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SPIT, SPITTLE, SPITTING (Heb. yāraq, rōq, Gr. ptuō). Spitting in the face indicated gross insult (Num.12.14; Deut.25.9). Allowing spittle to run on the beard made one appear foolish or even “insane” (1Sam.21.13). The Greek word for spit evidently arose because of the peculiar sound made in spitting, ptuō. Jesus used spittle in curing blind eyes in Bethsaida (Mark.8.23) and put spittle on a mute tongue in the Decapolis (Mark.7.33). Jesus was insulted during his trial by being spit on (Matt.26.67; Mark.14.65).

In the NT, two basic meanings are evidenced: those of defilement in the accounts of the Passion (Matt 26:67; Mark 10:34; Luke 18:32) where ἐμπτύω, G1870, is used in the LXX for the OT passages above. Also, spitting is mentioned in several of the miracle accounts (Mark 7:33; 8:23; John 9:6). See Healing, Health.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)