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An inscription accidentally discovered in 1880 by a native pupil of Schick, a German architect, who had long settled in Jerusalem. is chiseled in the rock that forms the southern wall at the channel which opens out upon the ancient Pool of Siloam, and is partly concealed by the water. The modern Pool includes the older reservoir, supplied with water by an excavated tunnel, 1708 yards long, communicating with the Spring of the Virgin, which is cut through the ridge that forms the southern part of the Temple Hill. The Pool is on the opposite side of the ridge, at the mouth of the Tyropoeon Cheesemakers valley, which was filled with rubbish, and largely built over. The inscription is on an artificial tablet in the rock, about nineteen feet from the opening upon the Pool.
The first intelligible copy was made by Prof. A. H.Sayce, whose admirable little work, called Fresh Light on the Ancient Monuments, gives full details.
Doctor Guthe, in March, 1881, made a complete facsimile copy of the six lines, which read thus: (Behold) the excavation! now this is the history of the excavation. While the excavators were still lifting up the pick, each towards his neighbor and while there were yet three cubits to (excavate there was heard) the voice of me than calling to his neighbor, for there was an excess in the rock on the right hand (and on the left). And after that on the day of excavating, the excavators had struck pick against pick, one against the other, the waters flowed from the spring to the pool for a distance of 1200 cubits. And (part) of a cubit mas the height of the rock over the head of the excavators.
The engineering skill must have been considerable, as the work was tortuous, and yet the excavators met at the middle. There is no date, but the form of the ztters show the age to be nearly that of the Moabite stone. Scholars place the date during the reign of Hezekiah and in that event appraise it as the oldest Hebrew inscription known. "He made the pool and the aqueduct and brought the water into the city" (Second Kings xx, 20). The discovery was an important one. Processor Sayce deduces the following
The modern city of Jerusalem occupies very little of the same ground as the ancient one, the latter stood entirely on the rising ground to the east of the Tyropoeon valley, the northern portion of which is at present occupied by the Mosque of Omar, while the southern portion is uninhabited. The Tyropoeon valley itself must be the Valley of the Sons of Hinnom, where the idolaters of Jerusalem burnt their children in the fire to Moloeh. It must be in the southern cliff of this valley that the tombs of the kings are situated," they being buried under the rubbish with which the valley is filled; and " among this rubbish must be remains of the city and temple destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Here, as well as in the now obliterated Valley of the Cheesemakers, probably lie the relies of the dynasty ox David.
Hebrew inscriptions of an early date have hitherto long been sought for in vain. Seals and fragmentary inscriptions have heretofore been discovered. Several of these seals have been found in Babylonia and Mesopotamia, and are regarded as memorials of the Jewish exiles; but the Schick discovery gives us a writing certainly as old as the time of Isaiah.
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