Number 10 in our countdown is the Siloam inscription, discovered in Jerusalem in 1836. The pools of Siloam are the only known water source which brought water into the city. 2 Kings 20 mentions a construction of an underground conduit which brought water into the spring. It states, “And the rest of the events of Hezekiah and all his mighty deeds, and how he made the conduit and the pool, and he brought the water into the city, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah."
The ancient city Jerusalem was on a mountain and easily defensible on all sides. However, when the threat of the Assyrians loomed over the city of Jerusalem, King Hezekiah feared that the water system would be exploited during the siege. 2 Chronicles 32:2-4 says “And he took counsel with his officers and his mighty men to stop up the waters of the fountains that were outside the city, and they assisted him. And a large multitude gathered and stopped up all the fountains and the stream that flowed in the midst of the land, saying, ‘Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?’”
The inscription found in the tunnels contains six lines of early Hebrew script which dates to about the 8th Century BCE. It reads:
... the 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, (for) there was ZADA 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 1,200 cubits. and (100?)
cubits was the height over the head of the stonecutters ...
The inscription records the process by which the tunnel was created in how two groups of men worked on both ends of the tunnel and met in the middle. The mention of them using their voices perhaps indicates that the workers used acoustics in order to better locate each other.
This is a fascinating discovery which displays some context to Hezekiah’s reign in Jerusalem both creating the water system and perhaps how he blocked it during the Assyrian Siege under Sennacherib. The inscription itself is exhibited in the Istanbul Museum in Turkey and Hezekiah’s tunnels are still famous today as you can tour them yourself in Jerusalem. It is a nice tour to do in the hot summer.
See you tomorrow to see what number nine is in our countdown of 12 Days of Archaeology and the Bible!