Jerusalem - Hezekiah’s Tunnel
“When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and that he intended to wage war against Jerusalem, he consulted with his officials and military staff about blocking off the water from the springs outside the city, and they helped him. They gathered a large group of people who 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” (2 Chron. 32:2-4).
“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 Chron. 32:30).
“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)
As Scripture tells us, King Hezekiah began making preparations for war when he learned that Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, intended to attack Jerusalem. One of the most important things in preparing his city for siege warfare was to make sure there would be plenty of food and water for the city’s inhabitants (and none for the attackers)! The main water source for Jerusalem was the Gihon Spring, which sat outside the city wall. So, Hezekiah hired workers to dig a tunnel to bring the water inside the city wall. When the Assyrian army arrived in 701 B.C. Hezekiah’s Jerusalem was prepared.
Not only do we have the biblical account of Hezekiah’s preparations for war, we also have an inscription known as the Taylor Prism which provides us with Sennacherib’s (the Assyrian king) account of his campaigns including his siege against Jerusalem. The part that is relevant here reads as follows: "As for the king of Judah, Hezekiah, who had not submitted to my authority, I besieged and captured forty-six of his fortified cities, along with many smaller towns, taken in battle with my battering rams. ... I took as plunder 200,150 people, both small and great, male and female, along with a great number of animals including horses, mules, donkeys, camels, oxen, and sheep. As for Hezekiah, I shut him up like a caged bird in his royal city of Jerusalem” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sennacherib%27s_Annals).
5 reasons why you should walk through Hezekiah’s Tunnel when you visit the City of David
- At 1,750 feet long, it is considered one of the “greatest works of water engineering technology in the pre-Classical period” (https://www.bibleplaces.com/heztunnel/). The tunnel, which connects the Gihon Spring with the Pool of Siloam, was dug by two teams, one beginning at the northern end and the other at the southern.
- You get to see the place where the Siloam Tunnel inscription was discovered. This inscription, which commemorates the completion of the tunnel, was discovered in 1880 and was located at the spot where the two teams met in the middle. The inscription reads in part: “[…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” (https://www.bibleplaces.com/heztunnel/).
- You get to experience firsthand what it might have been like for the men working digging the tunnel. Imagine yourself swinging the pick ax against the rock as you see the marks in the stone. Be sure you have a flashlight (or better yet a headlamp) with you! You will find yourself walking in the dark in knee- to thigh-high water as you make your way through the curvy tunnel.
- You will get to walk under the City of David. (And if you’re claustrophobic, you get to overcome your phobia as at times the tunnel is very narrow and not very high!)
- You can reward yourself with ice cream after you emerge from the tunnel and you get to tell all of your friends that you did it!