2-3 minute read with unique, never-seen-before, pictures.
The Gihon Spring is the natural water source for ancient Jerusalem. David’s general Joab is said to have gained access to conquer the city via part of this water system (2 Samuel 5:8 and 1 Chronicles 11:6) and Hezekiah built the well-known 1,750 ft. tunnel (2 Chronicles 32:30).
On a recent trip sponsored by the Biblical Archaeological Society and Tutku Tours, led by the expert guide Ofer Drori, we descended into the water system complex. For years the area excavated by Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron has been barely visible due to all the scaffolding in the area.
I was delighted to find that the area is now available to the public via sturdy walkways, stairs and lights (with blue lights; hmm). Completely visible are the Rock-cut Pool, Tunnel III (that brought water from Tunnel II to the Rock-cut Pool) and Tunnel IV that leads to “Hezekiah’s Tunnel.”
In the above artists reconstruction the tower on the right (north) was built over and guards the Gihon Spring. The tower on the left (south) contains and guards the “Rock-cut Pool.” Note the city wall and the defended pathways that lead to and from the towers. All of this was evidently built in the 18th century B.C.!
For a complete description of this system see the article by Hershel Shanks, “Will King Hezekiah Be Dislodged from His Tunnel?” Biblical Archaeology Review, (September/October 2013), pp. 52–61, 73. In it he notes that Reich and Shukron now believe that what has been called “Hezekiah’s Tunnel” (Hezekiah r. 715–686 B.C.) now should be dated earlier—to the late 9th or early 8th century B.C.!