For the Pharisees, and all the Jews
The far greater part of them; all, excepting the Sadducees; and especially the Pharisees, were very tenacious of this tradition of washing hands before eating: hence Pharisees are described as such, (hrhjb) (Nhylwx ylkwa) , "that eat their common food with cleanness" F14, i.e. of hands: these,
except they wash their hands oft, eat not;
or except they wash very cautiously, with great care, diligence, and exactness, as the Syriac version suggests; and about which there are various rules given, to be observed with great strictness F15. Some render the words, "they wash their hands to the elbow"; and this is a rule with the Jews, which is closely to be abode by, that the washing of hands is to be, (qrp de) , "to the joint", which joins the hand and arm together F16: particularly it is observed F17, that
``washing of the hands for the eating of the offering, is unto the elbow, and for common food, to the joints of the fingers: he that eats with an ancient man, and does not wash his hands to the elbow, he may not eat with him.''Well may it be added,
holding the tradition of the elders;
nor do the Jews pretend the authority of the Scriptures as obliging them to such rules; for, they say, the command concerning washing of hands is, (Myrpwo yrbdm) , "from the words of the Scribes" F18; and is (Mymkx twum) , "a command of the wise men" F19. The tradition is this:
``they wash hands for common food, but for the tithe, and for the first offering, and for that which is holy, they dip them, and for the sin offering; for if the hands are defiled; the body is defiled F20.''And this tradition of the elders, the Scribes, and Pharisees, strictly observed.
F14 Gloss in T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 18. 2. Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Chagiga, c. 2. sect. 7.
F15 Vid. Maimon. Hilch. Bcracot, c. 6.
F16 T. Bab. Cholin, fol. 106. 1, 2. Maimon. Hilch. Beracot, c. 6. 4. Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Eracin, c. 5. sect. 1. Zohar in Deut. fol. 115. 2.
F17 T. Hieros. Betacot, fol. 12. 1.
F18 Maimon. Hilch. Mikvaot, c. 11. sect. 1.
F19 Ib. Beracot, c. 6. sect. 2.
F20 Misn. Chagiga, c. 2. sect. 5.