Washing

Boyd’s Bible Dictionary:

The custom of washing hands before meals or of feet after a journey or on entering a stranger’s house was not only a polite ceremony but a religious observance
(Matt. 15:22Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. (Matthew 15:2); Mark 7:33For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. (Mark 7:3); Luke 11:3838And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner. (Luke 11:38)). After the salutation the first act of hospitality was to proffer a basin of water to the guest for washing the feet (Gen. 18:44Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: (Genesis 18:4); Ex. 30:19,2119For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: (Exodus 30:19)
21So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations. (Exodus 30:21)
; Judg. 19:2121So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink. (Judges 19:21); 1 Sam. 25:4141And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord. (1 Samuel 25:41); Luke 7:37-38,4437And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, 38And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. (Luke 7:37‑38)
44And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. (Luke 7:44)
; John 13:5-145After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. 8Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. 12So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. (John 13:5‑14)).

Concise Bible Dictionary:

A requirement of frequent literal recurrence under the law, but in the New Testament a term bearing commonly a moral force and application. Important truth may be learned from the different significations of the Greek words used for “washing” in John 13. The word in John 13:1010Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. (John 13:10) is λούω, “to cleanse, wash thoroughly.” One who is cleansed in this sense never needs to be thus washed again; he is, as the Lord said, “clean every whit,” yet in order to have “part with” Christ, he needs, because of the defilement of the way, that his feet should be washed (here the word is νίπτω), John 13:5-145After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. 6Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? 7Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. 8Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. 10Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. 11For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. 12So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? 13Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. 14If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. (John 13:5‑14), an action which is applied to parts of the body only. The same difference was typified in the cleansing of Aaron and his sons. They were at their consecration once “washed” by Moses, but were thenceforward required continually, when executing their service, to wash only their hands and feet in the laver (Ex. 40:12, 30-3212And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water. (Exodus 40:12)
30And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there, to wash withal. 31And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat: 32When they went into the tent of the congregation, and when they came near unto the altar, they washed; as the Lord commanded Moses. (Exodus 40:30‑32)
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“329. Washing Hands” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

As no knives or forks are used in the East, it is absolutely necessary to have a plentiful supply of water for the hands at the close of every meal.
For this a pitcher and basin are provided. The hands are held over the basin while a servant pours water from the pitcher. The basin has a double bottom, the upper part of which is full of holes, through which the water as soon as used passes out of sight into the lower part. From the center of the bottom there rises a small projection which is used as a receptacle for the soap. The expression in the text, “poured water on the hands,” is intended to show that Ensile performed the work of a servant for Elijah. He was Elijah’s assistant as well as his disciple.

“431. Symbolical Hand Washing” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

There were several occasions on which the Jews were accustomed to wash their hands in connection with religious rites. The Psalmist may have had one or all of these in mind when he uttered the text. See also Psalm 73:1313Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. (Psalm 73:13).
1. There was the washing required of the priests in the service of the tabernacle and temple. The brazen laver was made for this purpose. See Exodus 40:30-3230And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there, to wash withal. 31And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat: 32When they went into the tent of the congregation, and when they came near unto the altar, they washed; as the Lord commanded Moses. (Exodus 40:30‑32). It is said to have been customary for the priests, when they had bound the sacrifice to the horns of the altar to march around it, after they had washed their hands. Thus David says, “So will I compass thine altar, O Lord.”
2. The Jews were also accustomed to wash their hands before engaging in prayer. Paul is thought to refer to this in the expression “holy hands” in 1 Timothy 2:88I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. (1 Timothy 2:8).
3. There were certain ceremonies directed to be observed in cases of murder where the murderer was unknown. The elders of the city nearest to which the body of the murdered man was found were directed to strike off a heifer’s head, and then it is commanded that they “shall wash their hands over the heifer that is beheaded in the valley: and they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it” (Deut. 21: 6-7). This was considered a most solemn asseveration on their part of their innocence in the matter. Pilate, though a Gentile, had probably lived long enough among the Jews to understand this custom, and is, therefore, supposed to refer to it when, on the demand of the people that Barabbas be freed and Jesus crucified, “he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it” (Matt. 27:2424When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. (Matthew 27:24)). The custom is said to have been Gentile as well as Jewish; but this is denied. See Bloomfield, Greek Testament, see Matthew 27:2424When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. (Matthew 27:24).
Since David desires in this text to symbolize inward purity by outward washing, any one of these customs may serve for illustration.

“739. Diligent Hand Washing” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

Mark 7:33For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. (Mark 7:3). For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.
There is great diversity of opinion among critics as to the proper rendering of πυγμή “oft.” Its primary signification is the fist, and hence Robinson renders the text, “unless they wash their hands (rubbing them) with the fist, that is, not merely dipping the lingers or hand in water as a sign of ablution, but rubbing the hands together as a ball or fist in the usual Oriental manner when water is poured over them.”—Lexicon of the New Testament. From this he supposes the word to be taken in the sense of “sedulously, carefully, diligently.
The “traditions of the elders” required the Pharisees to wash is illustrated by Lightfoot in extracts from Rabbinical writers. See Mira Hebraicae on Matthew 15:22Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. (Matthew 15:2). He states that they make mention “of the quantity of water sufficient for this washing—of the washing of the hands, and of the plunging of them; of the first and second water; of the manner of washing; of the time; of the order, when the number of those that sat down to meat exceeded five, or did not exceed; and other such like niceties.” Not content with the ordinary usage of washing after eating (see note on 2 Kings 3:1111But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord, that we may inquire of the Lord by him? And one of the king of Israel's servants answered and said, Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah. (2 Kings 3:11), #329) they carefully washed before eating, lest they should be injured by Shibta, “an evil spirit, which sits upon men’s hands in the night; and if any touch his food with unwashen hands that spirit sits upon that food, and there is danger from it.”

“813. Need of Feet Washing” From Manners and Customs of the Bible:

The meaning of the passage will be more readily perceived if, for washed, we read bathed, which is the idea conveyed by the original word. Allusion is probably made to the fact that one who has been to the bath need only, on returning to his house, wash the dust of the road from his sandaled feet. Thus he that has bathed need “not save to wash his feet.”