Jerusalem: Hezekiah’s Water Tunnel
This tunnel was created by Hezekiah’s workmen more than 700 years before Jesus. Working from the spring of Gihon on one side, and the western slope of the ridge of Jerusalem on the other, two teams of workmen created a tunnel by chiseling through solid rock, at points more than 140 feet underground.
The tunnel is 1,748 feet long and follows a circuitous path. The distance in a straight line between the spring and the pool of Siloam, where it empties, is slightly more than 1,000 feet. The winding course of the tunnel adds more than 700 feet to its length. How these two teams chiseled a tunnel barely two feet wide, with a drop of just 12 inches in the quarter-mile length, to meet in the middle amazes even modern engineers. Some speculate that workers followed natural cracks in the rock or seeping water. However it was done, the result helped save the city of Jerusalem from the Assyrian siege.
When visiting Jerusalem, modern students of Bible history often choose to walk through Hezekiah’s tunnel. Still today water flows through it more than waist deep. At some points, an adult must bend over because the ceiling is so low, and at many places the tunnel is so narrow that both shoulders rub the walls. The chisel marks left on the walls by the workers as they dug through the rock are a silent testimony to the vision and determination of the Israelite people.
The tunnel is evidence of Hezekiah’s resolve to do everything possible to prepare his people to face the Assyrians. Though he trusted God totally, he made sure that he had done all he could, including undertaking a project as astounding as this tunnel. That should be the approach of every follower of Yahweh who is called to confront evil. If we would trust God as much as Hezekiah did, and expend the same effort and display his vision, we as a Christian community could make a significant impact in the struggle to promote God’s values in our world.
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