(Mark 7:1-9). The Jews, like other Orientals, used their fingers
when taking food, and therefore washed their hands before doing
so, for the sake of cleanliness. Here the reference is to the
ablutions prescribed by tradition, according to which "the
disciples ought to have gone down to the side of the lake,
washed their hands thoroughly, 'rubbing the fist of one hand in
the hollow of the other, then placed the ten finger-tips
together, holding the hands up, so that any surplus water might
flow down to the elbow, and thence to the ground.'" To neglect
to do this had come to be regarded as a great sin, a sin equal
to the breach of any of the ten commandments. Moses had
commanded washings oft, but always for some definite cause; but
the Jews multiplied the legal observance till they formed a
large body of precepts. To such precepts about ceremonial
washing Mark here refers. (See ABLUTION T0000051.)