An Ancient Mikveh Shows How Jews in Jerusalem Kept the Laws of Ritual Purity

At the foot of the Mount of Olives, near the church of Gethsemane—the garden where, according to the New Testament, the Romans arrested Jesus—archaeologists have discovered a 2,000-year-old mikveh, or ritual bath. The garden’s name derives from the Hebrew words meaning “oil press,” and this is exactly what experts believe existed there once. In an interview by Hannah Brown, Amit Re’em, the director of archaeology in Jerusalem for the Israel Antiquities Authority, explains:

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.

The discovery of this bath, unaccompanied by buildings, probably attests to the existence of an agricultural industry here 2000 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, a place where ritually pure oil was produced near the city.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Jerusalem, Mikveh

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy