Hershel Shanks

Entrance to the mikveh at Chorazin. Found in complex C, the large ritual bath at the bottom of this seven-step entryway, suggests that complex C was a public building. Here the Jews of Chorazin would come to fulfill the law (halakhah). Jewish law requires purification at prescribed times in a pool whose water has been in contact with “live” water, that is, water that flowed into place rather than having been drawn or carried. Unseen in this picture, but identified in the plan at right, is a large cistern adjacent to the bathing pool and connected to it; the cistern (otzar) would have contained a stored supply of “live” water.

The plan compresses structures from different levels. The pillars supported a roof over the paved courtyard. From the paved courtyard, people descended the steps to the ritual bath. The dotted lines indicate structures below the courtyard level—the steps, the bathing pool and the reserve pool.