Siloam Inscription

Image source: Jack Kilmon
Language: Hebrew
Medium: stone
Length: 6 lines
Size: 1.32 meters wide
0.21 meters high
Date: c. 701 B.C.E.
Place of Discovery: Silwan
(village just east of Jerusalem)
Discoverer: Jacob Spafford, a young boy
Epigrapher: A. H. Sayce
Date of discovery: 1880
Present location: Archaeological Museum of Istanbul
Istanbul, Turkey
photo taken in museum: photo by Dr. Carl Rasmussen
photo at original placement: photo by Dr. Carl Rasmussen

(Adapted from Cooke 1903:15 and
Gibson 1971:22)

(Adapted from Coote 1992:24)
הנקבה וזה היה דבר הנקבה בעוד
[. . .] the tunneling; and this was how the tunneling was completed: As [the laborers employed]
הגרזן אש אל רעו ובעוד שלש אמת להנקב וישע קל אש ק
their picks, each crew toward the other, and while there were still three cubits remaining, the voices of the men calling out
[ר]א אל רעו כי הית קדה בצר מימן [ומשם] אל ובים ה
to each other [could be heard], since it got louder on the right [and lef]t. The day the
נקבה הכו החצבם אש לקרת רעו גרזן על [ג]רזן וילכו
opening was made, the stonecutters hacked toward each other, pick against pick.
המים מן המוצא אל הברכה במאתי[ם ו]אלף אמה ומ[א]
And the water flowed from the source to the pool [twel]ve hundred cubits,
ת אמה היה גבה הצר על ראש החצב[ם]
(despite the fact that) the height of the rock above the stonecutters' heads was one hundred cubits.

A cubit is an ancient unit of length, approximating the distance from the elbow to the end of the middle finger. The English word is from the Latin cubitum (“elbow”).


1. Why would the construction of the tunnel be singled out among Hezekiah's deeds (2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:30; Sirach 48:17)?
2. What role does the tunnel play in Isaiah's “argument” (Isaiah 22:11)?
3. What was the significance of city water systems in the ancient world relative to military strategies?
4. What other major water systems do we know about in ancient Jerusalem? Elsewhere in Syro-Palestine?


Albright, W. F. “Palestinian Inscriptions.” In Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, edited by James B. Pritchard, 320-22. 3rd ed. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1969.
Conder, C. R. “The Siloam Tunnel.” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 14 (1882) 122-31.
Cooke, G. A. A Text-book of North-Semitic Inscriptions. Oxford: Clarendon, 1903.
Coote, Robert B. “Siloam Inscription.” In Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by David Noel Freedman, 6:23-24. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Gibson, John C. L. Textbook of Syrian Semitic Inscriptions. Vol. 1: Hebrew and Moabite Inscriptions. Oxford: Clarendon, 1971.
Guthe, H. “Siloahinschrift.” Zeitschrift der deutsche morganländische Gesellschaft 36 (1882) 725-50.
Mare, W. Harold. “Siloam, Pool of.” In Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by David Noel Freedman, 6:24-26. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Sasson, Victor. “Siloam Tunnel Inscription.” Palestine Exploration Quarterly 14 (1982) 111-17.
Sayce, A. H. “The Ancient Hebrew Inscription in the Pool of Siloam.” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 13 (1881) 69-73; 141-53; 282-85.
Shiloh, Yigael. “Jerusalem's Water Supply During Siege—The Rediscovery of Warren's Shaft.” Biblical Archaeology Review 7.4 (1981) 24-39.
Tarlar, David. “David, City of.” In Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by David Noel Freedman, 2:52-67. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Ussishkin, David. “The Original Length of the Siloam Tunnel in Jerusalem.” Levant 8 (1976) 82-95.
Wilkinson, J. “The Pool of Siloam.” Levant 10 (1978) 116-25.
Younger, K. Lawson. "The Siloam Tunnel Inscription." In The Context of Scripture. Vol. 2, Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World, edited by William W. Hallo, 145-46. Leiden: Brill, 2000.

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Last Modified: 18 April 2013

1488 א alef
1489 ב bet
1490 ג gimel
1491 ד dalet
1492 ה he
1493 ו waw
1494 ז zayin
1495 ח heth
1496 ט teth
1497 י yod
1498 ך kaf (final)
1499 כ kaf (medial)
1500 ל lamed
1501 ם mem (final)
1502 מ mem (medial)
1503 ן nun (final)
1504 נ nun (medial)
1505 ס samek
1506 ע 'ayin
1507 ף pe (final)
1508 פ pe (medial)
1509 ץ sadeh (final)
1510 צ sadeh (medial)
1511 ק qof
1512 ר resh
1513 ש shin
1514 ת taw