LUSTRATION. This means purification by means of a propitiatory sacrifice or certain ceremonies. The word is not found in the Eng. Bible, but its equivalent, purification, and its cognates, is found in both Testaments often. Ceremonial purification was an important part of Israelite religious life, for people regarded as ceremonially unclean were kept from the altar in the sanctuary and were kept from fellowship with their co-religionists.

The law of Moses made clear distinctions between clean and unclean. Uncleanness was primarily ceremonial defilement, not moral, and was contracted in several ways, some of them avoidable, some unavoidable, and provision was made for purification. A person was rendered ceremonially unclean in the following ways: (1) contact with a dead body, esp. a human corpse (Num 19:11-22); (2) leprosy (Lev 13:14); (3) seminal emissions and childbirth (Lev 12, 15); (4) eating the flesh of an unclean fish, bird, and animal (Lev 11; Deut 14:3-21); (5) physical defects or impairments (Lev 21:16-24).