What does purification mean in the bible

Keyword: bathing, washing

Cleanliness was very important in the land of the Bible.

(1) Bathing and washing in everyday life: Despite the hot climate, bathtubs or even bath rooms were a rare luxury in the Orient and only reserved for the upper class. The majority of the population used bowls and tubs to wash and bathe. You didn’t have a special washbowl, but to wash your face, hands and feet you usually took some kind of bowl from the household. Usually only hands and feet were washed around the house. Hands were washed before and after each meal. The most important device for this was an internally tinned copper basin. For hygienic reasons, the whole body was cleaned outdoors, mostly in the courtyard or in the garden (additions to Daniel 1:15; 2 Samuel 11: 2-4). Natural waters could also be used for this. People washed with water or soapy water and then rubbed oil and perfume (Ruth 3: 3; 2 Samuel 12:20).

In the time of the New Testament, the distinctive Roman bathing culture influenced bathing facilities in the Orient and brought them to life. Those who could afford it set up private bathrooms and public bathing establishments emerged, some of which also used medicinal springs.

(2) Bathing and washing as a religious act: In the land of the Bible, bathing and washing was not just part of everyday hygiene. Both could also have a religious character. The aim of such ablutions was to purify people so that they could come before God again. This was especially true when he came into contact with something dead (see pure, impure). These religious ablutions particularly affected the priests who performed the service in the temple. They were only allowed to do this in a pure state. The law in the Old Testament also generally requires a series of such religious ablutions, which are supposed to enable people to come into contact with God again (Leviticus 11:15).

From the 2nd century BC These ablutions were carried out in specially built ritual baths. Such a bath was called a mikveh. Archaeological finds indicate that at the time of the New Testament numerous private houses owned a mikveh. It consisted of a small basin that you entered via several steps. It was deep enough that you could immerse yourself standing up. There were usually two entrances to the mikveh. One entered the bathroom as unclean, through the other one left it as clean. In New Testament times at the latest, everyone who wanted to visit the temple had to wash in a mikveh beforehand. To this day, devout Jews take their religious baths in a mikveh.