The Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem is southeast of the Temple Mount, about a 15-minute walk from the Pool of Bethesda on the northeast side. The Pool of Siloam was still in use during the time of Jesus, but eventually covered over after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. In fact, it was “lost” to history until very recently being uncovered in 2004.
History of the Pool of Siloam
Prior to this recent rediscovery, another pool was typically referred to as the Pool of Siloam—the upper pool of Hezekiah. It appears that both the upper pool of Hezekiah and the lower pool of Siloam were originally constructed in the time of Hezekiah in the 8th century BC, but the larger, lower pool was in use during the time of Jesus in the 1st century AD. Only a few years ago, this lower pool, 225 feet long, was rediscovered about 50 meters southeast of the upper pool. The confusion was a result of the covering of the lower pool after the destruction of Jerusalem.
The Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem was used for ritual cleansing and purification. Because the pool was near the Jewish Temple, its water was also used for a special ceremony during the Feast of Tabernacles. Every morning during that joyful feast, a priest would take a golden vessel to the pool, fill it with water, and bring it back to the altar amid the shouts of the people.
Jesus at the Pool
Then, as the crowd chanted the Hallel – a special prayer from the Book of Psalms– that priest poured out the water on the west side of the altar, and another priest poured a drink offering of wine on the east side of the altar. This ritual was probably to illustrate Isaiah 12:3, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
However, on the eighth and final day of the feast, the ritual was not repeated. And that is exactly when Jesus chose to make a startling announcement:
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ (John 7:37–38)
On the one day of the feast when no water from the Pool of Siloam was poured, Jesus stood up and offered living water — the water of life.