The collector of the Hebrew Cippi, Grave-stones, hath this passage concerning the fountain of Etam: "In the way betwixt Hebron and Jerusalem, is the fountain Etam, from whence the waters are conveyed by pipes into the great pool at Jerusalem." It is so translated by the learned Hottinger, who also himself adds, "I suppose here is meant the Probatica, or the pool by the Sheep-gate."
The Rabbins often and again tell us of an aqueduct from the fountain of Etam to Jerusalem. But it may very well be doubted whether that fountain be in the way to Hebron; or whether those waters ran into the pool by the Sheep-gate. For,
I. If the fountain of Etam be the same with the waters of Nephtoah, mentioned Joshua 15:9; which the Gloss supposeth (where it is treating about the fountain of Etam), then it lieth quite in another quarter from Hebron; for Hebron lies on the south, and Nephtoah on the west.
II. The waters streaming from the fountain Etam were not conveyed into the city, but into the Temple: which might be abundantly made out from the Talmudists, if there were any need for it. And probably Aristeas hath respect to this aqueduct: "There is a confluence of water that never fails [speaking of the Temple]; as if there were a great spring within naturally flowing: and for the space of five furlongs (as appeared everywhere about the Temple), there were certain receptacles made, under the earth, by a wondrous and unspeakable art." And a little after: "They led me out of the city above four furlongs, where one bade me lean down my head at a certain place, and listen to the noise that the flow of waters there made," &c.
In a word, to any one that is conversant in the Talmudic authors, nothing can be more plain than that the aqueduct from the fountain of Etam was into the Temple, and not into the city; and it is plain enough in Holy Writ that the aqueduct into the sheep-pool was from the fountain of Siloam: which also from that spring, from whence it was derived, is called the 'Pool of Siloam'; and from him that first made it, the 'Pool of Solomon'; and from the miraculous medicinal virtue in it, 'the Pool of Bethesda.'
As to the Water-gate, we find it mentioned Nehemiah 3:26, situated on the east wall of the city; called the 'Water-gate' because through that the waters flowed out of the Temple; and perhaps those also out of Bethesda. For, whereas the waters ran incessantly out of Etam into the Temple, and those that were more than needed flowed out of the Temple, they all fell down into the valley that lay between the Temple and Jerusalem, and emptied themselves by that gate which bore the name of the 'Water-gate' upon that account. And it is probable that the pool of Bethesda, which also had its constant supply by the aqueduct from the spring of Siloam, did also continually empty itself along the descent of the hill Acra, through the same gate, and so into the brook Kedron.