Highlights of Bethesda in the Holy Land
The excavations of the Pool of Bethesda also contain remnants of the Byzantine and Crusader churches built over the site during the centuries. Today the excavations can be found right next to St. Anne’s Church in the Old City of Jerusalem, and the double pools mentioned in the Bible can still clearly be seen.
During the time of Jesus, the pool was known as a place where the sick came to be healed. According to the Bible, an angel would come and stir the pool and whoever would dip themselves into the pool would be healed. The invalid healed by Jesus had come with that hope. The pool was also called the sheep’s pool and was used to wash the sheep before their sacrifice in the nearby Temple.
A temple to Asclepius, the Roman god of healing, was built on the site during Roman times. Later in the 5th century, a church was built over the ruins of the temple and the pool in the 5th century, evidenced by the arches that supported the floors. The Byzantines and the Crusaders built churches on the site of which excavated remnants can be seen today.
The Pool of Bethesda in Scripture
“Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’ ‘Sir,’ the invalid replied, ‘I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.’ At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.” John 5:1-8
The site is open Monday to Saturday. Not easily accessible for wheelchairs.