• Toldot-Generations
  • Time Between Eternities
  • Dispensations
  • Hebrew Feasts
  • Praise and Worship
  • Mystery of Mikvah
  • continue
  • Home
  • The Mystery of the Mikvah

    God (HaShem) is Israel's Mikvah

      Eze 36:25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness,and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.

      Jer 14:8 O the hope of Israel, the saviour thereof in time of trouble,….

      mik-vah', mik-vay', mik-vay' From H6960; something waited for, that is, confidence (objectively or subjectively); also a collection, that is, (of water) a pond, or (of men and horses) a caravan or drove: - abiding, gathering together, hope, linen yarn, plenty [of water], pool.

    There is a greater insight into the nature of God when we connect the word mikvah with God being our hope. However, we do not always think of the word mikvah in those terms because the most common usage in today's Jewish and Gentile culture refers to a pool of gathered fresh water in which people are ritually immersed or baptized. Because of the popular use of this term, the above statements would seem rather puzzling to the casual believer.

    How then are we to understand the declaration that "God is Israel's Mikvah?" In the verse, Jeremiah 14:8, the word mikvah actually means "hope," and not a pool filled with water. Therefore, the proper translation of Jeremiah 14:8 should be, "God is Israel's hope."

    Our Hope

    What is the meaning of Hashem? The short answer is that Hashem means "The Name" in Hebrew. When reading the Torah or praying, Jews who come across the name of God (transliterated into English as YHWH) will substitute the word Adonai. In other contexts and in casual conversation, Jews who encounter God's name will substitute HaSheminstead.

    In Hebrew the name YHVH is also associated with God's attribute of mercy. Accordingly then, this passage is stating that HaShem is Israel's hope and mercy. Just as the immersion pool (mikvah) purifies the unclean, so God purifies Israel and Gentile. It is in the mercy of HaShem that we have our only hope. He Himself is our mikvah.

    Why, therefore, does the Hebrew language use the same word for hope as for mikvah? The word mikvah in Jeremiah 14, is from the root vue, which means "to wait for," or, "to have hope." In Jeremiah 14 the word mikvah is used in conjunction with HaShem to say that the source of our hope is the Lord. Thus, we can say the passage is indicating that HaShem is not only the giver of hope to Israel, but also that He is our hope. "Although our sins testify against us, O Lord, do something for the sake of Your name... O Mikvah of Israel, its Savior" (Jeremiah 14:7-8).

    The person who is our salvation--it is He who is our Mikvah! Mikvah also has a second thrust from the same root letters, “vue”. This second sense has the idea of "gathering" or "collecting." Mikvah in this sense is used in "Genesis 1:10" where the Tanakh speaks of "gathered waters," which the text calls "seas." The word "gathered" is the word "mikvah."

    Gen 1:10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called the Seas, and God saw that it was good.

    Since the idea of collection is in the root, we can combine both ideas like this:

      Our "hope" is that HaShem, who is all-merciful and who is the source of all existence, is high above the universe. It is He who "gathers" us to Himself that we may actually be "in Him."

    Y’Shua refers to us as those whom the Father has gathered out of the world and given to His Son. In John 17 we read, "I have revealed You to those whom You gave Me out of the world. They were Yours; You gave them to Me and they have obeyed Your word."

    Thus far, we have demonstrated that the term mikvah actually has two closely connected connotations. Biblically, it defines God as the One who is so rich in mercy that He Himself actually is our hope. Then, based on this concept, we can understand that the pool of immersion water, which, from ancient times, has been called a mikvah, actually serves as a visual representation of God's hope and mercy. We also learn that God is our hope in that He gathers us to Himself and makes us united to Him in a special way. As He was speaking to the Father, Y’Shua in John 17 prayed that His followers would be Echad (One), as He was in the Father and they are in Him (17:20-23). Truly this is our hope and the mercy of God that He has made Himself to be our Mikvah.

    How, specifically does this happen that the water mikvah can picture God's hope and mercy? The prophet Ezekiel answers this as follows:

      "Happy are you, Israel. Before whom do you purify yourselves? Who purifies you? Your Father in heaven! It is written, I will sprinkle pure water upon you, from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws"(Ezekiel 36:26-27).

    Ezekiel was saying that our sins have left us defiled, desperately in need of a spiritual cleansing. He continues to inform us, however, that there is hope for our condition and that this hope comes from our Father in heaven, Who cleanses us. It is a spiritual work that He alone performs in our lives. The physical waters of the mikvah, therefore, merely reflect in them what God, our Hope has done for us spiritually.

    A Change of Status

    I could finish the article at this point and be blessed with the truth and reality that God is our hope and mercy. However, there is more to the concept of mikvah. There is yet a deeper meaning to this pool of gathered waters.

    It seems obvious that the use of water in a mikvah would easily lend to an understanding of the mikvah to be a place where there would be cleansing or purification. Indeed, it is used that way. However, if we look into the Torah more carefully, we find that the Mikvah has a deeper significance than mere purification, (particularly in two special areas).

    The first involved the original consecration of Aaron and his sons as kohanim (priests), which took place soon after the exodus from Egypt and was administered by Moses. Aaron and his sons then served as priests in the Mishkan (tabernacle) sanctuary built in the desert. The Torah tells us that the first step in the consecration of Aaron and his sons as kohanim involved washing them with water (Exodus 29:4, 40:12; Leviticus 8:6). Here, the washing with water involved a change in status--an elevation from one state to another. Aaron and his sons were originally no different from anyone else, but with this washing, they attained the new status of kohanim or priests.

    The second area where we see the special significance of Mikvah is in the Yom Kippur service in the Holy Temple. This service is outlined in Leviticus 16. The most crucial part of this ancient Temple service was the entrance of the High Priest into the Holy of Holies where the Ark containing the Covenant God made with Moshe was kept and where the Shekinah glory of God dwelt in a special way. The High Priest was only allowed to enter this room once a year, on Yom Kippur. The High Priest had to put on special white vestments before entering this most sacred room. After leaving the Holy of Holies, he would once again put on the "golden" vestments that he wore all year round.

    On this mo'ed (appointed time - festival), the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies twice. This, in turn, would require that he change his vestments five times, since he would begin and end in his "golden" ones. Each time before he changed, he would immerse himself in a mikvah. When he did so, in effect, he was undergoing a change in status, as indicated by the change of clothing. When he entered the Holy of Holies, he had a very different status than before--a unique status that would allow him to enter this room. This change in status was reflected through immersion in the mikvah.

    The immersion in ritual purification involves the very same concept. The water is not washing away filth. Rather, the mikvah is changing the individual's spiritual status from that of tam'ei (impure) to that of being tahor (pure). Actually, this "purification" is a change of status rather than a "cleansing" process. This is particularly true in the purification from ritual uncleanness. Hence, as we can see, based on the change of the status of the Priests and the High Priest, the Rabbis from ancient times have also understood the mikvah to represent a change of a person's status. It is based on the primary usage stated above, that is, it is based on the fact that when God cleanses us we are changed from the status of spiritually defiled to one of spiritually clean. The Rabbis understood this. Therefore, they suggest at least two reasons why a person would enter a mikvah. One is to show how God has cleansed them. The second is to represent a change of life status.

    That is why, as part of the ancient Jewish Wedding process, the groom about to be married, immersed himself in a mikvah. This symbolized the change of status from being single to that of being married. Also, upon becoming a Rabbi, a man immersed himself because he was about to enter a new status in his life.

    It seems from the Scriptures that God also intended the mikvah to represent a change of one's life status. The change God had in mind, however, was a spiritual change. Accordingly, the Brit Hadasha (B'rit Hadashah) speaks about the many profound changes that have happened in a person's life because they trusted in Y’Shua. It is important that we know that these changes occurred because of Y’Shua. The name "Y’Shua" is from the Hebrew root which means "savior or deliverer." In fact, it is the same root used in the text with which I began this article,

      Jeremiah 14:8. Here we are told that, "the Lord is the mikvah (hope) of Israel, a Savior in times of distress". The idea of God being our hope, our mikvah, is closely connected with that of Him being our Savior, or our Y’Shua!

    In this light, look at the following passages from the Brit Hadasha and notice the changes that God made in our lives because of what our Savior, our "Y’Shua" did for us:

      1. Ephesians 2:1,4,6--a change from death to life "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins...But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with the Messiah even when we were dead in transgressions...And God raised us up with the Messiah and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in the Messiah Y’Shua..."

      2. I Peter 2:9-10--But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:  Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

      3. II Corinthians 5:17--we have become a new creation [change of status] "Therefore, if anyone is in the Messiah, He is a ; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God..."

      4. Galatians 4:7--from a slave to a son/heir of God "So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir."

    Our hope (biblical assurance) is that He Himself has changed us forever!--"For you died, and your life is now hidden in the Messiah in God." (Colossians 3:3) This declares a change from spiritual death to life. It stresses that our life is intimately connected with being united with the Messiah. In Him we have life.

    There are many, many more verses that I could have been quoted in this list. How did Y’Shua accomplish all of these changes in our lives? Simply by being our mikvah--the one in whom we are radically changed! Not only are we told in Jeremiah that God is our hope (mikvah), but we are also instructed that the Messiah, Y’Shua Himself, is our Mikvah. It is in Him that we have this "change of status." It is in Him that we are made new. For it is written, "You are all sons of God through faith in the Messiah Y’Shua, for all of you who were immersed into the Messiah have clothed yourselves with the Messiah" (Galatians 3:26).

    The Grave and the Womb

    The ancient sages had another concept of the mikvah, the pool of immersion waters. To them the mikvah also represented the grave and the womb. We know that it seems rather strange to place these seemingly opposite concepts together. One pictures new life while the other pictures death. But, hang in there and I will show you how they are both intimately connected when it comes to what the mikvah symbolizes. I will begin with the womb.

    When I’m speaking of the one being immersed, I mean; "For him, the waters of the Mikvah are his womb and source, and when he emerges he too is a new individual."

    Why womb? I will takes us back to Genesis and the creation account. We have already noticed that in Gen. 1:2 God moved upon hamayim (the waters) and in Gen. 1:10 the seas were called the "gathered or collection of waters" or mikvah. So out of these waters came all of the life which was about to happen in the earth. We read in Genesis 1:2 "...and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." In Hebraic understanding, the Spirit of God impregnated the waters and the first thing birthed into the earth from the womb of creation was light (Gen. 1:3). Thus, "Ultimately, this original 'Mikvah of waters' represented the womb of life. We come across a reference to God's creation coming forth from His womb in Job 38:28-30; "Has the rain a father? Or who has begotten the drops of dew? From whose womb has come the ice? And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth? Water becomes hard like stone. And the surface of the deep is imprisoned……"

    These passages in Job allude to God fathering and giving birth out of a womb. Hence, it is not difficult to see the connection, in rabbinic thinking, then, between the mikvah and the womb. Out of both came new life.

    The mikvah also represents a grave. How so? Man simply cannot survive on his own under the water. Unless he has some sort of an artificial breathing system, he dies under the water if he does not emerge in time to get some air. Therefore, when man enters the water, he is entering a state of non-breathing. Thus, when a person submerges himself in a mikvah, he or she momentarily enters the realm of the nonliving so that when he emerges he or she is like one who is re-born." Thus, for all intents and purposes, the pool of immersion water is like a grave. When someone goes in, it represents the fact that he has died, when he comes out, he is like one who has new life (status change).

    Both of these images, the grave and the womb, come into play when we attempt to understand the meaning of the mikvah for the Messianic believer. Our having been immersed into the Messiah is pictured by the pool of gathered waters, the mikvah pool. Y’Shua haMashiach is the living water in whom we are immersed. We enter that "Water" dead in our trespasses and sins, unclean. We are buried with Him, entering the grave.

    However, that grave is also the womb; the same time we die, we also are born again! We are raised to newness of life, now constituted the righteousness of God in Him! There is a Hebrew play on words which takes place in this picture that is essential to know. In Hebrew, the word for "womb" is rechem. It is the same exact root as the word for "mercy" or, specifically, "compassion," rachum. Do you see the beautiful picture which emerges? We are raised with Him, born again--this time from the womb, which is God's mercy or compassion. This is the Good News pictured in the mikvah of ancient Israel.

    What I have said above is particularly the case with new believers. It has long been known that beginning with the Second Temple, Gentiles converting to Judiasm were required to go through a mikvah to declare their change in status from being Gentile to now being Jewish. The immersion of new converts combines the images of the womb and grave with the concept of a change of status. According to Hebraic thinking, the Talmud (Jewish doctrine) states, "as soon as [the convert] immerses and emerges, he is like a Jew in every way." How does immersion in a mikvah change a person? This can best be understood based on another Talmudic teaching that "a convert who embraces Judiasm is like a newborn child."

    So we can see that the mikvah represents the womb. When an individual enters the mikvah, he is re-entering the womb, and when he emerges, he is as if born anew. Thus, he attains a completely new status. It also represents the grave wherein he knows himself to be dead to his old status.

    This Tanakh practice of immersion became the basis for which B'rit Hadashah believers in Y’Shua were also immersed. This does not mean to say that the new believers in Y’Shua were becoming Jews. We know that they were not undergoing a conversion to Judiasm. However, the purposes and symbolism of Jewish immersion would has been carried over into the believers' use of the mikvah. They were being immersed in order to declare their new status of being in Y’Shua the Messiah. The believers were being immersed as a public declaration of their personal death, burial, and resurrection in the Messiah of Israel.


    Armed with the Jewish understanding of the mikvah as being both grave and womb we can now understand Y’Shua's seemingly puzzling dialogue with Nicodemus in John chapter 3. Here, Y’Shua tells Nicodemus, the Pharisee who would have understood all of the foregoing symbolism, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." Nicodemus responded, "How can a man be born when he is old? Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" Y’Shua answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again...'." Nicodemus asked, "How can this be?" To this Y’Shua replied, "You are Israel's teacher, and do you not understand these things?"

    Clearly, Y’Shua spoke to him in a manner with which he should have been well familiar. Nicodemus should not have been surprised at Y’Shua's saying. Y’Shua was not introducing something new to the Jewish faith. To this precious Israelite who had come to Him searching, Y’Shua pointed out that which had always been true in the teachings of the Torah.

    "You are Israel's teacher and you do not understand these things?" To what "things" was Y’Shua referring? He was alluding to the spiritual realities that the mikvah symbolized. These realities include the fact that we were dead in our trespasses and sins. But, in so many words, Y’Shua was communicating to Nicodemus the same truth that the prophets of old were saying to Israel: "I willremove from you your heart of stone...I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you" (Ezekiel 36). According to these passages we can clearly see that the Word of God declares the need to be born again in order to be able to even "see" the kingdom of God. Hence, the Brit Hadasha confirms that, "because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with the Messiah even when we were dead in transgressions and sins"(Ephesians 2:4).

    With all of this in mind, we can joyfully conclude as the prophets state, "Happy are you, Israel. Before whom do you purify yourselves? Who purifies you? Your Father in heaven! It is thus written, (Ezekiel 36:25), 'I will sprinkle pure water upon you, and you shall be clean.' And it is written (Jeremiah 14:8), 'God (HaShem) is Israel's mikvah'." Just as the mikvah purifies the unclean, so God purifies Israel. Mishnah, Yoma 8:9 (85b). For the person who enters the mikvah, HaShem, who is the ultimate source of all existence, is his mikvah, his hope, the one in whom he is born anew unto a new existence as a new creation come forth from the grave.

    At this point, we would like to draw attention to this incredible change that is also described for us in Romans 6. Moreover, as we would expect, this description centers around the concept of mikvah, which in the original Greek in Romans is the word "baptism."


    We began this study of the concept of the mikvah with a quotation from a famous rabbi of antiquity. We will close with another quotation from another ancient rabbi. This time, however, it is the Rabbi of Rabbis, Y’Shua the the Messiah. We will leave you with His words from John chapter 3: "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." Our prayer is that, together, we understand clearly the truth that Y’Shua is emphasizing. That which is born of flesh (our old man) changes status when he/she is born again-born of the Spirit through the mayim hayim (Living Water), Y’Shua Himself! This change of status takes place when we are immersed into mayim hayim by the Spirit of the living God Himself. Have you, by the Spirit of God been immersed into the Mayim Hayim, the Messiah Y’Shua? Then you have passed through the most radical change, you are a new creation and you have entered the Kingdom of God. It is in that kingdom that you live and dwell. It is in that Kingdom that all of us who have entered by faith can truly know and experience what it is like for HaShem to be our hope, our mikvah.

    Return to Home Page