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In Judaism, miqveh (plural miqva’ot) is a natural or constructed pool of water that is used
for ritual purification of persons or objects by immersion.
Miqva’ot have played a significant role in Jewish communities throughout centuries as
shown by their presence in many historical cities and surrounding villages. Miqva’ot have been
found in Judea, Galilee, Jericho, Qumran, Gezer and Jerusalem dating from the Hasmonaean
period (second century BCE) to the Roman period (both fall under the Second Temple period).
During this period, miqva’ot was used for ritual purification prior to entering the Temple as many
were located on the Temple Mount and within the Temple (for priests). There were miqva’ot
available for pilgrims all around Jerusalem’s villages and towns built by the Jewish court (bet
din) to ensure validity. Miqva’ot have also been discovered in the medieval period ranging from
as early as sixth century in Sicily to the twelfth century in Speyer, London and Friedberg. It is
probable that the miqva’ot served as bathhouses as during the medieval period the dominant
Christian leaders forbade Jews to wash in the rivers.
The laws regarding the construction and maintenance of miqva’ot comes from the “Oral
Torah” or Mishnah written in the rabbinic period instead of the earlier divine biblical books.
There are biblical texts which state that immersion in water is required to purify one who is
ritually unclean, specifically “Leviticus 15..., Numbers 19...and Numbers 31:22–23...” (p. 6046)
but there is no mention of miqveh. The first “written” mention of miqveh came in the sixth
tractate of the order Tohorot (purities) of the Mishnah (from third century CE) named Miqva’ot.
It states the valid way in constructing and using a miqveh. The miqveh must contain no leakages
thus has to be “hewn out of rock or built to the ground” (p. 6046). Drain plugs are a restricted
accessory in the construction of miqva’ot since it allows leakage. The water cannot touch vessels
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