Dictionary of Bible Names

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Bible Meaning: House of kindness (mercy), flowing water
Strong's Concordance #G964

Mentioned only in John's gospel, Bethesda was the name of a pool inside Jerusalem. Those in need of healing would congregate near the pool and diligently watch for it to be disturbed by an angel. When this rare movement took place, the first person to enter the water would be healed of whatever disease they possessed.

Jesus, in Jerusalem to keep one of God's annual fall Festivals in 28 A.D. (John 5:1), met a man at Bethesda during the Sabbath (verse 9). The person, crippled and unable to walk for thirty-eight years, had attempted but failed to reach the pool in time to be healed. The Lord, taking pity on the man's plight, immediately healed him and stated, "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk" (verse 8).

Jewish religious leaders were angered at what Jesus did because, to them, carrying a bedroll on the Sabbath was a sin (John 5:10). In spite of the unique healing they used the Bethesda miracle to justify persecuting Christ and actively seeking his death (verses 16, 18).

Important verses

John 5:1 - 6, 8
After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? . . . Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

Additional Studies

Dictionary of Biblical Names
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Series Notes
Scripture references are based
on the King James translation.