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Jerusalem - 2,000-Year-Old Mikveh Discovered Near Kosel

Published on: September 23, 2009 08:07 AM
By:  IsraelNN
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A large Jewish ritual pool  (mikvah) was recently discovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the underground Western Wall tunnels. The 2,000 year-old Mikvah is from the Second Temple Period and was likely used by Jewish pilgrims to purify themselves before ascending to the Temple Mount Sep 23 2009 .photo by Abir Sultan/Flash 90Jerusalem - A 2,000-year-old mikveh (ritual bath) has been uncovered just 20 meters from the Western Wall.

Given its location just outside the Holy Temple - where untold numbers of Jews regularly immersed before entering - the newly-revealed pool is among the largest ever discovered in Jerusalem.

The mikveh was found at the site known as the Western Wall Tunnels, which has long been under excavation and study by the Israel Antiquities Authority, with the support of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.

It is located about 30 meters past the entrance to the Tunnels, in the general direction of the Western Wall. Once it becomes open to the public, the 11 broad steps leading down to the mikveh will be seen approximately 8 meters below floor level.

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Josephus, the famous turncoat general and historian of the period, wrote that the administrative and governmental center of Jerusalem was located at the foot of the Temple, and that among the buildings there were the National Council and the Lishkat HaGazit, Chamber of Hewn Stone, where the Sanhedrin – Israel’s Supreme Court – convened.
The archaeologists feel that it is possible that the luxurious hall aside the mikveh was originally one of these structures.

Archaeologist Alexander Ohn, the director of the dig, explains:
“It is interesting to note that in the middle of the first century, changes were made in the grand structure. It was no longer used for public administrative purposes, and in its western wall a large mikveh was installed – with 11 steps descending into the immersion pool. It appears that Jerusalem was growing at this time, and with it the need to provide a solution for the increasing numbers of people who came en masse to Jerusalem, especially on the pilgrimage festivals (Passover (Pesach), Pentecost (Shavuot), and Tabernacles (Sukkot)). Ritual immersion in a mikveh and precise observance of the laws of purity were an inseparable part of Jewish life at this time; the importance of a mikveh, especially in this location, was great.”

Parts of the mikveh had been uncovered in the past, but now another hall – one of three – has been revealed. The structure was built of smooth stone hewn in a particularly intricate manner, with high-quality decorations and architectural style.

Its importance can be determined by the fact that it is similar to other luxurious structures built by King Herod such as the Temple Mount, the Machpelah Cave, and one in Elonei Mamreh.
Abir Sultan/Flash 90



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Read Comments (18)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Sep 23, 2009 at 08:25 AM ready right now Says:

when can i go in!!!!

wow!!!

imagine taking a quick dip then off to the Kotel for some davening!

powerful.

2

 Sep 23, 2009 at 08:28 AM Tevye Says:

Beautiful!

3

 Sep 23, 2009 at 08:41 AM Anonymous Says:

what do you mean?!? off to the kosel? it would have been THE BEIS HAMIKDASH!!! NOW THATS POWERFUL

4

 Sep 23, 2009 at 08:33 AM Anonymous Says:

and the best part is...is that it is boir all gabei boir

5

 Sep 23, 2009 at 08:52 AM Aryeh Says:

Be sure, the Israeli government has no plans to open the mikveh for use. There is a far older mikveh that can be used at the kever of Shmuel Ha Navi, just outside Jerusalem.

6

 Sep 23, 2009 at 09:10 AM Anonymous Says:

where do you see bor al gabei bor

7

 Sep 23, 2009 at 09:57 AM Anonymous Says:

They find more and more but it still dosent wake up there nishmos to do tishuva let them dig in there owen self they will find a big find that is lost

8

 Sep 23, 2009 at 09:26 AM Yisroel Simon Says:

It was probably just one Bor. The rainwater probably entered that one pit and they immersed directly into it. Cold and dirty.

9

 Sep 23, 2009 at 09:30 AM You don't need bor al gabei bor here Says:

bor al gabei bor is in order to assure that the actual mikveh in which you inmerse yourself ( where the water could be changed) is considered as if you inmersed in the bor of pure rain water, but if you inmere yourself in the only one mikveh of rain water or water from a well like in the Ariza"l's mikveh in Tzfas you don't need bor al gabei bor.

10

 Sep 23, 2009 at 10:03 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

where do you see bor al gabei bor

i was there. AND....all old Mikvahs found in EY are Boir Al Gabai Boir.

11

 Sep 23, 2009 at 11:41 AM Anonymous Says:

Wow. I'm not really a mikvah goer but I would toivel there!

12

 Sep 23, 2009 at 12:23 PM Tam Says:

Reply to #10  
Anonymous Says:

i was there. AND....all old Mikvahs found in EY are Boir Al Gabai Boir.

Is your statement a quote? it has quotation mark. Does anyone know of a source to this statement?
See #9, Bor Al Gabai Bor serves no benefit if you can’t change water in top Bor. Doubt possibly of emptying water and refilling with water carried by bucket. In addition, Bor Al Gabai Bor is great when water in top is warm and water in Bottom Bor is cold, minimizing water of top Bor mixing with bottom bor. Was Mikveh water heated in these days?

13

 Sep 23, 2009 at 03:02 PM Reb Yid Says:

OK, bor al gabei bor is nice, and chasidic innovations in halacha are all very interesting, but let's stop pretending that chasidus is of ancient origin.

14

 Sep 23, 2009 at 02:33 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
Anonymous Says:

i was there. AND....all old Mikvahs found in EY are Boir Al Gabai Boir.

Your mistaking what you see in Jerusalem With the whole in the middle, are old basins for water storage, since Israel doesn’t get a whole lot of water they needed to preserve the water during the winter for the summer months.
That’s what you see and you think it’s a Mikvah its very similar to a Mikvah and it used to be built as a big hole covered almost entirely except for a small hole in the middle so the water stays clean, and you are right it gives an impression of a Mikvah it has steps descending to the cover which is below ground level like a Mikvah, presumably to hold additional water in the “top shelf” so it looks like a Mikvah but its a water storage.

15

 Sep 23, 2009 at 09:14 PM hygiene Says:

Is there a shower with free shampoo and towels?

16

 Sep 24, 2009 at 02:31 AM me Says:

Is there a turnstile? where did they swipe the cards? Does the sign on the wall say "Please do not leave towels on the floor"? These have been passed down midor li'dor

17

 Sep 24, 2009 at 12:14 AM Been There Says:

Reply to #13  
Reb Yid Says:

OK, bor al gabei bor is nice, and chasidic innovations in halacha are all very interesting, but let's stop pretending that chasidus is of ancient origin.

WAIT!! You mean "chasidus" is a new thing that started about 250 years ago? People going Oleh Regel didnt wear their shtrymlach to the Bais HaMikdosh? I dont know if I could deal with this!

18

 Sep 24, 2009 at 12:12 AM Been There Says:

Reply to #14  
Anonymous Says:

Your mistaking what you see in Jerusalem With the whole in the middle, are old basins for water storage, since Israel doesn’t get a whole lot of water they needed to preserve the water during the winter for the summer months.
That’s what you see and you think it’s a Mikvah its very similar to a Mikvah and it used to be built as a big hole covered almost entirely except for a small hole in the middle so the water stays clean, and you are right it gives an impression of a Mikvah it has steps descending to the cover which is below ground level like a Mikvah, presumably to hold additional water in the “top shelf” so it looks like a Mikvah but its a water storage.

you are the one mistaken as they know it would be a mikvah based on the stairs leading into it. if you've been to EY and you have seen these mikvaos, you will notice that there is a small m'chitza in the middle of the stairs so that the tamey could walk one way and the tahor could walk the other. its actually quite fascinating to say the least.

19

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