David Couchman
David Couchman is the Director of Focus and the producer of the 'God: new evidence,' 'God and the Big Bang,' 'After Life?' and 'Jesus Myths' video series. More...

Digital Evangelism blog

Inside the Burnt House in Jerusalem

Inside the Burnt House in Jerusalem

Picture: BiblePlaces.com

Stone water jars from the Burnt House in Jerusalem

The Bible describes how Jesus and his friends went to a wedding at the village of Cana, in Galilee. You can read the full account in John's Gospel, chapter 2, verses 1-11.

At that time, rural weddings were major social events that went on for days. Everyone was invited. The feasting was something amazing. This particular account in John's Gospel records how the wedding ran out of wine - a social catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. Jesus solved the host's embarrassment by changing the water in six large jars into wine.

The important point for our purposes is the reference to stone water jars in verse 6:

Six stone waterpots were standing there; they were used for Jewish ceremonial purposes, and held 20-30 gallons (Footnote: 75-113 liters).

Stone water jar from Burnt House
Stone water jar from the Burnt House
Picture: BiblePlaces.com

Ceremonial washing before eating was a very important ritual for pious Jews. It is significant that these jars were made from stone, not pottery, and that they were large. Professor Alan Millard describes how archaeologists have found similar stone jars in Jerusalem:

Archaeologists have found several stone jars in the ruined houses of first-century Jerusalem. At least six of them stood in the basement kitchen of the 'Burnt house'. They are 65-80 cm (2-2.5 feet) tall, each cut from a block of stone that could weight as much as half a ton. They were shaped and finished on a very big lathe, given a pedestal foot and simple decoration. Such stone jars would hold large quantities of water for washing and kitchen needs - up to 80 liters / 17 gallons. Flat discs of stone served as lids. The jars at Cana may have been similar to these.

For more about stone water jars, see page 184 of 'Discoveries from Bible Times', by Professor Alan Millard

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