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Jewish ‘Stone Age’ Factory From Time of Jesus Surfaces in Galilee

(Photo: courtesy of Yonatan Adler)

Archaeologist in Israel have discovered a first century CE stone factory that used to produce stone bowls and cups. While they haven’t found anything more than small containers, this factory could be the same one that produced the stone basins that held the water Jesus turned to wine.

During the first centuries BCE and CE, various streams of Judaism became obsessed with the notion of ritual purity. Unlike ceramics, stone couldn’t take on ritual impurity, making it an ideal material for kitchen utensils.

“Stone vessels played an integral role in the daily religious lives of Jews during this period,” Adler argued. Perhaps because stone wasn’t among the materials mentioned in the Levitic purity codes it was deemed an exception. Either way, he said in a statement released by the university, “It was a Jewish ‘Stone Age’ of sorts.”

Stone jars find mention in the New Testament, when the Book of John recounts that at the wedding at Cana “standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.”

We all know what Jesus does with the water. But what Adler suggests is that “it is certainly possible – perhaps even likely – that large stone containers of the type mentioned in the Wedding at Cana story may have been produced locally in Galilee in a cave similar to the one we are now excavating.” The modern town of Kafr Kanna, just a mile north of the cave, is identified with the biblical Cana, after all.

Tags: Facts and Findings

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