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They were shocked[a] to find that some of Jesus’ disciples ate bread without first observing the prescribed Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating their meal. (For the Pharisees, like all other Jews, will not eat without first performing a ritual of pouring water over their cupped hands[b] to keep the tradition of the elders. Similarly, when returning from the marketplace, they ceremonially wash themselves before eating.[c] They also observed many other traditions, such as ceremonially washing cups, pitchers, and kettles.)[d]

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  1. Mark 7:2 As translated from the Aramaic.
  2. Mark 7:3 Or “with a fist.” Some have surmised this was a thorough washing from the hand to the elbow. But it was most likely water poured over cupped hands. This is not taught in the Torah, but was insisted on because of the tradition of the elders. A few Greek manuscripts and the Aramaic read “They do not eat unless they wash their hands carefully,” with no mention of a fist.
  3. Mark 7:4 The Aramaic is “If they do not bathe, they do not eat.”
  4. Mark 7:4 Some manuscripts add “dining couches.” Some Aramaic manuscripts add “beds” (or “mats”). This ceremonial sprinkling amounted to nothing more than religious rules and customs, but none of them were commanded in the writings of Moses—they were the oral traditions of men.