(רַיק, πτύσμα), although, like all the other natural secretions, a ceremonial impurity (Le 15:18), was employed by our Lord as a curative means for blindness (Joh 9:6). The rabbins cite it as a remedy in like cases (see Lightfoot, ad loc.), especially the spittle of fasting persons (saliva jejunia), which was anciently held to be a remedy likewise against poisonous bites (Pliny, 5, 2; 28, 7; Galen, Simpl. Med. Fac. 10, 16; Aetius, 2, 107; see Götze, Observat. Sacr. Med. 2, 1, 144 sq.; Schurig, Sialogia [Dresd. 1723]). But it was not regarded as a specific in true blindness (but see Johren, De Christo Medico, p. 41), although ancient writers cite an act of Vespasian having that aspect (Dion Cass. 66, 8; Tacit. Hist. 4, 81; Sueton. Vesp. 7). On Lu 16:21 we may remark that the dog's tongue has a peculiarly cleansing and soothing effect upon sores. SEE MEDICINE.
On the other hand, the act of spitting upon a person, especially in the face (Nu 12:14; Isa 1:6; Mt 26:67; Mt 27:32; Bar-Hebr. p. 169), was regarded as the grossest insult (see Harmer, Obs. 3, 376), and it was even held an indignity to spit towards any one (Job 30:10); so that an Oriental never allows himself to spit at all in the presence of one whom he respects (Herod. 1, 99; see Arvieux, 3, 167; Niebuhr, Bed. p. 26, 29). This does not proceed (as Jahn thinks, Arch. 1, 2, 335) from regard merely to cleanliness, but from politeness (Josephus, War, 2, 8, 9), and hence was enforced within the precincts of the Temple (Mishna, Berach. 9, 5). Hence the ignominy in the case of the recusant goel (De 25:9).