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Pool of Bethesda

This is the site of the miraculous healing of a paralyzed man by Jesus, as recounted solely in the gospel of John.

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This is the site of the miraculous healing of a paralyzed man by Jesus, as recounted solely in the gospel of John, and also the site of the birth of Mary's mother, "Anne".

The grounds contain extensive excavations revealing the original five pools and successive remains of the Byzantine, Crusader and medieval churches built over the pools, as well as water run-off collection systems dating back to the eighth century BCE intended to supply the temple with water. The strata are labeled and color coded and easy to follow, but dwarfing all this is the purest crusader church in the whole country: St. Anne's.


St. Anne's church was built by crusaders on a plot adjacent to that of the Byzantine church destroyed by Hakim (which had a small chapel built over it). Not long afterwards Salah id-Din took over the city, and in 1192 the church was turned into an Islamic school (there is still the opening inscription above the door). In subsequent years the church fell into disuse but miraculously was never destroyed because it made a handy rubbish dump. Thus, it remained until 1856 when the Ottoman government, seeking a way to express gratitude to France for help in the Crimean war, gave her the church. It is still run by French fathers.


The sheep pools were an Aesclepion, a Greek "hospital" based partly on miraculous healing by divine intervention, partly on the merits of seclusion and rest and partly on theories that have of late come into vogue with Jungian Analysts.


From the Scriptures

John Chapter 5
2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed. 5 One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked.
Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me said to me, ‘Take up your pallet, and walk.’” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your pallet, and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because he did this on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working still, and I am working.” 18 This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal with God.

The Revised Standard Version, (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc.) 1973, 1977.



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