Washing Clothes

WASHING CLOTHES The Arab women in washing their clothes today usually go to nearby sources of water such as streams, pools, or watering troughs. They will dip their clothes in and out of the water, and then placing them upon flat stones which abound in Israel, they will beat them with a club which is about a foot and a half long. They carry the water in goatskins and have a vessel for rinsing purposes.13 That this sort of process was used in the time of David is indicated by the prayer of his penitential psalm: “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity” (Psalm 51:2). His picture here comes from the process of washing clothes. Alexander Maclaren says concerning it: “The word employed is significant, in that it probably means washing by kneading or beating, not by simple rinsing. The psalmist is ready to submit to any painful discipline, if only he may be cleansed. “Wash me, beat me, tread me down, hammer me with mallets, dash me against the stones. do anything with me, if only these foul stains are melted from the texture of my soul.” That soap was used in washing is clear from the Scriptures. The word occurs in The common translation of the books of Jeremiah and Malachi (Jeremiah 2:22 and Malachi 3:2). This form of soap was doubtless a vegetable alkali. Job said: “If I wash myself with snow water . . .” (Job 9:30). This was a vegetable alkali. There are two references in the Bible to mineral alkali which was called nitre (Proverbs 25:20 and Jeremiah 2:22). This was probably the “natron” used so largely in Egypt.

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