A tiny fragment of limestone found in the Siloam Tunnel, beneath the City of David, seem to mention King Hezekiah.
A small fragment of a stone inscription was recently found in the Siloam Tunnel. Carved in ancient times, the tunnel is now located in the Arab neighborhood of Silwan, in eastern Jerusalem. Its popular name, “Hezekiah’s Tunnel,” is due to the most common hypothesis that it dates from the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah, between the late 8th and early 7th century BC.
It has been commonly believed that this tunnel corresponds to a “conduit” that is mentioned in 2 Kings 20:20:
“The rest of the deeds of Hezeki’ah, and all his might, and how he made the pool and the conduit and brought water into the city, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?”
Now, archaeologists have found a little piece of evidence (a small limestone fragment) that connects King Hezekiah to this tunnel.
Biblical narratives explain how King Hezekiah prepared Jerusalem for an impending siege by the Assyrians. 2 Chronicles 32:30 explains how he blocked “the source of the waters of the upper Gihon” and led them “straight down on the west to the City of David,” to prevent the enemy forces under Sennacherib from having access to water.
The limestone fragment dates to the 8th century BC. As reported by NewsBreak, the researchers believe it is only a tiny particle of a much bigger monument.
The fragment shows six letters in paleo-Hebrew script distributed in two lines, each with three letters. The first line includes the letters qyh. Researchers suggest that the whole word would have been Hizqyhw –that is, Hizquiyahu, Hezekiah.
The second line shows two letters, a dot, and a third letter. Scholars believe this meant that the first two letters ended a word, and the third letter began another word. They have theorized that the first word, which ends in kh, might have read brkh –berecha, pool, following the biblical narrative that explains that the water flowing through Hezekiah’s Tunnel got all to the way to the Pool (berecha) of Siloam.
King Hezekiah’s religious reforms
This is not the first time archaeological findings seem to confirm biblical narratives concerning King Hezekiah. In January 2017, archaeologists working on an excavation at Tel Lachish National Park, 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem, found the remains of an ancient altar believed to be nearly 3,000 years old. Tel Lachish National Park marks the site of the ancient city of Lachish, a prosperous and fortified city mentioned at least two dozen times in the Bible, destroyed by the Assyrians around 700 BC.
Researchers had already uncovered, although partially, some of the remains of one of the ancient gates at Lachish several decades ago. These gates, dated as belonging to the First Temple Period (from 1000 to 600 BC), were particularly important, as some official acts took place there. In fact, some of these gates, such as this one, would have included an altar.
According to the article published by Christian News, archaeologists found the altar’s horns had been “intentionally cut by someone,” thus providing some archaeological evidence backing up the events told in 2 Kings 18 related to Hezekiah’s religious reforms: “He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles” (2 Kings 18, 4).
Sa’ar Ganor, the director of the excavation, explained in a statement that “it is most interesting that the horns on the altar were intentionally truncated. That is probably evidence of the religious reform attributed to King Hezekiah, whereby religious worship was centralized in Jerusalem and the cultic high places that were built outside the capital were destroyed.”
“Before our very eyes these new finds become the biblical verses themselves and speak in their voice,” added Ze’ev Elkin, the Minister of Jerusalem and Heritage and Environmental Protection.
The archaeologists also uncovered a stone toilet purposely placed in one of the gate’s chambers. Most likely it was placed there to desecrate the former altar, in the same way Jehu desecrated a house of Baal by converting it to a latrine, according to the biblical account found in 2 Kings 10, 27: “They demolished the sacred stone of Baal and tore down the temple of Baal, and people have used it for a latrine to this day.”
As explained by Christian News, “this is the first time that an archaeological find confirms this phenomenon,” the Israel Antiquities Authority noted.