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Bible Dictionaries

Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words

Wash

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Râchats (רָחַץ, Strong's #7364), “to wash, bathe.” This word is common to both ancient and modern Hebrew and is found in ancient Ugaritic as well. It is used some 72 times in the text of the Hebrew Old Testament. The first occurrence of the word in the text illustrates one of its most common uses: “Let a little water … be fetched, and wash your feet …” (Gen. 18:4).

When the word is used figuratively to express vengeance, the imagery is a bit more gruesome: “… He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked” (Ps. 58:10). Pilate’s action in Matt. 27:24 is reminiscent of the psalmist’s statement “I will wash mine hands in innocency” (Ps. 26:6). The parts of a sacrificial animal usually “were washed” before they were burned on the altar (Exod. 29:17). Râchats is frequently used in the sense of “bathing” or “washing” oneself (Exod. 2:5; 2 Sam. 11:2). Beautiful eyes are figuratively described as “washed with milk” (Song of Sol. 5:12).

Kâbas ( כָּבַס, Strong's #3526), “to wash.” A common term throughout the history of Hebrew for the “washing” of clothes, this word is found also in ancient Ugaritic and Akkadian, reflecting the treading aspect. Kâbas occurs in the Hebrew Old Testament 51 times. It is found for the first time in the Old Testament in Gen. 49:11 as part of Jacob’s blessing on Judah: “… He washed his garments in wine.…”

The word is used in the Old Testament primarily in the sense of “washing” clothes, both for ordinary cleansing (2 Sam. 19:24) and for ritual cleansing (Exod. 19:10, 14; Lev. 11:25). It is often used in parallelism with the expression “to wash oneself,” as in Lev. 14:8-9. Kâbas is used in the sense of “washing” or “bathing” oneself only in the figurative sense and in poetic usage, as in Jer. 4:14: “O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved.”

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Bibliography Information
Vines, W. E., M. A. Entry for 'Wash'. Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/vot/w/wash.html. 1940.

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