klenz: "Make clean," "purify" being a frequent rendering of the original. It is found often (American Revised Version) instead of "purge," "purify" (the King James Version), renders nearly the same roots, and has the same overlapping phases, as "clean."
Physical cleansing, often figuratively used: "Stripes that wound cleanse away (tamriq) evil" (Pr 20:30); "A hot wind .... not to winnow, nor to cleanse" (barar, Jer 4:11); "Straightway his leprosy was cleansed" (katharizo, Mt 8:3).
In the ceremonial sense:
(1) With a very strong religious aspect: to purify from sin by making atonement (chaTe); e.g. the altar, by the sin offering (Ex 29:36); the leprous house (Le 14:48-53); the people, by the offering of the Day of Atonement (Le 16:30); the sanctuary, by the blood of the sin offering (Eze 45:18 ff).
(2) To expiate (kaphar, "cover," "hide"); sin (in this case blood-guiltiness): "The land cannot be cleansed of the blood" (the King James Version Nu 35:33; the American Standard Revised Version "no expiation can be made for the land").
3. Ethical and Spiritual:
In the ethical and spiritual sense, using the symbolism chiefly of 2. This embodies two phases: (1) the actual removal of sin by the person’s own activity, "Wherewith shall a young man cleanse (zakhah) his way?" (Ps 119:9); "Cleanse your hands, ye sinners" (Jas 4:8); "Let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement" (2Co 7:1);
(2) God’s removal of the guilt and power of sin, as, by discipline or punishment: "He cleanseth it" (Joh 15:2, the King James Version "purgeth"); "I have cleansed thee" (Eze 24:13); or in forgiveness, justification, sanctification. In these latter cases the exculpatory idea is sometimes the prominent, although the other is not absent: "I will cleanse (Taher) them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon aH their iniquities" (Jer 33:8); "Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse (Taher, "declare me clean") me from my sin" (Ps 51:2). "Cleanse (naqqeh; the American Standard Revised Version "clear") thou me from hidden faults" (Ps 19:12), while formally to be understood "hold innocent," really connotes forgiveness. In Eph 5:26, it is hard to determine whether pardon or God-given holiness is predominant: "That he might sanctify it (the church), having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word." In 1Jo 1:7, the sanctificatory meaning seems almost wholly to absorb the other: "The blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us ("is purifying, sanctifying") from all sin"; but in 1Jo 1:9 it is again hard to determine the predominance: "He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The uncertainty lies in that the second clause may not, as in our speech, add a distinct idea, but may be Hebrew synonymous parallelism. Perhaps it is not wise to seek too curiously to disentangle the two ideas, since they cannot be separated. God never "clears" where he has not begun to "cleanse," and never "cleanses" by the Spirit without "clearing" through the blood.