What is Miveh (Mikvah)

“Several religious functions are served by this powerful symbol of submerging in water. In the days of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, the mikveh was used by all Jews who wanted to enter the precincts of the Sanctuary. The law required every person inside the Temple grounds to be in a spiritually pure state appropriate to the pristine spirituality of the Sanctuary itself.

Submerging in a pool of water for the purpose not of using the water’s physical cleansing properties but expressly to symbolize a change-of-soul is a statement at once deeply spiritual and immensely compelling. No other symbolic act can so totally embrace a person as being submerged in water, which must touch and cover every lesion, every strand of hair, every birthmark. No other religious act is so freighted with meaning as this one which touches every aspect of life and proclaims a total commitment to a new idea and a new way of life as it swallows up the old and gives birth to the new.” – Rabbi from California

A Mikvah is required for three areas of life according to Glen Penton:

  • Birth
  • Death
  • The Presence of God

What is Immersion

The Bible (Tanak/Torah)  describes the immersion in water for the purpose of purification  and cleansing but there is no mention of the word baptism.

“It must be put into water, and it shall be unclean until the evening; then it shall be clean”

Leviticus 11:32, ESV

In the days of the First Temple, dipping objects in water was a limited practice, a marginal aspect of daily Jewish life in the Land of Israel. The few instances when people bathed for the purpose of purification were clear-cut cases of contamination, such as leprosy.

For this purpose, one could bathe in any natural water, such as a sea, a spring or a river. Thus Elisha suggests that Naaman, captain of the Syrian army , who suffered from leprosy , immerse himself in the Jordan

“So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” 

2 Kings 5:14, ESV

When the Jewish nation moved to Babylon, under the leadership of Ezra and Zerubavel, the interest in purification grew. Man-made purification baths came into use during the Hasmonean rule.

Immersion of Yeshua in the Jordan

John’s immersion was essentially different..

“And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing that they had missed the mark.”

Mark 1:5, ESV

John’s immersion was the basis of baptism, which is meant for everyone, and is preceded by a personal choice.

The immersion of Yeshua, was a sign of his revelation as the Messiah, The sign was not the immersion itself, but the descent of the Holy Spirit into Yeshua:

“and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Luke 3:22, ESV

Today, immersion (Mikveh – Mikvah) has been changed by the traditional Christian church to become something similar and yet different from the original intent.  The Christian church along the way lost its understanding of the root and function of the Mikvah by 300 CE.  The baptism (Mikveh) has nothing to do with membership of a local church.

Many people are realizing their need to be immersed (Mikveh) again and are leaving traditions of men and seeking to connect with God. They begin reading the Word (Torah) and realize that immersion is an outward sign of an inward personal choice that touches every aspect of their life.