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body unclean. If the hands were defiled,' two affusions were required: the first, or 'first waters' (mayim rishonim) to remove the defilement, and the second,' or “after waters' (mayim sheniyim, or acharonim) to wash away the waters that had contracted the defilement of the hands. Accordingly, on the affusion of the first waters the hands were elevated, and the water made to run down at the wrist, while at the second waters the hands were depressed, so that the water might run off by the finger joints and tips. Byand-by, it became the practice to have two affusions, whenever Therumah (prepared first-fruits) was to be eaten, and at last even when ordinary food (Chullin) was partaken of. The modern Jews have three affusions, and accompany the rite with a special benediction.

This idea of the defilement of the hands' received a very curious application. According to one of the eighteen decrees, which, as we shall presently show, date before the time of Christ, the Roll of the Pentateuch in the Temple defiled all kinds of meat that touched it. The alleged reason for this decree was, that the priests were wont to keep the Therumah (preserved first-fruits) close to the

Roll of the Law, on which account the latter was injured by mice. * Shabb. 14 a The Rabbinic ordinance was intended to avert this To

increase the precaution, it was next laid down as a principle, that all that renders the Therumah unfit, also defiles the hands. Hence, the Holy Scriptures defiled not only the food but the hands that touched them, and this not merely in the Temple, but anywhere, while it was also explained that the Holy Scriptures included the whole of the inspired writings—the Law, Prophets, and Hagiographa. This gave rise to interesting discussions, whether the Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, or Esther were to be regarded as defiling the hands,' that is, as part of the Canon. The ultimate decision was in favour of these books: all the holy writings defile the hands; the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes defile the hands. Nay, so far were sequences carried, that even a small portion of the Scriptures was declared to defile the hands if it contained eighty-five letters, because the smallest

section' (Parashah) in the Lawd consisted of exactly that number. Even the Phylacteries, because they contained portions of the sacred text, the very leather straps by which they were bound to the head and arm-nay, the blank margins around the text of the Scriptures,

b Yad, iii. 2

e Yad. iii. 5

d Numb, x.

35, 36

1 In Yad, iv. 6, the Pharisees in dis. pute with the Sadducees indicate what seems to me a far more likely reason, in

the desire to protect the Scriptures from profane use




Yad. iii. 3-5

It was

106 )

e Shabb. 14 b, end

or at the beginning and end of sections, were declared to defile the hands.a 1

From this exposition it will be understood what importance the Scribes attached to the rite which the disciples had neglected. Yet at a later period Pharisaism, with characteristic ingenuity, found a way of evading even this obligation, by laying down what we would call the Popish (or semi-Popish) principle of 'intention.' ruled, that if anyone had performed the rite of handwashing in the morning, 'with intention' that it should apply to the meals of the whole day, this was (with certain precautions) valid. But at the Chull

. time of which we write the original ordinance was quite new. This touches one of the most important, but also most intricate questions in the history of Jewish dogmas. Jewish tradition traced, indeed, the command of washing the hands before eating—at least of sacrificial offerings—to Solomon, in acknowledgment of which the voice from heaven' (Bath-Kol) had been heard to utter Prov. xxiii. 15, and xxvii. 11. But the earliest trace of this custom occurs in a portion of the Sibylline Books, which dates from about 160 B.C., & Or. Sib. iii. where we find an allusion to the practice of continually washing the hands, in connection with prayer and thanksgiving. It was reserved for Hillel and Shammai, the two great rival teachers and heroes of Jewish traditionalism, immediately before Christ, to fix the Rabbinic ordinance about the washing of hands (Netilath Yadayim), as previously described. This was one of the few points on which they were agreed, and hence emphatically a tradition of the Elders, Shabb. 14 0, since these two teachers bear, in Rabbinic writings, each the de- midille signation of “the Elder.' Then followed a period of developing pin' traditionalism, and hatred of all that was Gentile. The tradition of the Elders was not yet so established as to command absolute and universal obedience, while the disputes of Hillel and Shammai, who seemed almost on principle to have taken divergent views on every question, must have disturbed the minds of many. We have an account of a stormy meeting between the two Schools, attended even with bloodshed. The story is so confusedly, and so differently told in


about the

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came defiled if they touched a copy of the
sacred rolls, must have involved constant

2 We must bear in mind, that it was the work of an Egyptian Jew, and I cannot help feeling that the language bears some likeness to what afterwards was one of the distinctive practices of the Essenes.


p. 3c, a
o Shabb. 136
to 14 6

3 c

3 3d
e. Shabb. 14 6

towards end

the Jerusalem and in the Babylon Talmud, that it is difficult to form

a clear view of what really occurred. Thus much, however, appears • Jer. Shabb. —that the Shammaites had a majority of votes, and that eighteen

decrees' (127 ") were passed in which the two Schools agreed, while on other eighteen questions (perhaps a round number) the Shammaites carried their views by a majority, and yet other eighteen remained undecided. Each of the Schools spoke of that day according to its party-results. The Shammaites (such as Rabbi Elieser),

extolled it as that on which the measure of the Law had been filled • Jer. Shahb. up to the full, while the Hillelites (like Rabbi Joshua) deplored,

that on that day water had been poured into a vessel full of oil, by which some of the more precious fluid had been spilt. In general, the tendency of these eighteen decrees was of the most violently anti-Gentile, intolerant, and exclusive character. Yet such value was attached to them, that, while any other decree of the sages might

be altered by a more grave, learned, and authoritative assembly, these a Jer. Shabb. eighteen decrees might not, under any circumstances, be modified.

But, besides these eighteen decrees, the two Schools on that day e

agreed in solemnly re-enacting the decrees about 'the Book (the Holy Shabh. 148, Scriptures), and the hands' (0"T71 DDN 1177). The Babylon Talmudf

notes that the latter decree, though first made by Hillel and Shammai, “the Elders,' was not universally carried out until re-enacted by their colleges. It is important to notice, that this Decree' dates from the time just before, and was finally carried into force in the very days of Christ. This fully accounts for the zeal which the Scribes displayed—and explains the extreme minuteness of details' with

which St. Mark calls attention to this Pharisaic practice. For, * Ab. S. 35 a it was an express Rabbinic principle 8 that, if an ordinance had

been only recently re-enacted (nuon 773), it might not be called in question or shaken' (na 'PDPDO ). Thus it will be seen, that the language employed by the Evangelist affords most valuable indirect confirmation of the trustworthiness of his Gospel, as not only showing intimate familiarity with the minutia of Jewish “tradition, but giving prominence to what was then a present controversy--and all this the more, that it needs intimate knowledge of that Law even fully to understand the language of the Evangelist.

In the "Speaker's Commentary ? This is the more striking as the same (ad loc.) this extreme minuteness of expression is used in reference to the details' is, it seems to me not correctly, opposition, or rather the shaking' of accounted for on the ground of special R. Elieser ben Chanoch at the ordin. reference to the Judaisers who at a very ance of hand-washing, for which he was early period formed an influential party

(' at Rome.'

Eduj. v. 6).

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,שפקפק בטהרת ידים) excommunicated




* Ab. Sar. v. passim

After this full exposition, it can only be necessary to refer in briefest manner to those other observances which orthodox Judaism had “received to hold.' They connect themselves with those eighteen decrees, intended to separate the Jew from all contact with Gentiles. Any contact with a heathen, even the touch of his dress, might involve such defilement, that on coming from the market the orthodox Jew would have to immerse. Only those who know the complicated arrangements about the defilements of vessels that were in any part, however small, hollow, as these are described in the Mishnah (Tractate Chelim), can form an adequate idea of the painful minuteness with which every little detail is treated. Earthen vessels that had contracted impurity were to be broken; those of wood, horn, glass, or brass immersed; while, if vessels were bought of Gentiles, they were (as the case might be) to be immersed, put into boiling water, purged with fire, or at least polished.a

Let us now try to realise the attitude of Christ in regard to these ordinances about purification, and seek to understand the reason of His bearing. That, in replying to the charge of the Scribes against His disciples, He neither vindicated their conduct, nor apologised for their breach of the Rabbinic ordinances, implied at least an attitude of indifference towards traditionalism. This is the more noticeable, since, as we know, the ordinances of the Scribes were declared more precious,bi and of more binding importance than Jer, Chag. those of Holy Seripture itself. But, even so, the question might Jer. Ber. arise, why Christ should have provoked such hostility by placing xi

. 3; Erub. Himself in marked antagonism to what, after all, was indifferent 216 in itself. The answer to this inquiry will require a disclosure of that aspect of Rabbinism which, from its painfulness, has hitherto been avoided. Yet it is necessary not only in itself, but as showing the infinite distance between Christ and the teaching of the Synagogue. It has already been told, how Rabbinism, in the madness of its self-exaltation, represented God as busying Himself by day with the study of the Scriptures, and by night with that of the Mishnah ; and how, in the heavenly Sanhedrin, over which the Targum Almighty presided, the Rabbis sat in the order of their greatness, 10; comp. and the Halachah was discussed, and decisions taken in accordance with it. Terrible as this sounds, it is not nearly all. Anthropo- Baba morphism of the coarsest kind is carried beyond the verge of pro'In this passage there is a regular


The discussion, whether that which is

opinion is in favour of the oral (nix written (the Pentateuch), or that which

). is oral (tradition) is more precious and

on Cant. v.

Ab. S. 36

Mez. 86 (

.(איזה מהן חביבין) to be loved



o Comp.

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Ber. 3 a

d Ber, 59 a

• Ber. 7 a; Ab. S. 46

fanity, when God is represented as spending the last three hours of

every day in playing with Leviathan, and it is discussed, how, * Ab. S. u. s. since the destruction of Jerusalem, God no longer laughs, but weeps,

and that, in a secret place of His own, according to Jer. xiii. 17.6 Nay, Jer. xxv. 30 is profanely misinterpreted as implying that, in His grief over the destruction of the Temple, the Almighty roars like a lion in each of the three watches of the night. The two tears which He drops into the sea are the cause of earthquakes; although other, though not less coarsely realistic, explanations are offered of this phenoinenon.d

Sentiments like these, which occur in different Rabbinic writings, cannot be explained away by any ingenuity of allegorical interpretation. There are others, equally painful, as regards the anger of the Almighty, which, as kindling specially in the morning, when the sun-worshippers offer their prayers, renders it even dangerous for an individual Israelite to say certain prayers on the morning of New Year's Day, on which the throne is set for judgment. Such realistic anthropomorphism, combined with the extravagant ideas of the eternal and heavenly reality of Rabbinism and Rabbinic ordinances, help us to understand, how the Almighty was actually represented as saying prayers. This is proved from Is. lvi. 7. Sublime though the language of these prayers is, we cannot but notice that the allcovering mercy, for which He is represented as pleading, is extended only to Israel. It is even more terrible to read of God wearing the Tallith, or that He puts on the Phylacteries, which is deduced from Is. lxii. 8. That this also is connected with the vain-glorious boasting of Israel, appears from the passages supposed to be enclosed in these Phylacteries. We know that in the ordinary Phylacteries these are: Exod. xii. 1-10; 10-16; Deut. vi. 4-10; xi. 13-22. In the Divine Phylacteries they were: 1 Chron. xvii. 21; Deut. iv. 7-8 ; xxxiii. 29; iv. 34; xxvi. 19. Only one other point must be mentioned as connected with Purifications. To these also the Almighty is supposed to submit. Thus He was purified by Aaron, when

He had contracted defilement by descending into Egypt. This is Warsh. p. 22 deduced from Lev. xvi. 16. Similarly, He immersed in a bath of

fire, after the defilement of the burial of Moses.

These painful details, most reluctantly given, are certainly not intended to raise or strengthen ignorant prejudices against Israel, to whom blindness in part'has truly happened; far less to encourage the wicked spirit of contempt and persecution which is characteristic, not of believing, but of negative theology. But they will explain,

1 Ber. 7 a

& Shem. R. 22, comp. Rosh hash. 170

6 Ber. 6 (

i Shem. R. 15, ed.

a, line 13

from top * Is. lxvi. 15; comp. Vumb. xxxi. 23

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