The first five books of the Bible, in the Old Testament, are collectively referred to as Moses’ Law. It’s also called the Pentateuch, the Torah, the “Book of the Law,” or simply “The Law.” This ancient Scripture records the development of Israel as a nation, as well as the laws God gave them for fulfilling their destiny as his people.

These books served as the foundation for Jewish government, law, religion, and culture. Additionally, Moses’ Law dictated what was clean and unclean. God called Israel to be holy (set apart) for himself, and, as such, Israel’s rules about external purity were outward signs of that inward holiness. Specific uncleanliness was described in Moses’ Law.

Purification rituals were detailed for all unclean conditions, which typically involved a period of social isolation, sprinkling of water or blood, immersion in water, and/or offering sacrifices to become clean again. These regulations about cleanliness were the cornerstone of Israel’s religious rituals.