Ben Crick ben.crick at
Thu Apr 26 12:40:01 EDT 2001

On Thu 26 Apr 2001 (13:14:20 +0100), apazera at wrote:
> I wonder if "thtt'ni b'zwv" in Ps 51:9 means some
> ritual of purification described in Leviticum? I
> wonder if ritual of purification there by means of
> hyssop is concerning a human being? 
 Dear Ausra,

 You are right. The twigs of Hyssop were used as an Asperge or Applicator
 to dip in the sacrificial blood, and then sprinkle it upon the worshipper
 or the building to be cleansed. In Catholic churches, an Asperge is used to
 sprinkle holy water for liturgical purposes. Compare Numbers 19:18-19, where
 hyssop is used for sprinkling holy water in connection with funeral rites
 and the field burial of corpses.

 It was used in the Passover (Exodus 12:22-23) and in the Law of the Leper
 (Leviticus 14:1-9). In the Passover, it was used to sanctify the Household
 of believers, and to ward off the death of the eldest son. In spite of being
 sprinkled upon the lintels and doorposts, the blood effectively protected
 the believing family and their firstborn. In the case of cleansing the
 leper, it clearly concerns a human being, a sufferer from leprosy TsaRa`aT.

 Hyssop 'eZoB is a shrub, used for religious and medicinal purposes. The
 name is a foreign word imported into Hebrew.

 In Psalm 51:9 MT (51:7 English Versions) it is not the *hyssop* that purges
 the sin from the sinner, but the *sacrificial blood* applied therewith.
 Compare Isaiah 6:6-7, where forgiveness is effected by the application with
 tongs of an ember from the altar of burnt offering. Burnt offerings were not
 applicable to cleanse David's deliberate sin (Psalm 51:18 [16]); so the
 reference to Hyssop is symbolical, or metaphorical, or rhetorical.

 Revd Ben Crick, BA CF
 <ben.crick at>
 232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)

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