hezekiah tunnel

Hezekiah Tunnel

A sight without equal is the inspection of the Hezekiah Tunnel in Jerusalem in the City of David. Exiting the Old City at the Dung Gate, you will come to Ma’ale HaShalom Street, turn left immediately and keep to the pedestrian’s right-hand side. After 100 m, a sign appears ” City of David“- turning right onto Ma’alot Ir David Street. Which now walks down about 100 m to the entrance of the City of David on the left- further on the left, the Silwan Mosque can already be seen.

The Tunnel of Hezekiah is still in the Kidron Valley area. It leads the water from the Gihon spring into the city into the so-called Siloah Pool. According to ( 2 Chr 32 EU ) and ( Sir 48.17 EU ), the tunnel was built in 701 BC and made by order of King Hezekiah (reign 725 – 696 BC ). In the second half of the 8th century, the king of Judah had to leave the city of Jerusalem, given the Assyrian army advancing steadily through Syria and Palestine into Egypt to protect militarily. So, given the many refugees from the northern kingdom of Israel, whose capital was Samaria in 722 B.C., had been taken by Assyria, Hezekiah walled the city, which had grown to the west and south. He secured the fresh water supply outside the town with the tunnel named after him.

History of The Tunnel of Hezekiah

The attack on Jerusalem and its siege took place in 701 BC under the tunnel of Hezekiah. Under the Assyrian king Sennacherib. The Tunnel of Hezekiah is a site of great archaeological interest. Comparable only to the Tunnel of Eupalinos on the island of Samos in Greece – an ancient masterpiece. This came from the 6th century BC. And is considered to be one of the greatest works of the classical period in the field of hydraulic engineering. The Samos Tunnel is an essential work from the time of the Polycrates. And visitors can still admire the work of the men from Megara who dug this tunnel.

American theologian Edward Robinson discovered the Hezekiah Tunnel in 1838. Robinson is considered the founder of the modern scientific topography of Palestine. The tunnel structure is 533 meters long, with a gallery 1.63 meters high. It connects the source of Gihon to the Pool of Siloam at a depth of 2.27 meters. According to an inscription in the tunnel, the structure was built under the City of David (today under the village of Silwan ), southeast of the Old City, by two crews dug, each working at one end and joining together in the middle. This inscription from the Hezekiah Tunnel is now in the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul (Turkey). 

Who was Hezekiah?

Hezekiah is the thirteenth in the series of kings of Judah’s son. And successor of Ahaz, and queen Abia, father of Manasseh ( II [ IV ] Re, XVI, 20; II Chron ., XXVIII, 27). He ascended the throne at twenty-five and reigned at twenty-nine: according to the most common chronology, from 727 to 698. The events of his reign, which were among the most characteristic from the religious and political side, are reported in the sacred text. In three parallel narratives ( II [ IV ] Re, XVIII, 1-xX, 21; II Chron ., XXIX, 1-XXXII, 33; Isaiah, XXXVI, 1-XXXIX, 8).

\ Hezekiah’s work as a religious reformer had the most significant resonance: he detached himself. From the beginning of the politics of Ahaz, his father wanted to go back to the traditions of his ancestors, David and Solomon. He reopened the doors of the Temple, closed by his father ( II [ IV ] Re, XXVIII, 24). Celebrated the feast of Purification with great pomp and copious sacrifices. Then fully re-established the cult of Yahweh. And covered the doors of the Temple with gold ( II Chron ., XIX, 3-36; II [ IV ] Re, XVIII, 16). 

He also resumed the interrupted celebration of Easter, sending heralds to ban the announcement in all the tribes. The heralds were almost everywhere severely received. And sometimes beaten up in the kingdom of Israel, he responded enthusiastically to the whole realm of Judah. After the eight days of the rite, the solemnity was at the protracted request of the people of another seven. Indeed, something is no longer seen after the solemnities celebrated by Solomon. For the dedication of the Temple ( II Cron., XXX, 26). 

hezekiah tunnel

Representation of the Tunnel of Hezekiah

Primary Takeaways

According to the Old Testament, King Hezekiah received the news relatively early on that Sennacherib was taking his armies against Judah. ( 2 Chron 32:2-5 ). After Shalmaneser V had destroyed the northern kingdom (722 BC).

On hearing of the news of Sennacherib’s invasion, Hezekiah prepares himself in case of a siege of Jerusalem: “And he consulted with his rulers. Indeed, officers stopped the water of the springs outside the city and helped him. A great crowd gathered together. And they stopped every spring and the stream flowing in the country’s middle. Therefore, they said, Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water? But he took courage, built the whole wall with cracks, and put towers on it. And made the other wall outside and attached Milo to the city of David.


“Hezekiah stopped the upper outflow of the waters of Gihon, the source where Solomon was anointed. A similar arrangement can clarify how this clogging of the springs was accomplished. This is still found today at Solomon’s ponds in Wady Etan, also called Wady Urtas * by Robinson.

So, a few hundred paces northwest of the el Burak Castleton the slope of the mountain spring has been sunk, which donates the central mass of water to the ponds below. He gives the following: “Through this cave, one climbs, but not without some difficulty, about twelve feet straight down (…).”

Therefore, the sights we discussed are from the City of David. The City of David is the oldest inhabited part of Jerusalem and the most important archaeological site of biblical Jerusalem. So, it lies on a narrow ridge south of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount outside today’s city wall. Also, it is bounded north by the Ophel and Gihon Springs and south by the Pool of Siloam and the Hinnom Valley.