The Hebrew term keliʹ is very broad in its application and can refer to articles (Ge 24:53; Ex 3:22; Le 13:49, 52, 57-59; 15:4, 6), implements (Ge 27:3), goods (Ge 31:37), receptacles (Ge 42:25; 43:11), equipment (Ge 45:20), instruments (Ge 49:5; 1Ch 15:16), furnishings (Ex 25:9), utensils (Ex 25:39; 27:3, 19; 30:27, 28; 31:7-9), vessels (Le 6:28; 11:32-34), garb (De 22:5), weapons (Jg 9:54; 18:11, 16, 17), luggage (1Sa 10:22), baggage (1Sa 17:22), bags (1Sa 17:40, 49), organisms (1Sa 21:5), and tools (1Ki 6:7).
Often keliʹ designates the various utensils used in connection with the sanctuary. These utensils included such items as dishes, pitchers, shovels, bowls, forks, fire holders, extinguishers, snuffers, basins, and cups. (Ex 25:29, 30, 39; 27:3, 19; 37:16, 23; 38:3; 1Ki 7:40-50; 2Ch 4:11-22) Being used for a sacred purpose, these utensils were “holy.” (1Ki 8:4) Accordingly, since the Jews who left Babylon in 537 B.C.E. were privileged to carry with them the sacred utensils that King Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem, they had to keep themselves clean religiously and morally. The prophetic command applied to them: “Turn away, turn away, get out of [Babylon], touch nothing unclean; get out from the midst of her, keep yourselves clean, you who are carrying the utensils of Jehovah.” (Isa 52:11) This required more than cleanness in an outward ceremonial way. It called for a cleanness of heart. The apostle Paul, when writing to the Corinthians, applied the words of Isaiah 52:11 in showing that Christians must likewise be free from defilement of flesh and spirit.
The founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, set the example in this regard by remaining “loyal, guileless, undefiled, separated from the sinners.” (Heb 7:26) While on earth he demonstrated zeal for maintaining the sanctity of Jehovah’s temple, as when he twice cleansed it of commercialism. (Joh 2:13-25; Mt 21:12, 13; Mr 11:15-17; Lu 19:45, 46) In connection with the second temple cleansing, Mark reports that Jesus did not “let anyone carry a utensil through the temple.” (Mr 11:16) Thus Jesus evidently did not allow anyone to detract from the sanctity of the temple courtyard by using it as a mere shortcut when carrying items to another part of Jerusalem.