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A Rare Second Temple Period Mikveh Discovered in Jerusalem

Israeli archaeologists love highway contractors. Excavation for new roads frequently digs up history, and this time they struck it rich, finding a rare mikveh from the late Second Temple Period.
Archaeologist Benyamin Storchan standing at the bottom of the steps in the immersion chamber.

Photo Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority

Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists have discovered a rare ritual bath (mikveh) dating from the late  Second Temple period, thanks to a planned road in the Kiryat Menachem neighborhood three miles west of the Old City in Jerusalem. “Numerous ritual baths have been excavated in Jerusalem in recent years, but the water supply system that we exposed in this excavation is unique and unusual, said  IAA excavation director Benyamin Storchan. The mikveh consists of an underground chamber entered by way of steps. The mikveh received the rainwater from three collecting basins that were hewn on the roof of the bath, and the pure water was conveyed inside the chamber through channels. The ritual baths known until now usually consist of a closed cavity that was supplied with rainwater conveyed from a small rock-cut pool located nearby. The complex that was exposed in the latest discovery is a more sophisticated and intricate system. The bath was apparently associated with a settlement in a picturesque valley outside of the Old City in  the Second Temple period. Presumably, due to the rainfall regime and arid conditions of the region, the inhabitants sought special techniques that would make it possible to store every drop of water. The mikveh conforms to all of the Jewish laws, such as collecting the water in it naturally without human contact, and ensuring that the water does not seep into the earth which is why the bath was treated with a special kind of plaster”. The neighborhood community has expressed great interest in the conservation of the mikveh, according to  Jerusalem district archaeologist Amit Re’em .The Israel Antiquities Authority and the Moriah Company, which is building the new road, are working to make the treasure a site for the benefit of the residents and visitors”, he added. After the mikveh went out of use, the site served as a quarry and the channels filled up with earth. During the 20th century, the immersion chamber was cleaned, a round opening was breached in its ceiling and it was used as a cistern but never discovered as an ancient mikveh until now.

About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


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3 Responses to “A Rare Second Temple Period Mikveh Discovered in Jerusalem”

  1. MIKVEH ISRAEL "Thou hope of Israel מִקְוֵה יִשְׂרָאֵל , the LORD!" (Jeremiah 17:13. A pun on the word's other meaning of "RITUAL BATH" of Israel. Just as the MIKVEH purifies the impure, so does the Holy One, blessed be He, purify Israel!

    The fountain opened for purification and for sprinkling (Zechariah 13:1-2) will be a fountain of Torah teachings that will purify people from their sins according to Targum Yonasan.

    "Rabbi Akiva said, Happy are you O Israel: Before Whom are you purified? Who purifies you? Your Father in heaven!" (Yoma 86a).

    According to Hebrew tradition ”the messenger of the Covenant" is Elijah the prophet, who will arrive in the end of days to destroy false religions in preparation for the Messianic Era. It is said, Elijah will draw people's hearts back to God and His Torah before Judgment Day, to increase the number of people who will survive His Judgment.

    Malachi 3:22-24 "Lo, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord, that he may turn the heart of the fathers back through the children, and the heart of the children back through their fathers-lest I come and smite the earth with utter destruction." The day of the downfall of Gog and Magog (the nations) will be "the great and awesome day of God" (Joel 3:3-4, 4:15).

    ”…For he will be like the smelter's fire and like the launderers' soap. And he shall sit refining and purifying silver," (He will free himself from all his affairs to be like a refiner, who refines and purifies silver) ”…and he shall purify the children of Levi. And he shall purge them as gold and as silver, and they shall be offering up an offering to the Lord with righteousness. And then the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem shall be pleasant to the Lord, as in the days of old and former years" (Malachi 3:1-4). Ezekiel 22:18-22, Zech. 12:9, 13:8-9, Isaiah Ch. 1, 24:1-6.

  2. Gil Gilman says:

    It is so tremendously enjoyable whenever some artifact or place is discovered, because it makes all those who say "it couldn't have happened," or "it couldn't have been like this because we have no proof," to close their mouths and whine about something else.

  3. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    I understand the gaza based nazi owned haaretz is already declaring it a muslim holy site form whence some so-called mohamed flew off to 'heaven' on a carpet of 72 virgins. Scocken is already excoriating the Israel Antiquities Authority for "defacing" the site and the "blasphemy of the Jews" for "pretending Jews have any ties to the Holy Land.

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