What is the X in X-mas?
1857, name of a pool in Jerusalem (John v:2), from Greek Bethesda, from Aramaic beth hesda "house of mercy," or perhaps "place of flowing water." Popular as a name for religious meeting houses among some Protestant denominations.
house of mercy, a reservoir (Gr. kolumbethra, "a swimming bath") with five porches, close to the sheep-gate or market (Neh. 3:1; John 5:2). Eusebius the historian (A.D. 330) calls it "the sheep-pool." It is also called "Bethsaida" and "Beth-zatha" (John 5:2, R.V. marg.). Under these "porches" or colonnades were usually a large number of infirm people waiting for the "troubling of the water." It is usually identified with the modern so-called Fountain of the Virgin, in the valley of the Kidron, and not far from the Pool of Siloam (q.v.); and also with the Birket Israel, a pool near the mouth of the valley which runs into the Kidron south of "St. Stephen's Gate." Others again identify it with the twin pools called the "Souterrains," under the convent of the Sisters of Zion, situated in what must have been the rock-hewn ditch between Bezetha and the fortress of Antonia. But quite recently Schick has discovered a large tank, as sketched here, situated about 100 feet north-west of St. Anne's Church, which is, as he contends, very probably the Pool of Bethesda. No certainty as to its identification, however, has as yet been arrived at. (See FOUNTAIN ØT0001378; GIHON.)