Archaeologists recently announced the discovery of a 1,500-year-old pool that may have been the site of the Ethiopian eunuch’s baptism. Unearthed between 2012 and 2016, the pool was part of a system of pools on the site of an ancient church near Jerusalem. It’s now part of at Ein Hanniya national park.
Ancient Pool Unearthed
According to the Israel Antiquities Authority, the pools date back from between the 4th and 6th centuries A.D. The excavation director, Irina Zilberbod, said the pools were the most significant finding in the excavation. “This pool was built in the center of a spacious complex at the foot of a church that once stood here. Roofed colonnades were built around the pool that gave access to residential wings.”
“It’s difficult to know what the pool was used for — whether for irrigation, washing, landscaping or perhaps as part of baptismal ceremonies at the site,” Zilberbod continued.
She noted that the pool’s water drained to a fountain. The fountain is the first of its kind in Israel, archaeologists said.
What It Means For Christians
The importance of the pools to Christians is the possibility that a New Testament baptism was held there. Jerusalem District Archaeologist Dr. Yuval Baruch said it’s been linked to the baptism of a eunuch by St. Philip the Evangelist. “We believe that some early Christian commentators identified Ein Hanniya as the site where the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized, as described in Acts 8:26-40.”
Acts 8:36-40 describes the experience:
As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.
“The baptism of the eunuch by St. Philip was one of the key events in the spread of Christianity,” Baruch continued. “Therefore, identifying the place where it occurred occupied scholars for many generations and became a common motif in Christian art.”
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