BATHING: The bath in the East, because or the heat and the dust, is constantly necessary for the preservation of health, and to prevent skin diseases. The bathing of the newly born is mentioned in Ezek. xvi, 4; bathing as part of the toilet in Ruth iii, 3; II Sam. xii, 20; Ezek. xxiii, 40, and elsewhere. As the Law attached great religious value to the purity of the body, it prescribed bathing and ablutions for cases in which it was apparently impaired (see DEFILEMENT AND PURIFICATION, CEREMONIAL). Ablution was required when one approached the deity (cf. Gen. xxxv, 2; Exod. xix, 10; Lev. xvi, 4, for the high priest on the Day of Atonement). Bathing in "living" (i.e., running) water was regarded as most effective in every respect (Exod. ii, 5; II Kings v, 10; Lev. xv, 13). More accessible and convenient were the baths arranged in the houses. To a well-furnished house belonged a courtyard, in which was a bath--according to II Sam. xi, 2, an open basin. Susannah (verses 15 sqq.) bathes in a hedged garden and uses oil and some kind of soap; the Hebrew women used bran in the bath, or to dry themselves (Mishnah Pesahim ii, 7). The feet, being protected by sandals only, were exposed to dust and dirt, and no attentive host omitted to give to his guests water for their feet before he entertained them (Gen. xviii, 4; xix, 2; I Sam. xxv, 41; cf. Luke vii, 44; John xiii, 1-10). The washing of hands before meals was customary for obvious. reasons; but it is not expressly attested before New Testament time, and then as a religious enactment which the Pharisees rigidly observed (Matt. xv, 2; Luke xi, 38); so in general with reference to washings and bathings the punctilious were at that time more exacting. The efficacy of warm springs was recognized at a very early period (cf. Gen. xxxvi, 24, R. V., and the name Hammath, Josh. xix, 35; xxi, 32). They were found near Tiberias (Josephus, War, II, xxi, 6; Ant., XVIII, ii, 3; Life, xvi; Pliny, v, 15), Gadara, the capital of Perrea, and Callirrhoë, east of the Dead Sea (Josephus, War, I, xxxiii, 5; Pliny, v, 16). Public baths are mentioned in Josephus, Ant., XIX, vii, 5, but their existence in Palestine can not be proved before the Greco-Roman time.



Abuses connected with the public baths in early Christian times called forth protests from many of the heathen and led some of the emperors to attempt restrictive precautions. The Church Fathers also raised their voices, but it is noteworthy that though there was public censure (e.g.,of women, particularly of virgins who were immodest in the bath), there was no formal, ecclesiastical prohibition of the public baths. The use of the bath was remitted during public calamities, penance, Lent, and for the first week after baptism. From the time of Constantine it was usual to build baths near the basilicas, partly for the use of the clergy, and partly for other ecclesiastical purposes.