Understanding the Biblical Ritual of Water Immersion from a Hebraic, Whole Bible Perspective

To understand the biblical ritual of water baptism for the remission of sins, which is one of the first acts of faith that a new  disciple of Yeshua must take as he begins his spiritual walk (Acts 2:38; Matt 29:19; Mark 16:16), we must first define our terms, and then we can look into the biblical Hebraic origins of this ancient rite to discover the spiritual relevance and significance of it to a modern disciple of Yeshua the Messiah. 

So what is immersion or baptism? The traditional Hebrew word for immersion is mikveh (or mikvah), which literally means “a gathering of waters.” Next we have the Hebrew word tevilah, which is analogous to the New Testament Greek word baptidzo from which the English word baptize derives. Tevilah means “immersion or baptism in water.” So technically, when one is baptized for the remission of sins, one does a tevilah at a mikvah

Baptism is an ancient Hebrew custom that carried over into the apostolic era as sanctioned by Yeshua himself. What are the origins of this ancient custom, and what is its significance and applicability to a modern follower of Yeshua the Messiah?

Tevilah is an ancient custom that goes back to the Levitical or Aaronic priesthood. There YHVH Elohim required the priests to wash themselves in water at the bronze laver in the Tabernacle of Moses before they were allowed to perform their ministerial duties before YHVH Elohim. This was the third step in the seven step process of consecrating a new priest (Exod 29:4). After that, they confessed their sins over a bull, which was then sacrificed (Exod 29:10–11, the fifth step), then Moses anointed them with oil (the sixth step, Exod 29:21). These seven steps are a prophetic picture showing us how one comes to faith in Yeshua the Messiah by confessing his sins, accepting Yeshua’s sin-atoning death on the altar of the cross, then being immersed in water as a sign of spiritual cleansing and rebirth, and then receiving the oil of Elohim’s Spirit consecrating them for becoming part of the royal priesthood of Elohim (1 Pet 2:9; cp. Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6). After the initial cleansing ceremony for the consecration of a new priest, YHVH also instructed the priests to wash each time they come into the tabernacle to serve him (Exod 30:18–21). This ritual cleansing was so important that if the priests of old failed to come into the presence of Elohim without first washing, the priest was sentenced to death (v. 20). This step teaches us that once we come to faith in Yeshua, we must be continually being washed in the water of Elohim’s word (Eph 5:26) and the blood of Yeshua to keep us cleansed from the defilement of ongoing sin (Rev 1:5; 1 John 1:7–9), lest we die in our sins. Thus, the consecration process for service to YHVH that the priests went through during the time of Moses is a prophetic picture of what a one must also go through to become a disciple of Yeshua the Messiah; therefore, baptism is a picture of spiritual cleansing and consecration or being set-apart (from the world) for spiritual service to Elohim. This concept is elucidated on in various places in the Testimony of Yeshua (the New Testament).

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The Biblical Origins of the Baptism Ritual

Acts 2:23, Be baptized. (Also see notes at Matt 28:19.) The term baptism in Hebrew is tevilah meaning “immersion” which occurs at a mikveh meaning “a gathering of waters.” For those coming from a Christian background baptism is something that occurs at the beginning of a believer’s spiritual walk and involves baptism (immersion) in water for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom 6:3–6; 1 Cor 15:29; Gal 3:27; Eph 4:5; Col 2:12; 1 Pet 3:21). Yet the Paul the apostle talks of baptisms (plural) in Heb 6:2. Evidently, in Jewish thought immersion for the remission of sins is but one of many such ritual immersions.

Indeed, in the Testimony of Yeshua we not only read about baptism for the remission of sins, but the baptism of repentance of John the Baptist (Acts 1:5; 10:37; 13:24; 19:4); baptism (immersion) of the Set-Apart Spirit (Luke 3:16; Acts 1:5; 8:16; 11:16); baptism with fire (Matt 3:11; Luke 3:16). Here we see the four types of immersions spoken of in the Testimony of Yeshua.

The concept of ritual immersion for a variety of reasons stems from commands in the Torah relating to ceremonial washings signifying spiritual and physical cleansing (Lev 14:1–4, 7, 9; Exod 19:10; Lev 8:6; 15:5, 8, 10–13, 16–18, 21; 16:4).

Moreover, the prophet Ezekiel speaks of YHVH sprinkling his people to cleanse them from their impurities, which is a picture of the new spiritual life of which immersion is e a type (Ezek 36:25).


New Video: The Blessing of Mikveh—Spiritual Cleansing & Rededication

What is the biblical concept of mikveh or spiritual cleansing, and how can this ritual invigorate you spiritually? How does mikveh relate to the ancient Levitical priesthood and how does it relate to the redeemed believer today? This video answers these questions and more.


Mikveh Vs. Baptism for the Remission of Sins

Just got this excellent question about mikveh from someone on this blog:

Doesn’t the blood of Yeshua cleanse us? I am a newbie so please bear with me.

My answer:

Yes, absolutely. Good question.

Hebrews 6:2 talks about the doctrine of baptisms (plural). The Greek word baptism means “full immersion in water.” Baptism for the remission of sins which one does at the beginning of one’s spiritual walk with Yeshua is but one type of baptism. It’s the most important one, but not the only one. There’s the baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire as well. There’s also the baptism of repentance that John the Baptist did. Once we’re baptized for the remission of sins, do we ever sin again? Obviously yes. What do we do? We repent, ask Yeshua to forgive us, to cleanse us by his blood, and then we turn away from our sin (1 John 1:9). But sometimes it’s good to rehearse the ritual again even as we do communion every year at Passover, even as we do the Sabbath every week and biblical feasts every year. These are memorials of important things past, present and future. Same with the mikveh. It’s not a replacement for baptism for the remission of sins. It’s a rededication of oneself to YHVH.

Each time the priests came into the Tabernacle of Moses to minister, they had to cleanse themselves to be set-apart or holy unto YHVH. It wasn’t for Yah’s benefit. He looks at things from a heart and spirit perspective. It’s for our benefit, so we can better appreciate the difference between the common, profane, physical, polluted, and the earthly compared to the holy, set-apart, spiritual and heavenly realm. When we cross from one realm into the other, we need to stop and take note of it, and enter into the higher realm carefully and slowly through prayer, repentance and spiritual and even physical cleansing. This shows a good and willing heart attitude on our part before our YHVH Elohim, our Heavenly King.

Most us would take more care to come into the presence of the president of the U.S. or the queen of England than we do to come into the Presence of the King of the universe. Think about this for a moment. It’s true isn’t it! This is one of the big problems with modern Christianity. Most believers are too casual when it comes to spiritual things. We don’t take coming into the Presence of the Almighty seriously enough.

Yeshua our Bridegroom is coming back soon, and he expects his bride (that’s us — redeemed Israel) to get ready. That’s what the Parable of the Ten Virgins is all about in Matthew 25. In Revelation 19:7-9, the bride of Yeshua is to be adorned in clean and white garments, not filthy one. What are those white garments? The righteous deeds of the saints (verse 8). Go read it for yourself.

So when I do mikveh, it represents a lot of things to me. Try doing it yourself. See if this one ceremony doesn’t bring you great blessings and bring you closer to Yeshua!


Mikveh anyone?

Shabbat shalom everyone!

Yesterday I quit work early, jumped in my truck and headed to a nearby mountain river for my annual fall feast days mikveh (ritual immersion). I like to do a ritual cleansing immersion, pray, repent and prepare my heart just before the upcoming fall biblical feasts. I like to do it in the spring, as well, just before Passover, but the river water is too icy cold around here at that time of the year! In can even be snowing.

While there, YHVH gave me my second teaching that I will be presenting on Yom Teruah this coming week. Of course, I will post the study notes and video on this blog. It’s on the subject of the resurrection of the dead. With all the bad news going on in the world, the Ruach prompted me to give a message on a subject that will hopefully encourage YHVH’s people and inspire great hope and joy in them during these dark times in which we are living.

I wish I could have shared my mikveh experience with you, but hopefully the photo, at least, will bless you.

You might  consider finding a mikveh spot where the water is clean and pure to do your own ritual cleansing. This is what John the Baptist (aka Yochanon the Immerser) was doing at the Jordan River to help prepare the people for the the Messiah’s coming. We’re living in the times of John the Baptist again as we’re preparing for Yeshua our Bridegroom’s coming.

My Mololla River mikveh hole.

My Mololla River mikveh hole.


The Rite of Baptism Past and Present

Matthew 28:19, Baptizing. Let’s define some terms first. Mikveh (or mikvah) in Hebrew means “a gathering of waters.” Tevilah means “immersion/baptism in water.” So technically, we do tevilah at a mikvah.

Tevilah is an ancient custom that goes back to the levitical priesthood when YHVH required the priests to be cleaned in water (the bronze laver in the tabernacle) before they could even serve him. In fact, when consecrating the priests for service, Elohim instructed Moses to wash the priests (Aaron and his sons) before they could even begin to serve him. In fact, it was the third of seven steps in their consecration process (Exod 29:4). After that, they confessed their sins over a bull which was then sacrificed (Exod 29:10–11, the fifth step), then Moses anointed them with oil (the sixth step, Exod 29:21). These seven steps are a prophetic picture showing how one is “born again,” or spiritually regenerated when one comes into a relationship with Elohim through faith in Yeshua.

Baptism 2

What the priests went through is a picture of what we as believers must go through. This is elucidated in various places in the Testimony of Yeshua.

The Bible contains prophetic shadows of baptism even before the consecrating of the priests. Paul talks about the children of Israel being baptized into Moses when they went through the Red Sea (1 Cor 10:2). In a sense, the whole nation was consecrated to YHVH’s service through faith in the lamb’s blood on the doorposts at Passover, through baptism in the Red Sea so that they could become YHVH’s peculiar treasure, a kingdom of priests and his set-apart nation (Exod 19:5–6). They also washed their garments (another picture of ritual immersion) before coming into the presence of YHVH to receive the 10 Words at Mount Sinai (Exod 19:10). Additionally, throughout the Torah, there are numerous ritual washings for both the priests and the people of Israel associated with various sin-cleansing rites.

Now we come down to John the Baptist who came in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the Continue reading