Walk Through Clear Water At Tzuba’s Ancient Underground Spring
At kibbutz on outskirts of Jerusalem, a short ladder now leads into a cleaned-out tunnel and an arched chamber completed in Second Temple period.
Ein Tzuba, a spring near Mevasseret in the Judean Hills on the outskirts of Jerusalem, burst out of the ground through a very narrow crack in the rocky soil. Thus, not only was its flow scanty, but in summer its waters ceased to flow entirely. Nevertheless, the tribe of Judah settled in the hills about 3,500 years ago just above the little spring. It is more than likely that their settlement was the biblical Tzova, mentioned in the Talmud as well, and it grew by leaps and bounds.
Settlers at ancient Tzova quickly realized that the water supply was insufficient. So in winter they marked the spot, and when the spring dried up in summer they dug into the ground to enlarge the opening from which the water could burst out of the rock. As time went by and the population grew, the need for water became ever greater. So the Israelites lengthened the canal and burrowed ever deeper into the earth.
To keep out debris and mud that would dirty the water, settlers lined both sides of the canal with square, chiseled stones called ashlars. They then covered the canal with an arched roof. Several openings built into the roof were blocked up with stones that could be removed for on-going maintenance. One of the longest and largest of its type in the region, Ein Tzuba had become a sealed spring typical of the Judean Hills during biblical times: “You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain.” [Song of Songs 4:12].
In the distant past, visitors to the spring descended into the 2,000-year-old tunnel by way of a rickety and extremely tall ladder. And once you got to the bottom, you had to walk through the much with a flashlight in your teeth.