Biblical Archaeology Review 29:5, September/October 2003

Warren’s Shaft

Yes, It Really Was Used to Draw Water

By Avraham Faust

So many articles have been written about Warren’s Shaft, the ink would probably fill it to overflowing. Yet the puzzle remains unsolved.

By far the most intriguing suggestion that has been made about this 40-foot-deep1 vertical rock chimney is that King David’s general Joab climbed it to get inside Jerusalem and surprise the Jebusites (or Canaanites), thereby enabling his army to conquer the city. David promptly made Jerusalem the capital of the United Monarchy of Israel (in about 990 B.C.E.).

Nice theory! The Bible quotes David as saying, “Whoever would smite the Jebusites, let him touch the tsinnor [usually translated ‘watershaft’]” (2 Samuel 5:8).a That Warren’s Shaft—named for the British explorer and engineer who discovered it in 1867—is the much-disputed tsinnor was a viable suggestion until the studies conducted by the late Yigal Shiloh in the 1980s proved otherwise. Shiloh concluded—after which it was generally accepted—that the Warren’s Shaft system was not created until the time of the Divided Monarchy, in Iron Age II, long after David’s conquest of the city.

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