PIIRIFICA'TION, in a biblical sense, is the act through which :fn individual became fit to approach the Deity, or to mix freely in the community, in cases where a certain bodily or other disability had kept him out of the pale of the latter. The purification consisted chiefly in expiations, ablutions, sometimes accompanied by special sacrifices. Priests and Levites were consecrated for the divine service purification ;" proselytes had to undergo it at baptism; and special religious acts could only be performed by those who had "bathed their bodies." Generally, no one was allowed to enter the temple or synagogue without having washed or "sanctified" himself; and in the post-exilian period. bathing was considered (chiefly by the Pharisees and Essenes) as one of the chief duties of piety. In general, the Mosaic law distinguishes between "clean" and "unclean" persons as well as things, calling "unclean" all that with which an Israelite is not to come in contact. It has been erroneously assumed that all the Levitical laws of purity and purification have a physical or medical reason—that is, that infection was to be pre vented through them; but this can only have been the case in some instances. At the same time, we cannot deny that we are at a loss for the general principle on which they were based. There can be no doubt that cleanness, like every other virtue, if not enforced on religious grounds, would have had few devotees in those days, and among an eastern people; while, again, a hot climate requires a much greater attention to out ward purity than more temperate zones. Compared with the Indian and Persian laws
in this respect, the Jewish ones seem much less minute and harassing. For the purifica tion from the severer kinds of uncleanness, a certain "water of uncleanness" (Lev. xv.) was prepared; and the different acts to be performed for the re-admission of the leper into the community (Lev. xiv. 4-32), show that his was considered the last stage of impurity. Identical with the first stage of the leper's purification are the ceremonies to be performed in the case of infected houses and garments. The sixth Seder of the Mish nah, in 11 treatises (there is no Gemara to this portion, except to Niddah), contains the most detailed regulations (as fixed by tradition) on tins point. The washing of hands, we may add in conclusion, was in later times considered ritually necessary, in accordance with the Tah»ndical ntsim, that "every table should properly be sanctified into ant altar." Sec All the Jewish ceremonial purifications are commonly regarded by Christina theo logians as emblematic of the necessity of holiness iu the people of the Lord, and particu larly in all acts of worship.