A. Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (1883); L. E. Toombs, IDB, Vol. 1 A-D, 365, 366 (1962).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
See Weights and Measures.
1. Ordinary Bathing:
Bathing in the ordinary, non-religious sense, public or private, is rarely met with in the Scriptures. We find, however, three exceptional and interesting cases:
(1) that of Pharaoh’s daughter, resorting to the Nile (
(2) that of Bath-sheba, bathing on the house-top (
(3) the curious case mentioned in
2. Bathing Resorts:
The streams and ponds, when available, were the usual resorts for bathing (
3. Greek versus Semitic Ideas:
When we consider that in Palestine six months of the year are rainless, and how scarce and pricelessly valuable water is during most of the year, and in many places all the year round; and when we recall how the Bedouin of today looks on the use of water for cleansing in such times and places of scarcity, viewing it as a wanton waste (see Benzinger, Hebrew. Arch., 108, note), the rigid requirement of it for so many ritual purposes by the Mosaic law is, to say the least, remarkable (see Ablution; Clean; Uncleanness, etc.). Certainly there was a marked contrast between the Greek idea of bathing and that of the Hebrews and Asiatics in general, when they came in contact. But when Greek culture invaded Palestine under (circa 168 BC), it brought Greek ideas and Greek bathing establishments with it; and under Herod (40-44 BC) it was given the right of way and prevailed to no mean degree (see Anecdote of Gamaliel II in Schurer, HJP, II, i, 18, 53).
4. Ceremonial Purification:
But "bathing" in the Bible stands chiefly for ritual acts--purification from ceremonial uncleanness, from contact with the dead, with defiled persons or things, with "holy things," i.e. things "devoted," or "under the ban," etc. (see Clean; Uncleanness, etc.). The Hebrew of the does not sharply distinguish between bathing and partial washing-- both are expressed by rahats, and the Revised Version (British and American) rightly renders "wash" instead of "bathe" in some cases. Talmudic usage simply codified custom which had been long in vogue, according to Schurer. But Kennedy grants that the "bath" at last became, even for the laity, "an important factor in the religious life of Israel." We read of daily bathing by the Essenes (Josephus, BJ, II, viii, 5). Then later we find John, the Baptizer, immersing, as the record clearly shows the apostles of Christ did also (
5. Bathing for Health:
George B. Eager