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Ancient ritual bath found beneath a home in Jerusalem

Ancient ritual bath found beneath a home in Jerusalem

A 2,000-year-old ritual bath, known as a mikve, was found underneath a family’s living room floor in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, while they were undertaking renovations.

The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced that the rock-hewn mikve (also spelt mikvah) is fully intact and measures 3.5 meters (11.5ft) by 2.4 meters (7.8ft), and with a depth of 1.8 meters (5.9ft).

IAA’s Jerusalem District Archeologist, Amit Re’em, said that the bath had been carefully plastered according to the laws of purity set out in the Halacha, the collective body of Jewish religious laws derived from the Written and Oral Torah.

“A staircase leads to the bottom of the immersion pool, and pottery vessels dating to the time of the Second Temple (first century CE), and traces of fire that might constitute evidence of the destruction of 66-70 CE, were discovered inside the bath,” he added. “In addition, fragments of stone vessels were found, which were common during the Second Temple period because stone cannot be contaminated and remains pure.”

In Judaism, full immersion in a mikve is used to obtain ritual purity. Several biblical regulations stipulate that immersion in the ritual bath should take place after impure incidents have occurred and before entering a temple. A woman must also enter the mikve after her menstrual period or childbirth before resuming marital relations.

Pool of a medieval mikveh in Speyer, dating back to 1128. ( Wikimedia Commons )

JPost reports that the historically important discovery was made while the homeowners, Tal and Oriya, were carrying out renovations. They subsequently reported the findings to the IAA, who carried out a thorough excavation of the mikveh.

“The owners of the home were awarded a certificate of appreciation by the IAA for exhibiting good citizenship for reporting the discovery, and contributing to the country’s ongoing archeological discoveries,” reports JPost.

The ancient bath is now concealed below a pair of wooden doors beneath a rug in the family home.

The ancient bath is concealed beneath a pair of wooden doors in the family living room. Credit: Asaf Peretz, IAA.

IAA archeologist, Amit Re’em said the “discovery of the ritual bath reinforces the hypothesis that there was a Jewish settlement from the time of the Second Temple located in the region of what is today Ein Kerem.”

He also rather arrogantly asserted that “such instances of finding antiquities beneath a private home can happen only in Israel, and Jerusalem in particular.” Of course, he is quite mistaken as some spectacular findings have been made beneath family homes throughout the world.

In 2014, an ancient underground city was found beneath a house in Anatolia , Turkey; in January, 2015, it was announced that parts of the causeway of the Great Pyramid of Giza was found beneath a home in the village of El Haraneya; and in April, 2015, an Italian man announced his finding of centuries of history in his basement while fixing a toilet, including tombs, ossuaries, secret tunnels used by religious orders, frescoes, an altar and thousands more artifacts.

Featured image: A photo of the well preserved rock-hewn mikve. (Assaf Peretz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority)


Researchers Unearth Ritual Bath Dated to Jesus’s Time Near Garden of Gethsemane

Archaeologists in Jerusalem have unearthed a 2,000-year-old ritual bath, or mikveh, near a site believed to be the location of the biblical Garden of Gethsemane.

Per a statement, researchers from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum uncovered the mikveh, as well as the remains of a 1,500-year-old Byzantine church, near the foot of Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives. Workers stumbled onto the underground cavity while constructing a visitors’ tunnel for the modern church of Gethsemane, also known as the Church of the Agony or the Church of All Nations.

The four Gospels state that Jesus spent the night before his betrayal and execution in Gethsemane, a garden outside of Jerusalem whose Hebrew name roughly translates to “oil press.” As Amit Re’em, the IAA’s Jerusalem district head, tells the Times of Israel’s Amanda Borschel-Dan, the newly discovered bath marks the first physical archaeological evidence of activity at Gethsemane “in the days of Jesus.”

Though the find doesn’t verify the Gospels’ account, it does suggest that an oil press existed near the ancient garden, potentially corroborating the New Testament moniker for the site, according to the Times.

“The Jewish laws of purification obliged workers involved in oil and wine production to purify themselves,” says Re’em in the statement. (In other words, people during the Second Temple period, which spanned 516 B.C. to 70 A.D., may have used the ritual bath prior to beginning the day’s work.)

Built between 1919 and 1924, the Church of All Nations is a major pilgrimage destination for modern Christians. Construction and excavations at the site had previously revealed traces of a Byzantine church and a Crusader-era monastery, reports Ruth Schuster for Haaretz, but the bath is the first find dated to the time of the Second Temple.

As Michelle Honig explained for the Forward in 2018, the Talmud describes the mikveh, which remains part of Jewish culture today, as “a vehicle of ritual purity.” Worshippers immersed themselves fully in a bath drawn from a natural source, such as a spring or rainwater, for purposes ranging from religious conversion to healing and preparing for marriage. Dozens, if not hundreds, of historic ritual baths are scattered across Israel. Though most are found in private homes and public buildings, a small number were built in more open spaces, near agricultural structures and tombs.

Speaking with the Times, Re’em says, “It is not from the mikveh that we are so excited, [but] rather the interpretation, the meaning, of it. Because despite there being several excavations in the place since 1919 and beyond, … there has not been one piece of evidence from the time of Jesus. Nothing!”

The researchers’ assessment of the Gethsemane mikvah has yet to be peer reviewed and published, but Re’em notes that the team drew on stratigraphical context and comparisons to other ritual baths to estimate the structure’s age. Next, the archaeologists plan to obtain plaster samples and examine them for tiny olive pollen grains and other substances.

“This is a significant discovery, shedding new light on how Gethsemane was used at the time it is mentioned in the Gospels,” Ken Dark, an archaeologist at the University of Reading who recently discovered what he thinks may have been Jesus’s childhood home, tells artnet News’ Brian Boucher.

In addition to the ancient bath, Re’em and his colleagues found the ruins of a Byzantine church. Dated to the sixth century A.D., the house of worship—which was outfitted with ornately carved stone features that testified to its importance—remained in use until the eighth century A.D., when Jerusalem was under control of the Muslim Umayyad dynasty. As the Times reports, Ayyubid Sultan Salah-a-Din likely destroyed the church around 1187 A.D., using stones from the razed structure to strengthen the city’s walls.

Per the statement, a Greek inscription found on the church’s floor reads, “For the memory and repose of the lovers of Christ (cross) God who have received the sacrifice of Abraham, accept the offering of your servants and give them remission of sins. (cross) Amen.”


JERUSALEM — What did an Israeli family find when they decided to renovate their Jerusalem home?

A 2,000-year-old ritual bath known as a mikveh. The discovery wasn't the result of careful digging and research — workers pretty much fell into the bath as they began work on the house's living room floors.

“During the construction work, the heavy-duty machines just dropped into the earth” says Oriya, the owner of the house in Jerusalem’s picturesque Ein Kerem neighborhood. “So we started digging with our bare hands and understood we found something big.”

Oriya and her husband Tal — who asked that their last name not be used — are parents to six children, and three years ago were looking to buy a house with some charm, warmth and history. Or as Oriya put it, “with walls that can talk.”

They didn’t expect that history to go back thousands of years.

After unearthing the archaeological treasure beneath their living room floorboards, Oriya and Tal had to ask themselves a question most homeowners don’t encounter during a typical renovation: Do we need to call the authorities?

“It didn’t stop bothering us,” Oriya said. “We knew we had to expose this for everyone to see and enjoy.”

News of their discovery reached Amit Reem, an archaeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority. He was amazed to discover the ancient ritual bath, now hiding right there under a pair of wooden doors the owners had installed after construction was done.

“With this finding I think we can say for sure that in this area of modern Ein Karem there was a Jewish village dating 2,000 years ago,” Reem said.

A modern aluminum ladder now lead from the house’s interior down into the small ritual room dating back to the 1st century. A short staircase leads to the bottom of the immersion pool that measures about 11 feet long and 7 feet across. In this chamber, Reem and his team found pottery vessels dating to the time of the Second Temple and traces of fire that might constitute evidence of the destruction caused by Roman and Jewish fighting between 66 and 70 AD.

“Such instances of finding antiquities beneath a private home can happen only in Israel, and Jerusalem in particular,” Reem said.

The Israel Antiquities Authority awarded the homeowners a certificate on Wednesday for exhibiting good citizenship for reporting their discovery of the ritual bath.


Fr. Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land, next to the ancient ritual bath. (Photo: Yoli Schwartz/ Israel Antiquities Authority)

A ritual bath dating to the time of Jesus has been unearthed at Gethsemane, the place where Jesus prayed just before his Crucifixion.

The 2,000-year-old bath was found near the site of the famous modern-day Church of All Nations. It marks the first time that Second Temple period remains have been found at the site.

Excavators also found the remains of a previously unknown Byzantine period church dating back 1,500 years.

The remains were uncovered by workmen building a new visitor centre and foot tunnel linking the modern church to the Kidron Valley. The finds from the excavations are to be put on display at the visitor centre when it opens.

Amit Re'em at the ritual bath. (Photo: Shai Halevi/Israel Antiquities Authority)

Amit Re'em, Jerusalem District Archaeologist for the Israel Antiquities Authority, said the discovery of the ritual bath "probably confirms the place's ancient name, Gethsemane".

"Most ritual baths from the Second Temple period have been found in private homes and public buildings, but some have been discovered near agricultural installations and tombs, in which case the ritual bath is located in the open," he said.

The ritual bath from the Second Temple period that was discovered during the works on the modern tunnel. (Photo: Yaniv Berman/Israel Antiquities Authority)

"The discovery of this bath, unaccompanied by buildings, probably attests to the existence of an agricultural industry here 2,000 years ago – possibly producing oil or wine. The Jewish laws of purification obliged workers involved in oil and wine production to purify themselves.

"The discovery of the ritual bath may therefore hint at the origin of the place's ancient name, Gethsemane (Gat Shemanim, 'oil press'), a place where ritually pure oil was produced near the city."

Excavations at the Byzantine Church. (Photo: Yoli Schwartz/Israel Antiquities Authority)

The evidence suggests the ancient church was founded at the end of the Byzantine period in the sixth century and continued to be used during the Umayyad period in the eighth century.

Reflecting its importance, the excavations uncovered finely carved stone elements. There were also Greek inscriptions on the church floor.

One of these inscriptions, deciphered by Dr Leah Di Segni of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Dr Rosario Pierri of the Franciscan Institute reads, "for the memory and repose of the lovers of Christ (cross) God who have received the sacrifice of Abraham, accept the offering of your servants and give them remission of sins. (cross) Amen."

Ornate stone carvings at the site of the Byzantine church. (Photo: Yoli Schwartz/Israel Antiquities Authority)

One of the lead excavators, David Yeger, added, "It is interesting to see that the church was being used, and may even have been founded, at the time when Jerusalem was under Muslim rule, showing that Christian pilgrimages to Jerusalem continued during this period as well."

Custos of the Holy Land, Fr Francesco Patton, said it was an "important" discovery.

"Gethsemane is one of the most important sanctuaries in the Holy Land, because in this place the tradition remembers the confident prayer of Jesus and his betrayal and because every year millions of pilgrims visit and pray in this place," he said.

"Even the latest excavations conducted on this site have confirmed the antiquity of the Christian memory and tradition linked to the place, and this is very important for us and for the spiritual meaning connected with the archeological findings.

"I greet with great pleasure this fruitful cooperation between the Custody of the Holy Land, the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum and the Israel Antiquities Authority and I hope that we will be able to join our scientific competences for further future collaborations."


2,000-year-old mikvah under living-room floor

Most people are afraid of breaking a water pipe when doing home renovations. But when a family in Jerusalem broke through their living room floor, they uncovered a 2,000-year-old ritual bath (mikvah) and pottery vessels dating to the time of the first century CE Second Temple.
They called the Israel Antiquities Authority to report their find.

“Such instances of finding antiquities beneath a private home can happen only in Israel and Jerusalem in particular,” says Jerusalem District Archaeologist Amit Re’em. “Beyond the excitement and the unusual story of the discovery of the mikvah, its exposure is of archaeological importance.”

Indeed, pretty much every stone unturned in Israel leads to an archaeological find.

In the 1980s, another private home in Jerusalem turned out to be sitting atop a Hasmonean mansion inhabited by children of the Maccabees 2,000 years ago. In April 2014, while digging a new road in the Negev, archaeologists unearthed a monastery dating to the Byzantine period.

The recently discovered mikvah was “hiding” under the family’s living-room floor in their private home in the picturesque neighborhood of Ein Kerem. During renovations, the jackhammer used to drill through their floor tiles disappeared suddenly. Digging by hand uncovered the important find.

“We had a strong feeling that what was situated beneath the floor of our house is a find of historical value and our sense of civic and public duty clinched it for us. We felt that this find deserves to be seen and properly documented,” the Shimshoni family said. “We contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority at our own initiative in order that they would complete the excavation and the task of documenting the discovery.”

On July 1, the Israel Antiquities Authority awarded the owners a certificate of appreciation for “exhibiting good citizenship in that they reported the discovery and thereby contributed to the study of the Land of Israel.”

“Representatives of the IAA arrived and together we cleaned the mikvah. To our joy and indeed to our surprise, we found them to be worthy partners in this fascinating journey,” the Shimshonis said, noting they were hesitant about the potential bureaucratic nightmare they could have encountered.

“The IAA archaeologists demonstrated great professionalism, interest and pleasantness. They were solely concerned with preserving and investigating the finds.”

Here’s what they found: a complete ritual bath measuring 3.5 meters by 2.4 meters, with a depth of 1.8 meters. It is rock-hewn and meticulously plastered according to the Jewish laws of purity, the IAA reports. There’s also a staircase leading to the bottom of the immersion pool.

Archaeologists also found pottery vessels dating to the time of the Second Temple and traces of fire that might constitute evidence of the Roman destruction of 66-70 CE. Fragments of stone vessels were there too stone was commonly used during the Second Temple period because it cannot be contaminated and remains pure.

Re’em said the find is extremely important because it strengthens the premise that there was Jewish settlement during the Second Temple era in what is now Ein Kerem.

“Ein Kerem is considered a place sacred to Christianity in light of its identification with ‘a city of Judah’ – the place where according to the New Testament, John the Baptist was born and where his pregnant mother Elisabeth met with Mary, mother of Jesus. Despite these identifications, the archaeological remains in Ein Kerem and the surrounding area, which are related to the time when these events transpired (the Second Temple period), are few and fragmented,” says Re’em.

Since the discovery, the family has set down a pair of wooden trapdoors in their floor to cover the mikvah entrance, with a stylized rug on top. Unless you know what to look for, you’d have no idea about the history beneath this spacious home.


Israeli family discovers ancient treasure under the living room

On Wednesday, Israeli authorities said they had found a rare, well-preserved 2,000-year-old Jewish ritual bath hidden beneath the floorboards of a Jerusalem home.

The discovery in the Ein Kerem neighbourhood of Jerusalem sheds new light on the area’s ancient Jewish and early Christian communities. Oriya looks down at the ladder from her living room, leading to an ancient Jewish ritual bath (mikveh), dating from the Second Temple Period and believed to be over 2,000 years old.

But the finding may be most notable because before deciding to come clean, the couple who own the home practically kept the treasure covered under a rug for three years.

In an interview, the wife said that when renovating their home three years ago, the family found evidence of a mikveh, or Jewish ritual bath.

Strong equipment that sank through a hole was used by construction workers, leading the crew to discover the bath.

She said that she and her husband were unsure of the significance and continued with the planned construction.

But they also preserved the discovery, adding a pair of wooden doors in the floor to allow access to the bath and concealing the entrance with a rug.

The couple’s curiosity, however, persisted. Earlier this week, they contacted the Israeli Antiquities Authority and reported their finding.

The family asked that their names be withheld to protect their privacy.

Amit Reem, an archaeologist with the authority, estimated the ritual bath dates back to the first century B.C., around the time of the Second Jewish Temple.

The bath remains largely intact, and includes a staircase leading to what was once a pool. Archeologists also found pottery and unique stone vessels dating to the same period.

According to Christian tradition, John the Baptist is said to have been born in the Jewish community around Ein Kerem around the first century.

Reem said the discovery adds to the physical evidence of the Jewish community in the area, which he said has been “sporadic.”

Reem said it is not uncommon for households around Jerusalem to unearth Jewish antiquities under their floorboards, though he did not know how many cases there were.

The family does not have to move and will keep the ritual bath preserved with the help of the Antiquities Authority.


A family recently discovered a large 2,000-year-old ritual bath underneath the floorboards of their Jerusalem home during a routine living room renovation, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced today (July 1).

The ancient ritual bath, called a "miqwe" or "mikveh," was discovered in the town of Ein Karem, a neighborhood in southwest Jerusalem that claims to be the birthplace of John the Baptist. The complete miqwe was found hidden under a pair of wooden doors concealed by a rug in the family's living room, and measured about 11.5 feet long, 8 feet wide and 6 feet deep (3.5 by 2.4 by 1.8 meters).

"Such instances of finding antiquities beneath a private home can happen only in Israel and Jerusalem in particular," Amit Re'em, a Jerusalem District archaeologist, said in a statement. "Beyond the excitement and the unusual story of the discovery of the miqwe, its exposure is of archaeological importance." [Photos: Roadside Dig Reveals 10,000-Year-Old House in Israel]

A sacred location

Ein Karem, a mountainous region, is a sacred place for Christians not only because John the Baptist may have called it home, but also because it is where the Bible says his pregnant mother Elisabeth met with the Blessed Virgin Mary. Biblical scholars consider Ein Karem "a city of Judah" in the Book of Luke in the New Testament of the Bible, because it marked the location of John the Baptist's birth.

However, because artifacts dating to the Second Temple Period, between 538 B.C. to A.D. 70, are rare and fragmented, archaeologists were reluctant to label Ein Karem as "a city of Judah," Re'em told Live Science. "The discovery of the ritual bath reinforced the hypothesis there was a Jewish settlement from the time of the Second Temple located in the region of what is today Ein Karem," Re'em said.

The discovered miqwe was carved out of rock and plastered according to the laws of purity appearing in the Halacha — a collective body of Jewish religious laws derived from the written and oral Torah. The doors on the living room floor opened to a staircase leading down to the bath's immersion pool. Traditionally, both men and women entered the immersion pool to purify themselves after various events, like intercourse, menstruation and eating meat from an animal that dies naturally, among others, according to the Book of Leviticus, the third book of the Hebrew Bible.

The miqwe also contained pottery vessels and pieces of stone vessels from the Second Temple Period, despite evidence of a fire that may have ravaged the bath between A.D. 66 and 70.

The owners of the property said they had qualms about contacting the IAA because they were unsure of the value of their findings. "At the same time, we had a strong feeling that what was situated beneath the floor of our house is a find of historical value and our sense of civic and public duty clinched it for us," the unnamed owners said, as reported by the IAA.

A history of uncovering history

The homeowners are not alone in the discovery of an ancient room, although many reported discoveries have been the result of archaeological excavations that were undertaken prior to road construction projects, such as one from a couple years ago, when archaeologists unearthed a 2,000-year-old miqwe. Researchers determined that the miqwe, found in the southwest neighborhood of Kiryat Menachem in Jerusalem, moved rainwater from the structure's roof through channels into an underground immersion chamber. Last year, archaeologists found a 1,900-year-old miqwe along with a 1,700-year-old water cistern during a construction project to widen a highway in Judea in the southern part of Israel. The archaeologists were surprised to find those artifacts had been vandalized: Graffiti had been etched into them by Australian World War II soldiers.

Most artifacts remain untouched until unearthed, however. Last month a 3,000-year-old ceramic jar was discovered in an ancient city in which, according to the Bible, the legendary David defeated Goliath. And the month prior, a 2,000-year-old aqueduct was unearthed during a construction project in Umm Tuba, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

As for the most recently uncovered miqwe, the IAA awarded the owners of the site a certificate of appreciation "for exhibiting good citizenship, in that they reported the discovery of the miqwe and thereby contributed to the study of the Land of Israel," the IAA statement said.

Copyright 2015 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Ancient 2,000-year-old mikvah found below living room in Jerusalem

An ancient, two thousand year old mikvah (ritual bath) was discovered below a living room floor during renovations carried out in a house in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem.

Archaeologists of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) discovered a pair of wooden doors beneath a stylised rug in the middle of a family’s living room – which concealed an ancient ritual bath.

On Wednesday the owners were awarded a certificate of appreciation by the IAA for exhibiting good citizenship in that they reported the discovery and thereby contributed to the study of the Land of Israel.

The mikvah, which is complete and quite large (length 3.5 m, width 2.4 m, depth 1.8 m), is rock-hewn and meticulously plastered according to the laws of purity appearing in the Jewish law.

A staircase leads to the bottom of the immersion pool. Pottery vessels dating to the time of the Second Temple (first century CE) and traces of fire that might constitute evidence of the destruction of 66-70 CE were discovered inside the bath.

In addition, fragments of stone vessels were found which were common during the Second Temple period because stone cannot be contaminated and remains pure.

According to Amit Re’em, Jerusalem District Archaeologist, instances of finding antiquities beneath a private home can happen only in Israel and Jerusalem in particular.

Ein Kerem is considered a place sacred to Christianity in light of its link to the “city of Judah” – the place where according to the New Testament, John the Baptist was born.

Despite this, the archaeological remains in ‘Ein Kerem and the surrounding area.. are few and fragmented. The discovery of the ritual bath reinforces the hypothesis there was a Jewish settlement from the time of the Second Temple located in the region of what is today ‘Ein Kerem.”

The owners told Israel Antiquities Authority: “Initially, we were uncertain regarding the importance of the find revealed below our house and we hesitated contacting the Israel Antiquities Authority because of the consequences we believed would be involved in doing so. At the same time, we had a strong feeling that what was situated beneath the floor of our house is a find of historical value and our sense of civic and public duty clinched it for us.

“We felt that this find deserves to be seen and properly documented. We contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority at our own initiative in order that they would complete the excavation and the task of documenting the discovery. Representatives of the IAA arrived and together we cleaned the miqwe. To our joy and indeed to our surprise, we found them to be worthy partners in this fascinating journey. The IAA archaeologists demonstrated great professionalism, interest and pleasantness. They were solely concerned with preserving and investigating the finds.”

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Contents

In the Hebrew Bible, the word is employed in its broader sense, but generally means a collection of water. [7]

Before the beginning of the first century BCE, neither written sources, nor archaeology gives any indication about the existence of specific installations used for ritual cleansing. [8] [9] [10] Mikvoth appear at the beginning of the first century BCE, and from then on, ancient mikvoth can be found throughout the land of Israel, as well as in historic communities of the Jewish diaspora.

In October 2020, a 2,000-year-old mikveh was found near Hannaton in northern Israel. [11]

The traditional rules regarding the construction of a mikveh are based on those specified in classical rabbinical literature. According to these rules, a mikveh must be connected to a natural spring or well of naturally occurring water, and thus can be supplied by rivers and lakes which have natural springs as their source. [12] A cistern filled by the rainwater is also permitted to act as a mikveh's water supply so long as the water is never collected in a vessel. Similarly snow, ice and hail are allowed to act as the supply of water to a mikveh no matter how they were transferred to the mikveh. [13] A river that dries up upon occasion cannot be used because it is presumed to be rainwater and not spring water, which cannot purify while in a flowing state. Oceans and seas for the most part have the status of natural springs.

A mikveh must, according to the classical regulations, contain enough water to cover the entire body of an average-sized person based on a mikveh with the dimensions of 3 cubits deep, 1 cubit wide, and 1 cubit long, the necessary volume of water was estimated as being 40 seah of water. [14] [15] The exact volume referred to by a seah is debated, and classical rabbinical literature specifies only that it is enough to fit 144 eggs [16] most Orthodox Jews use the stringent ruling of the Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz, according to which one seah is 14.3 litres, and therefore, a mikveh must contain approximately 575 litres. [17] This volume of water can later be topped up with water from any source, [18] but if there were less than 40 seahs of water in the mikveh, then the addition of 3 or more pints of water that was at any time intentionally collected in any vessel or transferred by a human, would render the mikveh unfit for use, regardless of whether water from a natural source was then added to make up 40 seahs from a natural source a mikveh rendered unfit for use in this way would need to be completely drained away and refilled from scratch in the prescribed way. [7]

Although not commonly accepted, at least one American Orthodox rabbi advocated a home mikvah using tap water. As water flows through only pipes that open at both ends, the municipal and in-home plumbing would be construed as a non-vessel. So long as the pipes, hoses, and fittings are all freestanding and not held in the hand, they could be used to fill a mikvah receptacle that met all other requirements. [19]

There are also classical requirements for the manner in which the water can be stored and transported to the pool the water must flow naturally to the mikveh from the source, which essentially means that it must be supplied by gravity or a natural pressure gradient, and the water cannot be pumped there by hand or carried. It was also forbidden for the water to pass through any vessel which could hold water within it or is capable of becoming impure (anything made of metal) (however pipes open to the air at both ends are fine so long as there is no significant curviture) [20] As a result, tap water could not be used as the primary water source for a mikveh, although it can be used to top the water up to a suitable level. [18] To avoid issues with these rules in large cities, various methods are employed to establish a valid mikveh. One is that tap water is made to flow into a kosher mikveh, and through a conduit into a larger pool. A second method is to create a mikveh in a deep pool, place a floor with holes over that and then fill the upper pool with tap water. In this way, it is considered as if the person dipping is actually "in" the pool of rain water.

Most contemporary mikvoth are indoor constructions involving rainwater collected from a cistern and passed through a duct by gravity into an ordinary bathing pool the mikveh can be heated, taking into account certain rules, often resulting in an environment not unlike a spa.

A mikveh must be built into the ground or built as an essential part of a building. Portable receptacles, such as bathtubs, whirlpools or Jacuzzis, can therefore never function as mikvehs. [21]


Sunday, Israeli authorities said they identified a rare, well-preserved 2,000-year-old Jewish ritual bath hidden beneath the floorboards of a Jerusalem home.

Oriya looks down at the ladder from her living room, leading to an ancient Jewish ritual bath (mikveh), dating from the Second Temple Period and believed to be over 2,000 years old.

The discovery in Ein Kerem neighborhood in Jerusalem, archeologists said, sheds new light on the area’s ancient Jewish and early Christian communities.

But the discovery might be most noteworthy because the couple that owns the home literally kept the treasure hidden under a rug for three years before choosing to come clean.

In an interview, the wife said the family found evidence of the mikveh, or Jewish ritual bath while renovating their home three years ago.

Construction workers were using heavy machinery that sunk through a hole, leading the crew to discover the bath.

She said that she and her husband were unsure of the significance and continued with the planned construction. But they also preserved the discovery, adding a pair of wooden doors in the floor to allow access to the bath and concealing the entrance with a rug.

The couple’s curiosity, however, persisted. Earlier this week, they contacted the Israeli Antiquities Authority and reported their finding. The family asked that their names be withheld to protect their privacy.

Amit Reem, an archaeologist with the authority, estimated the ritual bath dates back to the first century B.C., around the time of the Second Jewish Temple.

The bath remains largely intact and includes a staircase leading to what was once a pool. Archeologists also found pottery and unique stone vessels dating to the same period.

According to Christian tradition, John the Baptist is said to have been born in the Jewish community around Ein Kerem around the first century. Reem said the discovery adds to the physical evidence of the Jewish community in the area, which he said has been “sporadic.”

Reem said it is not uncommon for households around Jerusalem to unearth Jewish antiquities under their floorboards, though he did not know how many cases there were.

The family does not have to move and will keep the ritual bath preserved with the help of the Antiquities Authority.


Watch the video: Ancient Jewish ritual bath discovered in family home in Jerusalem (January 2022).