Walking through Hezekiah’s Tunnel in Jerusalem

Ancient Jerusalem was a strong defensive position with a glaring weakness. The city was on a hill surrounded on three sides by steep valleys, but the water supply was a spring down at the bottom of the hill. During a siege, the residents needed safe, consistent access to the water in order to survive.

The most innovative solution to this problem came in the days of King Hezekiah, the late 8th-early-7th century king of Judah. His engineers carved a tunnel under the mountain, channeling the spring’s water to a pool inside the city walls. After blocking and camouflaging the spring’s outside entrance, Jerusalem had the water and the enemy did not. This made Jerusalem a much tougher nut to crack in wartime. The Bible briefly describes this project in 2 Kings 20:20 and 2 Chronicles 32:30.

Visitors can walk through the entire 1,750-foot tunnel today. Water from the Gihon Spring still flows through it as in ancient times. Flashlights are required (you can buy one at the site for about $1) and water shoes are recommended.

Inside Hezekiah's Tunnel. The tunnel (thankfully for some of us) gets taller towards the end, almost certainly the result of modern work.

Inside Hezekiah's Tunnel. The tunnel (thankfully for some of us) gets taller towards the end, almost certainly the result of modern work.

Note the water level that still exists in parts of the tunnel.

Note the water level that still exists in parts of the tunnel.

You can follow the adventure “Live” with this short video.

Food Watch

Here are a few things we found this weekend near the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Lemonade

On the left: Fresh-squeezed lemonade with crushed ice and freshly crushed mint. On the right: Hot mint tea (with fresh mint leaves!)

kljsdfl

Variety in the Old City. Top left: Shawarma (chicken strips with ground nutmeg, cardamon and onions) accompanied by various sides. Bottom left: Fresh hummus with olive oil, light seasonings and whole chickpeas. Right side: Traditional Fish and Chips - seriously.

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About LukeChandler

Luke holds an M.A. in Ancient and Classical History and has been an adjunct professor at Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. Luke and his wife Melanie have five children. He serves as a minister in English and Spanish with the North Terrace Church of Christ and participates annually in archaeological excavations in Israel. Luke also leads tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
This entry was posted in Biblical Archaeology, Culture & Cuisine, Interesting places to visit, Israel, Overseas trips, Short videos, Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Walking through Hezekiah’s Tunnel in Jerusalem

  1. linda umber says:

    Dear Luke and Royce. You all are doing such a fine job of describing everything you are seeing. thanks again I smile at every one of your pics and videoshorts. Be safe. Love, Linda

  2. Marshal Ray says:

    That is making me very hungry.

  3. Marshal Ray says:

    Didn’t the water from this tunnel(or part of it) eventually end up flowing into the pool of Siloam where Jesus healed the lame man? Or is my Biblical history off a bit?

    • lukechandler says:

      You are correct. In the 1st century A.D., the water flowed a little further than in Hezekiah’s day. The tunnel filled the Pool of Siloam, where the blind man was healed in John 9. Recent excavations have uncovered this pool, and I visited there over the weekend. I’ll post soon on it with some photos.

  4. afrankangle says:

    Great report as I didn’t know about this tunnel.

  5. Jennifer Hallberg says:

    Am I remembering correctly that during the construction of Hezekiah’s tunnel, some started on one end, some on the other and they met in the middle? I think I either read that somewhere recently (maybe your blog??) or remember it from your class. Or, my old age is getting to me and I’ve completely made the whole thing up!

    By the way, we’ve added several of your pictures and are tracking most of the places you have visited on a bulletin board on the classroom side of the building. I’m trying to include scripture with all of these places to give it Biblical context. My goal was for all of the children to be able to make the connection that the places and events they have studied about are very real and still very accessible. That they are not just part of some “story” the learned in Bible class. For them to see you and Royce in the pictures really helps make that point!

    • lukechandler says:

      Your still-young mind remembers the story correctly. The construction details are not in the Bible, but are spelled out in an inscription that was discovered about 10 meters inside the tunnel exit. (The inscription was on the roof, and did not mention Hezekiah’s name, so it was likely an “unofficial” dedication by the chief engineer or someone similar.) One can still see where the workers met in the middle. The two tunnels were slightly off, so the workers blended and smoothed the edges to some degree.

      Do you have our excavation site on the map? Yossi Garfinkel (the head archaeologist) believes it to be the biblical city of Sha’arayim, which is mentioned in 1 Samuel 17 and a couple of other places. If you can find the ancient city of Azekah (west of Jerusalem, close to the Philistine border), our site is immediately east across the valley. It is quite close. Our site was apparently destroyed in the mid-to-late 10 century B.C. It was never rebuilt in Israelite times, probably because Azekah was right there too and would serve the same purpose – to guard the highway between Gath and Jerusalem. Thanks for keeping up the map! I can’t wait to see it.

  6. Pingback: Short video of the Massive Canaanite Wall in Jerusalem « Luke Chandler's Blog

  7. Hello,
    Me Ratna Kumar.J, From India, Me a Certificate of Theology Student and Stock Analyst Who is Learning Bible Systematically. Me Had Investigation in 2 Samuel 5: 8.
    At This Time I learnt about This Mysterious Tunnel.
    I thought how i can see this tunnel, But I Thank GOD To Show me within 2 hours of my Research.

    Thank You.

    • lukechandler says:

      Ratna Kumar J,
      I am glad you enjoyed reading! The tunnel in 2 Samuel is a different tunnel, though it might be connected to the one in this article.

      The tunnel here is mentioned in 2 Kings 20:20 and 2 Chronicles 32:20. It was made by King Hezekiah. All of those ancient tunnels are impressive though!

      Thanks for reading!
      – Luke

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