a stream. (1.) One of the four rivers of Eden (Gen. 2:13). It has been identified with the Nile. Others regard it as the Oxus, or the Araxes, or the Ganges. But as, according to the sacred narrative, all these rivers of Eden took their origin from the head-waters of the Euphrates and the Trigris, it is probable that the Gihon is the ancient Araxes, which, under the modern name of the Arras, discharges itself into the Caspian Sea. It was the Asiatic and not the African "Cush" which the Gihon compassed (Gen. 10:7-10). (See EDEN.)
(2.) The only natural spring of water in or near Jerusalem is the "Fountain of the Virgin" (q.v.), which rises outside the city walls on the west bank of the Kidron valley. On the occasion of the approach of the Assyrian army under Sennacherib, Hezekiah, in order to prevent the besiegers from finding water, "stopped the upper water course of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David" (2 Chr. 32:30; 33:14). This "fountain" or spring is therefore to be regarded as the "upper water course of Gihon." From this "fountain" a tunnel cut through the ridge which forms the south part of the temple hill conveys the water to the Pool of Siloam, which lies on the opposite side of this ridge at the head of the Tyropoeon ("cheesemakers'") valley, or valley of the son of Hinnom, now filled up by rubbish. The length of this tunnel is about 1,750 feet. In 1880 an inscription was accidentally discovered on the wall of the tunnel about nineteen feet from where it opens into the Pool of Siloam. This inscription was executed in all probability by Hezekiah's workmen. It briefly narrates the history of the excavation. It may, however, be possible that this tunnel was executed in the time of Solomon. If the "waters of Shiloah that go softly" (Isa. 8:6) refers to the gentle stream that still flows through the tunnel into the Pool of Siloam, then this excavation must have existed before the time of Hezekiah.
In the upper part of the Tyropoeoan valley there are two pools still existing, the first, called Birket el-Mamilla, to the west of the Jaffa gate; the second, to the south of the first, called Birket es-Sultan. It is the opinion of some that the former was the "upper" and the latter the "lower" Pool of Gihon (2 Kings 18:17; Isa. 7:3; 36:2; 22:9). (See CONDUIT; SILOAM.)
GIHON (1) - gi'-hon (gichon; Geon): One of the four rivers of Eden (Gen 2:13). It is said to compass the Whole land of Cush (Ethiopia), probably a province East of the Tigris. The Gihon is thought by Sayce to be the Kerkha, coming down from Luristan through the province known in the cuneiform texts as Kassi, probably the Cush of the Bible.
(2) The Nile in Jer 2:18 Septuagint (Geon); in Hebrew shichor (see SHIHOR).
(3) A spring in Jerusalem, evidently sacred, and, for that reason, selected as the scene of Solomon's coronation (1 Ki 1:38). It is without doubt the spring known to the Moslems as `Ain Umm edition deraj ("the spring of the steps") and to the Christians as `Ain Sitti Miriam ("the spring of the lady Mary"), or commonly as the "Virgin's Fount." It is the one true spring of Jerusalem, the original source of attraction to the site of the early settlers; it is situated in the Kidron valley on the East side of "Ophel," and due South of the temple area. See JERUSALEM. The water in the present day is brackish and impregnated with sewage. The spring is intermittent in character, "bursting up" at intervals: this feature may account for the name Gihon and for its sacred characters. In New Testament times it was, as it is today, credited with healing virtues. See BETHESDA. Its position is clearly defined in the Old Testament. Manasseh "built an outer wall to the city of David, on the West side of Gihon, in the valley" ( = Nahal, i.e. the Kidron; 2 Ch 33:14). From Gihon Hezekiah made his aqueduct (2 Ch 32:30), now the Siloam tunnel.
The spring is approached by a steep descent down 30 steps, the water rising deep underground; the condition is due to the vast accumulation of rubbish--the result of the many destructions of the city--which now fills the valley bed. Originally the water ran down the open valley. The water rises from a long deep crack in the rock, partly under the lowest of the steps and to a lesser extent in the mouth of a small cave, 11 1/2 ft. long by 5 ft. wide, into which all the water pours. The village women of Siloam obtain the water at the mouth of the cave, but when the supply is scanty they actually go under the lowest step--where there is a kind of chamber--and fill their vessels there. At the farther end of this cave is the opening leading into the aqueduct down which the water flows to emerge after many windings at the pool of Siloam. The first part of this aqueduct is older than the time of Hezekiah and led originally to the perpendicular shaft, connected with "Warren's tunnel" described elsewhere (see SILOAM; ZION).
The preeminent position of importance which Gihon held in the eyes of the earlier inhabitants of Jerusalem is shown by the extraordinary number of passages, rock cuttings, walls and aqueducts which exist all about the spring. Walls have been made at different periods to bank up the waters and direct them into the channels provided for them. Of aqueducts, besides the "Siloam aqueduct," two others have been formed. One running from the source at a considerable lower level than that of Hezekiah was followed by the present writer (see PEFS, 1902, 35-38) for 176 ft. It was very winding, following apparently the West side of the Kidron valley. It was a well-cemented channel, about 1 1/2 ft. wide and on an average of 4 1/2 ft. high, roofed in with well-cut stones. There are no certain indications of age, but in the writer's opinion it is a much later construction than Hezekiah's aqueduct, though the rock-cut part near the source may be older. It was discovered by the Siloam fellahin, because, through a fault in the dam, all the water of the "Virgin's Fount" was disappearing down this channel. A third aqueduct has recently been discovered running off at a higher level than the other two. It is a channel deeply cut in the rock with curious trough-like stones all along its floor. It appears to be made for water, but one branch of it actually slopes upward toward its end. The pottery, which is early Hebrew, shows that it is very ancient. The whole accumulated debris around the source is full of pre-Israelite and early Israelite pottery.