Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem

There have been two artificial pools of Bethesda  at this point since 6 B.C. It was enough to build a simple dam across the bed of the Beit Zeita for creation of an artificial pool of 40х50 m near the First Temple of Solomon. Beside it there was the Sheep Gate through which sacrificial animals were brought to the Temple, and before the offering they were washed in the Pool of Bethesda. From the pool water was also delivered to the Temple by a special canal.

At about 3 century B.C. a second pool was created near the first one, and in the period of 150-70 B.C. near the western side of the Pool of Bethesda a healing and religious center appeared where they healed people. The big pool served a cistern from which water was delivered to the numerous pools. There was always a big crowd of the weak and sick who weren`t allowed in the Temple, and it was at these pools that they tried to get the healing.

As it is written in the Gospel According to John, the water of the Pool of Bethesda was believed to be miracle-making when "the Lord`s angel occasionally descended to the pool and disturbed the water and those who dipped in it just after the disturbance got healed irrespective of their diseases.” Also, in the Gospel a healing scene is described: “at the pool a sick man lay who suffered from his illness for 38 years and almost lost any hope for healing, as there was no one to as there was no one to lower him in a pool at disturbance of water. Jesus said to him: “take your bedding and go.” And he got healed at once, took his bedding and went”.

In 1 B.C., six years later, the Pool of Bethesda wasn’t already used, as by that time a larger pool Birket Israel was created in the immediate vicinity of the Temple. A new city wall, which was erected by Herod Agrippa in 44 already obstructed drainage of water downstream of the Pool of Bethesda, however, it was about that time that a Roman cistern was built, which survived until out days.

During the period when Jerusalem was restored after the destruction (it was then called Aelia Capitolina) the Temple of Asclepius was built on the site of the pool, and in the later Byzantine period there was built a big Christian basilica at the point, and its foundation covered most of the pools of Bethesda.

All these temples were destroyed by the Arabs, but today you can see their ruins in different parts of the Bethesda. In 1130 near the pools of Bethesda a Roman church was built. It was built during the rule of crusaders by the Queen Melisende, who built many churches in the Holy Land. It is just this church that was preserved in good condition until out time. It was built on the site where the house of Joachim and Anna stood, the parents of Virgin Mary. At the church you can visit a subterranean crypt to see the birthplace of the God`s Mother.

After the crusaders left Jerusalem and during the rule of Arabs the church was in complete desolation until 1853 when Turkey gave it to France in appreciation of the help in the Crimea War with Russia. Cardinal Levizery was commissioned with the task to restore this sanctity (you can see his sculpture in the court of the church). It was just his excavations that helped not only to completely restore the church but also to discover ancient dams and pools of the Bethesda.