Warren's Shaft

Warren's Shaft in Wikipedia

Warren's Shaft is an archaeological feature in Jerusalem discovered in 1867 by British engineer Sir Charles Warren (1840-1927). It runs from within the old city to a spot near the Gihon Spring, and after its 19th century discovery was thought to have been the centrepiece of the city's early water supply system, since it would have enabled the city's occupants to safely reach fresh water (which was otherwise unavailable within the city) even if the city itself was besieged. The narrow and tall shaft was demonstrated to be traversable when a member of Warren's excavation climbed from top to base. Since in the Books of Samuel it states that David conquered Jerusalem from its prior inhabitants due to Joab sneaking up a similar water shaft and launching a surprise attack on the city from inside, it was long thought that Warren's shaft was the shaft in question (with Hezekiah's tunnel having too late a date, and there being no other known candidates). The shaft is composed of four sections in sequence: a stepped tunnel [1] horizontal but curved tunnel [2] a 14 metre high vertical shaft [3] a feeding tunnel According to a number of archaeologists, the shaft is simply a widening of a natural fissure in the rock. The 14 metre high shaft, which has a pool of water at the base, is now not actually thought to have been part of the system. In 1998, while a visitor centre was being constructed, builders discovered that there was an additional passageway, about 2 metres higher and starting from the horizontal curved tunnel, that skirted the 14 metre vertical shaft, and continued to a pool much nearer the Gihon spring. The 14 metre shaft is too narrow, and the pool at its base too shallow, to have been functional, and archaeologists now believe that it is merely a natural fissure that the original excavators happened to breach during their dig towards the other pool. The higher passageway was not originally higher - at some point Warren's shaft was lowered (cutting into a geologically distinct type of rock), and ran into the 14 meter vertical shaft. The pool reached by the higher passage was protected by a large tower, which was also discovered by the visitor centre builders, and is located outside the former city. The pool connects to the Gihon spring via a narrow channel, and the Gihon was itself protected by a large tower (also recently discovered). The pool itself may have been protected by a second tower, but this is uncertain as excavation of the southern side of the pool has not yet been carried out, since it lies under a current residential area. Ceramics found in the tunnels by these more recent archaeological excavations firmly date the Warren's shaft system, and the tower defences, to at least the 18th century BC. This expressly places it in the time when Canaanites controlled Jerusalem, and this, together with the guard towers, expressly rules out the possibility of anyone sneaking into the city in David's time via the shaft: the shaft's exit was heavily fortified, as was the Gihon spring. In essence, conquering the city would have been more a case of capturing the guard towers and holding the city to ransom over its water[1]. The Septuagint differs from the masoretic text: rather than all who wish to attack the Jebusites must strike at them through the water shaft, it reads all who wish to attack the Jebusites must strike at them with their dagger.

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Warren's Shaft

It can be fascinating on tours of Israel to see some of the industrial undertakings of the people alive curing biblical times. Warren’s Shaft is a perfect example of the ingenuity of the time. The underground waterworks that date all the way back to the time of the kings of Judea, Warren’s Shaft may be the Jebusite water system that David utilized to conquer the city. The shaft’s entrance crosses a tunnel that goes down to a vertical shaft that ends at Gihon Spring. There is some question as to when it was built because the technology seems a bit advanced for the people who lived in that area during the time of King David. Warren’s Shaft was truly a wonderful work as it allowed people in the city to draw from Gihon Spring without traveling out of the city, which was very important during times of war. It was rediscovered by Captain Warren, a British officer, in the last century. Consider rediscovering it for yourself today on your pilgrimage to Israel. 2 Samuel 5:6-10 6 And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, "You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off"-thinking, "David cannot come in here." 7 Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David. 8 And David said on that day, "Whoever would smite the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack the lame and the blind, who are hated by David’s soul." Therefore it is said, "The blind and the lame shall not come into the house." 9 And David dwelt in the stronghold, and called it the city of David. And David built the city round about from the Millo inward. 10 And David became greater and greater, for the Lord, the God of hosts, was with him. (America Israel Travel)

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