Overview: The pool of Bethesda (alt. Bethzatha or Bethsaida) where Jesus healed an invalid of thirty-eight years.

Details: While there are alternate spellings for the name of the place, the location is known in Jerusalem. Early church (Byzantine) Christians commemorated this location with a church, as did the Crusaders. Ruins of both churches stand near and over the site of the ancient pools, dating to the Roman era at the time of Jesus and earlier. The account from Scriptures is as follows...

John 5:1-15 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. 2 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. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie — the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 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?" 7 "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." 8 Then Jesus said to him, "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk." 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, "It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat." 11 But he replied, "The man who made me well said to me, 'Pick up your mat and walk.'" 12 So they asked him, "Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?" 13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. 14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you." 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. (NIV)

The following diagram shows the location of the pools, the ancient baths, and the later Byzantine Basilica and Crusader Chapel (the letter number grid will help to reference locations later).





For example, the Southern Pool (C-1) is dated...

It is thought that at one or more of these pools in this area actually date back even further, as referenced in the book of Isaiah...

Isaiah 22:9-11 you saw that the City of David had many breaches in its defenses; you stored up water in the Lower Pool. 10 You counted the buildings in Jerusalem and tore down houses to strengthen the wall. 11 You built a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the Old Pool, but you did not look to the One who made it, or have regard for the One who planned it long ago. (NIV)

The medicinal bath areas in green and yellow (B-6,7,8) are dated to the time of Jesus and slightly later (1st-3rd century A.D.), with the red Byzantine Basilica (C-2,3,4) is 5th century, and the blue Crusader Chapel (B-3,4,5) is a much later 12th century structure.

Some images of the current historical site...

The image above is looking from the far end of the medicinal baths (B-9) looking towards the Basilica and Chapel. Notice that the baths no longer have any water.

Taken at C-6 looking towards B-9, still the area of the medicinal baths. This is the area where Jesus would have found the man that He healed. Many that sought healing at these baths did so not from the God of Israel, but from the pagan gods championed by the Romans. Notice that Jesus did what these so-called gods could not do!

Same location taken at C-7 looking towards A-7.

Same location taken at C-7 looking towards the chapel (B-5).

The Byzantine church taken from C-5 looking towards B-1.

The Byzantine church taken from C-5 looking down into the foundation area. Notice that there is still a pool of water here.

The Byzantine church taken from B,C-1 looking towards the medicinal baths (B,C-9).