klen (Anglo-Saxon cloene, "clear," "pure"):

Rendering four Hebrew roots: bar, etc., "purify," "select," "make shining"; zakh, etc., "bright," "clean" "pure"; naqi, "free from," "exempt"; Taher, "clean," "pure," "empty," "bright" (?) the principal root, rendered "clean" 80 times (the King James Version); occurring in all its forms in various renderings about 200 times; also one Greek root, katharos, etc., akin to castus, "chaste," "free from admixture or adhesion of anything that soils, adulterates, corrupts" (Thayer's Lexicon). The physical, ritual, ethical, spiritual, figurative uses continually overlap, especially the last four.

1. Physical:

The physical use is infrequent:

"Wash .... with snow water, and make my hands never so clean" (zakhakh, Job 9:30; figurative also); "clean provender" (hamits, the Revised Version (British and American) "savory"; the Revised Version, margin "salted"); "Cleanse .... inside of the cup and of the platter, that the outside thereof may become clean also" (katharos, Matthew 23:26); "arrayed in fine linen, clean (katharon) and white" (Revelation 19:8; the American Standard Revised Version "bright and pure").

2. Ceremonial:

The principal use was the ceremonial; applied to persons, places or things, "undefiled," "not causing defilement," or "from which defilement has just been removed"; Taher, almost exclusively ceremonial, being the chief Hebrew root. Katharos (New Testament), or derivatives, has this use clearly in Mark 1:44; Luke 5:14:

"Offer for thy cleansing the things which Moses," etc.; Hebrews 9:13,12,23: "the cleanness of the flesh," etc. "Clean" is applied to animals and birds: "of every clean beast" (Genesis 7:2); "of all clean birds" (Deuteronomy 14:11); (for list of unclean creatures see Le 14-20); to places: "Carry forth .... unto a clean place" (Leviticus 4:12); to buildings: "Make atonement for the house; and it shall be clean" (Leviticus 14:53); to persons: "A clean person shall take hyssop" (Numbers 19:18); to clothing: "garment .... washed the second time, and shall be clean" (Leviticus 13:58); and to objects of all sorts, free or freed from defilement.

3. Ethical or Spiritual:

The ethical or spiritual meaning, either directly or figuratively, is found in the Old Testament chiefly in Job, Psalms, the Prophets, whose interest is ethico-religious, rather than ritual, but the predominant uses are found in the New Testament:

"Cleanse yourselves (barar) ye that bear the vessels of Yahweh" (Isaiah 52:11); "How can he be clean (zakhah) that is born of a woman?" (Job 25:4) (principally moral, perhaps with allusion to the ceremonial defilement of childbirth); "The fear of Yahweh is clean" (Psalms 19:9), that is, the religion of Yahweh is morally undefiled, in contrast to heathen religions; "He that hath clean (naqi) hands, and a pure heart" (Psalms 24:4); "Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean" (Taher, Psalms 51:7); "Therefore said he, Ye are not all clean" (katharos, John 13:11). Here, as in Psalms 51:7 and many others, the ritual furnishes a figure for the spiritual, illustrating the Divine purpose in the ritual, to impress, prefigure and prepare for the spiritual. A somewhat similar figurative moral use is found in Acts 18:6: "Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean" (katharos, "guiltless," "unstained").


Clean.--Adverb (in one case adjective):

"utterly," "wholly"; usually rendering an intensive use of the Hebrew verb as Joel 1:7: "He hath made it clean bare" (lit. "stripping he will strip"); Zechariah 11:17: "Arm .... clean dried up"; Isaiah 24:19 the King James Version :"Earth is clean dissolved." Twice it renders a principal verb: Joshua 3:17: "Passed clean over the Jordan" (literally, "finished with regard to J."); Leviticus 23:22 King James Version: "Shall not make a clean riddance" (literally, "shall not finish the corners"; the American Standard Revised Version "shalt not wholly reap"). Once it renders a noun: Psalms 77:8: "Is his lovingkindness clean gone for ever?" ("end," he-'aphec, "has his lovingkindness come to an end?"); and once an adverb "clean (ontos, "actually," "really") escaped" (2 Peter 2:18); but the American Standard Revised Version, following the reading "oligos," "a little," "scarcely," renders "just escaping."

Philip Wendell Crannell

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'CLEAN'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.