Notes: on Serpent's/Dragon's Pool
archived 11-05-99
Archive file# b110599a
donated by L. Savage

Notes: on Serpent's/Dragon's Pool

While the fate of Judah was trembling in the balance, the prophet Isaiah was commissioned to go with his son, Shear Yashub* to meet the king "at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, at the highway of the fuller's field" (Isaiah 7:3).

* The symbolic import of the name is explained in the sequel.

If this "upper pool" was (as seems most likely) the present Birket-el-Mamilla, the "dragon well" of Nehemiah 2:13, and "serpent's pool" of Josephus (War; V. 3, 2), it lay in the north-west of the city. The "pool," which is only a reservoir for rain-water, is partly hewn in the rock and lined with stone. From its eastern side an outlet channel or "conduit" opened, winding somewhat to the south of the Jaffa gate, eastwards into the city, where at present it debauches into "the Pool of the Patriarch" (the Hammam-el-Batrak), the Amygdalon [Tower] Pool of Josephus.*

{Is Amygdalon - the same as Magdalene?}

* It is also called the Pool of Hezekiah, as supposed to have been made by that king. Professor Socin (Badeker, Palaest. p. 121) throws some doubt on the identification of the upper pool with El-Mamilla; but it is unhesitatingly adopted by Muhlan, in his excellent article on Jerusalem (Rheim, Hand-W. i. p. 691a).

From the manner in which the locality is mentioned, we infer that the king was wont to pass that way, possibly on an inspection of the north-western fortifications.* The prophet's commission to Ahaz was threefold. He was to admonish him to courage (Isaiah 7:4), and to announce that, so far from the purpose of the allies succeeding, Ephraim itself should, within a given time, cease to be "a people."**

* It could scarcely have been to stop the waters of the fountains without the city, since there are not any fountains there, and "the pool" was one for rain-water.

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