BETH-ZATHA bĕth zā’ thə (Βηθζαθα—Aram? בֵּת זֵיתָא, house of the olive). A pool in Jerusalem, by the sheep gate, having five porches and called in the Heb. tongue “Bethesda” or “Bethzetha.”
This site appears only once in the Bible: the gospel of John (5:2). The location of the pool was near the “sheep (gate)” with the word gate being supplied. The KJV reads “sheep (market)” the RSV “ ” and others like , Ammonius Nonnus and H. A. W. Meyer read “sheep pool.” Sheep gate is usually where sheep were sold for sacrifice in the Temple (
In 1888 K. Schick excavated a site not far from the church of St. Anne and found twin pools, one fifty-five ft. long and the other sixy-five ft. long. The former one was arched in by five arches with five corresponding porches. The Crusaders regarded this as the site of the
The true reading of the name appears to be Bethzetha which prob. means “house of the Olive.” Most tr. the name as “house of loving-kindness or mercy” or even “house of pillars” (Delitzsch), but both the original name and meaning remain uncertain.
None of the Jewish writers, including Josephus, refer to this pool. Eusebius wanted to have the healing virtue reside in red-colored water which he supposed flowed from the blood of the Temple sacrifices, but this is all made unnecessary by the context (
K. Schick, “Pool of Bethesda,” PEQ (188) 115, 134; (1890) 19; W. R. Nicoll, Expositor’s Greek Testament (1967), 736; E. W. Hengstenberg,(1865), 256-259; E. W. G. Masterman, “The Pool of Bethesda,” PEQ (1921), 91-100.