The Bible says in John chapter 9 that: When Jesus saw the man born blind begging
at the entrance into the Temple He “Spat on the ground and made clay of
the spittle” and rubbed the clay on the man‘s eyes and told him to go
and wash at the Pool of Siloam.
There is a clear message in
this act that would be familiar with the Pharisees and anyone watching,
especially anyone who knew the writings of the Rabbis. It was customary in the
Hebrew culture to use saliva to cure a wound, and it would be best if it were
the saliva of the first-born son of his father. Here are two quotes from the
Gemara, a rabbinical commentary on the Jewish Mishnah.
The Gemara says:
A man once came before Rabbi Chaninah and testified to him, “I am
sure that this man is the firstborn.” Chaninah asked, “How is it
that you are certain of this?” The man said, “Because when sick
people came to his father he would tell them, ‘Go to my son Shikchat.
He is firstborn and his spittle heals.’” … there is a tradition that
the spittle of the firstborn of a father heals.
The Gemara asks: But perhaps he is his mother‘s firstborn? The Gemara answers: It is
learned as a tradition that the saliva of a father‘s firstborn heals this
ailment but the saliva of a mother‘s firstborn does not heal this ailment.
Rabbinical literature also taught that the Messiah‘s spit would heal someone who
was blind from birth. And of course there is the prophecy of Isaiah in chapter
42 (below) which is one of the most famous prophecies about the Messiah, saying that the
Messiah will be a Servant who will open the eyes of the blind:
"I will keep you
and will make you to be a covenant for
and a light for
7 to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives
and to release from the dungeon those who sit
in darkness..." Is.42:6-7
Through this miracle Jesus literally screamed a message to the Pharisees that He
was the First-Born Son of the Father, and that His Father sent Him, and He did
this without saying a Word.
The Pool of Siloam - First Century Jerusalem
The Pool of Siloam in the Second Temple Model at the Israel Museum
The Pool of Siloam was located on the south side of the Lower City, the City
of David in the Tyropoeon Valley. Itwas a man-made reservoir and the only
permanent water source for the city of Jerusalem in this period, being fed by
the waters of the Gihon Spring diverted through Hezekiah's Tunnel, built in the
8th century BC.. The Pool of Siloam is clearly distinguishable in the Second
Temple model of Jerusalem. During the time of Jesus the poor people, and sick
people would come here to bathe. It is very interesting that Jesus chose this
place to send the blind man (John 9:6-7), for it was recorded among the writings
of the oral law that this was the Messiah's pool. The Old Testament clearly
identifies the Messiah as the "sent one" numerous times, and Siloam is the same
word in the Hebrew and the English transliteration is the word apostle, or
SILOAM, POOL OF (si'lo-am). The expression "pool of Siloam (which is
translated, Sent)" (John 9:7) is found three times in Scripture- Neh. 3:15,
"Pool of Shelah"; Isa 8:6, "waters of Shiloah"; John 9:7, "pool of Siloam." If
we compare Neh 3:15 with 12:37, we find that the Pool of Shelah, the stairs that
go down from the city of David (southern portion of the Temple mount), and the
king's garden were in close proximity.
Josephus frequently mentions Siloam, placing it at the termination of the
Valley of the Cheesemongers or the Tyropoeon Valley (Wars 5.4.1)-but outside the
city wall (Wars 5.9.4)-where the old wall bent eastward (Wars 5.6.1), and facing
the hill upon which was the rock Peristereon, to the E (Wars 5.12.2). From these
descriptions it is quite evident that Josephus speaks of the same place as the
present Birket Silwan, on the other side of the Kidron.
Further, the evangelist's account (John 9:7) of the blind man sent by Jesus
to wash at the pool of Siloam seems to indicate that it was near the Temple. It
was from Siloam that water was brought in a golden vessel to the Temple during
the feast of Tabernacles; our Lord probably pointed to it when He stood in the
Temple and cried, "If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink" (7:37).
The pool of Siloam is fed by a conduit that is cut for a distance of 1,780 feet
through solid rock, and which starts at the so-called Virgin's Spring (see En-rogel).
The reason for which it was cut is unmistakable. The Virgin's Spring is the only
spring of fresh water in the immediate neighborhood of Jerusalem, and in time of
siege it was important that, while the enemy should be deprived of access to it,
its waters should be made available for those who were within the city. But the
spring rose outside the walls, on the sloping cliff that overlooks the valley of
Kidron. Accordingly, a long passage was excavated in the rock, by means of which
the overflow of the spring was brought into Jerusalem; the spring itself was
covered with masonry, so that it could be "sealed" in case of war. That it was
so sealed we know from 2 Chron 32:3-4. The following account of the channel and
its inscription is from Major C. R. Conder (Palestine, pp. 27 ff.). "The course
of the channel is serpentine, and the farther end near the pool of Siloam
enlarges into a passage of considerable height. Down this channel the waters of
the spring rush to the pool whenever the sudden flow takes place. In autumn
there is an interval of several days; in winter the sudden flow takes place
sometimes twice a day. A natural siphon from an underground basin accounts for
this flow, as also for that of the 'Sabbatic river' in North Syria. When it
occurs the narrow parts of the passage are filled to the roof with water.
"This passage was explored by Dr. Robinson, Sir Charles Wilson, Sir Charles
Warren, and others; but the inscription on the rock close to the mouth of the
tunnel was not seen, being then under water. When it was found in 1880 by a boy
who entered from the Siloam end of the passage, it was almost obliterated by the
deposit of lime crystals on the letters. Professor Sayce, then in Palestine,
made a copy, and was able to find out the general meaning of the letters. In
1881 Dr. Guthe cleaned the text with a weak acid solution, and I was then able,
with the aid of Lieutenant Mentell, R.E., to take a proper 'squeeze.' It was a
work of labor and requiring patience, for on two occasions we sat for three or
four hours cramped up in the water in order to obtain a perfect copy of every
letter, and afterward to verify the copies by examining each letter with the
candle so placed as to throw the light from right, left, top, bottom. We were
rewarded by sending home the first accurate copy published in Europe, and were
able to settle many disputed points raised by the imperfect copy of the text
before it was cleaned."
The inscription records only the making of the tunnel; that it began at both
ends; that the workmen heard the sound of the picks of the other party and were
thus guided as they advanced, and that when they broke through they were only a
few feet apart. The character of the letters seems to indicate that the scribes
of Judah had been accustomed for a long time to write upon papyrus or parchment.
The pool itself is an oblong tank, partly hewn out of the rock and partly built
with masonry, about fifty-three feet long, eighteen feet wide, and nineteen feet
deep. The water has a peculiar taste-somewhat brackish-but not disagreeable,
though becoming more so with the advance of the hot season.
The Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem
The Pool of Siloam was the only permanent water source for the city of Jerusalem
in the first century AD. It was fed by the waters of the Gihon Spring diverted
through Hezekiah's Tunnel, built in the 8th century BC.
Jesus told the blind man to go wash at the Pool of Siloam, and after doing it he
received his sight. This was significant since the Hebrew word Siloam means
"sent" and Jesus was the Messiah "sent" from heaven. The English equivalent is
the word "apostle."
Archaeological remains of the Pool of Siloam in the time of Christ are scarce.
We know about Herod's Jerusalem through the writings of Josephus, Strabo, Dio
Cassius, Jewish Literature, Archaeology, and the Bible.
The Roman Legions of Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. They spared only
Herod's powerful tower fortress as a symbol of the strength of the Romans who
were able to overpower it.
"When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle,
and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go,
wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way
therefore, and washed, and came seeing." - John 9:6-7
"But the gate of the fountain repaired Shallun the son of Colhozeh, the ruler of
part of Mizpah; he built it, and covered it, and set up the doors thereof, the
locks thereof, and the bars thereof, and the wall of the pool of Siloah by the
king's garden, and unto the stairs that go down from the city of David."
- Nehemiah 3:15
"Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and
rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah's son" -
"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If
any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the
scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."
- John 7:37-38 John 9:11 -
He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine
eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I
went and washed, and I received sight.
Luke 13:4 -
Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew
them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? John 9:7 -
And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by
interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.
Malachi 3:1 -
Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way
before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even
the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith
the LORD of hosts.
Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered
the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath
established all the ends of the earth? what [is] his name, and what [is] his
son's name, if thou canst tell?
Hebrews 3:1 -
Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and
High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;
Modern photo of the Pool of Siloam