More from Cheryl Anderson
I have noticed that most disagreements about the historicity and veracity of the Bible start with the premise that there are no secular records containing evidence of the Biblical flood, the life of King David, or even the numerous Israelite enemies inhabiting the Promised Land. In addition, many have called into question the authorship of the Bible because some believe Moses could not have written the Pentateuch because writing was not invented in time for him to jot down his inspired account of the exodus. However, some 20th century archaeologists have used every fragment, ruin, and artifact they could find to deepen our understanding of the ancient Biblical world and the precious word of God.
I have traveled to Israel several times, and one of my favorite sites is the Bethesda Pool. Many Biblical finds do not make it into the news, and the Bethesda Pool excavation is one that missed the front page. This pool is the site of one of Christ's most famous miracles, found in John's Gospel, chapter 5. John describes the pool as having five covered porches: "Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda with five covered porches" (John 5:1-2).
The Sheep Gate was where Israelites brought sacrificial lambs for the temple, hence the name. I asked myself, Why would John be so exact in his description? Sheep Gate? Pool with five porches? John could have given less attention to the location and description and just recounted the miracle, but he didn't! God wants us to understand that he is just as real as the locations and accounts of the Bible.
The excavation of the Bethesda Pool happened in the late 19th century, and it took 100 years for archaeologists to accurately identify the site. The location, near the Temple Mount, is in a residential area, which makes the site difficult to excavate. The site puzzled many and some discounted the possibility that it could have been the location of a miracle. Many scholars simply decided that John used creative license in his description of the pool. Yet when this site was fully excavated, it revealed a rectangular pool with two basins divided by a wall--a five-sided pool with each side having a covered porch or portico, just as John described!
Every day new discoveries piece together the puzzle of the past for us. I don't think it's an accident that the Dead Sea Scrolls were placed in containers and caves in the driest, lowest point on earth where the perfect "climate control" preserved them. To me, God's love, grace, and mercy have become more real through my travels in Israel and my study of the geography, history, and people of the Bible.
- Cheryl Anderson
Cheryl writes about Israel and how visiting the Holy Land can change travelers' lives and deepen their relationships with Christ. You can learn more about the tours to Israel that she leads with her husband, Rich, at their website: https://theholylandwithrichandcheryl.com/.