The Synagogue of Theodotus
The Site of the Trial of the Man Born Blind
Location – The City of David
Map Coordinates - 31.771402, 35.235536
Merged Gospels story - 146
The word synagogue means gathering place, and the Jews built synagogues all over the land of Israel. There is a story in the ninth chapter of the Gospel of John about a man who was born blind, and when Jesus healed him, he was brought before the Pharisees in this particular synagogue.
Right across the street is the location of the Pool of Siloam. When Jesus rubbed clay on the blind man’s eyes, He told him to go wash it off in this pool. After the blind man was healed, he was brought to this synagogue to be questioned by the Pharisees.
As one can see, this room has been carved out of solid rock. These seats, and the roof are modern additions for visitors to sit here and listen to the story about this place. Not many people visit this site, which is interesting because this is a Biblical site, and the story about this blind man is one of the longest in the Gospels.
How do we know that this was a synagogue? This is a replica of a stone plaque that was discovered here in 1913, and this plaque reveals that the man who built this synagogue was named Theodotus. The plaque also reveals that this synagogue was built before the Jewish Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. That means that this synagogue was here during the time of Jesus.
The Theodotus plaque
This plaque also revealed that the synagogue was built for the reading of the Old Testament Law and Commandments, with rooms for out-of-town guests, and probably a mikveh, which was a ceremonial cleansing basin. While this covered room was the main part of the Synagogue, as you can see, there are many rooms in this complex that were cut out of solid rock. Altogether, it was fairly large.
This is the only Jerusalem synagogue mentioned in the Bible that was around during the time of the Jewish Temple, but we have historical sources which tell us that there were at least six other synagogues in Jerusalem at this time.
It’s also interesting that this synagogue is right across the street from the Pool of Siloam. In John 9:22, when it is revealed the blind man was being questioned in a synagogue, this was the closest synagogue. The trial of this blind man probably happened in this very room.
Here the man blind from birth tells the Pharisees about his encounter with Jesus.
Healing the blind was a miracle that Jesus often performed, but it had a deeper meaning. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world…I came into the world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (John 9:5, 39)