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A Mikvah, Qumran

mikvahsteps.jpg (204791 bytes)

Notice:  This photo is copyrighted by Dennis Bratcher and is not available for public use.  
Do not link directly to this photo or to any photos on this site. 

Steps leading down to the Mikvah, or ritual bath, at the settlement of Qumran at the northwestern edge of the Dead Sea in the Jordan Valley.  The ridges at the top right were channels to divert water into the baths from water sources in the wadis (dry river beds that fill with water when it rains) on the cliff face a mile or so to the west, routed to the site via aqueducts.  The large crack is the result of a major earthquake, most likely in 31 BC or perhaps in AD 68.  Such huge quakes were common here since the Jordan Valley is part of a large rift system that reaches into central Africa. 

The settlement at Qumran, at which the hoard of Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered earlier this century, was a monastic Jewish settlement built in the early first century BC.   It is sometimes associated with the sect known as Essenes.  While that identification is not certain, the writings discovered here point to a group disillusioned with what they saw as corruption of the Jerusalem Temple leadership because of Jewish religious leaders (Sadducees) cooperating with the Romans.  They expected divine intervention to purify the Temple, and seemed to expect both a martial messiah to drive out the Romans as well as a Teacher of Righteousness to correct the corruption of official Judaism.  The settlement was abandoned in the first century AD, perhaps as a result of the earthquakes or perhaps because of increasing pressure from the Romans after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in AD 70.

-Dennis Bratcher, Copyright © 2011, Dennis Bratcher - All Rights Reserved
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