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Second Temple Purity Practices and Jewish Baths

February 6, 2017

From the American Schools of Oriental Research comes a new presentation on the mikva’ot, used by Second Temple Jews for ritual bathing.

Most ritual baths were located in residential contexts, in the basement or ground floor of houses as well as in shared domestic courtyards. The phenomenon of ritual baths installed in private homes was prevalent across the entire socioeconomic gamut, from simple dwellings in rural villages to lavish mansions such as those found in the Upper City of Jerusalem and the royal palaces of the Hasmoneans and of Herod the Great. Numerous ritual baths have been found near entrances to the Temple Mount, in close proximity to the Huldah Gates in the southern wall and Robinson’s Arch and Wilson’s Arch in the western wall. These were apparently public ritual baths, intended for the use of the multitude of pilgrims who visited the Temple on the festivals and throughout the year and required purificatory immersion prior to entering the sacred realms of the Temple.

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