Friday, December 19, 2014

Bonus 49 - Hezekiahs Tunnel

The author walking through Hezekiah’s Tunnel
which was discovered by Edward Robinson in 1838.
The tunnel brought water from the Gihon Spring to
the Pool of Siloam, in the Silwan neighbourhood of East Jerusalem.
It is mentioned in 2 Kgs 20:20 and 2 Chron 32:3–4
Hezekiah means “Jehovah is strength”. Hezekiah reigned from 715–686 BC. The Northern Kingdom had just fallen to the Assyrians in 722 BC. Hezekiah was only twenty five when he came to the throne but was not to follow in his father’s footsteps. He set out to reform the religion of Judah and purge the temple of idols. He called upon the Levites to clean up the temple in preparation for worship. The worship of God and sacrifices were started up again. The Passover was reinstituted and an invitation even went out to the Northern Kingdom of Israel to participate in the event at Jerusalem. Even the bronze serpent of Moses which had been worshiped by the people was taken down and destroyed (Num 21:4–9; 2 Kgs 18:4). An altar has been discovered in Beersheba (Tel Be’er Sheva ) which had been dismantled and on one of the stones with which it was constructed there was a serpent etched into it (see chapter eleven, Beersheba Altar).

In 711 BC, just a few years after Hezekiah had become king; Sargon II of Assyria captured Ashdod.  In response Hezekiah began a defense program against an Assyrian invasion rather than trusting in the Lord. He fortified cities and built the Hezekiah Tunnel discovered in 1880. The tunnel connected the Pool of Siloam (See Siloam inscription) with the spring of Gihon. This would ensure that Jerusalem had sufficient water supplies in case of a siege. It was a monumental task taking Judean workers through 1,777 feet of solid rock.

Todd Bolen / Bible
Ten years later, the Assyrians invaded Judah after having taken Israel into captivity. As the Assyrians invaded city after city, Hezekiah sent word to Sennacherib King of Assyria at Lachish stating that he would pay him a heavy tax if he left them alone (2 Kgs 18:13). The tax was so great that Hezekiah had to strip the temple and palace of its gold to make the payment.

But it was all to no avail as Sennacherib came back and demanded an unconditional surrender. Against the proud and arrogant boast of the Assyrians, Hezekiah humbly trusted the Lord (2 Kgs 19:21–22). He sent word for Isaiah to intervene and give direction. With both his trusting in the Lord and his well laid preparations it was enough to hold off the Assyrians (2 Kgs 19:7). God sent a plague and 185,000 Assyrians died in one night (2 Kgs 19:35–36; Is 27:36–37). Sennacherib returned home depressed and discouraged where he was killed by two of his own sons. God caused the Babylonians to revolt against the Assyrians and as a result Jerusalem was spared.

It was around this same time that Hezekiah fell sick, in fact Isaiah the prophet told him to put his house in order in preparation for his death. But as a result of his earnest prayer recorded in Isaiah 38, Hezekiah was granted recovery and lived another fifteen years. He died in 686 BC after leading Judah in one of its greatest revivals in its history.

For Further Study
  • Rogerson, John W., and Philip R. Davies. “Was the Siloam Tunnel Built by Hezekiah?” Biblical Archaeologist 59, no. 3 (1996): 138–49.
  • Cahill, Jane M. “A Rejoinder to ‘Was the Siloam Tunnel Built by Hezekiah?.’” Biblical Archaeologist 60, no. 3 (1997): 184–85

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