Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. John 5:2
Picture a natural pool of water, quite deep and outdoors. Beside this pool, there are five pillars supporting a roof that provides shade from the heat of the sun.
Around the pool, “lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame and paralyzed” (5:3). They were there because from time to time the water was “stirred up” (5:7), probably an underground stream that periodically bubbled up. When this happened, the pool would have looked like a Jacuzzi.
It must have been quite a scene. When the Jacuzzi got going, scores of people piled in from all sides of the pool. Those who were able to do so jumped in themselves, while others were being helped in by friends and relatives. And then when the bubbling stopped, everyone got out again.
The people there likely viewed it as a kind of therapy pool: “Get in the bubbling water. It will be good for you.” But over the years, stories had circulated to the effect that the first person to get into the water when it bubbled would be healed. It was what we might call a “local myth.”
You know how these stories get around: “My friend at work told me that she knows someone whose mother’s cousin was healed at the pool of Bethesda. She was the first one in.” And so the myth was sustained, and the crowds kept coming.
The pool of Bethesda would have been a great spot for vendors. “Come and see the bubbling waters! Rent a chair and shelter under our unique pillar-supported roof. Snacks, lunches, and cold drinks are available throughout the day.”
Have you ever tried any “local myths” like this?