Limestone Jars at Cana
The limestone Kosher objects: during the second Temple period and Jesus’ time, the Jews believed that stone objects remained pure despite coming into contact with impure elements. Therefore, limestone wares were commonly used by Jews including the Pharisees and Sadducees to remain pure before God. The limestone objects for Kosher uses were manufactured in several places around Jerusalem, there was in fact an entire limestone industry! Photograph 1 shows a limestone ware used by the Pharisees to wash their hands before their meals (Luke 11:38). Do you remember when they complained about Jesus’s disciples who didn’t wash their hands before their meal? (Mark 7:5).
(A Jewish Limestone ware for purification from excavation)
The religious industry also made other objects, not just limestone cups and small wares, but jars and entire basins as well. These bigger wares are known today as “Kalal” by scholars and are mentioned in the antique historical sources. These huge limestone basins were used for the ritual cleansing of the body.
Some similar wares are mentioned in the first miracle of Jesus at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11). The water that was changed into wine had been previously been poured into carved limestone jars. The analogy of the purification wares in which water was changed into wine, and the purifying blood of Jesus which was to be poured out a few years later, could be understood only by Jews who knew the purification function of these “kalal”. Today, when you go to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, you will see these round basins, jugs and jars there, standing as they were during the wedding in Cana. It’s incredible to see.
Once during a dig in the City of David in Jerusalem, I saw some of these wares with my own eyes. It was actually in the same place where the ancient oil lamps were found (see my second blog article); the specific place where during the Second Temple period people used to throw broken glass, pottery and rubbish. This entire slope full of what once was considered trash is a goldmine to us today! During this particular dig a lot of limestone wares were discovered. It was an amazing experience, and one that I cannot forget- literally holding Biblical history in my hands, touching the dirt and handling the same artifacts that belonged to the Jews of Jesus’s day. If you want to experience this for yourself, please let us know or have your travel agent contact us and we will be happy to assist.
Come and discover the treasures of the Holy Land! In the Land of the Bible, biblical history is being uncovered and excavated on a regular basis. There is always something happening and it is wonderful to see the Bible coming to life and the Scriptures proved true.
We look forward to welcoming you here and sharing the history of our land with you on your next visit to Israel.
The eastern slope of the City of David Hill at Jerusalem, full of pottery debris, during excavations (2013)