The most magnificent waterworks of ancient Jerusalem is Hezekiah’s tunnel. Hezekiah was the king of Judah from about 726-697 B.C. When Sennacherib succeeded his father Sargon as the king of Assyria, Hezekiah refused to continue paying tribute. He allied against Assyrians and allied Judah with Egypt mentioned in Isaiah 36:4-7:
And Rabshakeh said unto them, Say ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest? I say, sayest thou, (but they are but vain words) I have counsel and strength for war: now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me? Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him. But if thou say to me, We trust in the LORD our God: is it not he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and said to Judah and to Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar?”
This resulted in an invasion of Judah by Sennacherib recorded in II Kings 18:13-16
“Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them. And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, I have offended; return from me: that which thou puttest on me will I bear. And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king’s house. At that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the LORD, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria. And the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great host against Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they were come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the highway of the fuller’s field.”
While in II Chronicles 32:2-4, it can be read thus,
“And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem, he took counsel with his princes and his mighty men to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city: and they did help him. So there was gathered much people together, who stopped all the fountains, and the brook that ran through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water?”.
This occurred about 701 B.C.
King Hezekiah needed a reliable water supply for Jerusalem, but at the same time he wanted to prevent the Assyrian forces from using the Gihon Spring, which was located outside the city. The Bible records Hezekiah’s solution in II Chronicles 32:30:
“This same Hezekiah also stopped the upper watercourse of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David.”
The water from the Gihon was diverted into the Gai wadi by means of a tunnel 1,740 feet or 530 meters long. The tunnel was done simultaneously from both ends until they met somewhere near the middle. It was a rather amazing feat of engineering for the time.
In 1880, an inscription was discovered by a boy who was bathing in the Gihon spring. Carved in the rock at the end of the tunnel, it described the meeting of two groups of workers who had started from opposite ends of the tunnel. Translated, it read “The tunneling was completed… While the hewers wielded the axe, each man toward his fellow… there was heard a man’s voice calling to his fellow… the hewers hacked each toward the other, axe against axe, and the water flowed from the spring to the pool, a distance of 1,200 cubits…“ The inscription is now in the Istanbul Museum.
The testimony of the ancient tunnel is one more proof of the Bible’s validity. It demonstrates that the events and people of the Bible were real and credible. Today, the pool still exists as it did in Hezekiah’s reign upholding the Bible’s accuracy, giving us detailed information which can be verified even 2,700 years later.
The Hezekiah’s tunnel is a constant reminder that proves how authentic the Bible is…
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