Elisha’s Spring (Also known as Ein Al Sultan) is a large spring that springs to the east and near Tel Jericho. The Arabic name of the spring is derived from Tel a-Sultan (another name for Tel Jericho) while its Hebrew name is based on the tradition that instead the miracle of healing the waters of Jericho was performed by the prophet Elisha.
Jewish Tradition About the Spring
Jewish tradition identifies the spring with the spring around Jericho where the prophet Elisha performed, according to the biblical description, the miracle of Healing of the Water:
19 The people of the city said to Elisha, “Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive.” 20 “Bring me a new bowl,” he said, “and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him. 21 Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, “This is what the Lord says: ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.’” 22 And the water has remained pure to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken.2 Kings 2: 19-22
Josephus Flavius Mentions Elisha’s Spring
In the book ‘The Jewish War’, Josephus Flavius mentions the spring and the miracle of Elisha’s Healing of the Water.
Notwithstanding which, there is a fountain by Jericho, that runs plentifully, and is very fit for watering the ground; it arises near the old city, which Joshua, the son of Naue, the general of the Hebrews, took the first of all the cities of the land of Canaan, by right of war. The report is, that this fountain, at the beginning, caused not only the blasting of the earth and the trees, but of the children born of women, and that it was entirely of a sickly and corruptive nature to all things whatsoever; but that it was made gentle, and very wholesome and fruitful, by the prophet Elisha […]
For he went out of the city to this fountain, and threw into the current an earthen vessel full of salt […] and that the veins of fresh water might be opened; that God also would bring into the place a more temperate and fertile air for the current, and would bestow upon the people of that country plenty of the fruits of the earth, and a succession of children; and that this prolific water might never fail them, while they continued to be righteous.The Jewish War Book 4, Chapter 7, Section C.
In addition, he emphasizes the importance of the spring for the residents of the area over other springs (Book IV, Chapter VIII, Section C). In the Madaba Map, the spring appears with a stone structure built above it. Above the building is an inscription in Greek: “To St. Elisha”. In addition, the traveler from Bordeaux mentions in his Itinerarium Burdigalense the spring of Elisha as a place where before a woman who drank from it could no longer give birth. But after Elisha healed the water of the spring; women used to drink from its waters in order to cure their infertility.