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Hezekiah's Tunnel
Under the City of David
WANGNEWS SERVICE
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How Hezekiah Saved the City of David from the Assyrians
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PHOTO FOR
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King Hezekiah is best remembered for .... having saved the City of David from the siege imposed by Sennacherib, King of Assyria in the year 701 BCE.  Hezekiah had lived
through the annihilation of the Northern Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians which included the conquest of the capital city of Samaria by Sargon II around 720 BCE (the
conclusion of a twenty year campaign).  Hezekiah resolved to protect the Southern Kingdom of Judah from a similar fate.  First he used diplomacy and then open resistance.
Although his Egyptian ally was routed and much of Judah was devastated including the great city of Lachish, Hezekiah was successful substantially because of the
construction a Broad Wall and a new tunnel to supply Jerusalem with water during siege.    The Deuteronomist scribes also hail him for destroying the many high shrines and
restoring the singular worship of Yahweh Sabaoth (The LORD of Hosts, i.e. Armies) in the Temple of Solomon:  "
O Lord the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the
cherubim, you are God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. ... and have hurled their gods into the fire, though they were no gods but the
work of human hands—wood and stone—and so they were destroyed. So now, O Lord our God, save us, I pray you, from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know
that you, O Lord, are God alone.
"  2 Kings 19:15-19.   For this he received the blessing of and memorialization by the mighty prophet Isaiah.  Sennacherib withdrew to a
restless Nineveh, where after some years, he was murdered while praying in the temple by his own courtiers, by some accounts, by two of his own sons.  Jerusalem
remained Judahite until it was sacked by Nebuchadnezzar II, King of Babylon in 587-6 BCE, after a two year siege.

The City of David   While Jerusalem up to the present is generally also referred to as the City of David, the original or old city is a specific place - the settlement attributed to
David is thought to be located on a narrow ridge due south of the present day Temple Mount, and commensurate with his time, was not very large but served its purpose -
an emplacement which is natural fortress protected by steep slopes and ravines on the other three sides.  Jerusalem has grown over the three thousand years since the
united monarchy - even by the time of Jesus, the city had taken over the upper northern hilltop where Herod, a renowned builder, enlarged the Second Temple - however,
the enclosing walls we see standing today are 16th century Ottoman, courtesy of Sultan Suleiman (Solomon) the Magnificent. It must be noted that the historicity of David is
still debated among researchers, largely due to the dearth of specific archaeological evidence, although the Tanakh places David's reign to around 1000-950  BCE.

The Broad Wall  Hezekiah's Wall is believed to be 23 feet thick and at least 20 feet tall.   It enclosed not only the old city of David, but was expanded to parts of western
Jerusalem.   Due to the forces of gravity and invasion, notwithstanding the rebuilding efforts of Nehemiah some years after the return from the Babylonian Exile, this wall no
longer stands - all that remains is a line of rubble where the wall once ran around the city (where it had not been scavenged for other works).  On the other hand, Hezekiah's
tunnel, not having to withstand gravity as much, has been discovered and excavated intact.

Hezekiah's Tunnel and the Vital Importance of Water  Every King planning for the defense of a city in an arid land knows of the indispensability of water, especially during a
prolonged siege.  Perhaps this was the reason David built his city on the lower ridge and not on the top of the hill because of easier access to water. A smaller channel
dated to 1800 BCE and at one time guarded by towers had been supplying water to the city, but Hezekiah, over two centuries after David, wanted to ensure abundant water
to his larger Jerusalem.  He achieved it by damning the stream of Gihon and redirecting its water through a new tunnel (underground aqueduct) into the west side of the city
at the old and famous Pools of Siloam (or Shiloah).  The construction was began with two digging teams at each end and the engineering marvel to this day is the precision
with which they met up undergro
und.  A description as to how this was accomplished was through the use of observers above the ground listening to the sound of digging
beneath since this was a time without sonars and other electronic detectors.  For Tanakh accounts of Hezekiah's Tunnel, see 2 Kings 20:20, 2 Chronicles 32:2-4, 2 Chronicles
32:30. Hezekiah's Tunnel is one of the few 8th century BCE constructions which is not only intact but can actually be traversed from end to end by the adventurous.   

Exploring Hezekiah's Tunnel  We walked the tunnel during a beautiful spring day in April, 2010 that was further brightened with new flowers in bloom.  Going down into the
darkness through sometimes alarmingly narrow passages to wade in the water stream, getting our feet wet, and then climbing back up into the sunshine made me feel like I
have walked ten miles, but it was well worth the exertion.  Once back on the surface, the first thing I did was to drink lots of water and then buy and savor my favorite holy
land ice-cream - actually a watermelon sherbet which is supposed to be excellent for a person on a diet (see last photo of this page).  
Charleston C. K. Wang, 1/31/2013.
Photography on this page by Charleston C. K. Wang, Shirley Wang, or Arthur Wang
Copyright 2010-2013 All Rights Reserved Charleston C. K. Wang, Esq., Publisher
To view
"Visitng the
Dome of the
Rock"
click
here.
Photocredit:  Charleston C. K. Wang
The location of the Old City of David as seen today showing
the eastern ravine that protected that ancient fortress
Looking From the City of David
in the direction of the Mount of Olives
with a view of the Jewish Cemetery
ARTIFACTS  UNCOVERED DURING THE EXCAVATION
OF HEZEKIAH'S WALL & TUNNEL
BRAVE SOULS WHO
DARE TO DESCEND
INTO HEZEKIAH'S
TUNNEL -
The Adventure is Just
Beginning!
CLICK ON ANY PHOTO FOR LARGER VIEW
A Section of Reconstructed Broad Wall - 23 feet thick as Hezekiah built it
Broad Wall Rubble
A Curious Stone Fixture
the Guides fondly call
the Ancient Toilet Seat
Reading from the Tanakh
(Hebrew Scripture a.k.a Old Testament)
Double-click on each photo to read
words on signboard
Double-click on each photo to read words on signboard
The 1800 BCE tunnel preceding Hezekiah
In search of Water - You have been
warned - See sign on upper right!
Double-click on each photo to read
words on signboard
A Narrow Passage
Double-click on each photo to read
words on signboard
Archaeology in Progress -  This is not Universal Studios nor Indiana Jones!
Cooling down with Fabulous Watermelon Sherbet
The Light at the End of the Tunnel - finally!
To read
"Hezekiah's
Tunnel under the
City of David,"
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The Point of Meeting