Solomon's Pools (Arabic: بركة السلطان سليمان القانوني, Birkat as-Sultan Suleiman al-Kanuni; Hebrew: בריכות שלמה, Breichot Shlomo) are located in the south-central West Bank, immediately to the south of the Palestinian village of al-Khader and about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) southwest of Bethlehem.
The pools consist of three open cisterns, each rectilinear pool with a 6 metres (20 ft) drop to the next, fed from an underground spring. With each pool being over 100 metres (330 ft) long, 65 metres (213 ft) wide and 10 metres (33 ft) deep, the total water capacity is approximately 200,000,000 litres (53,000,000 US gal). Consequently the pools have played a significant role in the area's water supply for centuries.
They are named after the Biblical Solomon, stemming from a legend of Solomon using the waters and gardens as in Ecclesiastes 2.6, where Solomon is recorded as saying "I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees". However, recent evidence suggests that the lowest pool was probably constructed during the Maccabean period at the time of the reconstruction of the temple at Jerusalem (circa 2[dubious ] BCE).
A second phase occurred when ancient Roman Pontius Pilate built 39 kilometres (24 mi) of aqueduct from the collection pools at Arrub. Roman engineering under Herod the Great in connection with his improvements to the Second Temple created the underground tunnel feeding the upper pool.
The pools provide water for an aqueduct system supplying Bethlehem and for the population of Jerusalem where the aqueduct terminated under the Temple Mount and separated from its neighbour by 50 metres (160 ft) and each pool is 6 metres (20 ft) lower than that above it, the conduits being so arranged that the lowest, which is the largest and finest of the three, is filled first, and then in succession the others. It has been estimated that these pools cover about 7 acres (28,000 m2).
The pools are fed by four different springs; the most prominent is Ein-Atan or Etam at the head of the Wadi Urtas, called "the sealed fountain," about 200 metres (660 ft) to the north-west of the upper pool. The spring water is transferred to the upper pool by a large subterranean passage.
The water system as a whole shows a high degree of sophistication. Five different aqueducts, totalling nearly 60 kilometres in length, were linked to Solomon's Pools. From the lower pool an aqueduct has been traced carrying the water through Bethlehem and across the valley of Gihon, and along the west slope of the Tyropoeon valley, till it finds its way into the great cisterns underneath the temple hill in Jerusalem.
- Present day
The water, however, from the pools now reaches only to Bethlehem. The aqueduct beyond this has been destroyed. Two of the aqueducts connected to additional water sources from the south; another, from the upper pool, carried water east to the Herodium where Herod had constructed a large recreational pool, lined with columns; and two aqueducts brought water to Jerusalem.
The area around Solomon's Pools has provided a pleasant atmosphere for picnics and relaxation over the centuries. On the north side at the entry to the park is an old Ottoman fort structure, built in 1620, which is known as Qal'at el-Burak or the castle of the pools. This has served at times as a caravansery (or khan - a resting place for caravans), and now has a restaurant with a garden area inside.
- Flavius, Josephus Antiquities 8:186
- Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome (2008) The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700 Oxford University Press US, ISBN 0-19-923666-6 p 483
- Bussow, 2011, pp. 497, 536
- Bromiley Geoffrey W (1995). The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: E-J Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, ISBN 0-8028-3782-4 p 1025
- Bromiley Geoffrey W (1995). The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: E-J Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, ISBN 0-8028-3782-4
- Bussow, Johann (2011). Hamidian Palestine: Politics and Society in the District of Jerusalem 1872-1908. BRILL. ISBN 9004205691.
- Flavius, Josephus Antiquities
- Murphy-O'Connor, Jerome (2008) The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide from Earliest Times to 1700 Oxford University Press US, ISBN 0-19-923666-6
- Media related to Solomon's Pools at Wikimedia Commons