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When the family (of Jesus) first entered upon the Temple Mount, after having immersed themselves in a ritual bath, or mikveh, they would have found themselves in the broad Court of the Gentiles… In each of the four corners of the Court of the Women was a separate walled enclosure that served a special purpose. One was for storage and inspection of wood, for no wormy wood was to be used in the altar fire. A 2nd held oil and wine for use in the services. A 3rd was reserved for lepers who believed themselves cured; here they were inspected by priests, and if they were found to be cured, they would purify themselves in a mikveh. Then to complete the purification, they would make a burnt offering in atonement for the time that they had spent outside God’s service. The fourth enclosure was set aside for Nazirites, the “dedicated” or “consecrated” ones, who were forbidden to drink wine, cut their hair, or approach a dead body… The purpose of immersion in a mikveh, or a watertight ritual bath, was to cleanse the spirit, not the body. A mikveh could not be portable – many were cut from living rock – and had to contain free-running water, usually spring water or rainwater. The Temple had several mikvehs for priest, including at least two reserved for the high priest. Public mikvehs also existed near the Temple Mount; worshipers had to be cleansed before entering holy ground. (Shown in the book is mikveh found in Masada “built according to strict ritual requirements”)…

(In an article about the Essenes) Woven into the routine of life were two daily practices whose natures set the Essenes apart from other sects – the extensive ritual washings and the common meals. By long tradition, all pious Jews washed their hands before eating or praying, and they immersed themselves in mikvehs, or ritual baths. But the Essenes gave the practice a greater spiritual weight and made it more important in their lives, immersing their bodies daily before meals and requiring each new member to bathe himself in flowing water, a ritual of initiation that presaged John the Baptist’s rite of baptism.