Sanhedrin Mikveh

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The mikveh was discovered in 2009, in the Western Tunnel, and it located some 65 feet away from the Western Wall it self. According to Josephus the Jewish administrative center was located in this area at the at the foot of the Temple on the west side. The Talmud says that the Sanhedrin would meet in this building.

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Dubbed as "Sanhadrin Mikveh" due to its construct and proximity to the first century administrative center of the city, this was one of the largest mikvah ever discovered. It was used by the multitude of Jews entering the Temple Mount near Wilson’s Arch or Warren’s Gate. Joesphus wrote that the Jewish government’s administrative center was located in this area at the foot of the Temple on the west side. The mikveh is located in the western hall of administrative building, well below the original floor level.

One of the most interesting finds in the Western Wall Tunnel is a large ritual bath from the late Second Temple Period (New Testament era) that is located on the lower eastern slope of the Western Hill—west of the Temple Mount proper.

Since the design of the mikveh suggests that it might have been difficult for someone to immerse in this mikveh, it is also suggested that it might have been used to wash ritual vessels. It seems that this bath/pool is very similar in design to the larger Ophel Mikvah that was found by Benjamin Mazar south of the Temple Mount.



Looking down on the large mikvah from the modern tunnel gallery, as it is now below the ground level of the Western Wall Tunnel. This highly decorated mikvah has the architectural and artistic style of some of Herod’s most magnificent works with finely dressed ashlar stones and the highest quality craftsmanship in decorating. This could be part of the Sanhedrin’s governmental building as well as their ritual bath. The mikveh with its 11 steps was built later into the building, testifying to the growth and development of Jerusalem later on in the Herodian period.

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