Pilate's Aqueduct

Ancient Caesarea Aqueduct Photo (click to enlarge)

Pontius Pilate, prefect of Judea (26-36 A.D.) is well-known to us in the New Testament and history, but little is known about Pilate’s construction of the first aqueduct which led from "Solomon's pool" near Bethlehem all the way into the city of Jerusalem. This greatly improved Jerusalem's limited water supply, which was mainly the spring of Gihon and carved out cisterns.

Luke 13:1-5 "There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."

Josephus on the Aqueduct Riot and Pontius Pilate
"He spent money from the sacred treasury in the construction of an aqueduct to bring water into Jerusalem, intercepting the source of the stream at a distance of thirty-five kilometers. The Jews did not acquiesce in the operations that this involved; and tens of thousands of men assembled and cried out against him, bidding him relinquish his promotion of such designs. Some too even hurled insults and abuse of the sort that a throng will commonly engage in. He thereupon ordered a large number of soldiers to be dressed in Jewish garments, under which they carried clubs, and he sent them off this way and that, thus surrounding the Jews, whom he ordered to withdraw. When the Jews were in full torrent of abuse he gave his soldiers the prearranged signal. They, however, inflicted much harder blows than Pilate had ordered, punishing alike both those who were rioting and those who were not. But the Jews showed no faint-heartedness; and so, caught unarmed, as they were, by men delivering a prepared attack, many of them actually were slain on the spot, while some withdrew disabled by blows. Thus ended the uprising." (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 18:60-62).

"On a later occasion he provoked a fresh uproar by expending upon the construction of an aqueduct the sacred treasure known as Corbonas; the water was brought from a distance of seventy kilometers. Indignant at this proceeding, the populace formed a ring round the tribunal of Pilate, then on a visit to Jerusalem, and besieged him with angry clamor. He, foreseeing the tumult, had interspersed among the crowd a troop of his soldiers, armed but disguised in civilian dress, with orders not to use their swords, but to beat any rioters with cudgels. He now from his tribunal gave the agreed signal. Large numbers of the Jews perished, some from the blows which they received, others trodden to death by their companions in the ensuing flight. Cowed by the fate of the victims, the multitude was reduced to silence." (Josephus, The Jewish War 2:175-177).

Also see: Josephus on the Aqueduct Riots

Ancient Roman Aqueduct Sketch

Roman aqueducts were built in all parts of the Roman Empire, from Germany to Africa, and especially in the city of Rome, where they totaled over 415 km. The aqueducts supplied water to public baths and for drinking water, in large cities across the empire, and set a standard of engineering that was not surpassed for more than a thousand years. [Wikipedia]