The Amazing Hezekiah's Tunnel
Have you ever heard of Hezekiah’s tunnel? It was nothing short of an engineering marvel that allowed most precious commodity of all, water, to be brought to Jerusalem. And better yet, it is something that you can personally sell and explore yourself today! Get ready to step back with us to the past from our modern day into the time of Hezekiah’s successful engineering marvel of centuries past.
There is a debate on why Hezekiah’s tunnel exists. It is natural to conclude that there is a reason to undertake such a daunting task of tunneling through rock. The first suggestion that many give for undertaking this process is simply that of convenience. There is something to be said for having access to fresh water a little closer to home. The other reason is perhaps a defensive one. As the Assyrian army threatened the southern kingdom it would seem wise for Hezekiah to move the water supply to a more internal location and to disguise the source, so that the opposing army could not cut off their water supply in case of a siege on Jerusalem. These suggestions cover the “why” of Hezekiah’s tunnel and seem to be satisfactory reasons.
The knowledge of "how" the tunnel was carved is much more clear to us than "why" the tunnel was made. The tunnel was cut from the stone was by using pickaxes to create a path for the water to flow. Workers started on both ends of the tunnel and eventually met in the middle. The path hewn from the rock is not perfectly straight. This then introduces a common belief that the diggers followed an existing split already formed in the rock. This, however, is questionable, because we see obvious path changes within the tunnel. There are multiple spots where the diggers would start a path and later change their mind and direction. It appears that there was much shifting and evolving of the diggers paths as they changed to different degrees and angels as they continued on. This happened many times through the course of the tunnel. If they were following an existing split in the rock, then there would be little need to readjust their positioning so often as they advanced. As the diggers approached meeting one another in the middle they could hear the sound of the pickaxes from the other side. This, no doubt, helped them coordinate their path better. As the workers came even closer they could hear the voices of their fellow laborers. This allowed them to become more precise and probably encouraged them that their lofty goal was in reach as well.
Why Hezekiah’s men selected to follow the path they chose is unknown, but the process in how they dug the tunnel is clear. Many things in archeology are left to piecing together like puzzles and there is educated speculation involved oftentimes. However, Hezekiah’s tunnel is not one of these things. Inside the tunnel, people of the southern kingdom left an inscription on how the project was completed. In the inscription, we are told, as outlined in the previous paragraph, that the workers started on each end and met in the middle. We are told they could hear the sounds of pick-axes and the voices of the comrades on the other side of the tunnel. Evidence supports this also inside the tunnel. Either end that you would start on would have markings from the carving tools indicating the direction the tools were being swung. Once you cross the halfway point where the workers met the markings change directions indicating that laborers came from different sides and concluded their work in the middle.
Hezekiah’s tunnel was an important project in Biblical times. It is accessible even today, allowing us to step back in time and retrace real Biblical history. The tunnel, with its ancient inscription, backs up what we see evidentially. The tunnel is a piece of history we are fortunate to experience still today thanks to the efforts of archeologists throughout the past centuries.