Cave of King Tsedkiyahu (Zedekiah)
The cave of King Tsedkiyahu is one of the most remarkable places in underground Jerusalem. The cave is striking in size, antiquity, and the number of legends associated with it.
This giant cave was discovered by chance under the city wall near the Shechem gate of the old city in the middle of the 19th century.
The first explorers and visitors were struck by the gigantic dimensions of the cave and the numerous passages.
Almost immediately it was decided that it was the quarry of King Solomon, the builder of the first Jewish temple in Jerusalem, which is not confirmed by modern research. However, the name of King Solomon is very attractive and the first thing that visitors see today when entering the cave is the information that this place is the mines of King Solomon?
Yes, there was a stone of excellent quality and it was obviously used in the time of Herod the Great for the construction of the city walls and towers of Jerusalem, the Jewish temple, the palace of King Herod himself, and other public buildings. Traces of cutting down large stone blocks are visible in our time.
Another story we know connects the cave with the unfortunate king of the Kingdom of Judah, Tsedkiyahu (in the Russian version of the Bible he is known as Zedekiah). When, in 586 BC, the king of New Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, came to Jerusalem to capture and destroy it, Tsedkiyahu managed to get out by secret passages, using a cave, outside Jerusalem. The book of the prophet Jeremiah tells how the Babylonians seized the Jewish king in the area of Jericho, “and all his army fled from him”. The last king of Judah was captured, and he, unhappy and blinded, died in a Babylonian prison.
The native Jerusalemites, especially the residents of the old city, love stories about devils. They will be happy to tell you a couple of stories about how devils brazenly walk around Jerusalem, causing panic and seducing irresponsible residents and just curious ones! In order to protect themselves from devils in Turkish times, the city authorities ordered to close up the entrances to all the dungeons, including the Tsedkiyahu cave.
But the wise British leaders of the city were going to make a gigantic refuge for thousands of Jerusalemites out of the Tsedkiyahu cave, fearing the threat of fascist airstrikes during the Second World War.
There are two questions that tourists are very interested in:
- Is there a passage from the Tsedkiyahu cave to the city of King David?
- is it possible to go through underground passages from the cave to Jericho, where King Tsedkiyahu fled from the persecution of the Babylonians?
I have no answer. Come to Jerusalem, go down under the city to Tsedkiyahu cave and discover the secrets!