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Purification

PURIFICATION. Although purification was common to many religions and regarded as primarily ceremonial in nature, it is apparent that for the Israelites it had both ceremonial and ethical significance. Most of the ceremonial purifications were also important for sanitary purposes. Purification from uncleanness preceded the giving of the Mosaic law (Gen 35:2; Exod 19:14). With the establishment of Israel as God’s covenant people came the ceremonial law providing for cleansing and purification. Purification for the Israelite involved the ideas of expiation and disinfection. The ritual on the [[Day of Atonement]] involved ceremonies of expiation and riddance, symbolizing purification of heart and annulment of guilt. The word “unclean” commonly referred to things that were to be avoided by the Israelites. When this “uncleanness” was the result of personal contact, the purification process necessitated disinfection (cf. George F. More, Judaism, II [1944], 55-78). Generally, the concept