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Prof. Stuart reads it,' He who is cleansed from a dead carcass, what does he profit by his washing?' and seems to justify this version, by an appeal to Num. 19: 19, where persons defiled by the dead are directed to wash their clothes, and bathe their persons in water. But was not this bathing to be performed by immersion? The Jews evidently so understood it; and accordingly, these ablutions are, in the Talmuds, usually, if not uniformly, denoted by 3, taval, to dip, immerse. So, when the prophet directed Naaman to wash, or bathe, seven times in the Jordan, he went and dipped himself seven times. Maimonides, a celebrated Jewish commentator of the twelfth century, says, that whenever, in the law, washing of the flesh, or of the clothes, is mentioned, it means nothing else than the dipping of the whole body in a bath; for if any one dips himself all over except the tip of his little finger, he is still in his uncleanness, Hilcoth Mikva. c. 1. § 2. It will not, therefore, be denied, that the Jews purified themselves from defilement by the dead, by immersion of their persons in water. Baptized from the dead, then, evidently means, immersed from the dead, i. e. purified from the dead by immersion. Cleansed from the dead, would be good sense, but not the sense of the original. The expression in Eccles. 31: 25, baptized, or immersed from the dead, may be compared with, washed from sins, Rev. 1: 5; and sprinkled from an evil conscience, Heb. 10: 22. Cleansing is, in each case, implied as a consequence, but not expressed in either. Each verb expresses a distinct action, by which cleansing is effected; and we might, with just as much propriety, assume that rantizo, in the last instance, signifies to cleanse, as that baptizo has this meaning in the first. Prof. Stuart, therefore, has not succeeded in finding a single clear example of the signification to wash, either in the classics or the Septuagint. Thus far, then, he has entirely
failed to prove that baptizo has any other signification than immersion.
Usage of the New Testament. Barriw, baptizo, in the New Testament, in cases not relating to the Christian rite, signifies to dip, to immerse.
Mark 7: 3, 4, For the Pharisees and all the Jews, except they wash, viwvra, their hands carefully, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they, Barriswvra, baptize them. selves, they eat not.
Prof. Stuart, in accordance with the common version, renders this, 'except they wash themselves, they eat not.' But what reason is there here for rejecting the usual meaning of baptizo? If immersion were, in these cases, either impossible in the nature of things, or contradictory to known fact, we should then be compelled to assign another meaning; but can it be alleged that immersion is here either impossible or improbable? Prof. Stuart's procedure in settling the meaning of this word, is truly surprising. It is a rule universally acknowledged in philology, that if any one assigns to any word a new or unusual meaning, the burden of proof rests on himself. Or, suppose the alleged signification to be one of several acknowledged meanings; if an example is produced in proof of a particular meaning, it devolves upon him who produces it, to show that the word has such a meaning in that particular example. Prof. Stuart alleges, that baptizo means to immerse, overwhelm, and wash, and produces this example as proof of the signification to wash. Among all the examples of this word, which he has produced from the classics, the Septuagint, and the Apocrypha, the only instances of this meaning, which he has even named, are the two from the Apocrypha, which we have just examined. This mean. ing is, then, according to his own showing, at least, an un
usual one; and yet, when he comes to the New Testament, he decides, in every instance of its literal application which he examines, that the word means to wash; and then leaves it, without producing the least proof, or offering a single remark. But the established meaning of a word is not to be set aside in this summary manner. Bare assertion that baptizo means to wash, will not satisfy the discerning reader: he must have some clear examples. But a clear example of this meaning has not been produced. As to the instances cited from the Apocrypha, it was not pretended that immersion was an impossible sense; nor can it be alleged in the present instance, that it is either an impossible or an improbable one; for surely the Jews could have immersed themselves after coming from the market; and that they did practise ablution by immersion, in many cases besides those prescribed in the law of Moses, is matter of historical record, and a fact too notorious to need any parade of proof. Besides, the consistency and harmony of the pas sage requires that baptizo have a more extensive meaning than nipto. To read it, The Pharisees and all the Jews, except they wash their hands, eat not; and when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not, makes an unmeaning tautology. It is stated in the first place, that they, on all occasions, wash their hands previously to eating: what, then, does it add to the sense, to say, that when they come from the market, they do not eat without washing? The Evangelist evidently intends to be understood, that all the Jews, on all occasions, wash their hands before eating; and that when they have been to the forum, or place of public concourse, they practise a more extensive purification. Baptizo, then, not only may have its usual meaning here, but that meaning is absolutely required by the scope and harmony of the passage.
Luke 11: 37, 38. And as he was speaking, a certain
Pharisee besought him to dine with him; and he went in and sat down to meat. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first baptized himself, Barrison, before dinner. This is to be understood of the same prac. tice that is spoken of by Mark. Jesus had been in the crowd; and the superstitious Pharisee was surprised that he should sit down to meat, without first purifying himself, by bathing his whole person, according to the custom.
These are the only instances where the verb occurs in its literal sense, except in cases relating to the Christian rite. We meet, however, with the following examples of the noun, Barrioμós, baptism.
Mark 7: 4, And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the baptisms, Barrioμous, of cups and pots, and brazen vessels, and couches. Ver. 8, For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the baptisms, Barrioμous, of pots and cups.
These cups were their ordinary drinking vessels. The pot was the sextarius, a measure for liquids, containing about a pint and a half. The brazen vessels were probably those used for culinary purposes; and the couches, incorrectly rendered tables, were either the beds on which they ordinarily slept, and which, in many cases, were neither more nor less than what served them for an out. side garment, or they were the mattresses of the triclinium, on which they reclined at their meals. Compare Ezek. 23: 41. The fault which Christ here censures, probably consisted in multiplying these purifications beyond what was prescribed in the law of Moses. Of course what is here called the baptism of pots and cups, etc. must be understood of a religious purification, and not of such washing as was necessary for purposes of ordinary cleanliness. These purifications, beyond all doubt, were performed by immer sion; for, not only were they divinely required, in particu.
lar cases, to put the defiled vessel into water, as in Lev. 11: 32. Num. 31: 23; but it is historically certain, that the Jews superstitiously extended the ceremony to cases not specified in the Mosaic ritual. Maimonides, the Jewish commentator quoted above, states that it was a traditionary custom of the Jews, to immerse all vessels for eating, drinking, and cooking, before using them, whether had of a Gentile or an Israelite. 'Vessels,' he says, 'bought of Gentiles, for the use of a feast, whether molten, or glass vessels, they immerse in the waters of the laver; and after that, they may eat and drink in them: and such as they used for cold things, as cups and pots and jugs, they wash them, and immerse them, and they are free for use; and such as they use for hot things, as cauldrons and kettles, (or brazen vessels,) they heat them with hot water, and scour them, and immerse them, and they are fit to be used and things which they use at the fire, as spits and gridirons, they heat them in the fire, and immerse them, and they may be lawfully made use of.-This is the immersion with which they immerse vessels for a feast, bought of Gentiles."* Again the same author says: 'Vessels, they say, that are finished in purity, (i. e. by Jews,) even though a disciple of a wise man makes them, care is to be taken about them; lo! these ought to be immersed.' 'A bed that is wholly defiled, if one immerses it part by part, it is pure.'t
If, then, the purification of these vessels by immersion, was practicable, and even in some cases, divinely commanded; and if we have certain testimony that it was practised, at least at a later period, in the very cases here spe
* Hilch. Maacolot Asurot, c. 17. § 3, 5, 6, as quoted by Gill, on Mark 7: 4.
+ Hilch. Abot Hatum. c. 12. § 6. Ib. Hilch. Mikvaot, c. 1. § 2.