Daily Archives: October 11, 2011

Ritual bath discovered at biblical Zorah

A report today from the Israel Antiquities Authority announces the discovery of a Second Temple Period ritual bath. This means the Herodian Temple that was standing at the time of the ministry of Jesus. Many Bible students think of the Herodian Temple as the Third Temple.

  1. Solomon’s Temple (built about 966 B.C.). Destroyed in 586 B.C. by the Babylonians.
  2. The post-Babylonian Exile temple built 520-516 B.C. This temple fell into decay and was rebuilt and vastly enlarged by Herod.
  3. Herod’s Temple (begun about 19/20 B.C. Destroyed in A.D. 70 by the Romans.

Archaeologist Pablo Betzer, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said,

“This is the first time that any remains dating to the Second Temple period have been exposed in this region. We knew from the Talmud and from non-Jewish sources that on this ridge, as in most of the Judean Shephelah, there was an extensive Jewish community 2,000 years ago that existed until the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. Yet despite the many surveys and excavations that have been carried out to date no remains from this period have been discovered so far”. According to Betzer the name of the Jewish settlement that the ritual bath belonged to is still unknown.

Second Temple Mikveh from Zorah. Photo by Assaf Peretz, courtesy IAA.

Second Temple Mikveh from Zorah. Photo by Assaf Peretz, courtesy IAA.

Zorah is know to Bible students as the area of Samson’s birth and activity (Judges 13-16). Manoah, Samson’s father, was a Danite from Zorah (Judges 13:2).

Questions about purification were common during the ministry of John and Jesus. This is the “Second Temple” period.

Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification.  (John 3:25 ESV)

The NET Bible uses the phrase “ceremonial washing” instead of “purification.”

The full press release may be read here.

HT: Bible Places Blog.