Picture this. You’re walking forward. Your feet are dragging a little because you are in freezing water that rises over your knees, and below your feet are rocks that have become smooth with time. Almost touching each of your shoulders as you walk are two walls made of the same rock that is under your feet. At times, the ceiling, which is also rock, seems to be about 5 feet above you, and then in a matter of minutes it stoops so low you have to walk for awhile hunched over in a squat. If you want to turn around, you have to do so with caution so not to scrape your arms across the rock walls. Oh, and don’t forget your headlamp, because without it you are navigating your way through complete darkness for thirty minutes.
Above is my experience exploring Hezekiah’s tunnel. The fear was due to the tight, claustrophobic space permeated with water, but the thrill was from exploring a tunnel the Bible mentions specifically in 2 Kings 20:20. It was like walking through that passage, literally. And wow, the work and planning it must’ve taken to create such a tunnel in just 8th century BC is mind-blowing.
The purpose of the tunnel was to protect Jerusalem from the impending Assyrian army at that time, and so King Hezekiah decided to protect the water by diverting its flow from the Gihon Spring (which was outside the city) into the fortified city. However, the ironic part is that after all the hard work of digging a tunnel to reroute an entire water system, the Assyrian army was “struck down” before they even reached the city. The Assyrians were a world empire at that time, conquering cities left and right (view picture below to see how crazy powerful they were). But Jerusalem was different. 2 Kings 19:35 reads, “And that night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.”
Today, Kevin made a good point. That though we try so hard to protect God’s plans with our own strength and power, Hezekiah’s story makes us realize that we are foolish when we think we have any real power. Such a marvelous feat are these tunnels, and yet they did absolutely nothing to help save Jerusalem like King Hezekiah planned. His legacy of building them lives on, but the glory of the battle won is now God’s.
The end of the tunnel spits you out at the pool of Siloam, which is where Jesus healed the blind man when coming into Jerusalem. He spit in some dirt, spread the mud on his eyes, and then told him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. The pool was kind of covered by excavations and trees so it was hard to witness. But there were steps (the ACTUAL steps Jesus and the disciples had walked on!!!) that were uncovered and available for use from the archeologists.
Funny enough, instead of walking back up to the top of the City of David from where we were at the bottom on these steps, our guide decided to take us under the steps into the SEWERS of these ancient times. Apparently, when the Jews were being persecuted by the Romans in Jerusalem around 66 AD, they tried camping out and hiding in these sewers for protection. They were fun to explore, but I can’t say I would ever wish to live in them…