(See also wiki article Pool_of_Bethesda
Photo gallery: The pool (239kb) with seven porticoes | Crusader church of St Anne (272kb) | Nave (187kb) | Sanctuary (184kb).
BETHESDA (RSV Bethzatha) - A pool mentioned in Jn.5.2. The latter name is no doubt derived from that of the new suburb north of the city, which Josephus calls Bezatha. The meaning of the name is not certain. It could be Aramaic Be-zaita 'Olive place' or beza'ta 'section.' The reading Bethesda probably is from Aramaic Beth-hisda 'house of mercy,' and may be a name given the pool by Christians owing to the incident of Jn.5. Some MSS contain information about the periodic disturbance of the water referred to in v.7 and the popular explanation of this phenomenon. The RSV has relegated this material to the margin. The Virgin's Fountain (ancient Gihon), which sent its water to the pool of Siloam, is still intermittent, but whether the same thing was true of a reservoir in the north is doubtful. That item could suggest transfer of the story. The localization of Bethesda by the Sheep-gate necessitates seeking it north of the city. Two pools between and around which ran porticoes have been located and painstakingly explored by Schick, Vincent, and Van der Vliet. As they are in the proper area they probably represent ancient Bethesda. [Article: Dictionary of the Bible, J.Hastings, 2nd Ed., T&T.Clark, 1963. - E.G.K.]