Siloam Inscription


Image source: Jack Kilmon www.historian.net
DESCRIPTION
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
(just east of Jerusalem)
Date of discovery: 1880
Present location: Museum of the Ancient Orient
Istanbul, Turkey
Museum inventory number: ?


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

TRANSLATION
(Adapted from Coote 1992:24)

[. . .] HNQBH . WZH . HYH . DBR .
HNQBH . BcWD
[. . . .]
1 [. . .] the tunneling; and this was how the tunneling was completed: As [the laborers employed]
HGRZN . 'Š . 'L . RcW . WBcWD . ŠLŠ .
'MT . LHN
[QB . WYŠ]c . QL . 'Š . Q
2 their picks, each crew toward the other, and while there were still three cubits remaining, the voices of the men calling out
[R]' . 'L . RcW . KY . HYT . QDH . B SR .
MYMN . W
['D . Š']L . WBYM . H
3 to each other [could be heard], since it got louder on the right [and lef]t. The day the
NQBH . HKW . HHSBM . 'Š . LQRT .
RcW . GRZN . cL .
[G]RZN . WYLKW.
4 opening was made, the stonecutters hacked toward each other, pick against pick.
HMYM . MN . HMWS' . 'L . HBRKH .
BM'TY
[M . W]'LP . 'MH . WM[']
5 And the water flowed from the source to the pool [twel]ve hundred cubits ,
T . 'MH . HYH . GBH . HSR . cL . R'Š .
HHSB
[M]



    Transliteration of special characters
      ' = 'Aleph
      H = Heth
      T = Teth
      c = cAyin
      S = Sadê

      Š = Šin
6 (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").



DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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?




BIBLIOGRAPHY

Albright, W. F. "Palestinian Inscriptions." In Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. Edited by J. 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 D. N. 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 D. N. Freedman, 6.24-26. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Sasson, V. "Siloam Tunnel Inscription." Palestine Exploration Quarterly 14 (1982) 111-17.
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 D. N. 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.



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Last Modified: 15 May 2002