(Investigator 97, 2004 July)


The Old Testament describes the building of a 533-metre tunnel to bring water from the spring of Gihon 300 metres outside the east wall of ancient Jerusalem to the pool of Siloam inside the city.

The tunnel, according to the Bible, was built in the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah who reigned around 700 BCE. (II Chronicles 32; II Kings 20)

Various critics disputed the Bible's date for the tunnel, the identity of the king who authorised its construction, and even whether the tunnel was man-made or natural.

The dispute was settled by science in 2003.


Knowledge of the tunnel’s existence was lost for centuries until the tunnel was rediscovered in the Middle Ages. In 1880 a six-line Hebrew inscription was found on the wall six metres inside the tunnel. It describes how two groups of stonecutters, working toward each other, broke through the remaining rock that separated them. Translated it reads:

The boring through is completed. Now this is the story of the boring through. While the workmen were still lifting pick to pick each toward his neighbor and while three cubits remained to be cut through, each heard the voice of the other who called to his neighbor, since there was a crevice on the rock on the right side. And on the day of the boring through the stone cutters struck, each to meet his fellow pick to pick; and there flowed the waters to the pool for 1200 cubits and 100 cubits was the height of the rock above the heads of the stone cutters. (Unger 1983)

What wasn't scientifically confirmed was the Bible’s date for the work and that Hezekiah was the king who authorized it. The six-line inscription does not name Hezekiah even though most ancient monarchs commonly boasted of their architectural achievements.


During construction, plaster to line the tunnel was prepared in large quantities outside the tunnel and plant material had become mixed in. In 2003 a team led by Amos Frumkin, a geologist of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, extracted fine wood and plant material embedded in the plaster and carbon dated it.

They also dated stalactite material from the tunnel’s ceiling using uranium-thorium dating.

The plant material – the plants of course died before the tunnel was completed – was found to be from plants that died 800-700 BCE. The stalactites – which could only form after the tunnel was finished – were dated to around 400 BCE.

"It verifies the biblical account that King Hezekiah was responsible," said Frumkin. (New Scientist, 2003)

He also told PhysicsWeb, "This is the first time a structure mentioned in the Bible has been radiometrically dated."

Jeff Rosenbaum, a geochemist, said, "We…put an end to the arguments in the biblical/archaeological literature about the age of the Siloam Tunnel…and…whether the tunnel is natural or man-made." (Sever, M)


Hezekiah commissioned the tunnel to supply water for Jerusalem in the event of a siege. A siege occurred when King Sennacherib of Assyria, commanding the world's most powerful armies, smashed the armies of neighboring nations and then attacked all the cities of Judah.

Jerusalem was saved by means unexplained to this day – the Bible says by an "angel of the Lord". The story is in Investigator 71.


By the 19th and early 20th centuries almost the entire Bible seemed erroneous, so thoroughly had critics criticized it.

Since then, hundreds of Bible statements have been verified, their status changed from false to true. This has occurred even in unlikely subject areas like astronomy, zoology and oceanography – demonstrated in Investigator Magazine.

The Bible teaches that every human is wrong and misled but that it itself is accurate, inspired by God and "God cannot lie." Consider the implications for yourself.


Frumkin, A., Shimron, A., and Rosenbaum, J. Radiometric dating of the Siloam Tunnel, Jerusalem, Nature, Volume 425, 2003, 169-171

New Scientist, Biblical tunnel verified, September 13,2003, p. 26


Sever, M

Unger, M. F. 1983 Unger's Bible Dictionary, Complete and Unabridged, Paperback Edition, Moody Press, Chicago, USA

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