The Gihon Spring (Hebrew: מעיין הגיחון) or Fountain of the Virgin in the Kidron Valley was the main source of water for the Pool of Siloam in the City of David, the original site of Jerusalem. One of the world's major intermittent springs—and a reliable water source that made human settlement possible in ancient Jerusalem—the spring was not only used for drinking water, but also initially for irrigation of gardens in the adjacent Kidron Valley which provided a food source for the ancient settlement.
The spring rises in a cave 20 feet by 7. Being intermittent, it required the excavation of the Pool of Siloam which stored the large amount of water needed for the town when the spring was not flowing. The spring has the singular characteristic of being intermittent, flowing from three to five times daily in winter, twice daily in summer, and only once daily in autumn. This peculiarity is accounted for by the supposition that the outlet from the reservoir is by a passage in the form of a siphon.
The name Gihon is thought to derive from the Hebrew Giha which means "gushing forth".
Three main water systems allowed water to be brought from the spring to the city under cover:
In 1997, while a visitor centre was being constructed, the spring was discovered to have been heavily fortified with dates then thought to be Middle Bronze Age, when archaeologists unexpectedly uncovered two monumental towers, one protecting the base of Warren's Shaft, and the other protecting the spring itself. Since the area around the site still was inhabited, and hence could not be excavated, it is unknown whether any further fortifications exist (though a further tower to the south of that protecting Warren's Shaft is thought likely).
During an archaeological dig in 2009, a fragment of a monumental stone inscription securely dated to the eighth century BC was discovered. Although only fragments of Hebrew lettering survive, the fragment proves that the city had monumental public inscriptions and the corresponding large public buildings in the eighth century.
A 2017 study by the Weizmann Institute of Science has redated the constructions, reporting that “Scenarios for the construction of the tower during Middle Bronze Age (MB) and Iron Age II are considered, based on the new 14C [radiocarbon] data, yielding a series of dates, the latest of which falls in the terminal phases of the 9th century BCE, alongside previous excavation data.” Israel Finkelstein has suggested that the tower could still be Bronze Age but restored in the Iron Age adding that “In any event, a late 9th century date should come as no surprise, as there are other indications for the growth of the city at that time – from the Temple Mount (in my opinion the original location of the mound of Jerusalem) to the south, in the direction of the Gihon spring”.
The city government of Jerusalem has proposed to restore the valley floor by removing Palestinian homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan and replacing them with a park called the Garden of the King through which the waters of Gihon could flow south along their ancient course.
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This is an article from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in 1897. This article is written from a nineteenth century Christian viewpoint, and may not reflect modern opinions or recent discoveries in biblical scholarship. (Learn how and when to remove this template message)