Ritual bath discovered at holy site where Jesus was betrayed by Judas

A ritual bath church has been unearthed at the site where Jesus is famously said to have been betrayed by Judas Iscariot.

Archaeologists say the 2,000-year-old discovery at Gethsemane is the only known find that dates to the time when Jesus lived.

The bath, called a "mikveh", was uncovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, an academic society based in Jerusalem, in a joint excavation.

Amit Re'em, of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said: "The discovery of this bath, unaccompanied by buildings, probably attests to the existence of an agricultural industry here 2,000 years ago – possibly producing oil or wine.

"The Jewish laws of purification obliged workers involved in oil and wine production to purify themselves.

"The name Gethsemane is derived from the Hebrew word for 'oil press'."

Gethsemane is a garden situated at the foot of the Mount of Olives. It carries huge biblical significance and is now a popular pilgrimage site.

It is believed to have been the site where Jesus went to pray after the Last Supper, prior to his betrayal by Judas, one of his apostles.

Judas identified Jesus by kissing him, before he was arrested and brought before Roman governor Pontius Pilate, before he went on trial and was crucified.

Researchers think it is possible that Jesus may have purified himself in the ritual bath before going to pray.

The church uncovered at Gethsemane came with a Greek inscription which read: "For the memory and repose of the lovers of Christ, God who has received the sacrifice of Abraham, accept the offering of your servants and give them remission of sins."

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