Locality mentioned in the Old Testament as "the waters of Shiloah" (Isa. viii. 6) and "the pool of Siloah" (Neh. iii. 15). Josephus writes the word Σιλωά, Σιλωᾶς, and Σιλωάμ, while the Arabic name is 'Ain Silwan. The pool was surrounded by the royal gardens on the south, and part of it belonged to the fortress of Jerusalem, while the spring which fed it was at the entrance to the Tyropœon valley dividing the upper from thelower city. Probably as early as the reign of Solomon, water was brought from this spring to a tank in the valley of Kidron, in order to irrigate the royal gardens south of the city, although the site of this reservoir, which Josephus calls "Solomon's pool" ("B. J." v. 4, § 2), is no longer known. A conduit, in which was discovered the Siloam inscription, led to it from the Fountain of the Virgin ('Ain Sitti Maryam), and through the outer part of the Moriah to a pool in the Tyropœon valley; and it was probably to this conduit that Isaiah alluded in speaking of the "waters of Shiloah that go softly." At the present time (1905) the reservoir of Shiloah is 53 feet long, 18 feet wide, and 19 feet deep.

According to the Talmud, the spring of the pool is exactly in the center of the Holy Land (Zabim i. 5); and owing to its peculiar ebb and flow it has always been popularly regarded as an arm of the sea. After the service in the Temple on the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Solomon and the people descended to the pool, from which water was drawn and poured upon the altar (Suk. v. 1). When, moreover, the priests were obliged to eat large quantities of sacred meat, they drank of the water of Shiloah to aid digestion (Ab. R. N. xxxv.). King Hezekiah had the opening, which was not larger than a coin, enlarged, that the water might flow more freely; but the work had scarcely been done when the stream grew less in volume. He therefore had the orifice made smaller, whereupon the original quantity again appeared (Yalḳuṭ Shim'oni, ii. 285, ed. Wilna, 1898).

Before Shiloah was connected with the pool it may have been called "Gihon"; for the Targum of Jonathan renders the "Gihon" of I Kings i. 33, 38, by "Shiloah"; the two places were furthermore identified by Theodoret ("Quæstiones," ii.), as they are also by Burckhardt ("Travels in Syria and the Holy Land," v. 461) and by Isaac Ḥelo (Tobler, "Jerusalem," ii. 62). See Siloam Inscription.

Fountain of Shiloah (Siloam).(From a photograph by Bonfils.)
  • Schwarz, Palestine, 1850, pp. 240-241, Philadelphia;
  • Neubauer, G. T. pp. 145-147;
  • Sepp, Das Heilige Land, i. 107, 228, 328, 335, 696, Schaffhausen, 1873;
  • Robinson, Palestine, i. 341, 493, 501-505, London, 1841;
  • Josephus, B. J. ii. 16. § 2; v. 4, § 2; 6, § 1; 12, § 2; vi. 8, § 5;
  • Guthe, in Z. D. M. G. xxxvi. 725-750;
  • Socin, in Z. D. P. V. iii. 547 et seq.;
  • Kautzsch, ib. iv. 120 et seq., 261 et seq.;
  • Guthe, ib. iv. 250 et seq.
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