Zedekiah's Cave Near the Damascus Gate

Jerusalem celebrated its 9th annual Festival of Lights where 39 light displays can be viewed as you walk through parts of the Old City.

While at the Damascus Gate, we found Zedekiah’s Cave, where legends seem to abound. The most revered legend about this cave is that it served as a quarry for King Solomon as he built the First Temple. It is true that this cave was a small natural cave until the Second Temple period when it was enlarged into a huge subterranean stone quarry extending under the houses of the Old City.This quarry supplied the stone for many magnificent buildings in Jerusalem. Because legend holds that it was used to construct the First Temple, it was given a nickname of "King Solomon's Quarries."

Another popular legend is that the cave was a hiding place for King Zedekiah (a Judean king, 6th century BC). Biblical commentator Rashi wrote that Zedekiah tried to escape from the troops sent by King Nebuchadnezzar (Babylonian) during the siege of Jerusalem. It is said that there was a cave from the palace of Zedekiah to the plain of Jericho and he fled through that cave. Legend also says that God sent a buck running along the surface of the top of the cave as Zedekiah was walking down below. The soldiers chased the buck and arrived at the exit of the cave just as Zedekiah was coming out, enabling them to capture and blind him. This is how the name of the cave became known as “Zedekiah’s cave.”

All legends aside, there are things we can know for sure about Zedekiah found in 2 Kings 25; 1-7: 

So in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it. The city was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat. Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled at night through the gate between the two walls near the king’s garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city. They fled toward the Arabah but the Babylonian army pursued the king and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered, and he was captured. He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah, where sentence was pronounced on him. They killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.

One can see how a legend may fit this story, but there are plenty of facts that are already known about Zedekiah. 

This cave has been excavated over the years. The entrance of the cave was a natural phenomenon caused by water eroding limestone. But it was found that it was an easy area to quarry so it had been quarried for thousands of years.

Tonight, at the Festival of Lights, there was a grand piano in the middle of the cave with a young man playing it, surrounded by candles. The natural acoustics accentuated the beauty of his music