NKJV - 21 "So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die. And it shall be a statute forever to them - to him and his descendants throughout their generations."
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Ritual washing was a key element of Jewish practice, with elaborate procedures and requirements for cleansing those who might become "unclean" during daily life. One possible interpretation is as a priestly act. In Judaism, the Kohen (a member of the priestly class) has his hands washed prior to performing the Priestly Prayer. Historically, this also included washing the feet, although today they often simply remove their shoes. It is one of the rare instances where foot washing is prescribed, following the command of Exodus 30:20-21 that the priestly class shall wash their hands and their feet” prior to coming to the altar. The foot washing in John 13 is a prelude to Jesus' own High Priestly Prayer in John 17. In performing these ablutions, he is thus conferring priesthood on his apostles. It is a way of extending the authority of the Aaronic priesthood to the apostles.
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