Siloam

(sent). Shiloach, (Isaiah 8:6) Siloah, (Nehemiah 3:15) Siloam, (John 9:11) Siloam is one of the few undisputed localities in the topography of Jerusalem; still retaining its old name (with Arabic modification, Silwan), while every other pool has lost its Bible designation. This is the more remarkable as it is a mere suburban tank of no great size, and for many an age not particularly good or plentiful in its waters, though Josephus tells us that in his day they were both "sweet and abundant." A little way below the Jewish burying-ground, but on the opposite side of the valley, where the Kedron turns slightly westward and widens itself considerable, is the fountain of the Virgin, or Um'ed'Deraj, near the beginning of that saddle-shaped projection of the temple hill supposed to be the Ophel of The Bible and the Ophlas of Josephus. At the back part of this fountain a subterraneous passage begins, through which the water flows, and through which a man may make his way, sometimes walking erect, sometimes stooping, sometimes kneeling, and sometime crawling, to Siloam. This conduit is 1708 feet long, 16 feet high at the entrance, but only 16 inches at its narrowest tributaries which sent their waters down from the city pools or temple wells to swell Siloam. It enters Siloam at the northwest angle; or rather enters a small rock-cut chamber which forms the vestibule of Siloam, about five or six feet broad. To this you descend by a few rude steps, under which the water pours itself into the main pool. This pool is oblong, about 52 feet long, 18 feet broad and 19 feet deep; but it is never filled, the water either passing directly through or being maintained at a depth of three or four feet. The present pool is a ruin, with no moss or ivy to make it romantic; its sides fallen in; its pillars broken; its stair a fragment; its walls giving way; the edge of every stone was round or sharp by time; in some parts mere debris, though around its edges wild flowers, and among other plants the caper trees, grow luxuriantly. The present pool is not the original building; it may be the work of crusaders, perhaps even improved by Saladin, whose affection for wells and pools led him to care for all these things. Yet the spot is the same. This pool, which we may call the second, seems anciently to have poured its waters into a third before it proceeded to water the royal gardens. This third is perhaps that which Josephus calls "Solomon's pool," and which nehemiah calls the "king's pool." (Nehemiah 2:14) The expression in (Isaiah 8:6) "waters of Shiloah that go softly," seems to point to the slender rivulet, flowing gently though once very profusely out of Siloam into the lower breadth of level where the king's gardens, or royal paradise, stood, and which is still the greenest spot about the holy city. Siloam is a mere spot even to the Moslem; much more to the Jew. It was to Siloam that the Levite was sent with the golden pitcher on the "last and great day of the feast" of Tabernacles; it was from Siloam that he brought the water which was then poured over the sacrifice, in memory of the water from the rock of Rephidim; and it was to this Siloam water that the Lord pointed when he stood in the temple on that day and cried, "If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink." The Lord sent the blind man to wash, not in, as our version has it, but at (eis), the pool of siloam; for it was the clay from his eyes that was to be washed off.