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Bible Dictionaries

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

Water

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In a hot and dry country such as Palestine, water was extremely important. God promised his people that if they were obedient to him, he would always send them enough rain to ensure a constant supply for all their needs. But if they were disobedient, he would send them droughts and famine (Deuteronomy 28:12-24; Joel 2:23; Amos 4:7-8). (For further details concerning the problems of water in Palestine see PALESTINE; WEATHER.)

The refreshing and life-giving benefits of water made it a popular biblical symbol to picture the spiritual refreshment and eternal life that God gives to those who trust in him (Psalms 1:3; Psalms 23:1-3; Isaiah 44:3; Isaiah 55:1; Jeremiah 17:13; John 4:14; John 7:37-39; Revelation 21:6; Revelation 22:1-2). Water could, however, be a means of judgment (Genesis 6:17; Exodus 14:23; Exodus 14:26-27; Psalms 32:6; Matthew 7:24-27; 2 Peter 2:5).

Water was also used in the cleansing rituals of the Israelite religion. Ceremonial washings for the priests spoke of the purity required of those in official religious positions (Exodus 29:4-5). At times the washing had additional practical benefits (Exodus 30:18-21). If people became ceremonially unclean, they had to be ceremonially cleansed with water. Again there were cases where the washing had additional practical benefits (Leviticus 14:1-9; Leviticus 15:16-18; Numbers 19:11-13; see UNCLEANNESS).

Ritual cleansings may have involved bathing the whole body (Numbers 19:7), bathing only parts of the body (Exodus 30:19), or merely sprinkling (Numbers 8:7). The water used in the rituals in some cases was pure water, in others a specially prepared mixture (Leviticus 15:13; Numbers 19:17).

In figurative speech, water was a picture of cleansing from sin (Psalms 51:1-2; Ezekiel 36:25-26; John 13:5-10; Acts 22:16; Ephesians 5:26; Hebrews 10:22; see also BAPTISM). Such cleansing can occur only through the activity of God, who in his mercy removes sin and creates new life within the cleansed sinner (John 3:5-7; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Titus 3:5-7; Revelation 7:14; Revelation 7:17; see REGENERATION).

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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Water'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/bbd/w/water.html. 2004.

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