Hezekiah’s Tunnel was cut through bedrock in 701 BC under the City of David, curving and weaving for 1750 feet. If the same tunnel were cut in a straight line, it would be 40% shorter at only 1070 feet. This tunnel was designed and cut to bring water from the Gihon Springs in the Kidron Valley located on the east side of the Eastern Hill outside the city’s walls, through the bedrock of the Eastern Hill to the west side, where Hezekiah’s city of Jerusalem was expanding and protected by the new Broad Wall.
After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified cities, thinking to conquer them for himself. When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and that he intended to make war on Jerusalem, he consulted with his officials and military staff about blocking off the water from the springs outside the city, and they helped him. A large force of men assembled, and they blocked all the springs and the stream that flowed through the land. ‘Why should the kings of Assyria come and find plenty of water?’ they said. Then he worked hard repairing all the broken sections of the wall and building towers on it. He built another wall outside that one and reinforced the supporting terraces (Millo) of the City of David. He also made large numbers of weapons and shields. . . 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. He succeeded in everything he undertook. - 2 Chronicles 32:1-5, 30
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, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? - 2 Kings 20:20
Toni ready to enter Hezekiah's Tunnel and the knee deep water with her flashlight.
Hezekiah’s Tunnel is about 2 feet wide and 5 feet high at the entrance near the Gihon Springs, as seen in this photo. Notice the fresh water still moving through this tunnel as it has for 2,700 years.
The tunnel ceiling is only 5 feet high at the entrance, but reaches 16 feet toward the end, near the Pool of Siloam. The water is generally knee deep at the beginning but only to mid calf throughout the rest of the tunnel. At times the water in the tunnel can be chest deep, depending on the circumstances.
The pick marks of Hezekiah’s workers are still visible on the rock walls and ceiling of this 1,750 foot tunnel.
Detail of a portion of the right side of the tunnel wall.
Detail of the ceiling that begins at about 5 feet high and ends a third of a mile later at 16 feet. Notice the pick marks of Hezekiah's men that can still be seen in the bedrock under the City of David.
This tunnel was discovered by Edward Robinson in 1838 and was cleared by Montague Parker’s team during the years 1909-1911. The water had continued flowing through this tunnel for 2,000 years. In fact, before its rediscovery, people thought the water in the area of the Pool of Siloam came from its own spring. It was not until later that people realized the water in the Pool of Siloam is actually water from the Gihon Springs over a third of a mile away. Water still flows naturally from the Gihon Springs today through Hezekiah’s Tunnel and to the Pool of Siloam.
Water moving along the floor through the 1/3 mile tunnel
A nice photo of the tunnel clearly showing the pick marks, the sharp corners where the walls and ceiling meet, and the fresh moving, cool water on the floor of the tunnel which comes above the ankles to mid-calf.
A bend in the tunnel going left.
Here the tunnels weaves to the right.
Galyn Wiemers in Hezekiah's Tunnel
Toward the end of the tunnel the ceiling reaches 16 feet high.
Toni points to the place where an inscription etched in the rock wall by Hezekiah's men was found in 1880. It is called the Siloam Inscription and was engraved in 701 BC. It describes how two teams of workers cut the tunnel, each coming from opposite ends, and when they met the water began to flow.
The Siloam Inscription was written in 701 BC and discovered in 1880. It was engraved in the wall of the tunnel, but later chiseled out of the bedrock and taken to a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Inscribed by one of Hezekiah’s workmen near the western end of the tunnel close to the Pool of Siloam, it reads:
[…when] (the tunnel) was driven through. And this was the way in which it was cut through: While [ . . . ] (were) still [ . . . ] axes, 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 heads of the quarrymen was 100 cubits.
- Siloam Inscription, engraved in 701 BC
An imitation of the actual stone and the inscription that was removed and taken to a museum in Istanbul, Turkey.
Stairs leading out of Hezekiah’s Tunnel to an open channel, through which the water flows into the Pool of Siloam.
The water in the channel flowing out of Hezekiah’s Tunnel has been considered sacred and was believed to have healing powers. A church was built over the site by the empress Eudokia around 450 AD. This church, along with most other churches of the Byzantine Empire, was destroyed in 614 when the Persians invaded the Holy Land and Jerusalem. The remains of the bases of the pillars can be seen in the water of this open channel. The Bordeaux pilgrim, who saw this location in 333 AD, wrote that this pool had four porches. In the 500’s, after the Church of Siloam was built by Eudokia, but before the Persians destroyed it, a pilgrim from Piacenza wrote:
You descend by many steps to Siloam, and above Siloam is a hanging basilica beneath which the water of Siloam rises. Siloam has two basins constructed of marble, which are separated from each other by a screen. Men were in one and women in the other to gain a blessing. In these waters miracles take place, and lepers are cleansed. In front of the court is a large man-made pool and people are continually washing there; for at regular intervals the spring sends a great deal of water into the basins, which goes on down the valley of Gethsemane (which they also call Jehosaphat) as far as the River Jordan.
A view of the open channel at the end of Hezekiah’s Tunnel. This channel flows into the Pool of Siloam. The circular, or cylinder, remains of pillars are from a Byzantine church built on this site that was called the Siloam Church.
A view of the open channel from the exit of Hezekiah’s Tunnel. The Pool of Siloam is just a few feet on the other side of the gate that is seen at the end of the channel. Until 2005, the channel was identified as the Pool of Siloam, but in 2005 the actual Pool of Siloam was uncovered accidentally by a city crew working on the public sewer system. Today this water flows on toward that pool.