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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Abstinence

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forbearance of any thing. It is generally used with reference to forbearance from food under a religious motive. The Jewish law ordained that the priests should abstain from the use of wine during the whole time of their being employed in the service of the temple, Leviticus 10:9 . The same abstinence was enjoined upon the Nazarites, during the time of their Nazariteship, or separation, Numbers 6:3 . The Jews were commanded to abstain from several sorts of animals. See ANIMAL .

The fat of all sorts of animals that were sacrificed was forbidden to be eaten, Leviticus 3:17 ; Leviticus 7:23 ; and the blood of every animal, in general, was prohibited under pain of death. Indeed blood was forbidden by the Creator, from the time of the grant of the flesh of beasts to man for food; this prohibition was continued under the Jewish economy, and transmitted to the Christian church by Apostolic authority, Acts 15:28-29 . ( See BLOOD. ) The Jews also abstained from the sinew which is upon the hollow of the thigh, Genesis 32:25 ; because of the shrinking of the sinew of Jacob's thigh when touched by the angel, as though by that the part had been made sacred.

Among the primitive Christians, some denied themselves the use of such meats as were prohibited by the law; others treated this abstinence with contempt. St. Paul has given his decision on these questions in his epistles, 1 Corinthians 8:7-10 ; Romans 14:1-3 . The council of Jerusalem, which was held by the Apostles, enjoined the Christian converts to abstain from meats strangled, from blood, from fornication, and from idolatry, Acts 15:20 .

The spiritual monarchy of the western world introduced another sort of abstinence which may be termed ritual, and which consists in abstaining from particular meats at certain times and seasons, the rules of which are called rogations. The ancient Lent was observed only a few days before Easter. In the course of the third century, it extended at Rome to three weeks; and before the middle of the succeeding age, it was prolonged to six weeks, and began to be called quadragesima, or the forty days' fast.


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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Abstinence'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/wtd/a/abstinence.html. 1831-2.

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