Ark of the Covenant - Bible History Online
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washing Summary and Overview

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washing in Easton's Bible Dictionary

(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.)

washing in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

The high priest's whole body was washed at his consecration (Exodus 29:4; Leviticus 16:4); also on the day of atonement. The priests' hands and feet alone were washed in the daily tabernacle ministrations (Exodus 30:18-20). So Christians are once for all wholly "bathed" (leloumenoi) in regeneration which is their consecration; and daily wash away their soils of hand and foot contracted in walking through this defiling world (John 13:10, Greek "he that has been bathed needs not save to wash (nipsasthai) his feet, but is clean all over": 2 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 10:22-23; Ephesians 5:26). The clothes of him who led away the scape-goat, and of the priest who offered the red heifer, were washed (Leviticus 16:26; Numbers 19:7). The Pharisaic washings of hands before eating, and of the whole body after being in the market (Mark 7:2-4), turned attention off from the spirit of the law, which aimed at teaching inward purity, to a mere outward purification. In the sultry and dusty East water for the feet was provided for the guests (Luke 7:44; Genesis 18:4). The Lord Jesus by washing His disciples' feet taught our need of His cleansing, and His great humility whereby that cleansing was effected (compare 1 Samuel 25:41; 1 Timothy 5:10). The sandals, without stockings, could not keep out dust from the feet; hence washing them was usual before either dining or sleeping (Song of Solomon 5:3). Again, the usage of thrusting the hand into a common dish rendered cleansing of the hand indispensable before eating. It was only when perverted into a self righteous ritual that our Lord protested against it (Matthew 15:2; Luke 11:38).