Greece are considered the greatest works of water engineering technology in the pre-Classical period.  Had it followed a straight line, the length would have been 1070 ft (335m) or 40% shorter.

The Construction

2 Kings 20:20 “As for the other events of Hezekiah’s reign, all his achievements and how he made the pool and the tunnel by which he brought water into the city…”

2 Chr 32:30 “It was Hezekiah who blocked the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and channeled the water down to the west side of the City of David.”

The Meeting Point

Why is the tunnel S-shaped?

R. A. S. Macalister said the tunnel was a “pathetically helpless piece of engineering.”

Henry Sulley in 1929 first suggested that Hezekiah’s tunnel followed a natural crack in the rock.

Dan Gill argues that the two crews of diggers followed a natural karstic dissolution channel.

The Location of the Siloam Inscription

“[…when] (the tunnel) was driven through.  And this was the way in which it was cut through:  While […] (were) still […] axe(s), each man toward his fellow, and while there were still three cubits to be cut through, [there was heard] the voice of a man calling to his fellows, for there was an overlap in the rock on the right [and on the left].  And when the tunnel was driven through, the quarrymen hewed (the rock), each man toward his fellow, axe against axe; and the water flowed from the spring toward the reservoir for 1200 cubits, and the height of the rock above the head(s) of the quarrymen was 100 cubits.”

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Related Websites

Related BiblePlaces.com pages: Pool of Siloam and City of David.

Siloam Inscription & Hezekiah’s Tunnel (The New Jerusalem Mosaic, Hebrew University)  Describes the circumstances for the carving of the tunnel in biblical times and the finding of the inscription in modern times.  Copy of this page at Jewish Virtual Library: (Siloam InscriptionHezekiah’s Tunnel.)

Hezekiah’s Tunnel (Daily Bible Study)  General information about the biblical history connected to the site with links to related topics.

Hezekiah’s Tunnel (Personal page)  Includes photographs and a description of the author’s journey through the tunnel.

Siloam Inscription (Personal Page, K.C. Hanson)  Gives a technical description of this ancient document and a translation of its text.

Gihon Spring (Engines of Our Ingenuity, Univ. of Houston)  Presents one explanation for the irregular design of the tunnel.

Hezekiah’s Tunnel  (Zionism Dictionary)  A historical description of the tunnel, discussing the biblical and historical context of this ancient marvel.

The Testimony of an Ancient Tunnel (Southwest School of Bible Studies)  A defense for the detailed historical accuracy of the Scriptures spotlighting Hezekiah’s Tunnel.

Was the Siloam Tunnel Built by Hezekiah? Abstract of the article by Rogerson and Davies in Biblical Archaeologist.

Hezekiah’s Tunnel Revisited (Biblical Archaeology Society) Letters by readers with responses from Aryeh Shimron.  Issues discussed include the method of carving the tunnel, ventilation, and a comparison with other watersystems.