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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Impurity

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want of that regard to decency, chastity, or holiness which our duty requires. Impurity, in the law of Moses, is any legal defilement. Of these there were several sorts: some were voluntary, as the touching a dead body, or any animal that died of itself; of any creature that was esteemed unclean; or touching things holy by one who was not clean, or was not a priest; the touching one who had a leprosy, one who had a gonorrhea, or who was polluted by a dead carcass, etc. Sometimes these impurities were involuntary, as when any one inadvertently touched bones, or a sepulcher, or anything polluted; or fell into such diseases as pollute, as the leprosy, etc. The beds, clothes, and movables which had touched anything unclean, contracted also a kind of impurity, and in some cases communicated it to others. These legal pollutions were generally removed by bathing, and lasted no longer than the evening. The person polluted plunged overhead in the water, and either had his clothes on when he did so, or washed himself and his clothes separately. Other pollutions continued seven days, as that which was contracted by touching a dead body. Some impurities lasted forty or fifty days, as that of women who were lately delivered, who were unclean forty days after the birth of a boy, and fifty after the birth of a girl. Others, again, lasted till the person was cured. Many of these pollutions were expiated by sacrifices, and others by a certain water or lye made with the ashes of a red heifer sacrificed on the great day of expiation. When the leper was cured, he went to the Temple and offered a sacrifice of two birds, one of which was killed, and the other set at liberty. He who had touched a dead body, or had been present at a funeral, was to be purified with the water of expiation, and this upon pain of death. The woman who had been delivered offered a turtle and a lamb for her expiation; or, if she was poor two turtles, or two young pigeons. These impurities, which the law of Moses has expressed with the greatest accuracy and care, were only figures of other more important impurities, such as the sins and iniquities committed against God, or faults committed against our neighbor. The saints and prophets of the Old Testament were sensible of this; and our Savior, in the Gospel, has strongly inculcated that they are not outward and corporeal pollutions which render us unacceptable to God, but such inward pollutions as infect the soul, and are violations of justice, truth, and charity. (See UNCLEANNESS).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Impurity'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/i/impurity.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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