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The Pool of Bethesda was a pool of water in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem, on the path of the Beth Zeta Valley. It is known from the New Testament story of healing the paralytic at Bethesda, from the fifth chapter of the Gospel of John; the gospel describes a pool in Jerusalem, near the Sheep Gate, which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Until the 19th century, there was no evidence outside of John's gospel for the existence of this pool; therefore, scholars argued that the gospel was written later, probably by someone without first-hand knowledge of the city of Jerusalem, and that the pool had only a metaphorical, rather than historical, significance. In the 19th century, archaeologists discovered the remains of a pool fitting the description in the gospel.

This picture is an 1877 oil-on-canvas painting of the Pool of Bethesda by English painter Robert Bateman, now in the collection of the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut. The Johannine narrative describes the porticos as being a place in which large numbers of infirm people were waiting, which corresponds well with the site's 1st century AD use as an asclepeion. Some ancient biblical manuscripts argue that these people were waiting for the troubling of the water; a few such manuscripts also move the setting away from Roman rituals into something more appropriate to Judaism, by adding that an angel would occasionally stir the waters, which would then cure the first person to enter.Painting credit: Robert Bateman

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