The rather specific and detail-oriented measurements and emotional enthusiasm over the completion of the tunnel also embody the knowledge base of an engineer’s expertise with regards to trying to establish the author of the text.[5] Eventually weighing the possibility of an engineer in Judah writing the inscription himself or hiring a scribe unaffiliated with the monarchy, Davies contends, “Therefore, I propose that the engineer(s) of the Shiloah Tunnel project hired a professional scribe to write an inscription.”[6] While an analysis of the paleography of the Siloam Inscription suggests that it was written under the command of a chief engineer and not King Hezekiah, radiometric dating, the biblical account, and archeological evidence of the buildup of defenses encompassing the reign of Hezekiah, all verify the same explanation that King Hezekiah may not have ordered the scribing of the Siloam Inscription, but he did indeed demand the digging of the Siloam Tunnel which housed the inscription.[7] Ascending the throne as king of Judah in 716 BCE, Hezekiah’s initial policies and reforms established various strategies, programs, and improvements to deter and defend Judah from a likely Assyrian offensive that would eventually come to fruition circa 701 BCE.

Eventually marching into Judah to stifle the aura of insurrection and extract the tribute that the leadership of Hezekiah had deprived of him, Sennacherib successfully attacked and overran forty-six cities in the region, most notably the strategic administrative city of Lachish.

Highlighting his triumphant victory over Lachish in the Nineveh relief, a large stone relief in Sennacherib’s former palace located in modern-day Iraq, the graphic portrayals within the relief depict the various siege engines, earthworks, archers, and tactics employed that ultimately broke Lachish and presumably the other Judean cities during Sennacherib’s campaign.[11] Hezekiah’s construction of barricades to counter Sennacherib’s massive arsenal and battery of siege weapons, proved calculating and prudent as ultimately Jerusalem would not fall to Sennacherib’s military superiority even though Sennacherib boasted: “As to Hezekiah, the Jew, he did not submit to my yoke, I laid siege to 46 of his strong cities…Himself I made a prisoner in Jerusalem, his royal residence, like a bird in a cage.”[12] Though the tunnel remained out of enemy hands, and the city heavily fortified against Assyrian intrusion, Hezekiah realized they could not hold out forever, and would most likely face the same fate as Lachish and the other besieged cities in Judah.

: “As for the other events of Hezekiah’s reign, all his achievements and how he made the pool and the tunnel by which he brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?

”[3] Since the inscription does not commit itself to a specific deity or reigning monarch at the time of its dedication, Simon Parker argues that while King Hezekiah may have commissioned the tunnel (as the biblical record states), the inscription was most likely written independently of the royal scribes and “that the inscription was produced by or for the ‘civil engineer’ who planned and supervised the project…he would have been proudest of the measurements, and he would have been most interested in recording these things and most anxious that such a record be inconspicuous and that his name not be displayed on it.”[4] Indeed the inscription remained well hidden in its dim location a few meters inside the tunnel etched around the height of the waterline.

Did King Hezekiah really build a tunnel into Jerusalem?

Hezekiah was a king of Judah in the late eighth century B. E., a time of conflict with the mighty Assyrian power.While systematically strengthening the religious purity and resolve of his people, and the physical fortresses and defenses of the kingdom in which they lived, Hezekiah’s feat of staving off an Assyrian onslaught remain detailed in several descriptions encompassing the likes of biblical texts, epigraphic sources, Assyrian accounts, and various archeological and material remains.[8] Foreseeing the urgent need to refortify the defenses of Jerusalem in advance of a potential invasion, Hezekiah’s primary anxiety rested with the securing and maintaining of a source of water located outside the walled-in city called the Gihon Spring.Resulting from the hasty construction of Hezekiah’s Tunnel, the Gihon Spring now funneled water from its source situated outside the city into the Pool of Siloam, a reservoir within the city.In the face of a two-pronged assault on Assyrian domination of the Levant, the Egyptians and Babylonians championed the cause of revolt and incited rebellion against the Assyrians in Philistia and Judah.Heavily influenced and coerced by Egypt, the city of Ashkelon in Philistia took to outright revolt as Hezekiah, influenced by the Babylonians, eventually prepared to join in the chaos aimed towards the Assyrian regime.[10] In 701 BCE after swiftly and effectively crushing the threat posed by the Babylonians, Sennacherib overpowered the rebels in Philistia and forced the Egyptians to withdraw. Curry Armstrong State University Hailing from the Levant, an area “whose ancient civilization both parallels, and is distinct from, that of Egypt and Mesopotamia…(and) in its present geopolitical landscape comprises Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine,” the Siloam Inscription dwells at the heart of much debate with regards to the accurate dating of the inscription, the nature of its discovery, and the historical context surrounding its inception.[1] With the cautious readings and analysis of biblical texts, epigraphic sources, Assyrian accounts, and various archeological and material remains expounded by radioisotope dating, the Siloam Inscription appears to denote the construction of Hezekiah’s Tunnel during a time of urgent wartime preparations Though the tunnel in which the Siloam Inscription had been etched was discovered in 1837, the inscription itself would remain unnoticed until 1880.