The Siloam Inscription

Another treasure in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum is the Siloam Inscription. Here is its history:

The Old Testament records the Assyrian threat to Judah in the days of good King Hezekiah (715-686 B.C.).  The Assyrians had already taken much of Judah’s territory (the Sennacherib Prism states Assyrian had taken forty-six fortified cities) and were advancing upon Jerusalem (701 B.C).  But Hezekiah had made wise preparation in anticipation of this fearsome foe. Hezekiah had two teams of tunnelers working from opposite directions; one starting from outside the city wall at the Gihon Spring, the other starting from inside the city, chiseling through 1750 feet of solid rock.  As a result, the “gently flowing waters of Shiloah” (Isa. 8:6) were channeled inside the city (2 Kings 20:20-21; 2 Chron. 32:30).

Thus Jerusalem had water inside the city walls, whereas Hezekiah “blocked the outlet of the water of the Upper Gihon” (2 Chron. 32:20, CSB). I.e., they would have water inside the city, but the enemy would not have ready access to water outside the city.

We hope the following photos will help illustrate the text for you:

Siloam Inscription. Istanbul Archaeology Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The inscription tells the story of when the two groups of workers met. The inscription reads:

“This is the story of the boring through. While [the tunnelers lifted] the pick-axe each toward his fellow and while 3 cubits [remained yet] to be bored [through, there was heard] the voice of a man calling his fellow—for there was a split [or overlap] in the rock on the right hand and on [the left hand]. When the tunnel was driven through, the tunnelers hewed the rock, each man toward his fellow, pick-axe against pick-axe. And the water flowed from the spring toward the reservoir for 1200 cubits. The height of the rock above the head of the tunnelers was a hundred cubits.”

Of course, more was involved than Hezekiah’s engineering feat of constructing the tunnel.  There was divine intervention as God delivered Jerusalem from the Assyrians: 2 Kings 19:35 records, “And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses — all dead.”

This photo shows the Gihon Spring, the source of the water supply.

Gihon Spring. Jerusalem. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The water still flows inside the tunnel.

Inside Hezekiah's Tunnel. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

It’s a tight squeeze in places:

Leon Mauldin inside Hezekiah's tunnel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Finally, here is a photo of the location where the Siloam Inscription was chiselled out:

Siloam Inscription Location Inside Tunnel. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

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3 Responses to The Siloam Inscription

  1. […] previously posted an article on the tunnel here, entitled “The Siloam […]

  2. […] I previously posted on the Hezekiah’s tunnel which emptied into the pool of Siloam here and here. […]

  3. […] have previously posted on Siloam here and […]

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