Urban C. von Wahlde

THE MYSTERIOUS FIFTH WALL. The gospel description of the Pool of Bethesda’s five porticoes led confused commentators to dismiss the odd number as a theological reference, possibly to the five books of Torah. Yet an understanding of the site quickly clarifies the matter. The Pool of Bethesda was built with four outer walls plus one additional wall, or dam, that divided it into two sections. All of the walls bore columns—thus, a pool with five porticoes. A chimney was built into the dam (the entrance can be seen covered by a grate).