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Washing, Ceremonial


The Jews washed feet upon entry into a house because they were walking on the muddy or dusty ground. Washing hands before and in between each course of the meal and cleaning all the utensils meticulously with water were ceremonial rituals. So, they had large water jars available with plenty of water like as the wedding at Cana (John 2:6).

The Israelites had many types of ceremonial washings, including water immersion. Some resembled John’s baptism. Before the ordination to the priesthood, Moses washed Aaron and his sons with water as per God’s directive (Lev 8:6). On the Day of Atonement, Aaron had to bathe his body in water before he robed his vestments to enter the Holy of Holies (Lev 16:4). Those who had touched a human corpse were unclean for seven days and had to purify themselves with water on the third and seventh day as part of their ritual purification (Num 19:11-12). The new converts to Judaism had to undergo immersion in water known as Mikveh, symbolic of the transition from his or her old identity to a new one as a Jew.


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