A 2,000-Year-Old Mikveh, with Significance for Both Jews and Christians

In the midst of renovating their home in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem neighborhood, a family discovered an ancient, underground ritual bath. Ilan Ben Zion writes:

Last week the Israel Antiquities Authority finished excavating the subterranean bath, which archaeologist Amit Reem said . . . may have belonged to a private home in a 1st-century CE Jewish village. The ritual bath adheres to halakhic requirements and measures 1.8 meters deep, 3.5 meters long, and 2.4 meters wide.

More intriguingly, it lends some support to a Christian tradition linking Ein Kerem, today a quaint neighborhood clinging to a hill on Jerusalem’s southwestern edge, with the birthplace of John the Baptist. . . .

“[U]ntil now we didn’t have archaeological evidence supporting the notion that there was a Jewish community in Ein Kerem” during that period, [Reem] said, standing next to the gaping maw of the mikveh in the [house’s] living room. . . .

While Reem was reluctant to draw any direct associations between John the Baptist and the ritual bath found in the Shimshoni home, he said its discovery pointed to the presence of religious Jews who were fastidious about matters of ritual purity.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: ancient Judaism, Archaeology, Halakhah, History & Ideas, Jerusalem, Mikveh, New Testament

Europe Dithers While Iran Enriches

Jan. 20 2020

In May, when Tehran announced that it would no longer abide by the limits set by the 2015 nuclear agreement on its enrichment of uranium, Europe found legal excuses not to react. When, earlier this month, the Islamic Republic went a step further, renouncing any limits on enrichment, the EU—led by France and Germany, both parties to the deal—at last initiated a formal process that might lead to the re-imposition of sanctions. Bobby Ghosh comments on the dangers of European apathy:

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Read more at Bloomberg

More about: European Union, France, Germany, Hassan Rouhani, Iran, Iran nuclear program