|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
(Mark 7:1-9). The Jews, like other Orientals, used their fingers when taking food, and therefore washed their hands before doing so, for the sake of cleanliness. Here the reference is to the ablutions prescribed by tradition, according to which "the disciples ought to have gone down to the side of the lake, washed their hands thoroughly, `rubbing the fist of one hand in the hollow of the other, then placed the ten finger-tips together, holding the hands up, so that any surplus water might flow down to the elbow, and thence to the ground.'" To neglect to do this had come to be regarded as a great sin, a sin equal to the breach of any of the ten commandments. Moses had commanded washings oft, but always for some definite cause; but the Jews multiplied the legal observance till they formed a large body of precepts. To such precepts about ceremonial washing Mark here refers. (see ABLUTION.)
Noah Webster's Dictionary
1. (p. pr. & vb. n.) of Wash.
2. (n.) The act of one who washes; the act of cleansing with water; ablution.
3. (n.) The clothes washed, esp. at one time; a wash.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
FEET, WASHING OF
See FOOT; WASHING OF FEET.
wosh, wosh'-ing: The two usual Hebrew words for "wash" are rachats, and kabhac, the former being normally used of persons or of sacrificial animals (Genesis 18:4, etc., often translated "bathe"; Leviticus 15:5, etc.), and the latter of things (Genesis 49:11, etc.), the exceptions to this distinction being few (for rachats, 1 Kings 22:38 margin; for kabhac, Psalm 51:2, 7 Jeremiah 2:22; Jeremiah 4:14). Much less common are duach (2 Chronicles 4:6 Isaiah 4:4 Ezekiel 40:38) and shataph (1 Kings 22:38 Job 14:19 Ezekiel 16:9), translated "rinse" in Leviticus 6:28; Leviticus 15:11, 12. In Nehemiah 4:23 the King James Version has "washing" and the Revised Version (British and American) "water" for mayim, but the text is hopelessly obscure (compare the Revised Version margin). In the Apocrypha and New Testament the range of terms is wider. Most common is nipto (Matthew 6:17, etc.), with aponipto in Matthew 27:24. Of the other terms, louo (Susanna verses 15, 17; John 13:10, etc.), with apolouo (Acts 22:16 1 Corinthians 6:11) and the noun loutron (Sirach 34:25b; Ephesians 5:26 Titus 3:5), usually has a sacral significance. On baptizo (Sirach 34:25a; Mark 7:4 Luke 11:38), with the noun baptismos (Mark 7:4 (text?); Hebrews 9:10), see BAPTISM. In Luke 5:2 Revelation 7:14; Revelation 22:14 the Revised Version (British and American) occurs pluno, while Judith 10:3 has perikluzo. Virtually, as far as meaning is concerned, all these words are interchangeable. Of the figurative uses of washing, the most common and obvious is that of cleansing from sin (Psalm 51:2 Isaiah 1:16, etc.), but, with an entirely different figure, "to wash in" may signify "to enjoy in plenty" (Genesis 49:11 Job 29:6; the meaning in So 5:12 is uncertain). Washing of the hands, in token of innocence, is found in Deuteronomy 21:6 Matthew 27:24.
The "washing balls" of Susanna verse 17 (smegma, a very rare word) were of soap.
Burton Scott Easton
WASHING OF FEET
The Old Testament references (Genesis 18:4; Genesis 19:2: 24:32; 43:24 Judges 19:21 1 Samuel 25:41 2 Samuel 11:8 Songs 5:3 Psalm 58:10) show that the washing of the feet was the first act on entering the tent or house after a journey. The Orientals wore only sandals, and this washing was refreshing as well as cleanly. In the case of ordinary people, the host furnished the water, and the guests washed their own feet, but in the richer houses, the washing was done by a slave. It was looked upon as the lowliest of all services (1 Samuel 25:41). Jesus pointedly contrasts Simon's neglect of even giving Him water for His feet with the woman's washing His feet with tears and wiping them with her hair (Luke 7:44). On the last evening of His life, Jesus washed the disciples' feet (John 13:1-16). Their pride, heightened by the anticipations of place in the Messianic kingdom whose crisis they immediately expected, prevented their doing this service for each other. Possibly the same pride had expressed itself on this same evening in a controversy about places at table. Jesus, conscious of His divine dignity and against Peter's protest, performed for them this lowliest service. His act of humility actually cleansed their hearts of selfish ambition, killed their pride, and taught them the lesson of love. See also The Expository Times, XI, 536 f.
Was it meant to be a perpetual ordinance? John 13:15, with its "as" and the present tense of the verb "do," gives it a priori probability. It has been so understood by the Mennonites and the Dunkards. Bernard of Clairvaux advocated making it a sacrament. The Pope, the Czar, and the Patriarch of Constantinople wash the feet of 12 poor men on Maundy Thursday; so did the English kings till James II, and it is still practiced in the royal palaces of Madrid, Munich and Vienna. But the objections to such an interpretation are overwhelming: (1) It is never referred to in the Synoptic Gospels, the Acts or the Epistle; 1 Timothy 5:10 refers only to lowly service to the saints. (2) It was first in the 4th century (compare Ambrose and Augustine) that it became the custom to wash the feet of the baptized on Maundy Thursday. (3) Ritualizing such an act of love absolutely destroys its meaning. (4) No large body of Christians has ever received it as a sacrament or an ordinance.
F. L. Anderson
According to the Belief and Practice of the Church of the Brethren
Feet-washing is always practiced in connection with the Agape and the Lord's Supper. This entire service is usually called "Love Feast." These Love Feasts are always held in the evening (in conformity to the time of Jesus' Last Supper). Preparatory services on self-examination are held either at a previous service or at the opening of the Love Feast. Each church or congregation is supposed to hold one or two Love Feasts annually. No specified time of the year is set for these services. Before the supper is eaten all the communicants wash one another's feet; the brethren by themselves, and likewise the sisters by themselves.
(1) The Mode.
In earlier years the "Double Mode" was practiced, where one person would wash the feet of several persons and another would follow after and wipe them. At present the "Single Mode" is almost universal, wherein each communicant washes and wipes the feet of another. Hence, each one washes and wipes the feet of other, and in turn has this same service performed to himself.
(2) The Salutation.
Feet-washing is also accompanied with the "Holy Kiss." As soon as one has finished washing and wiping the feet of another, he takes him by the hand and greets him with the "holy kiss," usually with an appropriate benediction as: "God bless you," or "May the Lord bless us."
2. Scriptural Basis for Feet-Washing:
There are three texts in the New Testament referring to feet-washing (Luke 7:36-50 John 13:1-17 1 Timothy 5:10).
(1) Jesus Washing the Disciples' Feet (John 13:1-17).
"At supper time" (deipnou genomenou) Jesus arose, laid aside His garments (himatia = "outer garments"), girded Himself with a towel, poured water into a basin, and began to wash and wipe the feet of the disciples.
(2) Peter's Objection.
"Simon Peter.... saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet (su mou nipteis tous podas)? Jesus answered.... What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt understand hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet." Whereupon Jesus said: "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me."
(3) Jesus Explains.
Peter now goes to the other extreme and desires complete washing. Jesus answers "He that is bathed (leloumenos, from louo, "to bathe entire body") needeth not save to wash (niptein-"to wash a part of the body") his feet." Jesus was not instituting a new symbol to take the place of baptism, to cleanse the entire person, but clearly distinguishes between the bathing (louo) of the entire body and the partial cleansing needed after the bath (baptism or immersion).
(4) The Command.
"If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet" (John 13:14, kai humeis opheilete allelon niptein tous podas), "I have given you an example (sign, symbol, hupodeigma), that ye also should do as I have done to you" (John 13:15). "If ye know these things, happy (or "blessed" the Revised Version (British and American), makarioi) are ye if ye do them" (ean poiete auta). No language is clearer, and no command of Jesus is stronger than this. Furthermore, no symbol is accompanied with a greater promise. Note also, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me."
3. The Meaning of the Symbol:
(a) It cannot be explained as necessity or custom, i.e. that the dust must be washed from the feet of the disciples before proceeding with the supper. It was so cold that Peter had to warm himself, and this is sufficient evidence that they wore shoes instead of sandals at this time. Furthermore, Peter did not understand the action of Jesus, hence, it could not have been customary. Most of all, Jesus was not scrupulous about keeping the customs or practices of the Jews; compare Jesus' breaking of the Jewish Sabbath (Mark 2:23-26); the Jewish fasts (Mark 2:18-22); the Jewish cleansings (Mark 7:1-20). (b) It was not customary for the host to wash the feet of the guests. Peter objected, and Jesus told him distinctly that he could not understand at the time (arti), but would afterward (meta tauta). The symbol had a deeper meaning.
(a) Feet-washing symbolizes humility and service. The apostles had been quarreling as to who would be greatest in the kingdom which they thought Jesus was about to set up (Luke 22:24-30). Most authorities agree that this quarrel took place before the supper. Peter's question. "Dost thou wash my feet?" shows clearly that his objection lay principally in this, that Jesus, the Lord and Master, should perform such humble service. But Jesus was trying all the time to teach His disciples that true greatness in His kingdom is humility and service. "I am in the midst of you as he that serveth" (Luke 22:27; compare Matthew 5:5; Matthew 23:11, 12). Humility and service are fundamental virtues in the Christian life. To wash the feet of another symbolizes these virtues in the same way that the Eucharist symbolizes other Christian virtues. (b) Cleansing: Jesus clearly distinguished between the first cleansing which cleanses the whole person, and the washing of a part of the body. Baptism is the new birth, which means complete cleansing. But after baptism we still commit sins, and need the partial cleansing as symbolized by feetwashing. Compare Bernard of Clairvaux: "Feet-washing is cleansing of those daily offenses which seem inevitable for those who walk in the dust of the world" (sed pedes (abluti sunt) qui aunt animae affectiones, dum in hac pulvere gradimur, ex toto mundi ease non possunt).
4. Practised by the Church of the Brethren:
Feet-washing is practiced by the Church of the Brethren for the following reasons:
(1) Jesus washed His disciples' feet and said, "I have given you an example, that ye also should do as I have done to you" (John 13:15).
(2) Jesus said, "Ye also ought ("are bound," opheilete) to wash one another's feet" (John 13:14).
(3) "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me" (John 13:8),
(4) "If ye know these things, blessed are ye if ye do them" (John 13:17).
(5) Feet-washing symbolizes humility and service, which are fundamental virtues.
(6) Feet-washing symbolizes cleansing from the sins committed after baptism.
For the Church of the Brethren: C. F. Yoder, God's Means of Grace; R. H. Miller, The Doctrine of the Brethren Defended; tracts issued by the Brethren Publishing House, Elgin, III. For history of feet-washing, see ERE, V; New Sch-Herz Eric of Religious Knowledge, IV, 4; Smith and Cheetham, Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, articles "Baptism," "Maundy Thursday."
Daniel Webster Kurtz
Washing (56 Occurrences)
Matthew 15:2 "Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the Elders by not washing their hands before meals?" (WEY)
Matthew 27:24 So when Pilate saw that he was able to do nothing, but that trouble was working up, he took water and, washing his hands before the people, said, The blood of this upright man is not on my hands: you are responsible. (BBE)
Mark 7:3 Now the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not take food without washing their hands with care, keeping the old rule which has been handed down to them: (ASV RSV)
Mark 7:8 "For you set aside the commandment of God, and hold tightly to the tradition of men-the washing of pitchers and cups, and you do many other such things." (WEB KJV DBY WBS)
Luke 5:2 He saw two boats standing by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them, and were washing their nets. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Luke 7:44 And turning to the woman he said to Simon, You see this woman? I came into your house; you did not give me water for my feet: but she has been washing my feet with the drops from her eyes, and drying them with her hair. (BBE)
Luke 11:38 And when the Pharisee saw it, he was surprised because he came to the meal without first washing himself. (BBE)
John 2:6 Now six pots of stone, every one taking two or three firkins of water, were placed there for the purpose of washing, as is the way of the Jews. (BBE NIV)
John 3:25 Then a question came up between John's disciples and a Jew about washing. (BBE NIV)
John 9:7 And said to him, Go and make yourself clean in the bath of Siloam (the sense of the name is, Sent). So he went away and, after washing, came back able to see. (BBE)
John 9:11 His answer was: The man who is named Jesus put earth mixed with water on my eyes, and said to me, Go and make yourself clean in Siloam: so I went away and, after washing, am now able to see. (BBE)
John 13:5 Then he put water into a basin and was washing the feet of the disciples and drying them with the cloth which was round him. (BBE)
John 13:12 Then, after washing their feet and putting on his robe again, he took his seat and said to them, Do you see what I have done to you? (BBE NIV)
Acts 9:37 But, as it happened, just at that time she was taken ill and died. After washing her body they laid it out in a room upstairs. (WEY)
Acts 22:16 And now, why are you waiting? get up, and have baptism, for the washing away of your sins, giving worship to his name. (BBE)
Ephesians 5:26 that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
Titus 3:5 not by works of righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy, he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS NAS RSV NIV)
1 Peter 3:21 And, corresponding to that figure, the water of baptism now saves you--not the washing off of material defilement, but the craving of a good conscience after God--through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, (WEY BBE)
2 Peter 2:22 They are an example of that true saying, The dog has gone back to the food it had put out, and the pig which had been washed to its rolling in the dirty earth. (See NAS)
Genesis 18:4 Let me get water for washing your feet, and take your rest under the tree: (BBE)
Genesis 24:32 Then the man came into the house, and Laban took their cords off the camels and gave them dry grass and food, and he gave to him and the men who were with him water for washing their feet. (BBE)
Genesis 43:24 And the servant took them into Joseph's house, and gave them water for washing their feet; and he gave their asses food. (BBE)
Genesis 43:31 Then, after washing his face, he came out, and controlling his feelings said, Put food before us. (BBE)
Genesis 49:11 Knotting his ass's cord to the vine, and his young ass to the best vine; washing his robe in wine, and his clothing in the blood of grapes: (BBE)
Exodus 29:17 Then the sheep is to be cut up into its parts, and after washing its legs and its inside parts, you are to put them with the parts and the head, (BBE)
Exodus 30:18 You are to make a brass washing-vessel, with a brass base; and put it between the Tent of meeting and the altar, with water in it; (BBE DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Exodus 30:19 That it may be used by Aaron and his sons for washing their hands and feet; (BBE)
Exodus 40:12 Then let Aaron and his sons come to the door of the Tent of meeting; and after washing them with water, (BBE)
Exodus 40:30 And between the altar and the Tent of meeting he put the vessel with water in it for washing. (BBE DBY YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 8:6 Then Moses took Aaron and his sons; and after washing them with water, (BBE)
Leviticus 13:56 And if the priest look, and, behold, the plague be somewhat dark after the washing of it; then he shall rend it out of the garment, or out of the skin, or out of the warp, or out of the woof: (KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS)
Leviticus 15:11 And anyone on whom the unclean man puts his hands, without washing them in water, is to have his clothing washed and his body bathed in water and be unclean till evening. (BBE)
Leviticus 15:13 And when a man who has a flow from his body is made clean from it, he is to take seven days to make himself clean, washing his clothing and bathing his body in flowing water, and then he will be clean. (BBE)
Numbers 5:23 And the priest will put these curses in a book, washing out the writing with the bitter water; (BBE)
Numbers 19:7 And the priest, after washing his clothing and bathing his body in water, may come back to the tent-circle, and will be unclean till evening. (BBE)
Numbers 19:19 Let the clean person do this to the unclean on the third day and on the seventh day: and on the seventh day he is to make him clean; and after washing his clothing and bathing himself in water, he will be clean in the evening. (BBE)
Numbers 31:24 And on the seventh day, after washing your clothing, you will be clean, and then you may come into the tent-circle. (BBE)
Deuteronomy 21:6 And all the responsible men of that town which is nearest to the dead man, washing their hands over the cow whose neck was broken in the valley, (BBE)
Judges 19:21 So he took them into his house and gave the asses food; and after washing their feet they took food and drink. (BBE)
1 Samuel 25:41 And she got up, and going down on her face to the earth, said, See, I am ready to be a servant-girl, washing the feet of the servants of my lord. (BBE)
2 Samuel 11:2 And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. (KJV WBS)
2 Samuel 12:20 Then David got up from the earth, and after washing and rubbing himself with oil and changing his clothing, he went into the house of the Lord and gave worship: then he went back to his house, and at his order they put food before him and he had a meal. (BBE)
2 Kings 5:10 And Elisha sent a servant to him, saying, Go to Jordan, and after washing seven times in its waters your flesh will be well again and you will be clean. (BBE)
2 Chronicles 4:6 And he made ten washing-vessels, putting five on the right side and five on the left; such things as were used in making the burned offering were washed in them; but the great water-vessel was to be used by the priests for washing themselves. (BBE NIV)
Nehemiah 4:23 So neither I, nor my brethren, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard which followed me, none of us put off our clothes, saving that every one put them off for washing. (KJV WBS)
Job 9:30 If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean; (See NIV)
Job 29:6 When washing my goings with butter, And the firm rock 'is' with me rivulets of oil. (YLT)
Psalms 60:8 Moab 'is' my pot for washing, over Edom I cast my shoe, Shout, concerning me, O Philistia. (YLT)
Psalms 73:13 As for me, I have made my heart clean to no purpose, washing my hands in righteousness; (BBE)
Psalms 108:9 Moab 'is' a pot for my washing, Upon Edom I cast my shoe, Over Philistia I shout habitually. (YLT)
Song of Songs 4:2 Your teeth are like a newly shorn flock, which have come up from the washing, where every one of them has twins. None is bereaved among them. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Song of Songs 5:12 His eyes as doves by streams of water, Washing in milk, sitting in fulness. (YLT)
Song of Songs 6:6 Your teeth are like a flock of ewes, which have come up from the washing; of which every one has twins; none is bereaved among them. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Isaiah 1:25 And my hand will again be on you, washing away what is unclean as with soap, and taking away all your false metal; (BBE)
Ezekiel 16:9 Then I had you washed with water, washing away all your blood and rubbing you with oil. (BBE)
Ezekiel 23:40 And she even sent for men to come from far away, to whom a servant was sent, and they came: for whom she was washing her body and painting her eyes and making herself fair with ornaments. (BBE)