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Fausset's Bible Dictionary

 

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Fuller
        

kobes, from kabas "to tread." The fuller's chief work was cleansing and whitening garments for festive and religious occasions. The white garment typifies Christ's spotless righteousness, put on the saints. Revelation 3:4-5; Revelation 3:18; Revelation 6:11; Revelation 7:9; Revelation 7:14; Ecclesiastes 9:8, "let thy garments be always white"; the present, even if gloomy, should never rob saints of the festive joyousness of spirit which faith bestows, in consciousness of peace with God now, and in the prospect of glory for ever. Fulling or cleansing cloth was effected by stamping on the garments with the feet or bats in tubs of water containing some alkaline dissolved.

The alkaline substances mentioned are "soap" and "nitre" (Proverbs 25:20; Jeremiah 2:22), a potash which mixed with oil was used as soap. Malachi 3:2, "fullers' soap." Job 9:30, "if I make my hands never so clean," translated, "if I cleanse my hands with lye." Carbonate of potash is obtained impure from burning plants, especially the kali (from whence, with the Arabic al, the article, comes the word "alkali ") of Egypt and Arabia. "Nitre" is not used in our sense, namely, saltpeter, but native carbonate of soda. Natron is found abundant in the soda lakes of Egypt (Pliny, 31:10), in the valley Bahr-bela-ma (the waterless sea), 50 miles E. of Cairo, during the nine months of the year that the lakes are dry.

The Mishna mentions also urine and chalk used in fullers' cleansing. This may have suggested the indelicate filthy sneer of Rabshakeh to Hezekiah's messengers in "the highway of the fullers' field" (2 Kings 18:27). The trade was relegated to the outside of Jerusalem, to avoid the offensive smells. (See ENROGEL.) Chalk, or earth of some kind, was used to whiten garments. Christ's garments at the transfiguration became "shining" white "as no fuller on earth could whiten them" (Mark 9:3). Christ's mission, including both the first and second advents, is compared to "fuller's soap" in respect to the judicial process now secretly going on, hereafter to be consummated at the second advent, whereby the unclean are separated from the clean.


Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew Robert M.A., D.D., "Definition for 'Fuller' Fausset's Bible Dictionary".
bible-history.com - Fausset's; 1878.

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