"After this, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed waiting for the moving of the water.
For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.
Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’
The sick man answered Him, ‘Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk.’ And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.
And that day was the Sabbath” (John 5:1-9).
The pool of Bethesda (Beit Hesda, translated “the house of mercy” from Hebrew) is a pool of water located in the Moslem quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, located on the path to Beth Zeta Valley. It is known mainly from the account in the Gospel of John 5:1-9 which tells the story of the healing of a paralytic man. The description mentions a pool in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate and surrounded by five covered colonnades.
In the 19th century, German archaeologist and scholar Conrad Schick settled in Jerusalem. He discovered and identified the pool of Bethesda. It was called the Upper Pool and already existed in the 8th century BC when a dam was built across Beth Zeta Valley. An additional pool was built around 200 BC.
A shrine was built by Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD which he dedicated to the small healing pools of Asclepeion and the Greek god of healing named Asclepius (or Serapis, which means therapy). In ancient Greek mythology Asclepius is a hero and god of medicine, the son of Apollo and father of Hygieia (Hygiene), the goddess and personification of health, cleanliness and sanitation as well as Panacea, the goddess of universal remedy.
The pool is venerated by the Jews for its healing abilities which was adopted by the Greco-Roman population and included into their religious images. There is a popular legend which suggests the pool was used for washing sheep, but this is unlikely because it was a source of water for the residents and its depth is 43 feet.
The first church located here was built in the 5th century and called Probatica (the Pool of the Sheep Church) or its alternative name, the Church of the Lame Man. The site plausibly fits the description of the pool found in the Gospel of John.