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Origin of water baptism


What is the Origin of Water Baptism?


The Jews had a ceremonial dunking in something resembling a deep
bathtub called a mikvah. Archaeologists find Jewish mikvahs from
before and after Jesus' time in Israel. Some are in Qumran, near where
the Dead Sea Scrolls were found; but there are others found elsewhere
in Israel. A person dunked themselves. The water source could not be a
stagnant pool but had to be flowing water. Natural sources, such as a
river or a lake were considered "flowing." A lake was considered
"flowing" because of the springs or creeks which fed into it and the
water that seeped out of it. Thus, the ceremonial mikveh was not just
a sort of "bathtub" - it had a small channel that connected it to a
"flowing" water source, such as a river. If you had a bathtub with a
stopper in it then this would not be considered a true mikveh. But if
you filled the tub up, took the stopper out, and turned the faucet on
to run into the bathtub then I would suppose that it would be
considered a true mikveh.

The mikveh is used for ceremonial cleansing, such as for a woman after
her menstral cycle. But it is used also for those, even to this, for
gentiles who convert to Judaism. The mikveh is administered to both
male and female converts. In addition to the mikveh circumcision is
also administered to the male converts. (See The Jewish Book of Why,
pp 123 & 297).

The Jewish rabbis believe that the first instance of the use of
ceremonial cleansing is just prior to the giving of the covenant at
Mt. Sinai. They cite the verse "The LORD also said to Moses, 'Go to
the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash
their garments'" (Exod 19:10) as justification. They believe that the
"consecration" and the "washing" of the garments are related
actions. (See The Second Jewish Book of Why, pp 128-129). Perhaps. It
is an interesting tradition, which, if true, presents some interesting
parallels with the day of Pentacost and the giving of the New

The interesting thing is that when John the Baptist and then later
Peter telling the Jews to be baptized on the day of Pentecost they
were telling them that they, though they were Jews, needed to be
converted before God just as if they were Gentiles (for conversion of
Gentiles into Judaism required the mikveh).