About the Tunnel that Brought Water to JerusalemThe Shiloah Tunnel, or Hezekiah's Tunnel, is a half-kilometer long tunnel in Jerusalem, through which ancient Gihon Spring water was transferred to the city.
The Shiloah tunnel was quarried in the days of King Hezekiah, around the 8th or 7th century BCE. This is considered one of the most impressive water plants in the history of ancient water plants in Israel, if not the most impressive one, and it is also the first in the history of Jerusalem, which provided water for the city's residents, inside the walls. This was a factor of decisive importance in times of war and what enabled the inhabitants of the city to withstand the siege of its enemies.
The tunnel led the water to the annexation hall, an underground water pool in Jerusalem that had collected water in ancient times. The water, which was stored from the nearby Kidron Valley and the Gihon Spring, passed under the houses of the City of David and was supplied throughout the year to the city's residents for drinking and daily use. The differences in elevations caused the water to flow, by force of gravity, with the difference of heights of 33 cm between the spring and the Shiloah Pool.
Tunnel ExcavationWhen the King of Assyri besieged Jerusalem in 701 BCE, Hezekiah King of Judah fortified the fortifications of the city as part of Jerusalem's defense against the siege, and surrounded the new neighborhoods that were built there, so Hezekiah decided to divert the Gihon waters to the pool dug inside the walls: "And Hezekiah took the exit from the days of the upper Gihon, and straightened down westward to the city of David ..." (2 Chronicles 32:30).
Although bringing the water into the walls was an important consideration for the creation of the tunnel, it seems that no other consideration was equally important to the king in deciding to quarry the water. Its purpose was to prevent water from the Assyrian enemy. This could only be done by shifting the flow of the Gihon to an alternate path, which the shaft actually did. From the spring, which until then had passed through the walls, in an area that was not protected, the water was diverted out of the reach of the Assyrians, who were undoubtedly besieging the canal and its waters.
Thus, at the order of the king, the water diversion was performed by cutting the stone at length of 533 meters, an operation that in terms can be defined as nothing less than engineering marvel.
The excavation operation was conducted by two groups of diggers who dug opposite each other. The researchers know how to determine this according to the marks of the quarrying, since the signs of the quarrying are opposite. After the ax was raised in the quarry, a kind of archery movement was created, and therefore the marks of the quarrying also received a different angle from each direction. The arches of the two groups of quarries are opposite, which is a sign of quarrying in opposite directions. Confirmation of this is also found in the inscription, indicating the meeting between the groups, in the middle of the rock-cutting.
How The Tunnel was FoundThe excavation describes an inscription in ancient Hebrew script that was discovered in 1880. It was discovered when two Jewish boys found an inscription in the niqaba that tells the story of the tunnel dug by Hezekiah's men. The inscription was published all over the world and at that time became a very famous archeological finding.
The inscription was discovered when Yaakov Eliahu and his friend decided to examine whether it was possible to pass along the whole length of the tunnel. They entered from the direction of the pool and after a few yards Jacob slipped and fell into the water. As he rose, he noticed the letters on the sides of the tunnel. He told his teacher at the school, Konrad Schick, who was a well-known German scholar and architect and a resident of Jerusalem.
The teacher went out to check the discovery with the necessary instruments and after he found the address he realized that the letters were Phoenitic, in ancient Hebrew script. Schick published the discovery and he was published all over the world as the address detector. The boy who found the address remained anonymous.
According to the inscription, which was found on the side of the shaft, 6 meters before it reached the Shiloah Pool, the tunnel was hewn in two directions at the same time. The inscription bears witness to the pride of the quarrymen, upon completion of the complex and complicated operation.
About the Evil Spirit that Came Out of the TunnelThe Shiloah Tunnel was discovered over and over again through the years. It seems that in the Roman-Byzantine periods the shaft was unknown and its existence was then completely forgotten. Above the Shiloah Pool, the Empress Eudokia built a church. The parts of the columns at the outlet are the remains of this church.
During the Mamluk period the Gihon Spring was discovered and the Mamluks even installed steps to it, which exist to this day. Since then, history has been telling us about travelers who visited the Shiloah Tunnel, quite a bit, at least from the beginning of the 17th century.
But in 1817 a Catholic priest named de Mezier was enlarged and entered into the tunnel. At that time there was a break in the flow of water in the tunnel and the priest passed through it with quite a few difficulties and dangers. Finally he managed to get to and out on the other side.
When the locals saw the 'creature' coming out of the cave, a wild, wet, spider-web man, they thought he was the evil spirit that made springwater stop. They began to beat poor de Mazier with sticks and stones. The priest felt it was the end ...
But suddenly, in an unbelievable coincidence, unless it is a religious legend full of lesson and faith, at that very moment water began to flow from the spring. The ardent beaters stopped their blows and the poor priest was saved from a terrible lynching. He was not holy, but hey, at least he managed to live a few more years!