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Cave of John the Baptist

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The Cave of John the Baptist is a cave located in Modern Kibbutz Tzuba, Israel, which is believed by many to be the where John the Baptist anointed many of his disciples. The cave includes a huge cistern with 28 steps leading to an underground pool of water. John was a prophet whose coming was foretold by the prophets Isaiah and Malachi, miraculously conceived by God through human parents (his mother, Elizabeth, was barren and post-menopausal) to "prepare the way" for the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.


Two and a half years ago, Biblical Archaeology Review found what they believe to be the cave of John the Baptist. It all started when Reuven Kalifon, an immigrant from Cleveland who teaches Hebrew at the kibbutz, took some of his students spelunking back when it was still filled with mud and sediment. Kalifon asked Shimon Gibson, who was a friend of his, to take a better look at it. Gibson crawled into the hole and moved a few boulders near the walls to uncover a carving of a head. After seeing this, he organized a full-scale excavation.

During the next five years, the team of excavators cleared out layers of soil and the remnants of 250,000 broken jugs that were supposedly used in purification rituals. They also uncovered an oval shaped stone with a carved out indent in the shape of a right foot. Above the indent on the rock is another indent with a channel connecting the two. This is believed to be a foot baptismal where the oil goes into the indent above the foot and someone sticks their foot into the foot shaped indent while the oil runs over it. This could represent the time when Jesus washed the disciples feet before the passover meal (John 13 ).

The cave is located on the communal farm of Kibbutz Tzuba. Kibbutz Tzuba is 2.5 miles away from Ein Kerem; the home village of John the Baptist. The cave was carved into the limestone hill that it resides in by the Israelites during the Iron Age, which was sometime between 800 BC and 500 BC. The cave's dimensions are 72 feet long, 12 feet deep, and 12 feet wide.[1]

You can view pictures taken of the cave here.

Annotated Bibliography

  • "John the Baptist's Cave???." Biblical Archaeology Review 30.6 (2004): 18-19 - This article speaks about a cave found near Ain Karim; the hometown of John the Baptist. It describes some objects and inscriptions found in the cave along with describing the cave itself.
  • Shimon Gibson and James Tabor. "John the Baptist's Cave." Biblical Archaeology Review 31.3 (2005): 36-41,58 - This article is a follow up from the 2004 Nov/Dec article "John the Baptist's Cave???". It lets you make up your own mind by giving you the facts from both sides. It gives evidence to support the claim that it is the cave of John the Baptist, but it also gives evidence to reject that claim.
  • Cave linked to John the Baptist - This article talks about findings in the cave, how it was found, and what they believe it to be. In this article, they go a lot more in depth than any of the other articles.
  • "Scholars Say John the Baptist Used This Cave For Immersions."New York Times. (Late Edition (East Coast)). New York, N.Y.: Aug 17, 2004. pg. A.9 - Carvings on the walls and ceilings are believed to depict John's life. In the back of the cave there is a pool that was believed to be an immersion pool used to baptise new believers.
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