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English Bible Dictionary

Fuller

 

The trade of the fullers, so far as it is mentioned in Scripture, appears to have consisted chiefly in cleansing garments and whitening them. The process of fulling or cleansing clothes consisted in treading or stamping on the garments with the feet or with bats in tubs of water, in which some alkaline substance answering the purpose of soap had been dissolved. The substances used for this purpose which are mentioned in Scripture are natron, (Proverbs 25:20; Jeremiah 2:22) and soap. (Malachi 3:2) Other substances also are mentioned as being employed in cleansing, which, together with alkali, seem to identify the Jewish with the Roman process, as urine and chalk, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. The process of whitening garments was performed by rubbing into them calk or earth of some kind. Creta cimolia (cimolite) was probably the earth most frequently used. The trade of the fullers, as causing offensive smells, and also as requiring space for drying clothes, appears to have been carried on at Jerusalem outside the city.

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