Purification of females after birth (Lev 12:1-12:8)

“Yahweh spoke to Moses.  ‘Speak to the people of Israel, saying, if a woman conceives, and bears a male child, then she shall be ceremonially unclean seven days.  As at the time of her menstruation, she shall be unclean. On the eight day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.   Her time of blood purification shall be thirty-three days.  She shall not touch any holy thing, or come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purification are completed.   If she bears a female child, she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her menstruation.  Her time of blood purification shall be sixty-six days.

Once again, Yahweh spoke to Moses.  Women are considered unclean after childbirth because of the blood discharge that takes place with birthing. There are different rules for male and female children. If a male is born, the woman is unclean for 7 days, the same as menstruation, so that on the 8th day the male child can be circumcised.  However, she will have to wait 14 days if it is a female child.  There are 33 days of blood purification for the male child, but 66 days for a female child.  During her unclean period, this new mother cannot touch any holy thing, or go into the sanctuary. The blood purification is also twice as long for the female child, 7-14 days and 33-66 days, without any real clarification as to why.

“When the days of her purification are completed, whether for a son or a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb in its first year for a brunt offering, and a pigeon or turtledove for a sin offering.  He shall offer it before Yahweh, and make atonement for her.  Then she shall be clean from her flow of blood.  This is the law for anyone who bears a child, male or female.  If she cannot afford a sheep, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering.  The priest shall make atonement on her behalf.  Then she shall be clean.”

When the days of purification were completed, the new mother had to bring a lamb and a pigeon to the entrance of the tent of meeting for a sin offering and a burnt offering.  If she could not afford a lamb she could bring two pigeons or two turtledoves.  The priest then made atonement on her behalf to make her clean.  The unclean mother’s birth has to become clean with a burnt and sin offering.  Childbirth was considered an unclean action.  Her period of uncleanness was much longer than merely touching a dead unclean animal.


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