See Clean, Unclean
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the process by which a person unclean, according to the Levitical law, and thereby cut off from the sanctuary and the festivals, was restored to the enjoyment of all these privileges.
The great annual purification of the people was on the Day of Atonement (q.v.).
But in the details of daily life there were special causes of cermonial uncleanness which were severally provided for by ceremonial laws enacted for each separate case. For example, the case of the leper ( Leviticus 1314 ,14), and of the house defiled by leprosy ( 14:49-53 ; see also Matthew 8:2-4 ). Uncleanness from touching a dead body ( Numbers 19:11 ; Hosea 9:4 ; Haggai 2:13 ; Matthew 23:27 ; Luke 11:44 ). The case of the high priest and of the Nazarite ( Leviticus 21:1-4 Leviticus 21:10 Leviticus 21:11 ; Numbers 6:6 Numbers 6:7 ; Ezekiel 44:25 ). Purification was effected by bathing and washing the clothes ( Leviticus 14:8 Leviticus 14:9 ); by washing the hands ( Deuteronomy 21:6 ; Matthew 27:24 ); washing the hands and feet ( Exodus 30:18-21 ; Hebrews 6:2 , "baptisms", RSV marg., "washings;" 9:10 ); sprinkling with blood and water ( Exodus 24:5-8 ; Hebrews 9:19 ), etc. Allusions to this rite are found in Psalms 26:6 ; 51:7 ; Ezekiel 36:25 ; Hebrews 10:22 .
in its legal and technical sense, is applied to the ritual observances whereby an Israelite was formally absolved from the taint of uncleanness. The essence of purification, in all eases, consisted in the use of water, whether by way of ablution or aspersion; but in the majora delicta of legal uncleanness, sacrifices of various kinds were added and the ceremonies throughout bore an expiatory character. Ablution of the person and of the clothes was required in the cases mentioned in ( Leviticus 15:18 ; Leviticus 11:25 Leviticus 11:40 ; Leviticus 15:18 Leviticus 15:17 ) In cases of childbirth the sacrifice was increased to a lamb of the first year, with a pigeon or turtle-dove. ( Leviticus 12:8 ) The ceremonies of purification required in cases of contact with a corpse or a grave are detailed in ( Numbers 19:1 ) ... The purification of the leper was a yet more formal proceeding, and indicated the highest pitch of uncleanness. The rites are described in ( Leviticus 14:4-32 ) The necessity of purification was extended in the post-Babylonian Period to a variety of unauthorized cases. Cups and pots and brazen vessels were washed as a matter of ritual observance. ( Mark 7:4 ) The washing of the hands before meals was conducted in a formal manner. ( Mark 7:3 ) What play have been the specific causes of uncleanness in those who came up to purify themselves before the Passover, ( John 11:55 ) or in those who had taken upon themselves the Nazarites vow, ( Acts 21:24 Acts 21:26 ) we are not informed. In conclusion it may he observed that the distinctive feature. In the Mosaic rites of purification is their expiatory character. The idea of uncleanness was not peculiar to the Jew; but with all other nations simple ablution sufficed: no sacrifices were demanded. The Jew alone was taught by the use of expiatory offerings to discern to its fullest extent the connection between the outward sign and the inward fount of impurity.